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July 13. 2014 8:06PM

NASCAR fans in favor of night racing in Loudon


Jared Orsis of Milton, Vt., cheers on the drivers at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday. (DAN SEUFERT/Union Leader Correspondent)

LOUDON — The fans in the stands at New Hampshire Motor Speedway Sunday said they enjoyed the weekend’s weather. Mostly.

“It’s a little too hot,” said Betty Benoit of Hinsdale. “But it’s too hot every year.”

Race fans watching the NASCAR Sprint Cup Camping World RV Sales 301 rooted for different drivers, but were united in support of the speedway’s public statements that it would like to hold night races instead of hotter daytime races, perhaps as soon as next year.

“If you sit here and watch and listen, about 20,000 people will let out a sigh every time the sun covers a cloud,” said Tim Harrington of Plymouth, Mass. “It would be much nicer at night.”

“It’s nice and cool at night, and the track gets cooler and the races are better,” said Travis Gould of Newport, who regularly attends night races at smaller tracks in the state.

Most said they thought the track would improve in cooler conditions, and race cars would go faster.

“This is a sort of ’follow-the-leader’ track, it’s hard to make passes, and the hot track makes it harder,” said Ron King of Newport, an amateur stock car driver who was in the stands Sunday to watch the NASCAR race.

“Everything runs cooler at night, it would really open things up,” he said.

“The cooler track would keep the drivers from sliding around so much,” Benoit said.

Though the track would have to overcome significant legal obstacles for night racing, speedway officials have expressed hope to build lights around the track to allow for night racing, perhaps as soon as next year.

The track would need to convince a judge to remove a stipulation in the speedway’s original operating agreement that forbids night racing.

Some local residents have expressed opposition to the idea, though residents approved of the idea in a poll taken last year.

Speedway officials have said they want to erect the $3 million to $5 million light system because fans have asked for night racing.

“I think everyone would rather have night races,” Benoit said.

Police chief Robert Fiske, who reported a relatively crime- and incident-free week and weekend in town, said night racing would present “a challenge.”

“At the very least, it would present us with a different set of circumstances that would be a challenge to deal with,” he said.One problem with night racing in Loudon, Fiske said, is that he will not allow officers to stand in the roadways directing traffic at night, as they do now at the race’s entrances and exits.

“That’s one of the challenges, I would not put any officers in the roadways at night, I just won’t do that,” he said.

dseufert@newstote.com


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