[NASCAR] Storms damage Atlanta Motor Speedway

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Deadly storms damage Atlanta Motor Speedway

HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) -- The Atlanta Motor Speedway looks as if it was in a high-speed crash.

Entire sections of its grandstand and luxury boxes are shredded. Oak trees, flagpoles and a light tower are snapped. On some of the speedway's condominiums, the roof is caved in, windows are shattered.

Every structure at the facility, which hosts NASCAR races and smaller events, was roughed up by a half-mile-wide tornado spawned Wednesday night by the remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy.

"Everything but the track surface has suffered some kind of damage... There are some buildings that will have to be torn down,'' said Speedway President Ed Clark, who estimated $25 million to $40 million in damage at the speedway.

While the speedway's races for the next week have been canceled, NASCAR's Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500 -- set for Oct. 30 -- will go on as planned, Clark said. "We'll be here and we'll be running the race as scheduled,'' he said.

The bowl shape of the speedway helped the tornado form and it eventually remained on the ground for about four miles, also hitting the Tara Field airport in Hampton, the National Weather Service said. Four planes were overturned and two hangars were damaged at the airport.

Lans Rothfusz, the meterologist in charge at the National Weather Service's Peachtree City office, said a preliminary investigation indicated the tornado was a category F-2, which typically have wind speeds of 113 mph to 157 mph.

Eslewhere in Georgia, at least two deaths and severe damage to homes and businesses were also blamed on the storm system that knocked down trees, blew off roofs and dumped more than 5 inches of rain as it moved Wednesday night through north and west Georgia.


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