Although it’s still far from a certainty and at least a couple of years off, the National Corvette Museum’s proposed motorsports facility has been clearing hurdles left and right on its way to becoming reality.
For the museum to build the track across Interstate 65 from the museum itself, 405 acres must be changed from the current agriculture zoning to planned unit development. The museum currently owns 70 of those acres and is in the process of obtaining 114 more acres for what will be the first phase of the development: a 2.94-mile road course, a 10-acre autocross pad and a skid pad.
Because this is a motorsports facility, there have been some objections, but the City-County Planning Commission had approved the rezoning March 1 by a vote of 8-3, despite vocal opposition from neighbors, who objected to noise levels. The Bowling Green Daily News quoted an attorney for the opposition as saying, “If you’ve ever been to a NASCAR event, you know how loud those cars are.” While the NCM has left open the possibility of NASCAR teams practicing there, it doesn’t seem likely.
More recently, the fiscal court of Warren County unanimously agreed to consider the rezoning ordinance.
The museum’s official web site for the proposed track includes a list of uses that are largely for high-performance driver training, but also extend to corporate events; a “resource for engineering, math and science disciplines” for nearby Western Kentucky University; and a training facility for city, county and state emergency workers. They also state that the track will serve as the home track for the GM-sponsored Pratt & Miller Corvette team, though there is no guarantee that Pratt & Miller will make the track their new home.
If all goes well with the first phase, which is tentatively scheduled to open two to three years after final approval and financing is in place, the museum has options for an additional 221 acres that will see an expansion to include a second road course (that will connect to the first to create what may be the longest road course in the U.S., according to the developers), a quarter-mile dragstrip and other facilities.
Of course, any project of this size requires significant investment and the National Corvette Museum is currently in the process of raising the estimated $20 million it will take to open the first phase of the track. Considering that the operators of the facility have no plans to stage commercial racing events, something that could potentially endanger their status as a not-for-profit entity, raising the cash may be a challenge. As of now, museum officials report having secured just over 10 percent of what they need to get started.
Even with the regulatory hurdles clearing for them, the road ahead to build this new track is not guaranteed until they have secured the funding.