Nighttime racing at TMS means new challenges for commuters

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on April 4, 2011 at 9:41 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 4 at 10:01 PM

FORT WORTH — It's Race Week at Texas Motor Speedway.

If you live in the vicinity of the massive racetrack, you know what that means — traffic and lots of it.

But there's a big change you need to know about. For the first time in Speedway history, NASCAR is moving the races to Friday and Saturday nights instead of Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

TMS and Fort Worth police have had 15 years to practice, and they've got race weekend traffic down to a science.

"We're talking about an event twice the size of the Super Bowl in terms of attendance on Saturday night," said TMS president Eddie Gossage. But he doesn't sound worried.

"Last race we got exactly zero pieces of mail, e-mail, etc., from fans complaining about traffic," he said.

So starting as early as 5:30 p.m. Friday and again on Saturday, Fort Worth police will use contra-flow on Highway 114, funneling westbound traffic into the Speedway.

If you're not headed to the race, you'll be directed north on Interstate 35W and then will have to make a U-turn to go south.

Each night after the races, that pattern will be reversed.

Police say Friday's rush hour traffic on I-35W will also be affected... to put it politely.

"Help us help you," urged Fort Worth police Capt. Bryan Sudan. "Please follow the directions of the officers."

And — if possible — use alternate routes on Friday and Saturday nights.

If it's any comfort, keep this in mind: "Folks from Disney have been here to study the traffic, because they can't believe how well we move traffic in and out of here," Gossage boasted.

So while they know how to keep cars moving, Friday's commute could get a little "Goofy."

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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