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