La Grange doesn’t expect much from Quaker State 400

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By Greg Waddell

 Though set to take place nearly 40 miles away, the Quaker State 400 expects to bring plenty of money to the region when it comes to the area over the coming weekend. The only problem? Many local business say they don’t expect to see a dime.
   Part of that is due to a new race getting off the ground, Discover Downtown La Grange Executive Director Linda Goin noted.
  “Last year, we went all out and put up racing banners and nothing happened,” Goin said. “I think that people that come here for the race get their hotel rooms or they camp out and the focus is racing. It just takes a couple of years for the wives and the fans to say, ‘I’ve had enough of this, I’m going to go up the street.’ That happens at any NASCAR race though; it isn’t just us.”
  Another factor is the timing of the race. With last year’s traffic problems still fresh on peoples’ minds, crowds won’t wait around in La Grange to take in the city, mayor Bill Lammlein said.
 “People really have to get there no later than two and the race doesn’t start until like seven or eight in the evening,” he said. “I just feel like the timing of the race just doesn’t work well for our city as far as people coming in town actually spending money. I think that if they would change the race to a 1 p.m. or 12 p.m. start time so that people are out of there no later than five or six, you would see a big influx or people here for dinner and things like that.”
  Still, though local restaurants may not be benefitting from late start times, hotels certainly are. With many in the city of La Grange selling out weeks ago, they may be the only parts of the city to really see a part of the profits.
But how much profit? According to Oldham County Tourism Bureau Executive Director Kim Buckler, the numbers could hover near a half a million dollars
  “Just figuring on what the room rates are,” Buckler said, “and with us being at capacity and then taking how the state tells us to figure economic impact, I figure we’ll have probably $450,000 to $500,000 to Oldham County. Most of those people come in on Wednesday and stay through Sunday.”
 Still, while most are trying to catch some of the business passing through,  others are focused on drumming up excitement within the community here. One of those, Walmart, brought in assortment of NASCAR simulators and show cars Tuesday and Wednesday to commemorate the event.
Though a number of reasons contributed to the decision to have an event here, La Grange store manager Gordon Haymaker said, the biggest came down to pouring back into the community.
“We do it to get the community involved,” he noted. “With the economy being rough, some people aren’t fortunate enough to be able to go to the races so we can bring the race to them. We had a great turnout last year and this year we’ll have all kinds of stuff to do (again.) We’ll have cornhole, the Oreo stacking contest and several other things to do.”

Email us about this story at: sports@oldhamera.com.