The future of Memphis International Raceway, a staple of drag racing in the Mid-South since the mid-1980s, is in doubt once again after information surfaced in recent days suggesting it may have been reached a tentative agreement with a non-racing party. to acquire the 342-acre facility.
According to a statement made online by current Memphis International Raceway director of race operations Jeff Miles, a $3 million offer to acquire the track was made by a group he is involved with that was scheduled to be accepted, but was later rejected. overshadowed by a later offer of an alleged but unconfirmed $13.5 million. This follows a deal with a car auction firm that reportedly fell through a year ago in IRG Sports + Entertainment’s efforts to sell the property. The highest bidder is rumored to have visions of uses other than competing for ownership. This while local racers have been actively preparing and distributing petitions to stop any sales to developers and keep racing alive in the area.
Miles, in an interview with WREG News 3 in Memphis, said he has done everything he can to keep the property from closing. “I was in the process of trying to buy the place, along with a business partner, and we made an offer that we were told we would pretty much get the place on Friday. On Monday, another company made an offer and it was much more than what we had offered. He continued, “When you lose this facility, your bums, your street racers, or your drag racers, they all go back to the street and run on the street, which is certainly unsafe.”
Miles declined to comment further when contacted by dragzin for this story
The MIR has had a tumultuous mandate. It opened in 1987, originally envisioned by local investors as a race track with an adjacent circuit, dirt track, and go-kart track. It joined the NHRA tour in 1988 and has hosted 22 editions of the Mid-South Nationals.
Known then as Memphis Motorsports Park, it was purchased by the Long Beach Grand Prix Association in 1996, and a 3/4-mile paved oval was built on the dirt track site. In 1997, Dover Motorsports Inc. acquired the facility as part of its purchase of the Long Beach Grand Prix Association. The property was then owned and managed by Memphis International Motorsports Corp., a Dover subsidiary.
In 2009, Dover reached an agreement to sell the facility to Gulf Coast Entertainment for $10 million, but the deal fell through due to lack of financing. Then the Dover group, trying to minimize their losses, closed the park in October 2009 and it sat vacant for over a year, losing its valuable NHRA and NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series dates forever.
At a live auction in 2011, Dover Motorsports, at the time an independent operator of multiple NASCAR racing venues that has since been acquired by Speedway Motorsports, sold the Memphis facility to what was then known as Moroso Investment Partners for $2.06 million. The latter was a Florida investment group that had already acquired Palm Beach International Raceway. Later known as IRG Sports + Entertainment, the team owned or for a time owned Maryland International Raceway and Cordova International Raceway, as well as the International Hot Rod Association, the International Drag Bike League, and the Palm Beach Driving Club. The Maryland and Cordova tracks have already been sold, and Palm Beach is believed to have been sold to developers, but such a deal has yet to be confirmed.
Miles, in his statement on social media, said that MIR is tentatively scheduled to close at the end of May, but the deal, unsurprisingly, hinges on the buyers’ ability to rezone the land for its intended purposes.
MIR is scheduled to be the starting point for the Power Tour on June 13 and the start and end point for Drag Week on September 19 and 23. Its programming also includes the Super Chevy Show from April 22 to 24 and the Radial Fest from May 19 to 22. Radial Fest promoters say their event is still going on.