By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
SPARTA, Ky. - The 50,000 or so fans expected at the Kentucky Speedway for the Aug. 17 Belterra Casino Indy 300 will have an easier time getting there.
Some fans will also have a new place to stay overnight once they arrive.
An expansion of the Interstate 71 ramp at Ky. 35, the main road into the speedway, has finally been completed. A second lane on the interchange ramp, a project speedway management had hoped to see completed earlier in the race season, should ease the flow of traffic from the interstate to the track's main entrance.
"Getting those two lanes off I-71 was a critical step to improving access into the track," said Kentucky Speedway General Manager and Executive Vice President Mark Cassis.
Last week, a $4 million 78-room Ramada Limited & Suites hotel opened just across Ky. 35 from the speedway. It is the first major hotel to open near the $152 million motor speedway.
Two more major road projects are planned:
Widening I-71 to three lanes north of the speedway.
Completing a new road from Exit 55 on I-71, the interchange south of the speedway, down to Markland Dam, which serves as a bridge to southern Indiana and will provide quicker access to the Belterra Casino and Resort in Switzerland County, Ind.
Work on both projects will be completed over the next one to two years, Cassis said.
Cassis is hoping for a crowd of more than 50,000 on a weekend that also includes Cincinnati Reds home games, the Cincinnati Bengals preseason opener, the Western & Southern Financial Masters tennis tournament in Mason and a Fleetwood Mac concert at Riverbend.
In typical speedway fashion, the race is being heavily - and uniquely - promoted.
On Aug. 14 from noon to 10 p.m., Newport on the Levee will host the "Festival of Speed," where fans can meet drivers, view Indy race cars and try out interactive displays that will include a racing simulator.
"We're actually going to have (drivers) Sarah Fisher and Scott Sharp drive race cars across the (Taylor Southgate) bridge and into Great American Ball Park and deliver the baseball before the Reds play," Cassis said.
New name meant to woo new shoppers
Lazarus change ends an era
Parties spar over judicial choice
Alarm fees hit, citizens fuming
'Back' to school: yes, already, still
IN THE TRISTATE
$436.4 million budget proposed for city schools
Sewer district to buy 8 homes
River may get its own classroom
Environmentalist offers support for energy amendment
Accidents at Fernald result in deferral of $100,000 in bonus
Liability insurance rates drop for city's stadiums
Tristate A.M. Report
101 homes planned for Westwood subdivision
Smith Amos: When you need a helping hand, Cincinnati Works
Howard: Ex-banker honored for helping kids
BUTLER, WARREN, CLERMONT
Dancer's charges upheld
Butler Co. tries new tack in prosecuting drug cases
Warren Co. commissioners revved up over snub by BMV
Blues a backup at city festival
Balloonists target Middletown
Landlord found in yard was electrocuted, investigators say
Theodore Wilburn Jr., 76, was police chief, musician
Mental health, inmate DNA bills inked
Putting another face on homeless
Predator law being toughened
Health of Ohio beach-goers to be studied
More trucks wanted on turnpike
Citizen tackles suspect police chased
Fletcher will debate with a sub
Financial camp gives teens an interest in power of savings
Detective says diary raised hint of foul play
Player meets his young self
Tina Connor pleads innocent to mail fraud
Three schools have no dropouts
Fans have speedier way to speedway
Patton blames agency for PC breach