Lacking Good Help, Desert Thunder Raceway Closes For Good

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As the largest state in the union, Texas has always boasted its fair share of drag racing facilities, but in recent years and months, the sport has witnessed several track closures that are rapidly changing the entire landscape of drag racing in the Lonestar state.

First was the high-profile closure of the state-of-the-art Dallas Raceway in Crandall, followed by the Redline Raceway in Caddo Mills and the announced bankruptcy of the San Antonio Raceway. In the midst of those two most recent closures came word that the Desert Thunder Raceway in Midland would also not be re-opening its gates in 2015. And it’s the Midland track that presents perhaps the most intriguing story.

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Photos credit: Chris Graves

Just last week, the Midland Reporter-Telegram sat down with Desert Thunder track operator Jimmy Farmer, who held the lease to the facility — only built in 2005 — from owners Mike and Becky Waldrop. In that interview, Farmer shared that the could longer feasibly operate the facility for what might be one of the most surprising of reasons: he couldn’t get any staff to help him run the track.

According to Farmer, it was nearly impossible to hire help because applicants in the oil-rich area demanded oilfield-like wages for doing non-oilfield type of work. And when you already operate on a tight budget, as most drag racing facilities do, the asking wages of prospective help of $22 per hour or more simply wouldn’t cut it.

Farmer stepped aside as the lessee in November and the Waldrop’s, no longer interested in tackling the demands of running the facility, began to parcel out the property. Sadly, the Reporter-Telegram reports that, according to a source at a local property management firm, the land has already been sold and plans are in the works to redevelop the property into a business park, with a maintenance company already slated to begin construction of a new building in the near future on one such plot. And with that, a drag strip not even ten years old will become just another statistic, also leaving the Midland and Odessa, Texas region without a drag strip and street racers with nowhere to go but the street — the two key factors that led to the construction of the facility in the first place.

About the author

Andrew Wolf

Andrew has been involved in motorsports from a very young age. Over the years, he has photographed several major auto racing events, sports, news journalism, portraiture, and everything in between. After working with the Power Automedia staff for some time on a freelance basis, Andrew joined the team in 2010.
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