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Victory Lane: Officials behind indoor speedway say facility still on track

Sunday, March 18, 2001

By Chris Dolack, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

Even though speedways in Western Pennsylvania are gearing up for the start of another season, the hottest racing topic in the area remains a proposed indoor track near Pittsburgh International Airport.

And to answer the question so many are asking: Yes, the project is still moving forward.

In April 1999, Brant Motorsports of Morgantown, W.Va., announced it would build a privately-funded enclosed speedway on county-owned land in Findlay at a cost of more than $300 million.

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Since then, the track, named the Brant Pittsburgh Auto Racing Complex (Brant PARC), has been mired in a permits process. Currently, the project is awaiting approval of an environmental assessment for the Federal Aviation Administration.

"We're coordinating a bunch of things, including financing," said Brant Motorsports General Manager Kerry Fraas. "We're moving forward. It's never as fast as we would like, but we're steadily moving the project the ahead."

Brant PARC will be designed around a 1-mile banked oval under a roof with an air-flow system to remove fumes and soundproofing to keep noise to a minimum. It is expected to seat at least 60,000 people. The designers also plan to incorporate a 1-mile road course and an eighth-mile drag strip. There is no plan at this time for a dirt track.

But with PNC Park set to open this month and the Steelers' stadium later this summer, fans are beginning to wonder when Brant PARC will become a reality.

"What I would tell the impatient fan is hang in there," Fraas said. "We're working very hard to bring this about. Something of this magnitude and this new takes a lot of coordination and a lot of things have to come together. We're working hard toward that. Keep up your interest, we hope to see all the fans in 2003 at our first race."

As for the racing, no sanctioning body has committed a race to the facility, but Fraas believes once the project takes shape attracting series won't be a problem.

"We want open-wheel racing, IRL and CART. We want all forms of stock car racing," he said. "Really, if you name a sanctioning body, we probably want them there. We're trying to design in -- and it looks like we'll be successful -- a one-eighth-mile drag strip. Eighth-mile drag racing is becoming increasing popular."

As the process moves forward, quitting, or looking for a different sight, has not been considered.

"It's not an option," Fraas said. "We're moving ahead with this site."

For more information about the track -- and to see models of the facility showing how a building of this size can be built -- go to http://www.brantmotorsports.com/ and follow the links to the track.

PPMS ready to roll
After reaching an agreement on a new three-year lease with Emma Garin, owner of Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway, Miley Motorsports Inc. is set to begin its 13th season of operating the half-mile oval in Imperial.

The action begins Saturday with an open practice and free grandstand admission from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The regular season is set to begin March 31.

In addition to the regular Saturday night races with late models, limited late models, e-mods, pure stocks and amateur strictly stocks, the Mid-Atlantic Championship Series featuring 2000 champion Lynn Geisler of Cranberry, will make two appearances (July 14 and Aug. 4). PPMS will close its season in September with the 13th annual Pittsburgher 100 and the Renegade STARS Racing Series.

Chris Dolack can be reached at cdolack@post-gazette.com.

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