The Atlanta Motor Speedway is set to host its second consecutive Labor Day race. Once the haulers depart the 1.54-mile quad-oval in Hampton, Georgia late Sunday night, quite possibly early Monday morning, they will not return for another 12 months. NASCAR officials announced the deletion of the March event in favor of Kentucky Speedway just a few weeks ago.
The speedway in Atlanta, one of the original speedways erected in the early 1960’s during the same era as Charlotte Motor Speedway, will join Darlington Raceway as a historic venue downgraded to just one event after decades of hosing a pair of race weekends.
Nevertheless, this does not spell doom for race fans in the Georgia area. The Atlanta Motor Speedway owns perhaps the most traditional race weekend on the schedule, with the exception of Daytona 500 weekend and the Coca Cola 600 Memorial Day classic. When NASCAR removed Darlington Raceway off the Labor Day weekend, the Auto Club Speedway failed to compare to the classic that was held in the South Carolina venue.
When NASCAR came to their senses, finally, regarding the lack of interest in NASCAR in Fontana, even on Labor Day weekend when Californians are more likely to strut their stuff on the beaches or catch some waves than attend a race in the summer hot air, they decided to bring the race back to the southeast. After all, southerners endured the treacherous Labor Day heat for some five decades at Darlington.
Darlington is enjoying its new tradition, Mother’s Day weekend, as they have sold out four of the six races since shifting to that weekend. Therefore, the Labor Day event is Atlanta’s for the time being. Expect the track’s staff to work diligently in forming this race into a much-anticipated weekend and coveted ticket. Expect this race to follow in similar footsteps as the Mother’s Day Darlington event.
Despite the ambition to create a successful Labor Day tradition, Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark is still not over the disappointment of losing the early-spring race. However, he is willing to move forward.
“We’re still not over the announcement about what’s going happen next year (losing a race). But you can deal with it in several ways. The way we chose to deal with it is find the positives and give fans and the people who have supported this place such as tremendous activity that we can say they may not have two races, but they’re really going out of their way to make this one special for us,” he said.
The race may not sell out year after year in today’s state of affairs, heck, even Bristol is having difficulties selling out, but one thing you can count on is that you will witness a fantastic show in Atlanta. With great racing on a storied weekend for NASCAR fans, the crowds may begin to grow again.