I used to run a manufacturing line that built Corvette fascias in a Mason, Ohio plant which would require me to travel to the Corvette manufacturing plant in Bowling Green Kentucky every so often to inspect the rejected fascias for defects and process improvements. The fascia was the entire plastic front end assembly that contained the headlights, parking lights and basic connections for electronics. The fascias were the most visible part of that assembly and was to be built-in such a way that it could be taken straight off a rack and put onto a car. If you drive a Corvette from 1994 to 1997 chances are, I built the front end of that car. Take off the fascia and you’ll see that you have my signature there because I signed every one of them.
As that contract was being completed for the last model year of that particular design, the Corvette Plant wanted a lot of these fascias so I worked 2nd shift and 3rd shift every day 7 days a week for approximately a year and a half to meet the contract demands, those shifts being the most difficult to staff with quality labor. Yes, I worked 16 hours a day for that entire span every day of the week except for holidays. I did much of the work myself, including fab opts, basic trimming, quality control, transportation to the paint line, paint line inspection, and liaison to the Bowling Green plant, all while managing three to four employees per shift just for that particular line. One of the ways I kept everybody’s head in the game was to perpetually run broadcasts from 700 WLW, which filled the long work hours with entertainment.
It was during this time in the mid-90’s that Jerry Carroll was lobbying to build the Kentucky Speedway down in Sparta which officially started in 1999 and spent a lot of time on WLW promoting his massive project that would bring NASCAR to the Tri-State. Many of those broadcasts were like the one heard here by Darryl Parks as he covers the historic opening of the raceway after a decade long battle to bring such high-profile racing to reality.
I had the opportunity to watch Sparta, which is about 40 min to the south of Cincinnati turn from a field of empty land next to Interstate 71 where the property wasn’t even being farmed into a world-class racetrack that is attracting hotels, restaurants, casinos and shopping centers, and possibly even an airport.
It was the vision of one man and his mind that brought all this activity to life. In the interview below, when Jerry talks about the small mindedness of NASCAR, it must be remembered that he had to take NASCAR to court to even get their attention. His goal was to bring a NASCAR race to Kentucky. End of story! How he got there and who he had to run over to achieve that dream was not a consideration. That makes him a great American!
This is why the Kentucky Speedway is such a magnificent and epic story. It is truly about the vision of one man who defied the odds to make a dream come true which then creates true economic activity to a region that didn’t have it before. America was built by people like Jerry Carroll. His fight is the same fight that education reformers are fighting, Tea Party advocates, tax reformers, anybody who sees that there are possibilities, but come up against powerful monopolies, and government is a powerful monopoly, and tries to get the fools to see that they are standing in the way of real growth.
Government is no different from NASCAR in that the decision makers are often gun-shy and comfortable, and unwilling to take a chance. This doesn’t make them bad people, but it does make them unqualified in the realm of being a dreamer, and in America they have no right to regulate the dreamer.
It is the dreamer, the risk-taker, the innovator who should always rule in America. They should be listened to intently with the highest honor for they are the people who move the world. They are the people who can end poverty, who can increase revenue, who can bring changes that benefit all of mankind.
The typical progressive who finds NASCAR racing barbaric and crude are missing the symbolic meaning of the sport, and that is in a lawless rejection of progressive policies when prohibition ruled and the good ol’ boys from the hills hit the road to outrun the law. When they weren’t running moonshine they raced each other, and NASCAR was born. The races of NASCAR improve automobile technology in complex ways that defy measure and are important events that have improved the lives of every single citizen in the world who drive a car. When a car crashes in NASCAR at over 150 to 200 MPH nobody expects the driver to die anymore. The safety equipment that protects these drivers has found their way into our family cars.
But nothing happens without dreamers like Jerry Carroll. Nobody in government would have thought to do such a thing as building a track where he did. Government does not create; it just consumes and gets in the way of the dreamers who actually make a difference where those difference really matter.
The Belterra Casino is in Indiana, but it would have never located there unless they anticipated the future business of the Speedway, just up the road. As the years come to us by way of the future, that road from Belterra to the Speedway will become something that will rival Las Vegas and it all started with the will of one man, a man I listened to intently late at night with sweet pouring off my face as I built parts for a Corvette Plant in Kentucky and dreamed of things that had not yet come to be through the radio broadcasts of 700 WLW.