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Old 02-15-2007, 10:43 AM   #1
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Private Race Track coming to Kansas City

Hot-rod country club zooming into reality
Members will be asked to pay big bucks to race their street vehicles on track next to KCI.
The Kansas City Star

A different kind of country club is coming to Kansas City.
Instead of manicured golfing greens and swimming pools, this one will have an immaculate racetrack.
Its members will arrive ó not with their woods or irons ó but with their Porsches, Ferraris and other hot rods.
Some call this growing national trend a "motor sports country club," essentially a haven for people with expensive cars and thick pocketbooks wanting to fill their need for speed without worrying about flashing red lights in their rearview mirror.
The KCI Motorsports Park is moving toward 300 acres on Kansas City-owned property between Kansas City International Airport and Interstate 435.
The track, expected to open in spring 2008, will cater its membership to amateur auto and motorcycle racers, said developer Rick Watkins, one of the trackís principal owners.
"This is unique to the metro Kansas City area," said Watkins, a former racer who now leads Watkins & Co. commercial real estate firm in Kansas City.
"For a racing car enthusiast," he said, "this will be the answer to having their own private road."
City officials are attracted to the deal because Kansas City is poised for significant returns. The developer will rent the property, under a proposed lease agreement, and the city is expected to receive more than $27.5 million over 50 years.
The lease agreement will go before the City Council today. On Wednesday, the councilís Aviation Committee recommended its approval.
There are 15 similar membership-based facilities across the country, Watkins said. The closest is the Mid America Motorplex in Iowa southeast of Omaha, Neb.
The $25 million facility near KCI would have a 3.7-mile track that can be shortened into two smaller tracks. The plan also calls for a .73-mile track for go-kart racing, a clubhouse and private rental garages.
The initial one-time membership fees would range from $5,000 for go-kart users to $85,000 for founding membership benefits. Members then would pay annual dues.
The concept of a "motor sports country club" is more a pastime sport than a spectator sport and began taking off during the past decade, officials said. Similar projects have been built in Fort Worth, Texas; Chicago; Phoenix; Hastings, Neb.; and on the East Coast.
Watkins said he expects the facility to eventually attract competitive events sponsored by organized groups such as the Sports Car Club of America.
"People build these tracks and keep their doors open for members only," said Eric Prill, vice president of marketing and communications of the Topeka-based Sports Car Club of America. "Most of the ones going up now generally will have a certain number of days set aside for members and certain days for different groups to race."
However, SCCA competitions could be scheduled at the KCI site in the future.
"Once the track is built, and if they want to make it available for SCCA racing, we would have to do an inspection and have it approved," Prill said.
Jim Wheeler of Lenexa, who competed in 16 SCCA races last season, said tracks like these are spreading throughout the country. Wheeler said the Hastings track is putting on a regional event this year, and the Kansas City track could eventually host races.
"Itís conceivable," Wheeler said, adding that the remote location will be an advantage.
In fact, the KCI location is what attracted Watkins to the site. Previously, he and his group tried to build its motor sports country club in Miami County, Kan. But he scuttled those plans after county planning officials rejected the proposal because of concerns about noise and zoning requirements.
"This is a much better site," said Watkins, whose ownership group, FastTrack Group LLC, also includes a group known as Apex Motorsports.
Officials do not think noise will be an issue. The site is about two miles from the nearest residential subdivision. And the only commercial neighbor ó KCI ó is much noisier.
"This is a desolate area," said Kansas City Aviation Director Mark VanLoh. "All you see from the site is the control tower."
VanLoh said the racetrack helps fulfill the cityís goal of bringing more economic development to the 8,000 acres of largely vacant airport property.
"This is a home run," he said. "It will be a great source of revenue and is on property that we have no (airport-related) use for."
The KCI Motorsports Park track will feature elevation changes and challenging turns. It also will have a driving school to teach techniques of high-performance driving.
Watkins said the track is being designed with safety in mind. It will have wide, smooth run-off areas. Drivers using the track will be required to attend a driver-safety training event, and all vehicles must be inspected by a track technician.
Also, employees will be trained as emergency first responders in case of an accident. And groups that rent the track will be required to have an emergency medical technician on scene.
About 20 miles south of Omaha, the Mid America Motorplex, which opened its 2.3-mile private track in 2001, is visible to passers-by on Interstate 29. Two years later, a drag strip was added.
Itís a popular local playground for motor sports enthusiasts, but not much of a tourism attraction, officials said.
"The kind of racing we do is not huge spectator racing," said general manager Jim Howe.
Private car clubs, including out-of-town groups from Kansas City and elsewhere, rent the track for a day for private races and other events, he said.
"But most of them stay in campers and motor homes and stay on the grounds," Howe said. "We have one mom-and-pop hotel up the street that gets the brunt of that business."
Howe said heís a die-hard racing fan and supports growth of the industry. At the same time, however, he wondered whether there are enough private car clubs in the Midwest to support a slowly expanding number of private tracks.
"I suppose Kansas City would be able to support one," he said. "But it makes you wonder."
Mid America spokeswoman Keri Westcott said track events, including sanctioned car-club events, can draw as many as a 1,000 spectators who pay typical admission fees up to $10 for weekend events.
Private racers behind the wheels of their own street-legal cars pay $20 to race in 7 p.m.-to-midnight matches billed as "run whatcha brung." There are also "Fast Fridays" for public track racing.
Tourism officials in nearby Omaha and Council Bluffs, Iowa, are familiar with the private track, but they said the tourism impact, if any, was difficult to measure.
"Iím sure we get something from it," said Council Bluffs Chamber of Commerce office manager Diane Hestness.
Rick Hughes, president of the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association, said the concept is intriguing and said heís an early enthusiast.
"Three hundred acres (near KCI) is not small fry, and we have a lot of race fans in Kansas City," Hughes said. "Getting in a car for that kind of experience is something people will seek out."
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Old 02-15-2007, 12:13 PM   #2
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Too bad you gotta be a millionair to get in. KC is only 2 hours away from where I live.
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Old 02-15-2007, 07:14 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by vettonator View Post
Too bad you gotta be a millionair to get in. KC is only 2 hours away from where I live.
Hallett, Oklahoma isn't that far from you. No need to be a millionaire.

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Old 09-24-2010, 05:11 AM   #4
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That's cool but $85K to become a member? Damn! Guess I'll have to risk the flashing red lights.
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Old 09-24-2010, 06:00 AM   #5
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I run with the Driver's Edge. They rent these kinds of tracks for HPDEs. Both Eagles Canyon and Motorsports Ranch near Dallas are "country club" tracks but rent to car clubs, HPDE organizers, NASA and Viper/Porsche Racing Leagues. Most of these are open to the public at reasonable prices.
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Old 09-24-2010, 07:17 AM   #6
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Old 09-24-2010, 08:40 PM   #7
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How the hell does Hastings Nebraska support a motorsports country club?

*writer's note* I was born in Grand Island, Nebraska(30 miles north of Hastings) and spent many summers with my grandparents in that community.
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