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Official Review by Paul Derrick, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
At the intersection of interstates 70 and 435 you will find one of NASCAR's hidden gems, Kansas Motor Speedway. Kansas Motor Speedway has existed in the sport for a little over a decade now as NASCAR ran its inaugural race there in September of 2001.
The 1.5-mile tri-oval can produce blazing speeds of over 190 miles per hour. The speedway currently hosts two NASCAR weekends annually and is owned by the legendary France family and International Speedway Corporation. Kansas Speedway offers everything a NASCAR fan could ask for, with plenty of speed and action.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food and beverage variety is the only real downfall of the experience at Kansas Speedway. There is nothing out of the ordinary that you won't find at any other track, stadium, or arena. You will have no problem finding the usual items such as hot dogs, corn dogs, popcorn, and peanuts. The only slightly interesting items are BBQ sandwiches and steak tacos. I had quite the appetite when I arrived so I decided to try the BBQ sandwich, but was pretty disappointed and found it to be quite dry. All of the food and beverages are reasonably priced, if not a little below average.
The atmosphere of race days is not like any other sport, from the anticipation of the start to the roaring of the engines. Kansas Speedway does not disappoint when it comes to a great atmosphere. Many people may think that Kansas Speedway would have a lesser fan base being away from the heart of NASCAR in the deep South. However, Kansas offers a great race day experience. From the moment you walk into the gates you feel the race day atmosphere, from the hanging banners to the smell of ethanol and rubber. Kansas does not disappoint the fans, whether it be a brand new NASCAR fan or the diehard resident of 30 years.
Unfortunately most NASCAR tracks are built a little off the beaten path of major cities for obvious reasons, and Kansas Speedway is no different. The track is actually located on the outskirts of Kansas City in a town called Piper. There unfortunately isn't a whole lot to do within extremely close distance to the track other than spending time at the newly built Hollywood Casino which overlooks turn 2. If you're a gambler or are feeling lucky and want to bet on your favorite driver, then this might be the perfect place to check out before the race.
Restaurant and entertainment options are limited within close distance to the track. However, you are on the outskirts of Kansas City so I would definitely advise visiting there as your primary option.
Piper does have some entertainment value for sports fans. In Piper, sports fans can find Sporting Park Stadium which is home of the MLS soccer team Sporting Kansas City, as well as Community America Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones.
If you're in the area with family I would highly advise the Schlitterbahn Vacation Village which is a 370 acre resort and waterpark. Other than that the options are limited, the only real food options near the speedway are your basic fast food options.
NASCAR fans are like no other fans in the world. If you are new to NASCAR you may be pleasantly surprised, as most NASCAR fans are labeled incorrectly. You will find a wide variety of race fans when you show up to Kansas Speedway, everyone from the long dedicated fan with his favorite driver's number tattooed on his arm to the white collared worker in a suit and tie. NASCAR fans are some of the most dedicated fans in all of sports and the ones at Kansas Speedway do not disappoint.
The fans are in abundance packing the track and are on their feet the majority of time, cheering on their favorite driver as he went by. The fans are knowledgeable about NASCAR and their favorite driver and can be heard conversing with other fans about activities throughout the season.
Access in and out of Kansas Speedway is definitely better than expected. Parking is more than accommodating as Kansas Speedway is able to hold more than 35,000 vehicles, and is free of charge.
The concourses are more than wide enough to allow for easy foot traffic around the track. The ground level concourse is unique in that it allows spectators to be able to walk down 30 rows on grade or up 35 rows on structure. The seating is like the majority of all NASCAR tracks in that it is bleacher seating and can be uncomfortable. However you will probably be standing the majority of the time.
Tickets for Kansas Speedway can be found for as little as $40 to $100 for the whole weekend of racing. The hundred dollar weekend cost is definitely well worth the amount of entertainment you will experience at Kansas Speedway. If you get a chance, I would recommend buying a pit pass or NASCAR experience to go down in the infield and on pit row to get a true appreciation of the cars and the actual amount of horsepower they can produce.
One extra point goes to Kansas Speedway for the allowance of bringing your own cooler. This is fairly typical in NASCAR venues. It is a great concept definitely for any fan trying to save a little money.
Another extra point for the new addition of a night race for the 2014 season. Watching a NASCAR race is fun and enjoyable already in the day, but there is a special flare when it is being done under the lights.
My last extra point goes to just how well Kansas puts together its race day operations. The parking is easy and free, and I had no problems whatsoever leaving the race afterwards.
Kansas Speedway truly is a hidden gem for most NASCAR fans but if you're in the area and it is race day weekend, then it's a can't miss racing venue.
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