Andrew Murstein, President of Medallion Financial, hopes to bring race tracks to New York City.
Most people think of horses when they hear the words Aqueduct Racetrack. Taxi tycoon Andrew Murstein dreams of horsepower.
Now that the president of Medallion Financial Corp. has purchased NASCAR racing team Richard Petty Motorsports for less than $50 million, sources close to the situation tell us, Murstein intends to finally establish a track here and make New Yorkers fans of the supercharged sport.
It’s not a new idea. A company called International Speedway attempted to build a track on Staten Island earlier this decade, until opposition from nearby residents killed the project by 2007.
The Medallion mogul’s idea is to build the track to co-exist with horse racing at Aqueduct in Queens or at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. Our sources say he’ll soon begin lobbying state and city officials.
Murstein was recently spotted having lunch with outgoing Gov. Paterson and NBC sportscaster Bob Costas at the Four Seasons restaurant, which jibes with a report in Crain’s New York Business that he met with the governor last month to discuss his idea.
Through a spokesman, Murstein told us: “We think NASCAR is one of the best and most profitable sports for investment. A track in or near New York City will draw many racing fans from the tristate area who now have to travel to Pocono” and “will bring jobs and tax dollars to the state when we most need it.
“Let’s hope a motor sports track does not suffer the same fate as the football stadium that got built in New Jersey instead of New York,” he added.
Even if local officials are receptive, Murstein could face a tough sell with the public. Though NASCAR is second only to NFL football in sports TV ratings, audiences have reportedly declined.
Then again, if Murstein could provide a local destination for NASCAR fans and harness the support of such local enthusiasts as chef Mario Batali, who wrote the cookbook “Mario Tailgates NASCAR Style,” the stars could align.