March 9, 2006 | 10:44 A.M. EST
With all due respect to Charlotte, when most fans think of NASCAR, they think of Daytona and its most prestigious event, the Daytona 500. Daytona International Speedway isn’t called “The World Center of Racing” for nothing.
I have to admit I was a bit taken aback Monday — not by the announcement that NASCAR had chosen Charlottte — but by the slogan by which the Charlotte presentation was given: “Racing Was Built Here, Racing Belongs Here.” I’m not so sure I agree with that statement.
Does anyone remember when they used to race on the beaches down here in sunny Florida? Or, has that part of the sport’s history long been forgotten? I’m not quite sure Bill France Sr. was looking down upon Monday’s grand parade with any type of joy or satisfaction.
In fact, it’s difficult to swallow, but not to believe, that it appears Daytona Beach was NASCAR’s third choice behind Charlotte and Atlanta. As a non-resident of Daytona Beach (I live in the Orlando area), it appears from an outsider’s point of view, from what I’ve been hearing, that the push from Daytona’s city officials to get the NASCAR Hall of Fame wasn’t very significant at all.
Complacency can sometimes be a bad thing, and in this case, it was very bad.
Daytona USA is a fantastic venue and an enjoyable tour. The NASCAR Hall of Fame, however, would have been a major coup for Daytona Beach and the area. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right.
As a former eight-year resident of Charlotte, I congratulate the city for enticing NASCAR to build its Hall of Fame there. Charlotte is a great city and it’s a great place to live. Plus, I’m sure the financial package the city put together wasn’t anything to sneeze at, either. I’m only glad now that I’m not a resident. Somehow they’ll find a way to jack up the taxes there.
Over 90 percent of NASCAR teams are located within 60 miles of the downtown Charlotte area. Convenience is always a good thing. Ask Dale Earnhardt Jr. He was quoted as saying he’d think twice about hopping a plane to Atlanta to attend Hall of Fame activities and wouldn’t blink about getting in a car and driving to downtown Charlotte. As if a 45-minute plane ride would be that inconvenient for Junior.
With the Hall of Fame coming to Charlotte, I guess that kills any chances of the city ever landing a Major League Baseball team, something city officials have been trying to do for years. There’s got to be give and take somewhere, eh?
There can hardly be an argument against Charlotte getting the NASCAR Hall of Fame. It was a great choice. But if NASCAR wanted to stick to its real roots, they should have looked a lot further south.