New Hampshire Motor Speedway pushing itself as possible casino site

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Two years ago, Kansas Speedway built a $380 million casino and hotel near its 1.5-mile oval. Now, it looks like New Hampshire Motor Speedway wants its race fans to go for jackpots, too.

The New Hampshire State House is mulling over a bill that would allow two casinos to set up shop in the Granite State, and according to the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, NHMS general manager Jerry Gappens is set to testify Thursday in support of the legislation, which passed the N.H. Senate in March.

“If it’s going to come, this would be a site that should be on the most desirable list,” Gappens told the Monitor last week. “I’m a pro-speedway guy, and I’m bullish on this location…It would be a good thing to bring in additional tax revenue and jobs to the area.”

Since Speedway Motorsports bought the track in 2008 from the Bahre family, improvements have been steady at the ‘Magic Mile,’ which hosts two NASCAR weekends in July and September – the latter falling within the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Gappens believes that a casino at NHMS would help the speedway be more active during the racing off-season. Four years ago, the track commissioned a firm to assess the gambling/hotel market by doing a study of four New England casinos.

According to Gappens, the study said that a casino in Loudon could accommodate 750 slot machines and 24 table games, with a projected first-year gambling revenue of about $50 million.

“And that was done in 2010, right in the middle of a challenging economy,” he said. “If there are only two licenses in New Hampshire, those numbers could be even higher.”

Gappens also wants the track to be an even bigger economic engine than it already is for the state; the Monitor notes that two out-of-state casinos advertise at NHMS and while Gappens likes the money they bring, the ads basically tell people to leave the state.

“We are in the business of trying to bring tourism dollars and bring revenue to the state,” he said. “We’ve got a track record of doing that.”

But casinos can have the tendency to be a polarizing issue, and so, not everyone is enthused about the legislation.

A local Republican state senator that voted against the bill, Sen. John Reagan, noted that the track does do a lot for the state but believes that putting a casino near it would lead to a logistical nightmare on race weekends.

“They are in the racetrack business,” he said to the Monitor. “What happens to their regular thousands of people who are gaming and then all of the people want to go there for a NASCAR race? It sounds like it might be a logistical problem.”

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.