Around this time last year, the Kentucky Speedway held its inaugural Sprint Cup Series event resulting in one of the worst traffic catastrophes in sporting history. An estimated 20,000 people missed the inaugural Quaker State 400 because of what some said was poor parking and transportation planning. Fortunately, the speedway was given a second chance at redemption earlier this month as it hosted the Quaker State 400 once again.

Donna McMillen, area manager for Riverside Parking, Louisville, attended the race both years. Knowing the area and potential for traffic issues, she arrived nearly 10 hours early for the 2011 race.  In hindsight, this proved a wise decision: she was able to avoid the parking and traffic disaster that interfered with so many other drivers, including half of her expected party.

I live in Kentucky and followed with interest to see if Kentucky Speedway would redeem itself this year.  Happily, it did. Collaborating with parking vendors, speedway officials, the state police, the Transportation Cabinet, and the governor’s office, the speedway spent more than $11 million on transportation upgrades, including adding 33,000 parking spaces. This year, McMillen arrived only one hour before the show and was able to drive right in with no issues. “This year, there were people visible directing traffic and pointing people to available parking areas. You didn’t see that last year,” she says. Parking played an important and central role in the planning process this year.

For the past two years the International Parking Institute (IPI) has been waving its Parking Matters® banner high. To the 20,000 people who missed the race last year, parking mattered. To Kentucky Speedway managers and owners who had to answer to the fans for last year’s parking and traffic fiasco, parking mattered. Time and time again, parking professionals are left out of the planning process with often devastating results. I was delighted to see that parking and transportation took a priority this year and to see the State of Kentucky redeem itself, because Parking Matters®.