Racing fans welcome track plan

A veteran stock car racer is revved up by the prospects of a high-end track being developed in the Red Deer area.

A veteran stock car racer is revved up by the prospects of a high-end track being developed in the Red Deer area.

“That would be so big,” said Grant Brown, who owns Madco Machine Inc. in Red Deer and has been racing for 30 years.

The Saskatoon Stock Car Racing Association, which operates the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway just north of Saskatoon, plans to share its story at a Jan. 20 information meeting in Red Deer. Herm Hordal, business development manager with Auto Clearing Motor Speedway, said Friday that the objective is to plant the seed for the possible creation of a similar facility in Alberta. That would help build the sport in this province, which already sends many racers and fans to the Saskatoon track.

Red Deer, he said, would be an excellent site because of its central location and the large number of stock car enthusiasts here.

Brown agrees.

“I think it would absolutely be the most ideal location in Alberta — I don’t think there’s any question about that.”

There are currently limited options for racers in this province, said Brown, with the best choice now a paved track at Medicine Hat. Build a better one at Red Deer and stock car racers and fans would flock here.

Brown added that other people would also become more likely to enter the sport, including some who currently get their fix for speed on public roads.

Hordal said Auto Clearing Motor Speedway brings significant economic spin-offs to Saskatoon, with about 40,000 people attending races and other events there each year.

Brown is confident the same thing would happen here, with other benefits likely as well.

“A facility like that could be used for concerts, car shows — anything outside, at that location.”

Hordal said the Saskatoon track, which opened in 2006, was built without government money. But he’s discussed the idea with Howard Thompson, Red Deer’s land and economic development manager, to ensure the city is aware of the initiative.

“There is definitely a business case for it,” said Thompson.

It’s impossible at this point to say whether it would be feasible here or not, he added.

Someone from his department will likely be at the Jan. 20 meeting, he said.

“We’re open to hear what they have to say.”

Liz Taylor, executive director of Tourism Red Deer, has also spoken with Hordal and said a representative of her organization will also participate in the meeting.

“We’ll be looking to see who comes to the meeting, how interested the people are and whether they want us to provide some assistance.”

Like Thompson, she said more information about the initiative and the support it has is needed — although Tourism Red Deer is eager to back projects that would draw people to the region and boost the local economy.

“Anything that someone wants to do that might have some potential, we would be wanting to talk to them, wanting to look at it and wanting to see where we could provide assistance.”

If a local racetrack were to be built, Thompson thinks it would likely be outside the city. Hordal suggested the same thing, explaining that land not suitable for other uses would be the best option, because it would be more affordable.

The Jan. 20 meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the Sheraton Red Deer Hotel (formerly the Capri Centre). Members of the public are welcome to attend, but are asked to notify Hordal by email in advance at hhordal@saktel.net.

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