County OKs speedway expansion

The Grand Junction Motor Speedway got the green light Tuesday to press ahead with the next phase of a major expansion, one that could eventually result in the construction of three additional race tracks and the addition of nighttime racing.

Mesa County commissioners unanimously agreed to amend the conditional-use permit held by Twenty Niners LLC, allowing the investment group to develop an oval dirt track with a 2,500-seat grandstand, an off-road truck track, a paved road track and a 75-unit recreational-vehicle park at the 143-acre site in the desert north of Interstate 70 and east of 30 Road.

As part of that amendment, commissioners cut back the number of conditions the race track must meet and relaxed some of those that remain in place.

Most significantly, the speedway will be able to operate until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays between April 1 and Oct. 31, and it no longer has to conduct off-site sound tests to ensure the track isn’t exceeding the 100-decibel level allowed by the county. Previously, the speedway had to close at sunset, and track owners had to measure sound levels on the south side of Interstate 70 once a year during races.

“I think they’ve been a good neighbor, which is why we don’t have the packed hearing room like we did in the past,” Commissioner Craig Meis said during a hearing attended only by the owners of the speedway, their representative and two members of the media.

The decision comes four months after commissioners authorized the first expansion phase, which featured a 1.25-mile motocross track to accompany the existing go-kart track. Stacey Cook, one of the speedway owners, said the motocross track hosted only one event so far because track officials had to redesign a watering system used to keep the track wet. He said the new system will be up and running in time for an event scheduled for next month.

Cook said the development of the additional tracks, the grandstand and the RV park are dependent on funding. He said the oval dirt track and grandstand alone could cost $800,000.

The 9-year-old speedway appears to have emerged from the shadow of noise complaints that followed it around during its initial years of operation. The latest expansion plans drew just two phone calls of opposition, one from someone concerned about the location of the road track and one from someone concerned about dust control, according to Senior Planner Jo Carole Haxel.

The county hasn’t received a complaint about the speedway since 2006.

No mention was made during Tuesday’s hearing about the Aug. 15 death of a 9-year-old Aurora girl at the speedway. During a race, Taybor Duncan’s go-kart clipped a flatbed trailer that had been driven onto the track, and the go-kart rolled several times, according to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Department. It was the first fatal accident in the track’s 10-year history.


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