Speedway ramps up expansion
Seven years ago, the owners of the Grand Junction Motor Speedway seemed to be conducting sound tests and attending hours-long public hearings as much as they were running their fledgling business.
That’s because Mesa County was fielding dozens of noise complaints from neighbors south of Interstate 70 who claimed the high-pitched whine of go-karts was a nuisance.
On Tuesday, speedway owners, who went back before the Mesa County Commission with plans to significantly expand operations, heard a different and much more pleasing sound: praise from elected officials and near-silence from the public.
Commissioners unanimously agreed to amend the conditional-use permit held by Twenty Niners LLC, allowing the investment group to build a motocross track that will accompany its go-kart track. The amendment also allows owners to erect a 38-foot sign adjacent to I-70 and create a new entrance to the facility.
Stacey Cook, who owns the speedway along with his brother, Darren, his father, Jim, and his wife, Melissa, said he hopes to build and open the 1.25-mile motocross track within 30 days.
“There are so many kids and adults that desperately need a place where they can practice in a controlled environment,” Stacey Cook said.
The motocross track represents the first phase of a two-phase expansion Twenty Niners LLC is planning for the 143 acres it owns in the desert north of I-70 and east of 30 Road. Eventually, the speedway could feature a paved road track, a dirt track, an off-road truck track, a 2,500-seat grandstand and a 75-unit recreational-vehicle park.
The Cooks opened the speedway in 2001 out of a love of racing and with an initial focus just on go-karts. But a surge in the popularity of motorsports has fueled enthusiasts’ hunger for a venue where they can practice and race. The speedway now draws people from all over the region, and it rents go-karts daily, puts on monthly races and plays host to parties and company team-building exercises.
“It’s kind of taking on a life of its own,” Stacey Cook said.
County Senior Planner Jo Carole Haxel told commissioners there are nearly 150 homes within 2,500 feet of the go-kart track. The motocross track will be located north of the go-kart track, and that increased distance, coupled with the hilly topography, should reduce noise from the motocross track, she said.
“There were lots of complaints about noise (from the go-kart track) in the early days, but there has been a great deal of noise measurement and testing since then,” Haxel said, noting the county hasn’t received a formal noise complaint since 2006.
She said the county received just one e-mail and one phone call opposing the expansion. On Tuesday, the only person who testified before commissioners was a supporter of the expansion.
“There’s so many local families around here who have been waiting for an opportunity to go racing,” said Cliff Allen, sales manager with All Terrain Motorsports of Grand Junction, adding the track will provide a safe, controlled venue for bikers who currently zoom around unsupervised on adjacent Bureau of Land Management property.
Commissioner Janet Rowland said the fact the county mailed notices of the hearing to 270 residents in the area and received only two negative comments “speaks to efforts the owners have made to be good neighbors out there.”