While NASACAR fans look forward to the beginning of a new season, New York State has been quietly developing a new facility outside of the Syracuse area that it hopes may become an integral part of NASCAR road racing. The Central New York Raceway Park, which is sited near Interstate 81 in the town of Hastings, is a state-of-the-art facility that has been under construction since the fall of 2014. The facility features a half-mile dirt track oval surrounded by a 2.2 mile road course. Construction plans also include a five-story building that houses VIP suites, an on-site restaurant, a media center (including high-speed Wifi), a command center and a nearby campsite that will feature full hook-ups.
Plans also include the construction of a 50 bay NASCAR-style garage, which has raised the question of whether the track will pursue a future in America’s top racing series, according to Jonathan Pilat writing for Beyond the Flag, perhaps in the form of a new road course on the NASCAR schedule.
“There has been a great deal of conversation in the NASCAR world over whether or not the Sprint Cup Series should add more road course races to the schedule,” wrote Pilat. “Road courses have become a fan favorite in recent years, especially in the past five seasons where tracks like Watkins Glen International and Road America have produced fantastic finishes.”
Even before construction has been completed, the CNYRP already has an event planned for the future. Beginning in 2016, the new track will host the Syracuse 200, the culminating event of the annual SuperDIRT Week series. The race has traditionally been held at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse each September. (The NY State Fairgrounds are slated for their own redevelopment in the near future.) Last fall, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and DIRTcar Racing made a joint announcement that the State of New York has made a formal 10-year commitment to Super DIRT Week to keep the event in central New York.
Officials at the CNYRP told Pilat the year-round facility will host a wide arrange of events pertaining to all forms of motorsports, tradeshows, concerts and festivals. They’re cagier about whether any of those events will include NASCAR.
“We have opened the lines of communication to several national racing organizations such as SCCA, Indycar, AMA, World of Outlaws, and NASCAR,” organizers told Pilat. “At this time there have been no confirmed dates or future plans.”
Pilat notes that the CNYRP may have something of an uphill battle if it hopes to become the site of a NASCAR event, however.
“There are potential barriers for Central New York Raceway Park to enter the NASCAR schedule,” he wrote. “There are many tracks that are already on the NASCAR schedule in the Xfinity Series and the Truck Series that would be put off that NASCAR would choose a new race track instead of the already existing NASCAR road course races. These tracks include Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Mosport and Road America.”
The CNYRP may also face pushback from other nearby New York road courses including Watkins Glen, which may lobby NASCAR in an effort to prevent losing local fans to the new raceway.
CNYRP officials report that to date (February 2016), the dirt track will be completed by end of July and the road course is expected to be completed by the end of September in time for the Syracuse 200 event.