Lucas Oil Raceway to begin renovations

Lucas Oil Raceway is in the midst of a multimillion-dollar renovation aimed at turning the motorsports park into a multi-purpose facility that can be used year-round.

The dragstrip is home to the prestigious U.S. Nationals, NHRA's biggest race. There is also a 0.686-mile oval that once hosted NASCAR Xfinity, Truck Series and USAC races. The 2.5-mile road course hasn't been used in 10 years.

The property owned and operated by NHRA was used 159 days last year.

About a year ago, the facility purchased nearly 75 acres, and the plan is to use the new land to expand current facilities and racetracks.

An exact cost of the renovations was not given, but [Kasey] Coler [the track's general manager] said it is in the eight-figure range. To help with the costs, NHRA, through the town of Brownsburg, applied and was approved for a $1 million state grant.

According to the grant, which came from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation's Motorsports Improvement Fund, the $1 million was used to help build a pavilion for hospitality during race weekends and which could be opened up for for non-motorsports use.

Now that the pavilion is built, the racetrack is in phase one of renovations, which focuses on the dragstrip. Coler said the dragstrip is first on the list because that is what the facility is known for and is the biggest draw. There is no set end date for the renovations.

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Coler said phase two of the renovation includes improving the oval track so it can host more stock car races. He said the goal is for the oval to host up to 30 races a year. To get to that point, the track plans to improve the racing surface, fencing, lighting and seating.

Recently, Dale Earnhardt Jr. weighed in on a Twitter poll asking fans what short track they would like to see NASCAR return to. Earnhardt Jr. said Lucas Oil Raceway, and Coler said he echoes that sentiment. The goal, he said, is to one day bring NASCAR back to Lucas Oil Raceway, as that is one of the questions he gets the most.

"I think it's no secret that we'd like to see other forms of stock car racing, be it different forms of NASCAR racing that come back out here," Coler said. "That's long term what we'd like to see."

--- Indianapolis Star ---