Taking the checkered flag is always sweet, but most drivers would prefer to cross the finish line in high gear and at top speed, and not creeping along under a yellow caution flag. Speedway Motorsports (NYSE: TRK) took its checkered flag this quarter by beating analysts' earnings expectations with record revenue. However, estimates were lowered because of weak economic conditions, and profits were actually down from a year ago. But it was a victory nonetheless. Investors are certainly celebrating, rallying shares up more than 5% following the announcement last week.

For the first quarter, Speedway posted $155.2 million in revenue, nosing out last year's $152.2 million. Net income fell from the prior year's $31.9 million, to $30.9 million, causing earnings per share to slip from $0.72 to $0.71.

Admissions make up roughly one-third of total revenue and were down 5.1% from the prior year. Growth in the remaining revenue categories made up the difference, and the total was a record for the first quarter. Interest expense doubled because of the $300 million in debt incurred to acquire New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In its own first quarter, International Speedway (Nasdaq: ISCA) said it was seeing fewer advance ticket sales because of the economy. Speedway Motorsports is likely seeing the same thing, and the poor weather surrounding two of its events probably had more of an impact on admissions revenue as a result. Strong fan bases, corporate sponsorship, and television contracts seem to give these motorsports companies the speed to glide over some rough patches. While they should certainly be considered cyclical and discretionary consumer stocks, investors have to like the way they are weathering the economic trough.

Further Foolishness:

Fool contributor Steven Renaldi does not own shares of any companies mentioned. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy has four fresh tires and a full tank of gas.