A popular northwest Valley racetrack likely will shut down after years of disputes with state and county regulators, the latest resulting in a cease-and-desist order this month by Maricopa County.
The county issued its order after a hearing officer found several violations of county building codes, including the erection of several structures at the track without proper permits. The county levied a $50,000 fine and a daily non-compliance fine of $750 that was to begin accruing this week.
Meanwhile, the Arizona State Land Department in December canceled the lease allowing Speedworld to operate on state trust land. Cancellation came after the track failed to pay its annual rent and comply with insurance requirements.
“Between the county and the state, yes, this has shut me down — we will be closed,” said Dan Matthews, owner of Speedworld. “I would say we will not last past June.”
A model-airplane airstrip and a paintball park already have closed at the Speedworld property, which is also used for off-road truck, motocross, and slot- and sports-car racing.
Matthews was fined at a county zoning hearing earlier this month, and ordered to cease operations. The $750 daily fine applies until Speedworld ceases operations or gets a new special-use permit.
Since Matthews took over the Speedworld lease, he built additions and structures without permits, including a racetrack, an observation tower, an off-road racing expansion, a paintball fighter park and a bleacher structure for 5,000 to 7,000 spectators, according to the county zoning hearing officer’s report.
The potential clos
ing of Speedworld has been a hot topic in the Valley’s racing community, several motocross racers said during open practice on a recent Sunday afternoon.
“I’ve been hearing it from everyone. Everyone’s pissed off its closing,” said Ryan McDanald, who has been riding at Speedworld three times a week for six years with his sister and his friends.
McDanald said Speedworld is his preferred track to ride his motorcycle because of the quality of dirt and lighting that allows users to ride safely at night.
Surprise City Councilman Skip Hall said some state legislators and the Surprise Regional Chamber of Commerce met last week to discuss ways to keep Speedworld open.
Speedworld hosts several statewide races a year. Matthews said previously that the racetrack brings in about $1million a year and draws event visitors to Surprise and Wittmann.
Can’t believe Speedworld is shutting down. I remember going to Glamis Status on first Saturdays of the month. One of biggest night parties I ever been to. If you ever wanted dirt bikes, big trucks, music, pole dancing, wet t-shirt contests, and insanity then that was the place to be. My buddy John always brought the crowd with his big red truck, and gave us one of the wildest after parties. Anybody else have any great Speedworld memories of their own?