Report: Southside Speedway is unsafe, in need of significant repairs

Chesterfield filed a consultant to analyze the viability of Southside Speedway.
Published: Nov. 17, 2022 at 8:46 AM EST
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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - A new report shows just how much work is needed to get the shuttered Southside Speedway in Chesterfield back up and running.

The county paid longtime Motorsports consultant Martyn Thake $6,500 to analyze the facility’s current state off Genito Road.

During the Chesterfield Board of Supervisors meeting on Wednesday night, Thake presented his observations.

Thake says the entire facility is unsafe and needs significant repairs, adding that it would likely cost just as much to repair the current facility as it would to level it and build a new one.

“We’re looking at the surface here. It’s deteriorated,” said Thake regarding the track surface.

Throughout his report, Thake noted the buildings, fencing, and bleachers would need to be replaced.

“The perimeter fence, the start stand, the playground, all need to be cleared out and replaced,” Thake said.

In the report’s conclusion, Thake said, “If you decide you want to reopen, you will need a designer to lay out the needed upgrades and safety elements and contractors willing to learn new techniques and processes. Building a racetrack is different than any other type of construction.”

When asked about the potential price tag to rebuild the entire facility from scratch, Thake estimated it could cost between $10 to $15 million. However, Thake also noted this could change depending on further reviews.

“If you cleared it, took it all the way down to the ground and start it again, there’s always something you’re going to find that you don’t know about, whether it’s something’s leaked,” Thake said. “Racetracks are famous for underground problems because there’s a lot of oil and fuel and other contaminants that were left on the ground and poured out of cars and all that kind of stuff.”

For more than 60 years, Southside Speedway was home to stock-car racing until the pandemic closed it down in 2020.

In 2021, the Chesterfield Economic Development Authority bought the property to ensure that property would be redeveloped to align with a broader vision to complement River City Sportsplex.

During the public hearing, community members went up to the podium to share their desire to have the track make a comeback.

“Born and raised going to Southside Speedway as a young child all the way up through my adulthood,” said one speaker. “If you bring it back to the county, it would be monumental. People coming in, lots of opportunities there.”

County leaders also discussed other possibilities, including a combination track and soccer stadium facility, an e-sports stadium facility, a large indoor field facility, and a venue for concerts and community activities.

The Chesterfield EDA is preparing to issue a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from entities interested in redeveloping the entire Southside Speedway site, with or without a racetrack, following the Genito/288 Special Focus Area Plan that the Board of Supervisors adopted following a public hearing Wednesday.

Other possibilities discussed include a combination track and soccer stadium facility, an e-sports stadium facility, a large indoor field facility, and a venue for concerts and community activities.

The board will decide what happens with the property going forward once county staff evaluates proposals they believe best meet RFQ criteria.