The strong-armed influence of local government has claimed yet another victim in the drag racing world, as the Speedworld Raceway in Wittmann, Ariz., a multi-purpose racing facility complete with a 1/4 mile dragstrip, was forced to close its gates last week after last-minute negotiations keep the facility in operation between track officials and the Maricopa County Land and Development Committee fell through. Speedworld was to host an NHRA Pacific Division National Open and Jr Series event last weekend.
Speedworld was opened in 1961 and originally operated under the name Phoenix Dragway. It exchanged several times in ensuing five decades that followed. Along the way, Speedworld expanded into all sorts of racing venues, today boasting a motocross park, mud bogs and sand drags, an off road park, paintball park, BMX, and even an R/C airplane venue.
As the story goes, the committee made requests for expensive improvements to the facility that simply didn’t make economic sense to its manager, Hal Sanguinetti. Track officials attempted to strike a deal to remain open for 30 race weekends a year on a temporary use permit, which would help in some way toward raising the needed funds to make the improvements. That deal didn’t come to fruition, and now another great motorsports venue sits dormant. For how long, no one really knows.
The track’s phone hotline explains the situation with clear disdain:
At this time, Speedworld is closed for all events and venues. We are trying to rectify this situation with the county and get the necessary temporary use permits. Until that happens, we are closed.
The county lied. Wednesday morning (January 30), Maricopa County officials, on behalf of their land and development attorney Wayne Peck, refused to issue a temporary use permit they had previously agreed to issue, causing the cancellation of Speedworld’s National Open. We’d ask that you call Maricopa County from wherever you are and let your voices be heard about this. We are very, very sorry for all of the hassle and difficulty that this is causing our racers and friends. We are devastated and frankly disgusted that our elected officials and appointed officials would play this game of duplicity, bad faith, and lies.
Dragzine has left a message with Sanguinetti for further comment. More detailed information on the proceedings can be found on Speedworld’s Facebook page.