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Will racing return to the area?

Motor sports track has Chino council’s nod, but Yavapai College could veto it

The proposed raceway site in Chino Valley looking north runs along Old Home Manor to the east, Yavapai College Agribusiness Campus to the north and Perkinsville Road to the south.

Photo by Les Stukenberg.

The proposed raceway site in Chino Valley looking north runs along Old Home Manor to the east, Yavapai College Agribusiness Campus to the north and Perkinsville Road to the south.

With tentative approval by the Chino Valley Town Council, the quad cities could see a racing venue by spring, but Yavapai College can still veto the idea.

The council agreed to the outline of a lease agreement to bring motor sports racing to Old Home Manor.

More than 100 residents showed up at the Oct. 11 meeting to either support or oppose the proposed Old Home Speedway, which could begin operating next spring.

Residents from the Brightstar subdivision have started a petition against the facility.

Those residents, and homeowners from the Haystack subdivision, were the ones who spoke opposing the speedway at Old Home Manor, saying they had concerns about noise levels, dust, possibly lower property values and traffic.

Haystack is located to the east of where the speedway would be built. Brightstar is to the south. Both are at least 1.5 miles from the track. Mayor Chris Marley pointed out during the meeting that he would be among those who live closest to the speedway.

The prevailing winds in the area would likely carry the sound away from most of Chino Valley and toward Haystack. However, there are a number of hills near the shooting ranges that would act as a sound barrier for Haystack homes.

Most of those attending last week’s meeting spoke in favor of a speedway at Old Home Manor. Some came from outside of Chino, including Prescott Valley. They said there has been a void in the region since the motor sports facility next to Yavapai Downs in Prescott Valley closed.

“The one thing I haven’t heard here from anybody is sacrifice,” said Jason Nance, a Chino businessman and racer. “John [Brinkley] and his father [David] here have sacrificed not tens of thousands, we’re talking hundreds of thousands [of dollars] to invest into something to bring into our community.”

“We’re excited that the Council has supported us and the opportunity to bring motor sports to the town of Chino Valley,” said David Brinkley, the man who wants to invest with his son John at least $500,000 to build the track. “We’ve been very pleased with the experience, they’ve been a pleasure. I think they have been more than fair, and the folks who came tonight to express their opinion, we’re grateful that they shared with us their concerns and we’ll make every effort to mitigate those concerns as best we can while moving forward with the project.”

The next step, and possibly final major hurdle, is for the Yavapai College District Governing Board to weigh in on the proposed speedway. YC’s Agribusiness and Science Technology campus would be less than a half mile to the north of the proposed speedway. YC negotiated into its lease agreement the right to veto any motor sports facility placed at Old Home Manor.

Because YC was among the first to lease land at Old Home Manor and agreed to a swap, giving the town the building that acts as its current Town Hall, they were given favorable conditions.

The YC District Governing Board is scheduled to meet at 1 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 1 at the Sedona Center in Sedona. Mayor Chris Marley told his fellow councilmembers that the goal of the meeting was to show college officials what a lease might look like to see if they had any objections or concerns that could be addressed before a lease was negotiated. Marley said Tuesday that he did not know if it would be on next week’s agenda or not, saying he was told the agenda was already quite full. They are not scheduled to meet again until Dec. 15.

Here is what the town plans to submit to college officials:

• Hours: 6 to 9 p.m. on a weeknight (no Fridays, reserved for the Equestrian Park); 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays (youth racing with small motors until 6 p.m.); 2 to 10:30 p.m. on rare Sundays (mostly holiday weekends); Most of the racing would be from April through October

• Decibel limit: 95 maximum decibels from 100 feet away

• Housekeeping: Speedway is responsible for dust control, trash cleanup, maintaining a neat appearance

• Traffic control: Speedway assumes responsibility for traffic control, including possibly hiring off-duty police to direct cars

• Safety: Speedway has an emergency action plan. It will be reviewed and possibly modified by Chino Valley Police and Central Yavapai Fire & Medical

• Good neighbor policy: Any disputes that can’t be settled between different groups at Old Home Manor will be settled by Council

• Length of lease: 20 years, with five-year performance measures that must be met, if not, Council can break the lease

• Future expansion: Council must approve expansion, such as a motocross track or drag strip

• Utilities: Speedway will provide its own energy and will vault and haul waste until a mandatory sewer hookup becomes available

• Finalized schedule: Speedway will provide Council by each Jan. 1 its proposed schedule for the coming year

The town owns the land at Old Home Manor and hopes to build an industrial park on the western edge of it. It has been in the town’s general plan for years to use the land on the eastern half for recreation. It already has two ball fields, public and police shooting ranges, and a model aviator’s airfield active there. The town just recently agreed to a lease agreement with the Chino Valley Equestrian Association to build an equestrian park that would be adjacent to the college.

Brinkley tried to address most of the concerns that residents had. He said that the noise levels at motor sports tracks isn’t what it used to be, because of technology. The Schoenfeld mufflers have dramatically lowered the noise level and that they would be required on all race cars at his events.

He said that during a recent fact-finding trip to Arizona Speedway, people were able to have a conversation in the stands during the race, something that rarely happened in years past.

Ruth Mayday, the town’s director of development services, took decibel readings during the fact-finding trip and told Council they were between 75 and 82 decibels at about 75 feet away during the sprint car main event.

Brinkley said dust is a big problem for drivers, and creates a safety hazard, so that they make keeping it down a priority.

If the college gives its approval, a formal lease agreement would be negotiated while a tech review of a site plan would begin. John Brinkley said they could likely build the facility in a couple of months, so being ready to race this spring is possible if a final lease agreement and the tech review go smoothly.