NASCAR® Champion, Darrell Waltrip Announced as Grand Marshall for Kentucky Speedway's™ Grand Opening Event
Three time, NASCAR®, Winston Cup™ champion, Darrell Waltrip will serve as Grand Marshall at the New Kentucky Speedway's™ inaugural race, "The Kroger 225". The NASCAR® Craftsman® Truck Series™ event, scheduled for June 17th will have a 7:30 p.m. (EST) green flag and broadcast live, nationally on ESPN.
Waltrip, who is participating in his final season as a driver on NASCAR's® elite circuit and has been working with the speedway as a consultant for the last two years, was honored at the announcement, "This is another surprise for me, and I am excited to be a part of Kentucky Speedway's™ inaugural event. Being from Kentucky (Owensboro), I wanted to be a part of this project from the beginning and to see it all become a reality is a real thrill and a tribute to Jerry Carroll and his team."
For Waltrip to participate in the Saturday evening inaugural ceremonies will require some logistical challenges as the NASCAR® Winston® Cup Series™ is racing that weekend at Pocono. "It will all work out. As soon as our Saturday afternoon practice session ends, I will be on planes, trains, and automobiles, but I don't want to miss it. It will be an exciting evening, and if it's like everything else on this project, it will be first-class," said Waltrip who will also put his signature into a special plaque along the racing surface to mark the facility as a "Darrell Waltrip Signature Track" similar to golf courses which open under the tutelage of a PGA consultant.
A big crowd is expected as the $152 million motorsports venue will have pre-race entertainment celebrities and the atmosphere equivalent to that of a super bowl half time show extravaganza. "I am delighted D.W. is going to work this out. He has been so good to us both in structural design and in sales that it would have been disappointing for him not to see the main event. We already have over 35,000 of the 66,000 grandstand seats sold, all 50 suites are gone, and we haven't even started the big marketing push for the event yet," said Kentucky Speedway's™ Executive V.P. and General Manager, Mark Cassis.
Waltrip began his driving career in go-karts at age 12 and entered his first stock car race just four short years later. Since then, Waltrip's racing career activities have continued to increase and have offered him many successes including three-time NASCAR® Winston Cup Champion, 84 Winston Cup Victories (tied for 3rd on the all-time win list), Most Popular Driver Award, NASCAR® Winston Cup Illustrated Person of the Year, American Driver of the Year, NASCAR® Driver of the Decade, National Motorsports Press Ass'n Driver of the Year, Auto Racing Digest Driver of the Year, Tennessee Professional Athlete of the Year, and numerous other victories throughout his professional driving career.
The Kentucky Speedway™ is the pride of real estate developer, Jerry Carroll, who began his quest to bring big-time motorsports to the Cincinnati, OH/Northern, KY region over three years ago. "It's been a pretty smooth road to bring this project together. I don't want to say it's all been easy, however, our management and development teams have worked hard along with Darrell Waltrip to bring it all together. I really believe we have built a facility that NASCAR®, ARCA®, and the IRL® will be proud to support. We have a fantastic market filled with knowledgeable race fans and the corporate support has been overwhelming," said Carroll.
The $152 million dollar Kentucky Speedway™, under development and co-owned by Jerry Carroll, remains on schedule for a June 16 & 17, 2000 grand opening featuring NASCAR® All-Pro™ and NASCAR® Craftsman® Truck Series™ events. The new facility will have a paved, 1.5-mile, tri-oval track with 14º banking in the turns and lighting for nighttime events. Phase I will have 65,989 grandstand seats, 50 luxury suites, and a 210 seat private, glass-enclosed Kentucky Club®. Phase II, which will include a dirt track and drag-strip racing facilities, can expand the 1.5 mile venue to 120,000 seats with 120 luxury suites on the 1,000 acre complex located 35 miles south of Cincinnati, OH in Northern Kentucky.