The Speedy Shutdown of Arizona Race Tracks

Race tracks in Arizona have very quickly been shut down, despite heavy pushback.

Arizona Speedway just days before closing on Nov. 30, 2021.


Arizona Speedway just days before closing on Nov. 30, 2021.

Jameson Kowalski, Columnist

Local short track racing has been a large part of American culture for decades. However, the tracks where these races have been held have quickly started to disappear throughout the 2010s. Arizona has been no exception, with three prominent tracks in both local and national racing closing for similar reasons.

American race tracks have had an issue for a long time that they can’t get over. According to Yahoo, while race tracks are making money, they aren’t making much of a profit because the land they sit on is so valuable. This has caused developers to buy out the land and demolish the tracks to make way for new housing development or retail space. This process has happened to race tracks across the country, big and small.

The first major instance of a local track shutting down was Manzanita Speedway in early 2009. AZCentral states the dirt oval, host to many United States Auto Club (USAC) events and the yearly Copper Classic, was surrounded by the quickly growing suburbs of Phoenix. Locals, who didn’t like the loud noises and dirt that came from the races, started complaining to local officials, hoping to get the track shut down. In 2008, the track was sold to former racers Mel and Bobby Taylor. Just a year later, they were forced to sell the track to equipment provider Southwest Rigging. The track was quickly demolished after being sold.

The next major track to shut down was Arizona Speedway. Many events that were raced at Manzanita Speedway moved to Arizona Speedway when it opened in 2011. KJZZ stated that after 10 years of USAC racing, the track will be shutting down. Future plans for the land around the track made it unsuitable for racing action. This came after the track owners had made a deal with the Arizona State Land Department that the track’s special use permit would end after the 2021 season. The Copper Classic was the final event to be held at the track before it was sold to developers.

The most recent track to close has been Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park. Wild Horse Pass had multiple race courses, including a drag strip, rallycross track, road course, drift track, and boat racing track. According to the East Valley Tribune, the motorsports park is to be demolished in place of a 3,300 acre retail and entertainment complex. The motorsports park announced that the last race it would hold would be its yearly Arizona Nationals, the only major drag racing event in Arizona. Concerns have been raised due to Wild Horse Pass being the only remaining drag strip in the valley. People fear that drag racing may move to the streets, which can be dangerous for other drivers. No matter what happens to these tracks in the future, they all carry a large legacy that will be remembered by many for a long time.