KANSAS CITY, KAN. With its sod installed, signs going up and excess mortar being scraped away, the new Kansas Speedway is driving closer to its first race.
Products from Lawrence-based companies including sod from Pine Family Farms Grass & Grain, signs from Star Signs & Graphics and solvents from Prosoco are helping build toward yet another milestone for the $250 million project 24 miles from Lawrence along Interstate 70.
The speedway's owner, International Speedway Corp., takes possession of the track Sunday, in time to spruce it up for its first auto race June 2.
"We're about 95 percent complete," said Sammie Lukaskiewicz, a speedway spokesperson. "We're getting ready to start racin'."
The track has seating for 75,000 people, with room to expand to 150,000. Tickets for five of the track's top races, including the Kansas 400 Winston Cup race Sept. 30, are 99 percent sold.
The track also has 68 suites, all of which have been leased to area companies and sponsors for at least $32,000 a year, while another 40 companies are on the waiting list for suites.
Among those with a suite is Topeka-based Westar Industries, the proposed holding company for Western Resources' interests in natural gas and home-security businesses.
Western also is investigating sponsorship possibilities.
"We're still on a fact-finding mission," said Kim Gronniger, a Western spokesperson.
The folks at the speedway have plenty of facts. According to Kansas Speedway Corp., the ISC division that oversees the track:
- Construction crews have hauled away 11 million cubic yards of dirt. That's enough to fill Kauffman Stadium five times, give or take a truckload.
- The project has created 2,000 construction jobs, with a combined annual payroll of $50 million.
- When the speedway opens, it will have 40 full-time jobs and 3,000 event-day employees.