NASCAR: SMI removing sizable number of seats at Charlotte, Atlanta


The economic issues of recent years have had an impact on NASCAR attendance, and so, multiple tracks on the circuit have reduced their seating capacity to help ease maintenance costs and avoid being criticized for less-than-normal crowds.

You can now add Speedway Motorsports Inc. tracks Charlotte Motor Speedway and Atlanta Motor Speedway to that list. SMI announced today that 41,000 seats will be removed at Charlotte, while 17,000 seats will be removed at Atlanta.

Charlotte currently hosts two Sprint Cup weekends, one featuring the Coca-Cola 600 in May and another featuring a 500-mile Chase race in October. Atlanta has one Cup weekend, which has been moved to the week after the season-opening Daytona 500.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SMI called the removed seats “low demand” and anticipates using the areas for “premium hospitality, advertising, and other facility purposes.”

The publicly traded SMI also noted that removal of the seats, which should be complete by the first half of 2015, was expected to “result in a fourth quarter 2014 non-cash, pre-tax charge for accelerated depreciation of approximately $23 million.”

It looks like the removal process at Charlotte (which involves seats in Turn 2 and the backstretch) has already begun.

Richard Childress Racing director of research and development Slugger Labbe tweeted this shot to Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass from today’s Goodyear tire test at CMS:

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.