Racing royalty checks out west bank IndyCar race site - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Racing royalty checks out west bank IndyCar race site


One of car racing's elite drivers came to New Orleans to size up the site for one of IndyCar racing's next big events.

Graham Rahal was checking out NOLA Motorsports' $60 million track in an area of the west bank that may be on the verge of a big growth spurt.

If you haven't been across the newly widened Huey P. Long Bridge, it's a whole new ball game, with all roads leading to new infrastructure.

Indy driver Graham Rahal is a member of the David Letterman racing team. He came to New Orleans to sample some flavor and check out the host city for IndyCar racing's newest event.

"When you look at the handful of cities that you want to go and visit in the U.S., New Orleans is always one of them," said Rahal, who's the son of former Indy winner Bobby Rahal.

Rahal is the guest of Laney Chouest, whose multimillion-dollar track is about to host its biggest event yet.

"We're ready to go, to play a role," said Chouest.

IndyCar racing is coming to New Orleans next year, in either March or June, with cars that are expected to go up to 200 mph. And Chouest said the area around the track is ripe for development.

"It's an anchor tenant in that whole area that's now easily accessible with the new [Huey P. Long] bridge," he said.

This event is, in effect, a public-private partnership because the state has committed millions of dollars to help put it on. The state provided 4$ million to the Jefferson Parish Convention Bureau to be used to upgrade the track for indy racing.

"It's a great investment. You talk about a $100 million economic impact," said Jefferson Parish Councilman Mark Spears.

But the event is also expected to drive traffic - and perhaps new development - to the west bank.

Thousands of acres are available, especially along Nicole Boulevard, where NOLA Motorsports and Churchill Regional Business Park are located, and more is on the way.

"Delgado's coming over. It's the only place you can grow in Jefferson Parish," said Spears.

Though the city has just lost out on the Super Bowl for 2018, Chouest hopes IndyCar racing will help fill the void.

"If this event works, we will have it every year, and we will certainly be part of the 300th anniversary," said Chouest.

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