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Heartland Motorsports Park, located in Topeka, Kansas, has recently announced that it will be hosting its last and final NHRA National Event on Aug. 11-13. This news comes as a result of ongoing legal battles with Shawnee County over property values and excessive property taxes. Unfortunately, this means that Heartland Motorsports Park will be forced to close its doors, leaving a significant impact on the local community and the world of drag racing.
The Legal Battle and Property Valuations
The owners of Heartland Motorsports Park, Shelby Development, have been embroiled in a legal battle with Shawnee County over the valuation of their property. The Kansas Court of Appeals recently ruled against Shelby Development, stating that they had failed to provide evidence supporting their claims of harm due to overvaluation of the racetrack property. The Appeals Court upheld the district court’s decision to issue summary judgment for the county.
Shelby Development had filed a lawsuit in 2019, claiming that the County Appraiser’s Office had conducted an illegal and improper valuation of their property. The lawsuit included allegations of negligence, fraud, conspiracy, and breach of contract. However, the court found that Shelby Development had not presented specific evidence of damages caused by the county appraisers’ actions.
Impact on Heartland Motorsports Park and the Community
The closure of Heartland Motorsports Park will have a significant impact on the local community and the sport of drag racing. Chris Payne, the managing member of Shelby Development, expressed his disappointment stating, “The wheels of justice turn slowly, and Shawnee County has succeeded in running Heartland Motorsports Park out of business before a potential trial can occur.” Payne highlighted the loss of jobs and the absence of major events that will affect the local economy and the community as a whole.
Heartland Motorsports Park has been a staple in the drag racing world for over three decades, hosting the first NHRA National Event in Topeka in 1989. Over the years, it has become known for setting world records in professional drag racing and has drawn fans, racers, support crews, families, and vendors from all over North America. The track’s closure will not only impact the racing community but also local businesses such as restaurants, motels, and grocery stores that have benefited from the influx of visitors during events.
Fond Farewell to NHRA and Professional Racers
Despite the unfortunate circumstances leading to its closure, Heartland Motorsports Park aims to make its last NHRA National Event in Topeka a memorable one. Attendees will have the opportunity to bid a fond farewell to NHRA and witness legendary racers like John Force, who has competed in almost every Topeka National event. The track’s rich history and its contribution to the sport of drag racing will be celebrated one last time.
The Future of Drag Racing in Kansas City
While the closure of Heartland Motorsports Park is undoubtedly a loss for Topeka, there is a glimmer of hope for the future of drag racing in the Kansas City area. NHRA officials announced that the new Flying H Dragstrip, located in the Kansas City area, will be included in the upcoming NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series national event schedule in 2024. This new facility, built by Scott Higgs and his team, provides an opportunity for the sport to thrive in a different location and create new memories for racers and fans alike.