Cars often idle bumper to bumper on Atlantic City streets.

Congestion could get even worse if a NASCAR track is built.

Gov. Chris Christie will announce his plans to overhaul New Jersey's gaming industry today. As part of those plans, a NASCAR track could be built in or near Atlantic City, according to The Star-Ledger.

There would seem to be no feasible place to build a track in the city.

NASCAR tracks range in size from a half-mile oval in Bristol, Tenn., to a 2.5-mile oval in Daytona, Fla. The Dover Downs Speedway is built on 750 acres in Delaware.

Wall Stadium, a short-course track that does not host NASCAR races, is built on 55 acres off Route 34 in Monmouth County.

The most logical site in the city for a race track would be Bader Field but that location has only 142 acres, and there are questions about whether the roads in that area could handle the crowds that come to NASCAR races, which can draw 100,000 fans.

This is not the first time the idea of a NASCAR track in southern New Jersey has been floated.

Bruton Smith, one of NASCAR's most prominent figures and owner of several tracks, announced in 1997 his intention to build a track in the Atlantic City area.

Then-Atlantic City mayor and current state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, said at the time the track would not be built in the resort. Smith said the track would need between 800 and 1,000 acres.

"We don't have the land mass," Whelan said back then.

The two most prominent sites discussed for the track were the 250-acre Atlantic City Race Course in Hamilton Township and several locations in Millville. There was also speculation that a track would be built on 900 acres in Little Egg Harbor Township.

None of the sites became reality in part because of community opposition.

Eventually, the New Jersey Motorsports Park was built and opened in Millville in 2008. That road course does not host NASCAR races, but it does host an annual Automobile Racing Club of America race, which features stock cars similar to what NASCAR uses.

There was talk of building a NASCAR track at the Meadowlands in 2002 but that too was defeated, mostly because northern New Jersey residents claimed the region was already too congested.

There is no denying the economic impact a NASCAR track can have. A 2006 Pennsylvania study estimated the two NASCAR races at the Pocono Raceway bring $363 million in tourism to that region.

Auto racing is popular in southern New Jersey and has a strong tradition in Atlantic County. The Atlantic City Speedway, also known as the Pleasantville Speedway, operated on Washington Avenue in Pleasantville from 1950-1979. The track peaked in the 1970s. The facility hosted stock car races and other auto stunts. Stafford Township's Martin Truex, the father of current NASCAR driver Martin Jr., raced a few times in Pleasantville.

Contact Michael McGarry:

609-272-7185