As the sun sets, the racing action is just getting started on the first night of racing at
It's never easy starting a business, just ask anybody who has ever made the attempt. Some businesses carry fewer risks than others, and in this economy building a new racetrack could very well be at the top of the pile when it comes to riskiness. But that didn't seem to matter to Queen Creek, Arizona's Jonah Trussel. He's the owner of ET MotoPark, a mixed-use dirt racing facility that includes a motocross track, a sand dragstrip, and an RC car track. And now Trussel has just added a 3/8-mile dirt track to his facility, called Arizona Speedway.
The decision to build a dirt circle track didn't take place over night. The situation and the conditions had to be just right. If we look at the recent history of the metro Phoenix area, one of the last Grande Dames of dirt track racing, Manzanita Speedway closed down and sold in 2009. It wasn't going to stay a dirt track; its future was going to be a 15-acre parking lot for cranes, large trucks, and other heavy equipment.
In the past there was a motocross practice track at the east end of ET MotoPark, a mixed-u
With that event, there was a 1/2-mile hole in the dirt track market in Phoenix and it wasn't going to be an easy act to follow. There was a good deal of opportunity in the somewhat controlled chaos that occurred when Manzanita closed and the land sold. As we all know, out of chaos comes great opportunity. Jonah wasn't a stranger to risk and he was ready to step into the fray. This was his opportunity to take. The Arizona Speedway project was launched.
What followed was a long process of complex negotiations with Pima County about noise, dust, crowd control, safety concerns, and a plethora of other issues that needed to be addressed and solved. While this wasn't an easy process, it wasn't Jonah's first dance with state and county governments. Experienced in dealing with them thanks to his existing facilities, he even kept the motocross track, the sand drags, and the RC track all running during the licensing and permitting process for the oval track.
A view of the RC track that is part of the ET MotoPark complex.
During this process he was able to purchase some of the infrastructure that was once part of Manzanita Speedway, such as portions of the bleachers. Now, just having the stands, some fencing, and the right documentation from the county government do not a racetrack make. It takes a plan, and Jonah was a man with a plan. First up was the design of all the fan necessitities—such as stands, restrooms, a snack bar, and a place to work on the cars.
The track went through a number of mental and paper renditions prior to starting any movement of earth. The track, pits, and stands were all going to be located in what was previously a practice track for the motocross track, an area just east of the sand drag track.
Once the dust settled and the tractors completed the dirt work, what was standing in the location of the practice track was a 3/8-mile oval, with fairly steep banking and the back straight about 3 to 4 feet higher than the front straight. From the grandstands, the spectators would have a clear and uninterrupted view of the racing surface. This was going to be a fast joint.
What looks like the remnants of a tornado touchdown, is a portion of the bleachers from Ma
Trussel kept the infield flat so that he can add a smaller track as the facility grows. There was some talk of a Speedway motorcycle track or possibly a flat track for motorcycles and quads—something that has been a missing component of the Arizona motorcycle racing scene for many years.
With the track surface completed, it was time to invite the racers in the area to come out and lay down some laps. The first practice was well attended. There was a broad spectrum of racers out to give the new track a try and see just how racy this joint was going to be. About 85 cars from the Street/Pure Stock, ProMod, Dwarf, Sport Modified, and Modified ranks showed up for the session. There was even one Super Late Model. What was the verdict? The racers loved the track.
The view from what was between Turns 1 and 2 at Manzanita Speedway. The Palo Verde tree in
The first section of the former Manzy grandstands gets a new lease on life at the Arizona
This is the first view that many of the racers saw of the track as they walked up to the e