Ky. Speedway fans are hot over cooler policy

SPARTA, KY (FOX19) - Kentucky Speedway fans are revved up over rules they have to follow for the upcoming Quaker State 400. Fans are upset over the track's policy on coolers and camping. Many said they are just too strict.

However, the policies are not new.

Coolers are not allowed inside the gates, and never have been. The rule has been in place for years. Fans told FOX19 that they've been outraged just as long. However, this year, the said it's time for a change.

"Fans need a break," said Mason resident Dan Alexander.

Alexander said he has been a Nascar fan for 20 years. He and his wife have traveled all over the country to watch races, but he's not happy with the track in his own backyard.

"You go into Bristol, and {getting in and out of the gate} is so smooth," said Alexander. "And that place sits 160,000 approximately?"

Alexander said he has a problem with the Speedway's cooler policy. They aren't allowed inside the gates, but other tracks do allow them, including Charlotte and Talladega.

"Maybe I don't want to spend that extra money to be going to the concession stand," said Alexander. "With all the hassle of going to the concession stand to get your drinks or food, and at the rate they charge? It's just uncalled for."

Alexander said he's tried to get the rules changed years ago. Others heard his cry this year. A group of upset fans created a Facebook page dedicated to fighting the cooler policy. Supporters are hoping Speedway managers will hear their complaints.

Mark Simendinger, General Manager of the Kentucky Speedway, said the policy is simple. He said it stems from Kentucky state law. You can't bring in outside alcohol. You can in the states where the other tracks are located. Managers added that it would be a nightmare-- security-wise-- to check all of those coolers.

"Because as disappointing as it is for me to perhaps not allow someone to bring a cooler in, and believe me, I would love it if I could please everybody," said Simendinger. "I would be more crushed if we had people who couldn't get through the gates."

Alexander said that's not the case at the other tracks.

"Nobody has any problems with the other tracks," said Alexander. "You go in there. It's get in line, open your cooler up, and you're done."

Still, Speedway leaders said they also have to answer to Homeland Security, and changing the cooler policy could make Uncle Sam just as unhappy as many fans.

"Like every other policy that we have in all honesty, we're trying to get it right," said Simendinger. "And if we see that we can do better next year by amending that policy, we will consider doing that."

Managers of the Kentucky Speedway have also implemented tighter controls on the camping policy-- especially when it comes to small motorized vehicles such as four wheelers and golf carts. They're not allowed. We're told it is to ensure everyone has a safe and pleasant race week experience.

"Again, for the safety of everybody. I can't have everybody coming here, bringing their own vehicles," said Simendinger. "I can't have them bringing four wheelers and golf carts. We have no control over that stuff."

Managers have more than tripled the number of camping spots this year. There are now 3,500 spots. There once was 1,000.

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