The 80-year-old businessman from Paris, Maine, sold New Hampshire International Speedway to Bruton Smith and Speedway Motorsports Inc. on Friday. The track in Loudon, N.H., which opened in 1990 and hosts two major NASCAR races annually, was sold for the price of $340 million.
ANDY SANTERRE, 3-time Busch East Series winner at the track:
"There were a lot of race fans in New England before, but they could never go and see NASCAR racing up close (without traveling). Honestly, that’s where anybody from New England went. Guys like myself — or Ricky Craven wouldn’t have made it to Cup — if New Hampshire wasn’t there. We got noticed because it brought the big boys to New England. Without that, I don’t think a lot of us would have had the opportunity.
“The Bahres did a great job with the place, and to have two (Cup) dates, they were very fortunate. A lot of that was what they’ve done for NASCAR in past. But if (Bruton Smith) spent that kind of money, he might want to move a race to one of his tracks that only has one race.”
KURT BUSCH, who swept the two NHIS Cup races in 2004:
"New Hampshire has a great fan base. They sell out that race track every year we go up there. The Northeast loves their NASCAR. I would hope that racetrack keeps at least one date. I would like to see us go to a lot of race tracks just once a year and maybe trim the schedule down, but that’ll never happen.
"But (moving one of the dates), it’ll make every race that’s at their race track more important and drivers will feel more excited about winning each race — to do it when there is only one win that you can get at a track each year. But, Vegas would start off in the Chase. It would be a little warm out there the first of September. I don’t know. All of it is speculation."
BRIAN FRANCE, NASCAR CEO:
"The success of NHIS, and the desire of the Bahre family to sell, made the track very attractive to SMI and several other interested buyers. SMI has a highly regarded record for hosting some of the most successful and enjoyable race events in all of NASCAR, and there's no doubt that will continue.
"While we don't have any details about SMI's plans for NHIS, all sanctions for 2008 have been signed and finalized. As a result, there will be no location changes to the 2008 schedule that was released last month. This is important to the fans, competitors, broadcast partners and sponsors who have already made plans for the 2008 races.
"Looking beyond 2008, NASCAR will continue to consider requests by any track operator, including SMI, to relocate race dates. Under NASCAR's "realignment" plan, we have worked with track owners to relocate race dates to meet the needs of our growing national fan base. Ultimately, any change must meet NASCAR�s objectives and serve our fans.
"The industry owes Bob and Gary Bahre a debt of gratitude for their leadership and commitment to NASCAR. All of NASCAR wishes the Bahre family well during this time of transition. They will always be considered pioneers in NASCAR."
Globe racing writer Michael Vega says that NHIS owner Bob Bahre has reached an agreement with Bruton Smith to sell the track. Smith, under the guise of Speedway Motorsports Inc., already has 6 tracks encompassing 10 Nextel Cup Series race dates.
NHIS officials, according to Vega's story, said there's nothing to report. Still, a press conference could come as early as Friday with news of an official sale.
If Smith gets control of NHIS, the fear is that Cup racing will leave New England. Smith desperately wants to add a 2nd race at his Las Vegas facility, and it's unlikely that NHIS would continue to hold its place as both the 1st race of the Chase and the 1st race in the "Race to the Chase."
* Time and again I'm asked the same question: Why do the northern drivers all travel south for PASS races, but the southern guys never come up here? The answer is an unpleasant one.
Southern Super Late Model teams have a nasty reputation for being unwilling to travel to any event in which A) they don't think they are the prohibitive favorite to win and B) aren't guaranteed a non-handicapped starting grid.
That's it. That's the reasoning. They're so busy swimming in the NASCAR Kool-Aid that surrounds them, believing anything short of a win at the local level will kill their NASCAR aspirations faster than a blown engine, they're not willing to risk much.
* With the southern guys hospitably stepping aside, Cassius Clark won the Halloween Howler at Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway on Saturday. A disappointing year for Clark has been salvaged over the late part of the season. Faulty scales robbed him of a 100-lap win at Wiscasset Raceway last month, but he's won both the PASS North season finale at White Mountain on Oct. 14 and now the Howler.
Yeah, Cassius is good. And if people knew the shoestring budget his team worked with, they'd be even more impressed than they already are.
Top-5 from that Howler: 1. Cassius Clark, 2. Ben Rowe, 3. Derek Ramstrom, 4. Ryan Lawler, 5. Corey Williams.
* Want to see one of the most embarrassing things on the World Wide Web? Check out this thread on the Racin' Paper message board devoted to All-Star Speedway.
I don't know if track owner Bobby McArthur does or does not pay what he owes racers, and frankly, it's a discusssion I don't really want to have. But for him to make the posts he does under the screen name of "SHOWSTOPPA" is one of the most disgusting things you'll find in the world of short-track racing. This is the man running a NASCAR-sanctioned short track threatening his teams openly.
Yeah, that's good P.R. I wonder how many cars you'll see in the feature lineups next season -- assuming All-Star lasts that long...
* Game 4: Red Sox 4, Rockies 3. (Sox win World Series, 4-0.)
Yeah, it was THAT good. And, yeah, I haven't gotten sick of watching the post-game coverage yet. Probably never will.