Champion Speedway Disaster Zone

Some time ago the stories hit the web about the Champion Motor Speedway and the sad state that it was in. The old speedway, if you remember, sat at the south end of town, out past Stewart. It opened in 1963 as the Tahoe-Carson Speedway, and later became the Silver State Raceway. It closed in 2005 when a housing developer made an offer on the land that was too good to refuse. Reynen & Bardis planned to build the Schulz Ranch housing development on the speedway site, but that was about the same time the housing market started to slump. So Schulz Ranch was never built, but more importantly to our story, the old speedway was never torn down. The track, the stands, the announcer booths, concessions, and repair shops, all sat there closed and abandoned in the desert. And if you know anything about the history of abandoned buildings in remote environments, you’ll know that this old speedway was a perfect candidate for vandalism.

And oh boy, did the vandalism come. It came in waves, and it came over and over again. Every inch of the speedway has been smashed, trashed, ripped apart, splintered, punched in, blown out, graffitied, and generally destroyed. The racetrack sits now as a monument to what bored kids with a lot of pent up rage can accomplish, and is actually one of the more impressive spots in Carson City now because of it. The city sees it, probably rightly so, as an eyesore and safety hazard, and they want it taken care of. They either want Reynen & Bardis to tear it down, or the new idea is that they’ll go in there and clean it up themselves, and send Reynen & Bardis the bill.

But anyway, through all this I decided I had to see the speedway for myself. So I went last week, and what I saw was amazing. Every flat surface has graffiti on it, most of the walls are smashed in, a few support beams have collapsed, every inch of the place is covered in trash and debris, entire parts of the structure have been flattened, and the whole upper deck, which probably seated at least a hundred people, is gone. Like UFOs took it.

So I want to present a photo essay on the state of the Champion Speedway. Especially if cleanup efforts are going to start soon, this will soon pass into history entirely. I’ll also be tossing in some pictures from when the speedway was still open and operating. These old photos were generously donated by Andy Daddario, a race fan from California who wrote a whole series of articles after the racetrack closed looking back on its history. I suggest you go read them, and I recommend you make a trip out to the speedway to see it for yourself. But if you can’t, enjoy the photos.

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

There is also a mobile home next door, probably home to the owners or caretakers of the speedway. It is also trashed beyond belief.

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism Champion Motor Speedway Vandalism

If you made it this far, you’ll undoubtedly want to visit Flickr and see all the pictures.

Update, May 2009: As promised, someone went in this winter and demolished the old speedway. The track is still there, but the stands and all the buildings are gone. aroundcarson.com/2009/04/30/champion_speedway_is_all_cleaned_up

14 comments

  1. I used to work there, actually I managed the racetrack back in the 2001-2003.
    it brings tears to my eyes to see those pictures. so many good memories it was.
    thanks for posting and sharing.

  2. i think the government should buy it and use it for hoon driving instead of our streets where poeple can get killed thanks davo

  3. Hi,
    Is this property for sale and will the city allow the track to be reopened ? We have a track here in Northern California that my friend reopen and renovated. Since they are not building the subdivision of homes, lets get the track reopened. Please email me bobmharada@gmail.com
    Bob Harada

  4. This is a typical story of GREED… The Ponderosa was closed because of this same type thing. Thousands of true race fans loved to watch the action, on this one time jewel of Nevada. It is beyond me why someone hasn’t stepped forward to raise this “Pheonix” from the ashes.

  5. This kind of destruction did not happen quietly or without notice. The city and the police department should have to rebuild this track since they turned a blind eye and allowed people to destroy this property. This is disgusting and the police department and the city should be ashamed for allowing this.

  6. Bob Harada tried to buy it to reopen it and the city turned him down flat…blame your city officials citizens. I have so many great memories there..watching my dad race, then I raced and became an official…just sad.

  7. Mark, that was never going to happen. The track operated on a special use permit that required it to run at least one race every year. As soon as the track ceased operation and a year passed without a race, the permit expired. Now there is a housing development less than 100 yards away, and those folks have no idea, and no interest, in hearing race cars in their back yards. I was track announcer there for a number of season in the late 90s and early 2000s, even raced there a couple of times. I wrote articles and race reports about the track for the local paper. I’m as sad as anyone that it’s gone, but it’s never coming back.

  8. Every Saturday night this is where we would be when I was a kid in the early 90s. I don’t know why they ever shut it down… there was a few things they shut down that shouldn’t have been. The race track in skating rink to name a couple. And the results of the city taking away all the things for kids to do… well you can see the results above. But hey what can you expect we have a sheriff who believes meth is better than marijuana!

  9. I grew up at this track since 1981. I raced here and then was the final announcer before it shut down. My dad, brother and brother in law all raced here. My brother and brother in law both have several track championships here.
    My dad was the final race director and brother was a flag man here for awhile. This was our life. It was what we did. It is a shame that there is no where around that our children can go and do the same.

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