Track owners uncertain about Benton facility's future

Saturday, March 18, 2006

The Auto Tire and Parts RacePark hasn't hosted a race since May 2004, and time is running down for this season.

There has been no racing at the Auto Tire and Parts RacePark in Benton since May 2004.

And with the start of the new auto racing season approaching in April, it looks as though the trend may continue.

The investors in the RacePark have been in touch with a handful of people interested in purchasing the facility, the price of which is listed at $595,000, or leasing it.

"We're trying to sell or lease it," co-investor Doug Friese said. "We have two or three prospects looking, but it's nothing too solid at this point. We have some people wanting to do some different things, but nothing has been signed or sealed."

A group of five investors, including Friese, bought the track about five years ago and managed it for two years before leasing it the next couple of years. After Dirt Track Promotions, operated by Stan and Ruth Myers, leased the track in 2004, they ran a handful of races before shutting down in May.

The two parties ended up in court later that year, with the track owners winning a judgment for $27,330.

While the dirt-track oval has crowned no winners for 22 months, the drag racing strip at the RacePark had been leased out and used the last three years.

"One group is more interested in the circle track, and one is more interested in the drag strip," said Friese, who added that one buyer doesn't necessarily have to claim both sections.

According to Friese, the current owners don't have the time to organize events at the track these days because of work, families and other obligations. Friese said he would enjoy seeing someone get the track up and running again soon.

"The season is approaching, and if anything's going to be done this year, it's going to have to be done pretty quick," Friese said. "We're trying to find somebody else to get it going so people have the opportunity to watch some racing."

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