Speaking on his Actions Detrimental podcast, Denny Hamlin issued a clarification over his weekend comments at Texas Motor Speedway about his interest in operating or otherwise purchasing Southside Speedway in Midlothian, Virginia.
Effectively, his messaging remains the same in that he says he has had conversations with the county and or state and he would be interested in operating his childhood home track that has been closed since November 2020 but most likely only if he owned it.
An exception to that standard would be if the county or state contributed to the renovation costs since Hamlin believes his investment would contribute to the modernization and long-term viability of the facility in terms of the types of events it would generate towards tourism revenue.
Those comments can be read in full, below:
I got asked about Southside Speedway this week during media. I guess the county has asked for proposals for those who want to run the facility to bring it back to life. Man, I hope something can happen so Southside can come back. To clarify some of those statements, I haven’t talked to the state or the county for quite a while, it’s been six months at least. My place with it was that, you know, they bought it for a certain amount of money, the county did, I don’t even know. I said, I’ll run it but I need ‘x’ amount of dollars to enhance the place. And when I say enhance, I mean we need to tear the place down and build anew. To get that track back to top shape and be a place where you can bring touring series, maybe the CARS Tour or ARCA, something other than just a weekly show, that’s the tough part.
When people say bring the track back, you have to build a multi-use facility that is more than just a Friday night show. That’s what it used to be and that worked in the 1980s and 90s but it doesn’t work nowadays. In my mind, you have to have concerts there, kart racing once a week. You have to have a multiuse facility to bring in revenue beyond that one day a week where you’re hosting weekly racing.
I said, to build something like that, I don’t know the number but it’s probably going to be between $5-10 million and that’s to make it really top, top short track stuff. I’m thinking, listen state or county, you need to contribute to that. It’s one thing for me to put my money in and have skin in the game but to do all of it doesn’t make sense, especially if I’m doing it to help your tourism revenue. I think there is a deal that if we came back to the table, and listen, I’m not interested in running Southside Speedway but I am if I own it but not if I don’t. It wouldn’t make sense time and effort wise to run something that you don’t own.
So, I would like to revisit that with the county again. We probably need to do that and see if we can come up with some sort of agreement to run that place. Then we have to get with a developer. They have until October 11 to present Southside a plan for development and basically updates that you need to get that track back open. I believe it will take 5-10 million bucks because the area it is in a primo area in Chesterfield. Those of you with the state, let’s talk and try to figure this out for sure. I don’t know. The chances of me being involved are I think low unless something has changed with their mindset. But we’ll see. Maybe we should have another call to circle back around. Let’s try to get Southside reopened and see if we can get something done there.
The Speedway first opened in 1959 and closed after a pandemic affected 2020 season. Chesterfield County purchased it for $4.5 million in July 2021. In 2022, Chesterfield County hired a consultant to determine how much would need to be done to restore the facility.
Martyn Thake, president of Motorsports Consulting Services examined the track for the county. According to the November 16, 2022 Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors meeting, Thake “stated the entire facility needs significant repair and/or replacement to create a speedway with the safety elements needed.”
He said the track surface was “deteriorating” and that fencing would need to be replaced. Whole buildings would need to be demolished and replaced in his estimation, offering the $10-15 million figure that Hamlin is using. The county is currently accepting bids through October 11 from parties interested in leasing and modernizing the property.