Chino Valley puts auto racing on the fast track
Council gets preliminary plan next week
Chino Valley Mayor Chris Marley’s Ad Hoc Recreational Committee on Sept. 27 unanimously agreed to submit a proposal to the Chino Valley Town Council for a new motorsports complex at Old Home Manor Park.
During the council’s next regular meeting scheduled for 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 11, inside Town Hall, Marley’s committee plans to recommend that a 25-acre motorsports park with a dirt oval track be built in the southwest corner of Rodeo and North Old Home Manor drives north of the ballpark.
A motorsports group led by Dave Brinkley of Prescott would seek a 20-year renewable lease from council for the proposed Old Home Manor Speedway, with performance reviews on the site conducted every five years.
Initially, the committee suggested a 10-year renewable lease with five-year increments. But Brinkley said his group could spend upwards of $500,000 on the property “just to walk in the door” and would need longer than 10 years to recoup the money necessary to improve the complex.
To accommodate a motorsports track, the Chino Valley Equestrian Association agreed to move the site of its new Equestrian Center north of Rodeo Drive next to Yavapai College’s Agribusiness & Science Center campus. (See related story)
Ad hoc committee member and Equestrian Association treasurer Danielle Feller said the “move to [the new location] is advantageous for us” because it has existing infrastructure, including the current stadium and buildings that could host offices.
Brinkley said the track would rest about a half-mile south of the Yavapai College Chino Valley campus and several steps would be taken to limit noise. For one, the Equestrian Center would act as a buffer between the motorsports track and the campus.
However, Yavapai College’s District Governing Board would need to approve any Town Council decision on a motorsports park complex, per a prior agreement forged years ago between the town and the college.
“Yavapai College has the final say on a lease – we still have to consider part of the decision-making with them,” said Susie Cuka, ad hoc committee member, town council member and president of the Equestrian Association.
Among several questions raised at the ad hoc committee’s meeting at town hall was the motorsports complex’s days and hours of operation.
Brinkley said he would work with the Equestrian Association and Yavapai College to determine suitable weeknight and weekend days. The town has a 10 p.m. curfew on the weekends.
“Hours would be part of the negotiation with the college,” Cuka said.
Yavapai College conducts classes at the agribusiness center on Thursdays, which “could cause a problem for motorsports,” Feller said.
Noise and traffic control are other potential concerns. Ad hoc committee member and councilmember Lon Turner and Brinkley said noise from the racecars would be “27 decibels from a mile away” of the track.
“We need restrictions, but not undue restrictions,” Turner added.
Brinkley said Schoenfeld decibel-rated race mufflers would be required on all racecars. The rating is 95 decibels at 100 feet.
“If it [muffler] falls off, the driver is disqualified,” he said.
Brinkley wants the dirt track positioned in a north-south direction to help drivers avoid looking into the sun at dusk as well as prevailing winds from the southwest. Grandstands would sit on the west side of the property and create a “sound shadow,” Brinkley said.
Racecar drivers and fans would access the Old Home Manor Speedway from North Highway 89 at the Perkinsville Road roundabout near Road 3 North. Feller suggested signage for the track at Perkinsville Road.
Some ad hoc rec committee members and Yavapai College Vice President for Administration Clint Ewell, among others, visited Manzanita Speedway in Apache Junction with Brinkley Sept. 24. Brinkley said Manzanita is a model for how the Old Home Manor Speedway would operate, complete with its proven methods for dust control and trash cleanup. Feller, one of those attendees, said she was “impressed” with “how clean it [Manzanita] was.”
The motorsports season here would likely run from April through October, Brinkley said.
In the future, if a track were approved, Brinkley added that he’d be interested in expansion for motocross and a drag-racing strip. Brinkley said if his group were to run drag racers on Saturday nights, for example, they would run on Schoenfeld mufflers, too. Brinkley would have to submit a site plan to the town and Marley said council approval would have to come in stages.
Marley was careful to note that the Sept. 27 meeting was only the initial step in a potentially lengthy process for approving a motorsports complex.
If council accepts the concept, members would have to “tie down talking points” Marley said, and submit them to the college for governing board approval.
A conditional acceptance from the college on a conceptual agreement would be necessary for the town to move to the “technical review” process. During the tech review, traffic control patterns, restrooms and utilities (water and sewer lines, electricity) would be finalized.
Brinkley said there would be some water hauling from wells at Roads 1 and 2 North and to the site, but that electricity would come from on-site generators.
An annual racing schedule (available every Jan. 1), an emergency action plan and a good-neighbor policy, one in which track disputes would be settled by council, were also discussed.
If the track were approved, Brinkley said he would eventually want to book sanctioned touring races that would attract big crowds and fill the town’s restaurants and hotels.
After the tech review, council then must agree on a contract with the motorsports complex for use of the property.
Brinkley said that the dirt track at the former Prescott Valley Speedway next to Yavapai Downs was built in 64 days back in the mid-2000s. He spearheaded that project after Chino Valley had declined his first proposal for a track there in the early 2000s.
“We want to bring a sports and entertainment venue to town where we’re not a liability, but an asset,” Brinkley added. “We’re excited to have these discussions. We’re hopeful.”