The United States Racing Association (USRA) is ending its operations in Texas – including its USRA touring series events and its track management operations at San Antonio Speedway (SAS) effective immediately.
Terry Dickerson and his wife Tammy founded the USRA in November 2004 and took over the management of the USRA Super Late Model Series (formerly known as the ROMCO Super Late Models) and San Antonio Speedway. The USRA Modifieds (formerly known as the Texas Asphalt Modifieds Series) and the USRA Trucks (formerly known as the American Race Track Series) were subsequently added to the USRA’s management scope.
When the Dickersons formed the USRA Track Management Group, the company that manages the speedway for lease holder Ted Carlson, they had every intention of purchasing the half-mile, high-banked speedway and a good portion of the undeveloped land surrounding the facility.
Several rigorous attempts were made to purchase the property over the past two years, but an agreement could not be reached between the current landowner and the Dickersons.
The recent opening of the Toyota production plant within eyesight of the facility also had a major impact on the speedway property. Land values in the area have escalated dramatically over the past two years, and several major developments are expected in the immediate area. Due to the expected growth in the area, San Antonio Speedway was included in area that was recently zoned as an “Extraterritorial Jurisdiction” (ETJ). ETJ is the legal ability of a government to exercise authority beyond its normal boundaries. This zoning law permits cities to make certain decisions about the land beyond the city's incorporated limits. The ETJ zoning classification directly affected the SAS facility – from a sharp increase in the property tax rate to the need for compliance with strict city codes.
As part of the ETJ zoning change, San Antonio Speedway was inspected by city code
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enforcement officers a few weeks ago, right after the speedway opened its 2007 season. The facility failed five of the six inspections required for its Letter of Occupancy, including infractions on the plumbing, sewer, fire suppression and electrical wiring. The Dickersons had already invested over $30,000 in 2006 to upgrade the concession areas, electrical wiring and bleachers. A minimum of $80,000 would have to be spent by the 90-day deadline to bring the facility into compliance with the city codes.
Residential growth in the surrounding area is another factor negatively impacting the speedway’s future. More than 50,000 residential units are forecast to be constructed in the immediate area. Obviously, noise pollution problems experienced at numerous other racing facilities across the country would soon become a major cause for concern.
San Antonio Speedway hosted everything from ASA Late Models (Top) to Roadrunners (SAS Photos)
Dickerson, who has a passion for promoting the growth of motorsports in Texas, had a difficult time in making this decision.
“I had every intention of running a full season this year, but the cards were stacked against us,” said Dickerson. “My partner and I made several generous attempts to purchase the speedway property, and we even made some ‘handshake’ deals that were later retracted by the landowner. And then we got hit by city inspectors right after we ran our first race this year. We just can’t continue to invest such large amounts of money into something we don’t own.”
Dickerson also had deep concerns about the disappointment that will be felt by the Texas racing community. “San Antonio Speedway has some very loyal supporters – including fans, sponsors, drivers, car owners and pit crews,” Dickerson said. “This place has been in operation for over 30 years, and I know lots of folks in the racing community will be
Formosa will be teammates with Ron Hornaday, Jr. at Mansfield. (NASCAR Photo)
disappointed about our decision to shut down our USRA operations. I know the timing is bad, but it all comes down to making a tough business decision.”
“I also want to thank my USRA and SAS staff for the tremendous job they have done for both the USRA and San Antonio Speedway. I could not have wished for a more dedicated, talented group of people, Dickerson said. “I especially want to recognize Rick Day (SAS President and General Manager/Race Director) and Debbie Williams (SAS Vice President and Assistant General Manager) for their dedication and support.”
All of the 2007 USRA and San Antonio Speedway Driver Registration fees will be refunded, and final race checks will be mailed to the drivers or car owners within the next couple of weeks.
“I’ve always paid what I’ve said I would pay, and I’ll do the same in this situation,” said Dickerson. “If you’re a registered driver, you’ll definitely be reimbursed for your registration fees and any purse money from this year’s events.”
Former San Antonio Speedway operator Ted Carlson owns the lease on the speedway property. He and the current landowner will determine the future of the property.
Dickerson plans to continue operating his other business ventures – including Dickerson Machinery in San Antonio, Texas, and Alsace Tan & Salon in Castroville, Texas. He also plans to continue land investments in both the San Antonio and the Medina County areas. Dickerson will also remain active in motorsports promotion by developing young Texas drivers for careers in stock-car racing.
San Antonio Speedway before the start of the ASA Late Model Challenge Series opener there earlier this month.