Chesterfield County races to buy Southside Speedway for $5M

Chesterfield County plans to buy the shuttered Southside Speedway for $5 million. (Jack Jacobs photos)

There’s soon to be a new driver behind the wheel of the shuttered Southside Speedway.

Chesterfield County plans to buy the racetrack property, which county officials see as a potential expansion of the nearby River City Sportsplex.

On the docket for the Board of Supervisors’ meeting Wednesday is a resolution to allocate $5 million to the county’s economic development authority to buy the roughly 41-acre site at 12800 Genito Road.

The property is under contract, and the deal is expected to close by the end of June. The speedway was most recently valued at $1.8 million.

It’s currently owned by Sue Clements, whose family had run the track since the 1950s before closing it in December.

The county doesn’t have definitive plans for the track yet, though it’s expected to be redeveloped to expand or otherwise enhance River City Sportsplex — a 115-acre, county-owned sports complex just down the road.

“This board has been very progressive when it comes to looking for opportunities for future development or control of the direction of key tracts of land in the county,” Deputy County Administrator Matt Harris said Friday. “There’s no immediate plans for what to do with it. We’ll have to go through a master planning process.”

Potential uses of the property could include additional athletic fields, more parking and even commercial space to house restaurants that would cater to the crowds at the complex’s sporting events and tournaments, Chesterfield Supervisor Chris Winslow said.

“That’s still up for discussion but I think we see the purchase of Southside Speedway as a natural way to expand the successful operations at River City Sportsplex,” Winslow said.

The track at Southside Speedway in early June. The racetrack ended its more than half-century run in December as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Formerly part of the failed SportsQuest project, River City Sportsplex opened in 2011. The complex has 12 synthetic turf fields. The complex and the racetrack are near the upcoming The Lake mixed-use development.

Winslow, who represents the Clover Hill District in which the racetrack is located, said the sportsplex has continued to be a valuable sports tourism venue for the county even during the pandemic.

“We had a pretty solid year of tournaments,” Winslow said.

The sports complex has provided more than $89 million in direct economic impact within the county since July 2017 and attracts more than 500,000 people to its events every year, according to a January county news release.

In December, the county allocated $3 million toward field replacement and new stadium seating.

The Southside Speedway deal would come six months after the track closed down for good, a move the owners said was due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Southside Speedway was founded by J.M. Wilkinson in April 1959. Known as “The Toughest Short Track in the South,” it featured a 1/3 mile oval track and saw drivers from across the mid-Atlantic region participate in races, including drivers like Denny Hamlin, Cal Johnson and Bobby Allison.

Some lucky racing fans laid claim to Speedway mementos sold at an auction held earlier this month.

Items for sale from the racetrack included bleachers, stop lights, the pace truck, scales and other items. Every item in the auction inventory found a buyer. Motleys Industrial ran the auction.

“It really goes to show you how much people loved that Speedway,” Motleys spokeswoman Laura Tripp said. She declined to share how many people registered to participate in the auction, or a final sales figure for the auction.

The pace truck, which is a 1978 Ford F150 Ranger, sold for $7,000. Other high-ticket items included the four sets of bleachers, which sold for $47,000. One of the track’s stop lights went for $1,000, and the air compressor sold for $1,800, Tripp said.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
13 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Frank Smith
Frank Smith
1 month ago

Another victim of COVID. This is just like Richmond Dragway, which shuttered in January. I guess we only need the one big track – Richmond Raceway?

Mike Eggleston
Mike Eggleston
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank Smith

no, victim of years of bad management and no investment

Warren Wakeland
Warren Wakeland
1 month ago

Sad that racing is going to die in Chesterfield. A go-kart track would be perfect for the Sportsplex.

AL MEYER
AL MEYER
1 month ago

Brilliant move by our County BOS. Chesterfield continues to become THE place for regional (Central Atlantic) youth sports tournaments. This purchase of a supremely convenient location continues the path already taken, showcasing our students to sports recruiters. The tournaments held here allow our students to show “their stuff”. The leadership from our publicly elected officials, blessed with vision for the health & welfare of our community is again demonstrated. Thanks!

Kurt Mutter
Kurt Mutter
1 month ago

Am I reading it wrong. Why is the county paying 5 million for a property valued at 1.8 million? Can someone explain it hto the taxpayers.

Ian Coleman
Ian Coleman
1 month ago
Reply to  Kurt Mutter

Tax assessed values rarely match the true value of a property.

Warren Wakeland
Warren Wakeland
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Coleman

Market value is not triple tax value. Government, as usual, is paying WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much.

Justin Ranson
Justin Ranson
1 month ago
Reply to  Kurt Mutter

The actual value of a property is the intersection between what a buyer is willing to pay for it, and a seller is willing to sell it for, not what the arbitrary number tax assessors put on it to keep property tax within reasonable limits.

Aaron Finch
Aaron Finch
1 month ago

It’s unfortunate that sitting between the Speedway and River City Sportsplex is Chesterfield Auto’s scrap yard.

Clark Adams
Clark Adams
1 month ago

Denny Hamlin needs to buy it up and save the track.

Last edited 1 month ago by Clark Adams
Carl Evans
Carl Evans
1 month ago

I really missed the engines, action and lights.

MIKE UZEL
MIKE UZEL
1 month ago

I have real problems with the way this is being done – starting with: where is opportunity for public input when spending $5M of our taxpayer dollars on another “project”???? This is on the Board of Supervisors “Consent Agenda” for tomorrow (Wed. June 23) night’s meeting. That would mean no Board discussion and no Public comment. We have asked that it be removed from the Consent agenda and delayed until people can give their input, for or against. Jim Ingle says he is removing it from the Consent agenda, but the public input part is still up in the air.… Read more »

Jason AileoJa
Jason AileoJa
1 month ago

This is legal theft from taxpayers and a gross overreach of government roles. We need a national law to outlaw the practice of “economic development” as it’s not a government function to pick winners and losers in the marketplace.