It appears that All-Star Speedway (NH) will not be hosting any kind of a racing season in 2010 after The Town of Epping, New Hampshire voted uniamimously on Monday night to not issue an operating permit to the track this year. The move was the latest in a line of setbacks for the troubled facility.
Track operator Bobby MacArthur and the Epping Board of Selectmen sparred during the meeting over several issues including money the track owes to the town and the timeliness of submitting an operation schedule for the year.
The board cited as the main reason for their 5-0 decision not to approve an operating permit the fact that a March 1st deadline for the track to submit a 2010 schedule was not adhered to.
“You need to be more responsible,” said a board member to MacArthur during the meeting.
“Come and see us in 2011,” stated another member of the board.
In response, MacArthur cited his dissatisfaction with the town's approval of only a fraction of his requested race dates for the 2009 season. MacArthur has requested the track be allowed to operate for 117 dates, which he claims to be in line with the 120 dates allowed for the nearby New England Dragway facility in town. However, the town would not allow MacArthur to hold races on Friday nights and Sundays, limiting him to Saturday night racing only.
Also central to the decision was money that is owed to the town by the track for police details. MacArthur claims that amount to be $2,100, of which he has already paid $500, while the town cited a figure of around $33,000 including late fees and interest.
“We are not subsidizing this track any longer,” a board member told MacArthur.
MacArthur claimed to not have a bill that included late fees and interest and asked for one from the town. He first appeared to be willing to settle up for the money owed, but then revealed to the Selectmen that he was planning to file for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy, which is designed to allow a debtor to restructure their week, this week. At that point, MacArthur said to the board, “You can't even talk to me about the money owed.”
MacArthur closed out his comments by threatening legal action against the town, warning the board that taxpayer money wouldn't be well spent on legal fees before telling the board members, “See you in court”.
That news was not well received by the board. One selectperson can be heard telling MacArthur to “Have at it”, while another one told him to “Get your lawyer.”
Nearly $160,000 in back property taxes are also owed to the town on the track property. But who is responsible for paying those taxes is not clear. MacArthur has publicly stated on multiple occasions that he bought, and not leased, the track from former owner Bob Webber. However, MacArthur told the Selectman at the meeting that he was not responsible for the property taxes.
After some discussion, the town acknowledged that the property taxes were not MacArthur's responsibility.
Terms of the sale, lease or other arrangement between Webber and MacArthur were never publicly announced, although MacArthur did take over operation of the track prior to the 2007 season and changed the name of the track from Star Speedway to All-Star Speedway. Webber still owns and operates Hudson Speedway, also located in Southern New Hampshire.
MacArthur made an early splash after taking over the track, making many capital improvements including new walls, a new technical inspection area and other improvements. He scheduled PASS North races at the track and a five-race open Modified Series that attracted top names like Ted Christopher, Mike Stefanik and Matt Hirschman.
A purse check paid to PASS however allegedly bounced and criminal charges for passing a bad check were made against MacArthur. Several Modified teams also reported that the track was slow to pay their purse money, or in some cases didn't pay at all. Meanwhile, MacArthur denied that any of his competitors were not paid and came out on various racing message boards stating that unappreciative teams would soon find themselves out of a place to race and that MacArthur and his friends would instead use the track as their own personal playground.
A full 2010 schedule for the track was not released, but on the track's Facebook page, it stated that a season would hopefully start in early May. The only dates that were announced were a September 11th ISMA Supermodified show, likely the annual Star Classic for big-block Supermodifieds and the Halloween Howler Enduro race on October 30th.
The dust up of this week between MacArthur and the town is not the first one. The town demanded to MacArthur that a large quantity of junk tires be removed from the property. Instead of hauling away all of those tires, the Town alleged that MacArthur instead hid them on the property.
In 2008, MacArthur and the town also battled over his plans to open a sports bar at the track. Town ordinances prohibits alcohol at a racetrack.
At this point, the future of All-Star Speedway is not clear. The track is a former NASCAR Weekly Racing Series track, but the sanctioning body cut all ties to the track midway through the 2009 season. The facility has a rich history of past events, which has included NASCAR Modified Tour races, NASCAR Busch Grand National North races and the annual Star Classic Supermodified show.