The future of racing needs two critical ingredients. It needs to be fun and it needs to be affordable. New Hampshire Motor Speedway has created a perfect blend of the two with a new gateway to grassroots racing in the Northeast.
Speedway officials cut the ribbon on Thursday, unveiling its new on-site Granite State Legend Cars dealership. The goal of the quickly growing and lucrative new business that serves the Northeast and Canada is to provide turn-key racing to aspiring up-and-coming drivers and teams.
“We want to attract a new generation of race car drivers and participants,” said Jerry Gappens, executive vice president and general manager of the speedway. “Legend cars provide the thrill of big-time racing without breaking the family’s budget.”
Legends have produced some of the top names in NASCAR today, including Sprint Cup Series drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Joey Logano, Trevor Bayne, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch.
“This is where they all started – in the Legend cars,” said Bruton Smith, CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. “Kyle Busch, and his brother Kurt, learned in these cars in Las Vegas. Kyle is now one of the best in the business today.”
The stars of tomorrow were on hand to share in the festivities on Thursday. Sixteen-year-old Ryan Hammar (Pembroke, N.H.), 15-year-old Taylor Martin (Windham, N.H.), 13-year-old Wyatt Alexander (Ellsworth, Maine) and 12-year-old TJ Bleau (Troy, N.H.), all of the NELCAR (New England Legend Car) series, showed off their rides for the large crowd assembled outside the dealership.
“I’m so glad you brought your cars with you today,” said Don Hawk, vice president of business affairs at SMI. “This is fantastic and really gets me excited about what we do for a living.”
Smith helped with the design of the cars, as the blueprints passed across his desk. The cars look much like a scaled-down version of coupes from the 1930s and 1940s moonshine days of NASCAR – where it all started.
“Without the vision of Bruton Smith, we could not be successful at what we do every day,” said Hawk. “These cars provide a great training model to future racing.”
Reaching speeds of 130 miles per hour, the cars handle much like the trucks found in the Camping World Truck Series. That provides a huge benefit to young drivers, who are more prepared for the subsequent series’ than they would have been without Legends.
“It’s a great sport, it’s respectful racing and it’s a great way to develop the skills of drivers for the future,” said Tom Blanchette, director of operations at NHMS. “The hope is to develop young racers and we’re fortunate to have an amazingly talented young group right here at ‘The Magic Mile.’ ”
The Granite State Legend Car dealership should help the teams racing in NELCAR with the cost of keeping their vehicles in tip-top shape. With over half a million dollars in parts, the dealership supplies everything from tires to fire suits as well as a full-service garage.
For those looking to get into the sport for the first time will be able to do so for less than $13,000. A Bandolero, a spec-series racer designed for drivers as young as 8 years old, can be purchased, turn-key ready, for less than $6,000.
There is also a tremendous economic impact, as it will provide new jobs. Nearly 6,000 cars have been sold to 23 different countries, including Russia, Finland and six that were purchased in Japan during the unveiling.
“We sold 44 of these cars in Africa just last year,” said Don Hawk, SMI’s vice president of business affairs. “The only thing that will make me happier is if we sell 45 in New England.”
To see the Legend cars in action purchase your tickets to the SYLVANIA 300 NASCAR weekend by stopping by our Ticket Office, visiting the speedway website at www.nhms.com or calling our Ticket Hotline at (603) 783-4931.