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Psst! Charlotte Motor Speedway isn't in Charlotte

http://66.225.205.104/JR20100528.mp3

Correction appended As many as 100,000 race fans are expected at the Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend for one of NASCAR's biggest races - the Coca-Cola 600. Few of those fans will realize they're actually not in Charlotte - much to the chagrin of Concord city officials. Downtown Concord is decorated with black and white checkered banners year-round. The city's tag line is "high performance living." NASCAR is a big part of the city's image and the speedway is its crown jewel. Not that you can tell from the track's name. "I just like to remind people that Charlotte Motor Speedway is located in Concord, North Carolina," says Concord Mayor Scott Padgett. He has to do a lot of reminding these days and Padgett's office regularly puts out press releases to that effect at race time. The speedway became part of Concord during an annexation land grab in the late 80s. That means that every time there's a big race, the city of Concord is on the hook for around $300,000 in public safety and infrastructure costs. The city had an easier time taking credit over the last 10 years, when the venue was called "Lowe's Motor Speedway." But now that sponsorship has ended and the speedway is back to the name it was given in 1959. Mayor Padgett can't do much about that and he gamely concedes he's "happy" for the name "Charlotte Motor Speedway." "I understand for marketing purposes why that would be important," adds Padgett. Besides, Concord doesn't get the name recognition, but it may get the better deal. It's Concord, not Charlotte, that gets the millions of dollars in sales and property taxes each year from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Correction: The city of Concord spends about $300,000 a year on support services for events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, not for each race.