CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — At a board meeting Wednesday night, an expert hired by Chesterfield County said transforming Southside Speedway into a viable racetrack again could cost up to $15 million.
Martyn Thake, the consultant hired by the county to evaluate the state of the shuttered racetrack, reiterated much of his report’s contents, but also ventured for the first time a guess at the potential price tag for restoring the track to its former glory.
Thake, who said he has evaluated over 100 raceways around the world for safety compliance and track design, said that over the two years the facility has been shuttered, the condition of the track and other buildings has become manifestly unsafe.
“It’s gonna deteriorate,” he added. “It can’t go anywhere but get worse.”
And although he said he didn’t have the necessary expertise to provide a full estimate of the cost to restore the facility, he believed it would be safer and cheaper to rebuild the facility from scratch.
“I would guess that somewhere between $10 and $15 million would get you a new facility,” he said.
Members of the community still haven’t given up hope on a second chance at the raceway, however.
“Is there anything beyond the inside barrier that’s worth saving or can be rehabilitated?” asked Chris Winslow, a Clover Hill District Supervisor.
“I don’t believe so,” Thake replied. “Everything there needs to be addressed.”
“On a scale of 0 to10 — 10 being the best — what would be the condition of utilizing the track as is, versus completely replacing it?” questioned council member Jim Holland.
“I don’t think you can use it as is,” Thake said. “Again, two years of neglect have left pretty much every building and structure left on the property– they’re gone. And I’m pretty sure that it’ll cost way more to rebuild than to replace them and that pretty much goes for every structure on this site.”
County Manager Dr. Joe Casey told the board that they were preparing to issue a request for qualifications — the first step in soliciting development proposals — and that they would seek proposals for entertainment venues, “including some for racetracks, hopefully.”
Supervisor Kevin Carroll said he recognized the issues identified in the report, but hoped they could find a way to bring racing back to Chesterfield.
“It’s not lost on me that the track is in poor condition right now,” Carroll said. He added that the track was known as the toughest to drive in the country — and that was part of its appeal.
“Hopefully we’ll have some people from the community that will come forward with a proposal,” he said, in an apparent nod to an “unsolicited proposal” to redevelop the track by a group of Chesterfield residents that failed to persuade the county.