Huset’s Speedway is a famed dirt track; It was set to take over the world following an $18-million dollar upgrade but was shut down shortly after
Going into detail on the purchase of the race track, the massive upgrades and the overall closing of the South Dakota dirt track
Huset’s Speedway first opened in 1954 in Brandon, South Dakota. The 3/8-mile dirt track sits just north of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. It wasn’t long before it became known as fan favorite in the dirt racing industry.
The track sat at legendary status. And, if you were one of the avid dirt racing fans who bought the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series video game, you’ve become familiar with Huset’s.
In 2015, Chuck Brennan purchased Huset’s Speedway. He then proceeded to dump $18 million into the complex and set the bar for dirt tracks across the country.
Unfortunately, the track has seen very little use since the upgrades. A change in the laws put Dollar Loan Center out of business in the state of South Dakota.
Brennan has attempted to sell the speedway ever since. To the point of trying to give the track away to a race winner. Unfortunately, those plans have fallen through. Now, pieces of the track at set to head to auction next year and the land will be sold.
Chuck Brennan talks racing
How did you get into racing?
“I always loved sprint car racing and dirt car racing. I grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My family was on the low economic side of the track. I was an only child and we didn’t have much money at all,” Chuck Brennan told RacingNews.co .
“It was a big deal when I would get to go to the races with my Dad. I didn’t get to go out there a lot. But, every time it was so overwhelmingly exciting. As a fan, any time I could get out to Huset’s, I loved it.”
“I just liked it. I didn’t know a lot about it. I study it but I don’t know a lot about racing. I dig it. But, I don’t own the sport when it comes to that knowledge factor.”
Was Huset’s the first track you ever went to?
“The first track I ever went to was definitely Huset’s Speedway. I’ve been to very few other tracks besides that.”
“It was just a good experience, close to home. You know, bonding with friends and family. It was grandiose to go there as a child, everything looked so big and massive.”
Badlands Motor Speedway
Originally, when Brennan purchased the track, the name was converted to Badlands Motor Speedway. Only recently was the signage reverted back to Huset’s Speedway.
“Fast forward to 2014, I developed this entire Badlands Entertainment concept. Because I grew up there, I’d given a lot back. Millions of dollars to the state via charities, employees and businesses.”
“I’d been in the lending business with Dollar Loan Center since 1997. We had been operating in South Dakota with about a dozen locations in addition to our corporate headquarters.”
“We had over 40,000 customers who counted on us in South Dakota. We were in every city, a staple that employed hundreds of people that called South Dakota home.”
“Everything we made in Dollar Loan Center, I always invested back into the community. We opened this entertainment idea and it started as a pawn shop that was going to be the largest pawn shop in the country.”
“It grew from that, into this massive organization. A gun store, a gun range, a pawn shop, a concert venue, a radio station and a deli. It was just massive.”
“As this stuff was getting put together, Steve Rubin, who the track for years and I had been friends with for over 25 years. We were probably the track’s largest sponsor for 10 years, through Dollar Loan Center. To help bring the purses up, sponsoring the class, we were very involved.”
“Their father, Clarence Rubin had passed away. Rick and Steve were looking to get out of racing ownership. They didn’t really have the funds to bring it up to where it needed to be. Let’s face it, after being open that many years, since 1954, it needed a lot of work.”
“Not just buildings and fancy bleachers, it needed a lot of infrastructure. Plumbing, sewer, fiber, electrical and everything else.”
“He came out to Vegas. Literally, over a Coors Light, we came up with a deal. I decided to add that speedway to our Badlands Entertainment complex.”
“It was really that crazy and that simple. I bought the track from the Rubin family and literally in one closed season, we were able to completely re-vamp it. Blizzards and Thanksgiving, we had 100 people out there working.”
Huset’s Speedway upgrades
“We gutted everything and completely started from scratch. Including a 100,000 sq/ft infield, musco lighting, bringing power in from the source, new retaining walls, billboards, safety fence, new bleachers from Daytona and just everything.”
“Unlimited checkbook, hammer down. Let’s get this done. I hired the best contractors in the business. We did this in real time, no loans or anything. Cash flowed the whole project just to get it open in time.”
“We were able to open in one off-season. Which is insane. Everybody totally best against us. We were completely down in about 18 months. But, we closed the track after the season championship in September.”
“Literally, start the next day, worked all through the winter and into the spring. Then, opened on time with the Silver Shootout where we gave $100,000 in customized silver bars as the prize money. It was the largest gathering of 410 sprint cars, in the history of South Dakota. I think there were about 50 of them.”
“The one VIP tower that cost a little over $2 million, wasn’t quite done yet. But, the restrooms on the first floor were. About halfway through the season, it got done.”
I’ve heard several different dollar figures when it comes to the upgrades at the facility. Brennan cleared that up…
“I know in your article there were conflicting reports about how much was in it. That’s no secret, as far as what it was. We just kept going and adding to it. We invested $6 million right off the bat. $1 million went into new concrete and asphalt alone. A couple of the buildings were $2 million, each.”
“Over the course of everything, we invested $18 million into this project. When I listed it for sale, I put it up at $9,450,000. My accounting people told me that’s half of what I had put into it. I gave it a 50% haircut.”
“To go back to your original question about racing, I loved it as a kid. I got into it on a whim. The place at that time was built on duct tape. It was falling apart and really needed some investment.”
“We took the ball and ran with it. It became a main component of the whole project. I gotta tell you, we loved it.”
“HD cameras all around. It was something like we’ve never seen in racing. Everything who came was just fucking blown away.”
“The drivers would explain that they thought they were racing in a video game. Because I’ve got these huge digital boards. It’s like the one’s you see on highways. Big Lamar boards, so when the drivers come around turns 1-2, they’re watching themselves up there.”
“They also lit the whole track up. It was just something else. No other dirt track in the country had our technological capabilities. Those were broadcast into the suites too.”
Tv coverage at Huset’s Speedway
“We spent like crazy. $250,000 on cameras. The track has robotic cameras for the feed. It was so big after our first season that Fox television came to me.”
“They offered to cancel their Notre Dame football game on a Saturday night. They broadcast the race live, start to finish in the Midwest.”
“All they had to do was come out and plug into our system. The whole feed was there for them. This was for the season championship in September 2016.”
Ed Hoffman is the general manager for KTTW FOX 7.
“He was a race fan and had a suite at the track. He said, ‘Is there any way we could get that feed on FOX?’ “
“LIVE, all over the Midwest. So, all this is going great.”
The closing of Huset’s Speedway
As stated, after all that, things took a negative turn.
“Then, in November of 2018 the new law was proposed on the ballet in South Dakota. It was basically a law to eliminate short term lending, pay day lending and any type of alternative lending.”
“We didn’t think that in a million years it would pass. But, it did pass. It was devastation, the whole industry was out of business in five days. 139 lenders were put out of business.”
“I spent $60 million on this entire Entertainment Complex. All of this was funded by the success and profits of Dollar Loan Center.”
“So, when they shut all that down. Let’s face it, if you get fired from your job, you’re not going to go attend the secret Santa holiday party. So, we shut it all down and put it all up for sale.”
“We sold everything. We sold all of out Dollar Loan Center buildings, the corporate headquarters, the radio station, gun inventory, we’re under contract on the big building that closes in the next 60 days. The only thing left to sell is the race track.”
“Ahead of this, we had over 500 employees in South Dakota.”
“When I built the track, I built it for concerts and racing. For a concert, we can hold over 25,000 people.”
Pictured above is Paul Stanley at Huset’s Speedway before the facility saw a host of upgrades. When Brennan first pictured the track, Stanley was one of the original investors of the complex.
“Our first concert was Weezer and Panic at the Disco in 2016. It was crazy, 10,000 people. We cut the power in from the main highway.”
Other concerts included: KISS, Megadeth, Disturbed.
“We had this massive plan. We had a radio station out there called KBAD that went to number one in the first book. It beat two heritage rock stations that had been in the market for 30 years. We had everything going for us.”
“This bill and it wasn’t a legislative bill it was a ballot initiative. The public voted on it and the wording was horrible. A couple of individuals who just hated the industry were out to get it.”
“It really put a kink in the whole Entertainment venue. We got caught in the middle of it after a massive investment.”
“I love the racing. I got out there when I could. I didn’t follow it like a rabid fan would. I don’t know every driver and things like that. But, I got it and understood it. I wanted to help it as it was declining. This was one way to bring racing back to that region.”
Where you living in South Dakota at this point?
“I wasn’t. I lived in South Dakota until 1996 then moved to Las Vegas. So, I built this project remotely.”
“I have a nice home there and I traveled back a lot to supervise the project. At the time, I had 1,500 employee’s between all my operations. One of our longtime employee’s was hired as the project manager. He used to be the head of Casino’s and opened up my entire Utah operation.”
“I was out there about a week each month. When we were building it, I was out there every other week.”
The reason I asked if you still lived there. I guess I don’t really understand why you’d need to shut it all down after that bill passed?
“It wasn’t even a decision to shut it all down. I had went public a year and a half before that, ‘if they put this ballot out there and it passes, we’re done.’ “
“To explain it, Dollar Loan Center had been around for 15 years. The profits and the infrastructure… It was a great business. We had 40,000 customers. That’s what funded these other things.”
“These other community enhancement projects were long-term 10-15 year projects. They were going to take awhile to turn a profit. It was all based along Dollar Loan Center as the hub.”
“At one point we had over a 100 hundred location of Dollar Loan Center. We had plenty going on. I was just trying to do the cool factor in South Dakota.”
“The plan was to roll out Badlands into other states. South Dakota was going to be the second location and the first was going to be in Nashville.”
“The mayor and the city planners in Sioux Falls, talked me into doing it there first. In the middle of this new arts and entertainment district.”
“From there we were going to move on to Reno, Nashville and Las Vegas. But, this bill sidelined the whole project. Once we sold it all, we were pretty much done with the Badlands concept.”
At first, I thought that it was out of spite to the state that you wanted to sell everything off. But, I guess this was more of a hobby? When they shut down the main business in that state, then you can’t fund the hobby.
“That’s a good way to put it. I don’t know if hobby is the right word. Most people don’t have $60 million dollar hobbies,” Brennan said with a laugh.
“It was a long-term infrastructure play. Badlands was going to be my second brand. It was an addition to what we were doing. Getting in on the pawn industry but making it a fun pawn style.”
Part of the Badlands Entertainment Complex included a very large pawn shop.
“It was a cross between Pawn Stars and Hardcore Pawn. As a matter of fact, the guys at Hardcore Pawn in Detroit were two of our consultants on the whole Badlands project.”
“This was an entertainment business play off of what we were doing on the financial side. It wasn’t just a hobby by any means. The main funding source got put out of business.”
“We just started liquidating everything. And literally just pulled out of South Dakota. That’s what we’ve been doing since the ballot passed. It’s taken awhile to get all of these things sold.”
“The people of South Dakota voted to shut us down. That’s what prompted the whole shut down of Badlands. Unfortunately, the track got thrown in the middle of it.”