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.
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.