Gov. Mike Easley this week signed bills that promote motorsports, a multi-billion-dollar industry in North Carolina with a solid presence in Lincoln County. One bill calls for $4 million in taxpayer money to pay for planning and design of a testing complex near Charlotte. The second measure allows the issuance of special license plates with a stock car racing theme.
Officials in the stock car industry say the testing complex will be a race track used for testing stock cars. Thatâ€™s important to the region, because NASCAR limits the number of times drivers can practice on a sanctioned track, such as Loweâ€™s Motor Speedway. To do more testing, they now have to go to Kentucky or Arizona to practice. A new test track would allow racing teams to test equipment closer to home. Racing officials say about 300 race teams – NASCAR and otherwise – are located within 60 miles of Charlotte, and most are within 35 miles.
The track would be located in the Charlotte region, but nobody has said exactly where. Why not Lincoln County? Weâ€™re kind of like a backyard to the racing industry where crews locate shops and work on their cars. It would be an ideal setting for a testing track. We urge our county officials and the Lincoln County Economic Development Association to make sure we are under consideration.
Regardless of where the track is located, the proposal makes good sense. As Gov. Mike Easley said when he signed the bill, the motorsports industry is an important economic engine for the state of North Carolina, bringing in more than $1.5 billion each year and employing more than 10,000.
Another bill authorized the state Division of Motor Vehicles to issue a series of special license plates with a stock car racing theme. Proceeds will go to the North Carolina Motorsports Foundation, a nonprofit group that funds research, tourism and economic development in the motorsports industry.
The license plates, available by yearâ€™s end, will feature the NASCAR logo and the car numbers and signatures of at least 28 drivers. Each plate will cost $30 plus license fees.
Lincoln County has a stake in the racing industry and stands to benefit anytime the state can help out with measures such as these.