Denny Hamlin has maintained a legitimate interest in operating or otherwise owning his childhood home track, the currently closed Southside Speedway in Midlothian, Virginia in Chesterfield County.
The 0.33-mile track closed in December 2020 and the 41-acres of land was purchased for $4.5 million by the county in June 2021. The county issued a formal request for proposals on Monday and Hamlin said on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway that he has remained in contact with the county over his interests.
“I’ve met with the county and the state on that, probably earlier this year,” Hamlin said during a media scrum. “My interest would be to own it. I would love to run it but I would love to own it if I were to run it. We’d have to work around that for sure. It sounds like the county does own it, but again, but if we’re going to put effort and time, I would like to have some kind of stake in the facility.”
Southside hosted the NASCAR Cup Series from 1961-63 with Junior Johnson, Jimmy Pardue, Jim Paschal and Ned Jarrett winning the four races there. Richard Petty, Joe Weatherly, Buck Baker and Wendell Scott were amongst those in the field as well.
Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip spent their formative years at the speedway after Cup departed. In recent time, it had become a launching pad for young drivers like Hamlin, who attended races there as a child before racing local division and Late Model Stocks.
Originally, the county intended to redevelop the property into restaurants and commercial space. But conversations with parties like Hamlin and the Save Southside Speedway group has generated momentum for maintaining the space as a motorsports venue.
Axios reports that the county found ‘developers interested in building hotels and retail weren’t interested in also building a racetrack, while the folks interested in reopening the racetrack weren’t equipped to build a hotel.’
Hamlin said he intends to circle back with the county but would likely not submit a proposal anytime soon.
“I think the next thing for us would be to follow back up with the county,” Hamlin said. “I basically said to them, ‘We need ‘X’ amount of money to redo this track, really upgrade the facilities, make it super nice.’ I know Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. said ‘Listen, you do it, I’ll bring the Cars Tour there twice a year.’ There’s a lot of opportunity and certainly that’s something the county or the state would really see interest from.”
The county is seeking RFPs for a deadline by October 11 which is a quick turnaround, but Hamlin says there have been previous deadlines too.
“They had deadlines on those different proposals earlier this year and we were just waiting and see so it’s later days,” he said about the current status.