posted September 14, 2001 05:54 PM
On Thursday, Sept. 12, 2001, the RPM Week-Texas activities at Texas Motor Speedway were postponed in wake of the aftermath of the national tragedy earlier this week. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Silverado 350 has been rescheduled for Friday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m., and the Indy Racing Northern Light Series Chevy 500 is rescheduled for Saturday, Oct. 6, at 3:00 p.m. The Dirt Track races have been cancelled. In response to the many racing fans and their interest in our race weekend, speedway general manager Eddie Gossage has issued the following letter to our fans.
I appreciate hearing from you and wanted to explain what happened with the "on again/off again" nature of this weekend's races. This has been a stressful, confusing week in America and the issues have changed minute-to-minute.
On Wednesday, Texas Motor Speedway officials received information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the FBI, the Fort Worth Police Department and other vital agencies. With that information, we held on-going discussions with the Indy Racing League, NASCAR, the World of Outlaws and the United Dirt Track Association as we all groped to make a decision about the scheduled races.
We read more than 300 e-mails from fans, in which only three voiced opposition to the races proceeding as scheduled. As Texas Motor Speedway has proven time after time, we listened to our fans and were willing to follow their lead and hold the races. We discussed with the American Red Cross a plan to locate donation bins at the gates. The Speedway bought 50,000 American flags to distribute on Sunday and made plans for a rousing patriotic display.
Mid-day Wednesday, a conference call between the Speedway, IRL and NASCAR was held. NASCAR informed us that they were planning to proceed with the NASCAR Winston Cup Series race in New Hampshire and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race here in Texas. As a group, we all agreed that we would eliminate Friday's scheduled qualifying activities to allow more travel time, but that we would proceed with the Truck race on Saturday and the IRL race on Sunday. We would - again - listen to the fans.
We closely monitored air travel, but the FAA continued to move back the opening of America's airports. We were concerned because we have ticket holders in all 50 states and 10 foreign counties and they rely on air travel. It became evident that we would not have dependable, full-service air travel available this weekend.
At approximately 1:15 p.m. Thursday, we received a call from NASCAR that they had announced a postponement of both the NASCAR Winston Cup race in New Hampshire and the Truck race in Texas. The IRL - with drivers, crew members and officials en route to Texas in cars and chartered buses - wanted to proceed with the weekend's activities. But we know that most fans attend both the IRL and the Truck races and it would not be possible to hold one race without the other. Ask yourself: Would you have preferred the IRL race be run as scheduled and the Truck race be rescheduled three weeks later? Effectively - between NASCAR's decision and the continued issues regarding air travel - the IRL and Texas Motor Speedway were left with no alternatives.
The decision whether to hold sporting events this weekend after this terrible tragedy is grist for debate. Those that argue that we cannot let the terrorists "win" by changing the American way of life make a strong argument. Likewise, those that argue that we should not be gathering in public places to cheer on "insignificant" races or games while heroic workers look for survivors in New York and Washington D.C. make a very valid argument. Both viewpoints have great merit.
Regarding the rescheduled dates, we recognize this pose conflicts for many. Some people have no more vacation time and some have other plans. We realize this is also the weekend for Texas vs. OU, the Houston Grand Prix, Dallas Stars home opener, etc. But we know any date would be fraught with conflicts. We can only offer you our apologies.
Shockingly, some fans have complained categorizing the postponement of the Truck/IRL weekend and the cancellation of the CART race in April. I've been promoting major league auto races for 22 seasons and I have never had a cancellation or postponement to deal with in my career until this season. There is a distinctive difference between the two and I trust that most fans can recognize the difference once they eliminate some of the emotion from their thinking.
I write this in-depth detail of the week's time-line so that you know what transpired and how the "on-again/off-again" nature of our public decisions occurred. I believe we have earned your trust (remember the immediate refund of CART tickets, **** vs. cooler decision, free parking, etc.) and hope that you know we had your best interest at the root of every decision we made this week. There are more factors that went into our decision that I am prohibited to detail here, but recognize that there is no coincidence that there will be no races, no college football, no NFL games, no major league baseball games and more this weekend. We were looking out for you.
And, finally, I know race fans' blood runs red, white and blue. Right now, words often fail and only prayer can fill the void. At the October 6th Chevy 500 IRL race, we will have a rousing patriotic demonstration of the American spirit. We encourage you to wear red, white and blue that day and hope you will be here to join us as we resume the American way of life. It appears obvious that tough and confusing times lie ahead, but I believe America is stronger as a result of our experiences this week.
And I hope you have a better understanding of how we dealt with a changing situation controlled by others and made the best decisions we could. Thanks for your understanding.
God Bless America!
Texas Motor Speedway