After this season, Shakopee’s Raceway Park is waving the checkered flag on its 57-year run.
The auto-racing track will close this fall at the end of its 2013 season. Recovery Technology Solutions is in the early stages of buying part of the racetrack site to build a $20 million asphalt-recycling center.
“This was a difficult decision,” said owner John Hellendrung in a statement on the racetrack’s website. “However, economic conditions leave me [no] choice but to pursue this avenue.”
The Shakopee planning commission approved plans last week to guide the 20-acre racetrack site toward industrial development, and the decision will go before City Council on Tuesday, according to Michael Leek, community development director for Shakopee.
Leek said Hellendrung has a purchase agreement with RTS. The company hopes to build a 10-acre complex which would extract and recycle asphalt oil from discarded shingles and other roofing material, according to city documents.
The area along Hwy. 101 where Raceway Park sits has changed since the track opened in 1956, said Shakopee City Planner Mark Noble. There is now an industrial park nearby, as well as concrete and asphalt plants. These adjacent industrial facilities made the racetrack site attractive to RTS, Noble said.
“I think back in the day, the 101 might have been viewed as a commercial corridor, but it never really developed that way,” Noble said.
Shakopee Mayor Brad Tabke said he takes his family to Raceway Park a couple of times each year and that a number of Shakopee residents and public officials race on the track each year.
“It’s really sad to be losing [Raceway Park] as part of our community,” Tabke said.
“It’s been a huge asset to Shakopee for a long time,” Tabke said.
The 2013 racing season begins on May 5.
Tony Wagner is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.