NASCAR considers Atlanta for museum

By Ed Brock

Atlanta is one of four cities that have been asked to submit proposals for a NASCAR Hall of Fame museum.

Last week NASCAR officials requested the proposals from Atlanta, Kansas City, Charlotte and Daytona Beach and expect to have the proposals by May 31, said NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston.

"As a major national sport we thought the time was right to have our own Hall of Fame," Poston said.

If the museum comes to Atlanta it will likely be built near Centennial Park, though originally the idea was to put the museum in the building currently occupied by the World of Coke museum near Underground Atlanta, said Atlanta Motor Speedway Manager Ed Clark. Clark is a member of the 50-person organizing committee working on bringing the museum to Atlanta.

Clark said there has not been any serious discussion about putting the museum near the AMS in Hampton. The museum should be downtown where more tourists are likely to go, Clark said.

"It will have to be more than just race fans coming in for the race weekend," Clark said.

The proposal requests were left deliberately vague on the requirements for the museum, Poston said.

"We think every city and every jurisdiction knows in terms of space and resources what they can do best," Poston said.

NASCAR just wants something "world class, draws fans time and time again and stays fresh," Poston said, something that well reflects NASCAR's 56-year history.

Though he thinks Charlotte, the center of NASCAR activity, will probably get the museum, up and coming ARCA race car driver and 2004 Henry County High School graduate Chris Dilbeck said he'd love for it to come here. The fate of the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame Thunder Road Museum in Dawsonville is one reason why the museum needs to be in a big city, Dilbeck said.

"They're having a hard time getting crowds," Dilbeck said.

Atlanta's numerous NASCAR corporate sponsors, Turner Sports, the Georgia Department of Economic Development and others have members on the committee for the museum, Clark said.

"It's got everybody," Clark said. "They're making a real effort. They want it here."