HAMPTON, Ga. – The Atlanta Motor Speedway (search) looks as if it was in a high-speed crash after a tornado caused as much as $40 million in damage.
"Everything but the track surface has suffered some kind of damage, said speedway president Ed Clark, who estimated damage of $25 million to $40 million from the storm Wednesday night. "There are some buildings that will have to be torn down."
Entire sections of the grandstand and luxury boxes are shredded. Oak trees, flagpoles and light towers are snapped. On some of the speedway's condominiums, the roof is caved in and windows are shattered.
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, 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 with winds up to 157 mph.