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Auto Racing in Sioux Falls May Have Taken It’s Final Lap

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I believe racing as we knew it for decades in the Sioux Empire is done.

Keep in mind this is my personal opinion, but I’m basing it on the fact that I have been involved in racing in the Sioux Empire professionally for over 20 years. Most of it at the former Huset’s Speedway.

The last time I did a story like this was October 1999. I had just announced the National Cheater’s Day event at the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds racetrack. I told the audience at the conclusion of the race that I felt they had just watched the last race that would ever run at this facility.

And it was true. The track closed and never reopened. It was removed for the most part to allow the fair to utilize the property in a different way.

I’m only bringing this up to let you know that I’ve seen tracks go dark.

Recently, Huset’s Speedway was sold to Chuck Brennan. I, by the way, was the last voice ever heard over the speakers at the track under the name Huset’s.

At that time I announced to the audience that they had just watched the last race at the track under that name. The 2015 season came to an end and so did Huset’s Speedway. I elected to retire.

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The track was turned over to the new owner and got a new name.

The facility underwent a large renovation before opening for the 2016 season. It was reported that the price for the upgrades were somewhere around $10 million.

Then after one short year of operation, it was announced by Brennan that the track was for sale. If the place didn’t sell, it would not reopen for racing in 2017.

In my opinion, the track will never re-open. I am basing that opinion on the asking price. It was announced by Chuck Brennan that the price tag was a firm at $9.75 million.

As I mentioned, I had been directly involved in the racing program at the former Huset’s Speedway. I even considered buying the track myself over a decade ago.

Without disclosing any numbers, I know exactly how much money sponsors spent over that 20 year period, because I personally handled most every contract.

I also have very accurate numbers for the size of the fan base over multiple decades. Again, I worked every racing event between 1995 and 2015 with the exception of three nights. I’m not totally blind as to what the concession revenue would have been during that time.

With all that said I can come up with a realistic number of how much money I could expect to take in if I bought the track. I’m basing everything on the season running from May to September. Before May it’s too cold to get people into the stands and after school activities start in the Fall, plus you have to compete with the NFL season. You’re not going to get the crowds past Labor Day.

I also factored in the average number of rain outs I saw over a 21 year period. I came up with a total of 17 nights each year on the average that you would be in business.

Also, and most importantly, I have a price that I feel the market will stand on ticket and concession prices. Keep in mind that you are trying to attract families to come every week. A lot of people go to fairs and festivals and spend a large amount of money, but it’s a once a year thing. This race track is an every week thing.

And yes, there are the exception nights. For example, when NASCAR driver Tony Stewart came to race in 2014, the place was packed. If he came every week for 17 straight weeks, the crowd would continually fall to about the normal size.

You get one of these a year at best. In the NFL, The Super Bowl is once a year. If it were every week, it wouldn’t be a Super Bowl, it would be a Regular Bowl.

With all that, I now have in mind the amount of money I am going to bring in for a season. Now, what about the money going out?

What’s your biggest expense? Paying the racers to race. Every event you have to have a payout purse at the end of the night.

In order to attract good racers you need a respectable payout or they won’t come to race. If you don’t get the cars, you can kiss the fans goodbye. After the fans leave, there go the sponsors. Most business owners only pay to have their name in front of a crowd.

I know many of the area racers personally. I know what payout number makes sense to them. I can do the math.

Once all of that is taken into account, there is no way to remotely come close to substantiate paying the firm asking price of $9.75 million for the track.

I am not going to get into why this guy bought the track or why he is selling the track. What I have a problem with is what he did while he owned it. Investing that kind of money into the facility just to close it down for resale at a price that’s not feasible for anyone to buy it.

I sadly and honestly don’t see the track reopening with a racing program that we once knew. Therefore the Sioux Falls racing may have made it’s final lap.

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