Huset’s Speedway will be giving the track away to a race winner; The largest payoff to a race winner in all of auto racing; Dirt racing team sent their entry in on the first day
Huset’s Speedway was sold to Chuck Brennan several years ago. He quickly re-constructed the entire facility and pumped a total of $18 million into the 3/8-mile dirt track.
It’s the most beautiful dirt track in the country. But, for the last several years it’s sat dormant. Possibly the best race track in the country, wasn’t in use.
Track owner Chuck Brennan is also the owner of Las Vegas based Dollar Loan Center. In November 2016, a ballot was passed by the public that limits short term loans to 36% APR. The Dollar Loan Center was forced to shut down 10 location in the state.
That cut off funding for this side project near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Almost as soon as the track was completed, it needed to be off-loaded.
Multiple attempts were made to sell the track. An alternative option to tear it down to collect a tax write-off nearly took place at the start of this year.
Now, the track is set to be given away to a winner of a single dirt sprint car race.
Chuck Brennan on The Race
Which brings us to The Race. This is the most brilliant and bold, bold idea. What’s been the reaction from the race teams? I’m assuming you’ve talked to some of them.
“I have. As it came out, people were just completely shocked, floored and didn’t believe it,” Chuck Brennan told RacingNews.co .
“But, then as they started seeing the re-branding and legitimacy, that changed. This wasn’t something we put together overnight.”
The track was formerly labeled as Badlands Motor Speedway. Last week, that signage came down and the familiar Huset’s Speedway signage was resurrected.
“We had a deal with the previous owners. We agreed to a price and everything was locked and loaded. I thought the track was sold. And that was the 6th time we’ve been here. We’ve been to closing 6 times with various groups.”
“Something has blown up or they hadn’t been able to get their funding. Or they offered an amount and at the 11th hour, they changed the amount. This was kind of the last straw.”
“At the time, my accountant and attorney said, ‘You just need to tear this thing down and give it back to the Bureau of Land Management. Make it a wildlife sanctuary, take the tax write-off. Write-off the $18 million you spent on it and just the tax break.’ “
“That’s real money. So, that’s why I put that out there. I was dead serious about that. It was the plan and I agreed to doing that. We were going to start tearing it out this Spring.”
Brennan stated that if the track was not sold by the end of 2018, he’d have to tear down the track. Demolition equipment appeared at the track earlier this year but was later removed.
“Randy Jamison, the guy who built the track and a couple drivers including Terry McCarl — I had appeals coming to me like I had never seen before.”
“Randy flew to Vegas to meet with me. He said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t tear this down. It’s been there since the 50’s. Let’s give it one more shot to find an owner.’ “
“I’ve been trying to come up with a way to do that since those talks happened right after the Rubin’s backed out of a deal.”
“So, the first thing I wanted to do was re-brand it. The Badlands name wasn’t of interest to anybody because it didn’t make sense anymore without the tie in to the entire Badlands project.”
“And every potential new owner that came in said, ‘We’re going to change it back to Huset’s. We want to make sure you own the name Huset’s. We want to make sure we can go to Sunday night.’ And blah, blah, blah.”
“They kept coming from everybody. I decided we had the time and the means to re-brand this. The biggest sign company in South Dakota has taken the sign down and replaced it.”
“All the Badlands stuff is out. One of the drivers described it best, ‘We went to new Coke for awhile and now we’re going back to Coke Classic.’ “
The race concept as Huset’s Speedway
“As we were re-branding it and getting it ready for the new guys to come in. One of my staff members said, ‘We should do some kind of a lotto thing. Or have people buy numbers.’ “
“That sparked an idea. Why not have a race for it? We’ve had farmers, developers, city officials and everybody tell us what kind of use the land could be. But, what it really needs to be is a race track.”
“If we were to have a race for this! And have the winner, take the entire fuckin’ operation… Now, that is mind boggling.”
“Then, I do some research. And even the winner of the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and the Kentucky Derby… There’s never been a prize that’s over a couple million.”
2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud pocketed $2,669,529 for his Indy 500 victory. That’s the largest single-race payout in auto racing. The combined Indy 500 purse is $13,090,536.
“And the biggest prize in sprint car racing is only $150,000 for the winner of the Knoxville Nationals. Which is the grand daddy of them all.”
“I thought, ‘My god. What if we give the fucking track away?!’ I called the best attorney in South Dakota, Mark Meierhenry. He used to be in politics and used to race at Huset’s when he was younger. He a legend.”
“I said, ‘Mark, can we pull this off?’ I gave them about a week or so and they came back with a plan. We crossed the t’s and dot the i’s to really make this happen.”
“And how do we get above all the pessimism from race drivers and race teams? Because they’ve got the shaft so many times from different race tracks. It’s a tough sport to be in.”
“That was part of our whole operation when we started. We doubled the purses and treated the drivers right. Gave them great driver services and all that. We wanted to keep with that trend.”
Cash option of $3.6 million for Huset’s race
If a driver wins the race, they aren’t required to take the race track. Instead, they could take the $3.6 million. Which wouldn’t be a good idea but the option is there.
“So, when we did this we came up with a plan if they don’t want the track. We were able to put an option amount in there.”
The option amount is calculated. At 18 entries, $200,000 a piece, it comes out to $3.6 million.
“We’ll just give all the money back to the winner if they want it.”
“We ramp’d it up quick. The idea came together in a week. The reason we did it with such short notice is because there’s 100+ drivers right down the street in Knoxville, 400 miles away.”
“We had to do it right after that. Otherwise, it’s too big of a commitment to get these drivers to come across country.”
“We talked to Tom Deery with the World of Outlaws. Tom suggested the Tuesday right after. It gives the teams a couple days to rebuild the cars and get their bearings straight. And the Outlaws are on their way from Knoxville to North Dakota that week.”
“That’s when we jumped into it. We put it into full throttle. Tuesday, it allows Wednesday and Thursday as rain dates. We have to make this race happen. If it rains on Tuesday, Wednesday and the only time we can run it is 11am on Thursday, we’re going to do it.”
Race teams react to Huset’s giveaway
What’s the response from the teams?
“At first nobody believed it. Now, everybody believes it. You got half the people that are negative Nancys that are saying, ‘There’s no way in hell they’re going to get 18 entries.’ “
“Then, you got the other half that are positive and love it. Saying, ‘Shit, they’ll hit 36 with no problem.’ I don’t know where it lands. But, it’s out there and it’s real”
“This accounting firm, the title/trust company they’re handling it all. When the wires come in, it’s held in a trust. If the race doesn’t happen, it goes back to them immediately. If it does happen they’ll transfer the $3.6 million to them.”
“The titles are cleared on the property. There’s no encumbered system. It includes the land, the infrastructure and all the stuff. I’ve done everything I can, as quickly as I can to deal the cards. If the people want to play the game, they can.”
Entries already in for The Race at Huset’s Speedway
“If not, it was a great try. And it would have been awesome for the fans. The first wire and contracts were done on June 21st from Rudeen Racing. I know he was taking at least one spot and working on another.”
June 21st was the very first day that entries could be completed.
“It’s a spot. Let’s say your driver crashes at Knoxville or blows up an engine. You can replace that person if you’d like. We’ve had interest from 20 people at a bar who are forming a little corporation.”
“Let’s face it, the drivers don’t have $200,000 sitting around to enter the race. But, sponsors, team owners, business people. The six groups that were trying to buy the track. What a great opportunity for them to pick up a driver and try to take the track for just $200,000 and make a side-deal with the driver.”
“We’ve had one specific driver, who’s won often at the track call immediately. He said, ‘I want to be in this race. I want to be the first one to enter. I don’t have $200,000. If you see a sponsor out there… If I win, they give me $200,000. If I lose, they don’t give me a penny. They can keep the track or the prize money.’ “
“People want to be involved in this race. They’re already finding ways to do it. We’re giving them right until the week before to hit that 18 number.”
The race will see a maximum of 36 entries.
“The reason I did 36 is very simple. I’m a Vegas guy, I love to gamble. There’s 36 numbers on a roulette wheel without the greens. That’s some pretty good odds. Somebody can lay down $200,000 and walk away with a track that we’re asking $9.4 million for. It’s probably the best odds I’ve ever seen out there.”
“I’m hoping there’s some fun people out there who want to take a chance on this. Enter a driver, do a little partnership or whatever.”
“There isn’t a race out there in the world that I know of that pays this much.”
“The haulers cost more than $200,000. There’s 50-100 racers out there who could legitimately win this. When you race at these large half mile tracks, a lot of times it’s follow the leader. Let’s call it like it is.”
“At Huset’s Speedway, not a chance. It’s like Terry McCarl said, ‘It’s like racing a jet fighter in a gymnasium.’ Anybody can win that race on the high banked 3/8 mile track.”
“It isn’t a deal where somebody says, ‘Donny Schatz or Tony Stewart is in it! We don’t have a chance.’ They all know that’s bullshit at this track. 24 cars out there, four wide, anybody can win it.”
“I get chills, thinking about this race starting. We are praying to God that we get enough teams coming in to do this. And the fans are too. This will be the biggest attended sporting event in the history of South Dakota. We’ll have cars, 10 miles down the road.”
“We’re not going to put one ticket on sale until all 18 spots are filled. I don’t want to waste people’s time. The second we hit 18, we’ll announce how the tickets are going to work. We already have the VIP suite deal done, those are going to be $20,000 for the race.”
“The first 12 drivers that sign up, we’re giving them a free one. We’re really doing everything we can, to make this happen.
“People said, ‘Why wasn’t it $100,000 for the entry. Well then we would have had to make the minimum, 36 and the maximum 72 or whatever. It’s just a math number and how much I’m willing to lose.”
“It’s a measured loss. I’m just hoping to walk with $6.3 million on this. Which happens to be the amount I would get from a tax benefit from writing it off.”
“That’s also the amount I agree’d upon with Rubin’s group is $6.3. The accountants tell me I’d get $6.3 in real cash if I tore it down in turn it into the Wildlife Sanctuary.”
“I’d like to get half of my investment back. But, in the worst case scenario, selling it for less than $6.3 is idiotic. Doing this and bringing in 18 cars is going to cost me $3 million.”
I know of the first entry. Are there others?
“I suspect it going to be one of those things were everybody is waiting to see what everybody else does. Waiting to see who’s coming in and what their competition is going to be.”
“I do suspect it might take a little while to get it all in. I hope we get to 18 soon because then I can start making my deals with vendors and selling the sponsorships.”
“The Outlaws couldn’t be more excited. They’re bringing up their officiating team. They’re also bringing their announcers and they’re going to broadcast the race on their pay-per-view deal. We’re trying to work on a TV rights deal where somebody can film this and document it and maybe have it live on television.”
“We’re doing all this stuff in the background. We’re really going to make this a top notch, class 1 race. And make sure everybody walks away knowing there was no funny business going on.”
“I have no say in who wins this race or disqualifications. I’m not even holding the funds. We’re turning everything over to professionals. It will be the most legit race out there, ever. It has to be because this is a big prize, they’re racing for.”