Arizona Motorsports Park shut down

From the Arizona Republic:

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors ordered the closure of a controversial West Valley racetrack Wednesday…when it opened for business last spring with a Sports Car Club of America racing event, residents immediately began complaining about the noise of revving engines on the 2-mile course just south of Luke Air Force Base.

A sad day. I’ve raced there – and it’s an awesome track.

I just don’t get it about the noise. Sure, a race track isn’t a quiet place. But it is literally right next to an air force base. When we were there, we literally had to cover our ears sometimes as the jets would fly a few hundred feet overhead. Now THAT is noise, and a whole lot louder than the track was.

26 thoughts on “Arizona Motorsports Park shut down

  1. George Chernyha


    I am not surprised by this. As a 10+ year resident of the “Valley” I’ve come to see how intolerant the people around here can be. I live about 1 mile from Scottsdale Airport. Several months ago a couple of Marine F-18s used the runways for some training excercises. I could not believe the response from the area “residents”. More than one thought they should close down the airport immediately. One of our esteemed city councilmen said we should send “them” a message that they are not “welcome here”.

    That said, do you really think that auto racing is going to get any better treatment?

  2. Greg Reinacker

    Well, I didn’t necessarily expect any better treatment…I just found it ironic that they complained about the noise at the track, when it’s right next door to an air force base.

    And re the city councilman saying ‘send “them” a message that they are not “welcome here”‘ in the case of the marines at the airport, I would have had quite a mouthful for him. Sheesh.

  3. Peter Stuer

    Sorry Greg, can’t say I’m with you here. Maybe they can’t do very much about the airforce base, but does that mean that once you have some noise yoou should just put up and fancy more?

    Suppose you go into a restaurant with a stain on your tie. Waiter comes, and while clearing the table grabs your tie to wipe soem grease from his hands. You are not amused, too put it mildly, but the waiter back in the kitchen goes: “I found it ironic I just found it ironic that he complained about the grease, when the tie was seriously stained to begin with”.

  4. David Lanouette

    Interesting thing about living next to an airport (or anywhere else that is consistently loud) – you quickly get used to THAT noise. I remember as a kid when the F15’s were grounded, we noticed the lack of noise every 15-20 min – but never noticed the afterburners when they took off.(you thought an F18 was loud!)

    But, the guy across the street who wanted to mow his lawn at 8:00am…

    So, I can understand the residents complaints. Maybe if they had races all the time (like 24hours at LaMonde) they would get used to it. :-)

  5. Bill Pryor

    I’m really sorry to hear about the closure Greg. I’ve raced SCCA on and off over the years since 1975(Laguna Seca mostly). The noise issue is always a problem, but these people should have no foundaton for a complaint, even without considering the existing noise of the base. Any recent development, especially a race course, would have gone through a stringent review process, which would have included a well publicized public hearing where anyone would have been able to voice their objections. It’s always the vocal minority that ruin it for the rest of us. Hopefully there will be a legal basis to have the closure overturned.

    Good luck.


  6. William Styczynski

    I just heard about the closing of Arizona Motorsports Park. I came down for the inagural race last year and have reservations to make the trip from Chicago again this year. It is a great track, very safe and fun to drive. I find it hard to believe that the sound ratings at the perimeter of the track come anywhere close to that of the noise generated from Luke Air Force Base. Anyway, it is sad to see that a few people can stop a venture that would also add additional revenue to the local economy, including restaurants and motels.

    I can also anticipate that the owners of new homes near Phoenix International Raceway will also someday attempt to shut down that track as well, forgetting that the “noise” was there long before they moved in.

  7. John Walczinski

    Arizona Motorsports Park was the only true road racing course in Arizona. It was on a par with some of the best courses in this country. I am happy to have had the opportunity to race there before it shut down.

    On my last outing on a Saturday in December, two F-15 flew overhead while I was driving in one of the race sessions. The noise literally drowned out the noise from my car and all those around me on the track.

    Noise studies sponsored by the racing community and under the scrutiny of the community and reported to the commission showed that the noise in the closest neighborhood to the track was less than the ambient noise and about the level of a laser printer or small bird chirping. But all of this misses the point.

    It is nobel to think that the commission’s actions had the neighbors’ best interest at heart. Perhaps in some small way they did. IMHO the interests that were truly served by the Commission were the developers’ interests and not the neighbors’. IMHO this was a question of profit and support between tow confererates: the developers and the commission.

    I am going to go further out on a limb here. The US Government has already announced that it will make known a list of future additional military base closings. Some closures will happen as early as 2005. They have stated that one of the selection criteria will be whether or not the surrounding communities want the bases or not. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this?

    My bet is that Luke AFB will be one of the bases that gets shut down. When that happens, all of that land that surrounds the base will increase in value. If you were a developer with land holdings and plans for future development in the area, how good would that be for you financially? Now tell me who the commission was really protecting. Why? You figure that part out.

    Racers can lament the loss of a great racing venue. Trust me, on this: IMHO it will not reopen. There is too much power and influence behind this on the other side of the issue.

    Neighbors can celebrate a brief shallow victory. I say this because I am sure that many of them work at Luke AFB and would lose their employment if the base shut down.

    The Phoenix economy will be hurt due to the loss of the base and its contribution to the local community. But hey, at least a small handful of folks can celebrate this decision. Now who’s yer daddy?—Chinz

  8. Stephen Ensign

    As an avid motorcyle rider, who is moving to Arizona this summer, I was looking forward to racing my bikes on this wonderful track. It would seem as though that dream has now come to a grinding hault. After spending much time at Laguna Seca and the surrounding communties, I know ohh too well how this debate has been given life.

    All I have to say is that John Walcinski… HIT THE NAIL ON THE HEAD brother !

    It is unfortunate, but due to my experience in Montery, I’m afraid, most likely true.

  9. Bill Pryor


    What were your experiences in Monterey you’re talking about? I know people have complained about the noise, but the Laguna land is owned by Monterey County and is not a prospect for development, though there are some very high-end communities surrounding the track that I’m sure are complaining. Racing dates have been limited there for years because of noise issues and dates, but the track is very unlikely to go away since it has been generating millions for charity for many, many years, and is far too high a profile track to be easily closed. This is one track that I believe is relatively safe, even though it is smack in the middle of expensive neighborhoods, with the associated loud voice of the big bucks.

  10. Tom Bacome

    Where did this ever end up?

    There is no way the track closed solely on noise issues. If you have ever been out there during racing, you can’t even hear it until you reach the gates. There isn’t a house for almost two miles.

    My guess is ulterior motives were at play.

  11. John Walczinski

    Even though the written application for the use permit clearly identified the intended purpose of the track, the commissioners felt that the verbal description given by the track owner’s agent at the original application hearing misrepresented the intended use Even though the application literally stated SCCA events and attendance of around 200 persons several of the commissioners felt that they had been misled. Several commissioners stated that they were led to believe that the owner would be using it for his own private use by driving street cars on it.

    I guess the commissioners did not read the application? I guees that common sense did not prevail enough for them to question why the owner (albiet perhaps a wealthy individual)would invest millions in a track to drive his street cars around on? C’mon! If that’s the case, we should recall the whole stinking lot of em.

    There is no doubt that there were ulterior motives. The developers who were behind the opposition are well known to the commission. They are the group who financially gained the most from the commissions decision.

    The bottom line is this: Arizona Motorsports Park will not reopen. Arizona is down to two tracks that are not really first class road courses (Firebird and PIR).

    If you are a racer, here’s the scary part. You only need to drive down 115th Av. to see how close the residential area is getting to PIR. My prediction is that within two years PIR will be facing some restrictions in response to community concerns. The big events will probably be ok, but club racing will probably suffer.

    Thank goodness Firebird is on an Indian Reservation. Racers get ready to drive to California and New Mexico for your racing venues.

  12. John Walczinski

    In answer to Bill and Tom.

    Bill-Laguna in Monterey probably still exists because it is owned by the county. I believe that there are a few major events that are still held there each year, but little if any club racing.

    I also belong to one of the California Clubs and they cancelled their future events there because of the impossible noise restrictions. I believe that the national event dates have a different db requirement than the clubs. I don’t think that Cal Club SCCA uses Laguan either for the same reason. Someone correct me if I’m off on this.

    Tom- Some months ago I heard there was a legal fight for AMP but that is old news. The officials (those who schedule events)in the local racing community believe it is a dead player.

  13. Kirk Schenck

    I had the pleasure to drive at AMP in a Shifter Kart. It is the best track I have ever raced on. I have driven all 3 tracks at Firebird, California Speedway, PIR, Las Vegas Motor Speedway outer Road Course and PKRA.

    I feel the Board of Supervisors fell asleep at the wheel by failing to see the intended purpose. The permit process requires extensive documentation regarding the application request. The answer to the question regarding Street Legal only was never spelled out in writing nor was it made a stipulation to maintain the permit. It is the Boards responsibility to see the pig through the wedding dress. Every developer that stands before that board is attempting to pull the wool over their eyes. It is a part of their job. It is also the Boards responsibility to inform the applicant of reasons that deem revocation. If he financed this project, the bank would have viewed the permit as an assurance that they would not stand in the way of the applicant’s business plan.The Board failed to stand behind their commitment to the applicant. Not based on any of the documents submitted in the application process but when a video containing one response to a question concurred to yes Street Legal only. In review the board did not outline additional requirement or limitation to sound, time or day of week that we forgot to make clear the first time. They just spinelessly tried to direct attention to the track owners “misrepresentation”.

    I have not been there but I am told that there is a Motocross track next door. I could not hear it. I feel that the owner made every effort to find the best property within 75 miles of Phoenix. The property has limitations to what can be built on it due to the risk of air planes crashing into it and the noise pollution of more than 110db. It is an ideal location for a loud business. It is not ideal for home owners seeking piece and quiet. Those seeking revocation should be forced to buy him out. They agreed to the plan than changed their mind. The track owner should not bear the burden for their mistakes and oversights.

    In my neighborhood in Tempe I live two blocks from the train tracks. At several times during the night the train rides its horn continuously. Is it loud? Yes. Is it necessary at 10,2, and 4AM? No. Was it here before me ?Yes. Can I hear it at any other time during the day? No. I live 2 miles from the 60 and 10. I can hear the cars and trucks if I am standing out side at 3 AM. Can I hear it during the day? No. Am I trying to shut down the Train, The Air Port or the Freeway? No. Was my house priced accordingly? Yes. What about all the traffic that roars down Camelback, are they trying to have speed humps installed? The weather in Phoenix prevents you from having your windows open during the DAY most of the year.

    Laguna Seca is on federal land to the best of my knowledge. I was stationed at Fort Ord and entered the track directly through a gate 100 feet from the final turn. Since Fort Ord has closed I do not know if things changed. Laguna Seca is another example of building right next to a loud military base, range road to be exact. The geography is the best part of Laguna Seca. With the exception of the top of the corkscrew hill it is contained in a valley higher than the surrounding homes. I would think that the rental cost is the biggest issue for scheduling events. Correct me if I am wrong. The Barber driving school runs loud open wheel cars 5 days a week.

  14. Nick Zoumbaris

    Luke Air Force base will not be shutting down for a long time. It’s the largest fighter pilot traing base in the world. It’s where you go to learn to fly the f16. I know because my wife is a dentist there.

    I would also give my left nut for them to open AMP back up.

  15. Becca O'Malley

    I live less then a quarter mile from the base and yes the f-16’s are loud but it’s also a wonderful sound. You get used to it as you would with the track noise. I know me personally, I would LOVE for that track to reopen..both my boyfriend and myself ride motorcycles and it would be close and I have heard that it’s a phenominal track. The people that were complaining about the noise where the same people complaining that Luke was too loud, but here’s the thing their house were built within the past 5 – 10 years the base has been there much much longer then those house and I know that when I moved into my place I was to sign a release in understanding the noise was there and I was in a flight path.

    I hope there is something we can do to reopen this track.

  16. Jody H

    I stumbled up this blog while doing a search on AMP to see if anything new was happening. It’s been quite some time since I sat in on those board meetings when AMP’s special use permit was being reviewed. I couldn’t agree more with John’s conclusions. These were the same points I kept arguing with friends & colleagues in support of the track. The written application plainy stated exactly how the track was intended to be used. Yes – AMP’s original lawyer did make a couple verbal contradictions to the info in the app – but if the board had READ THE APPLICATION, they would have realized this, and should certainly have questioned any discrepancy they may have noticed before issuing the permit!!!! But the fact is – they never had any problems with it until they came under pressure from the nearby community and (of primary importance here) the land developers who had built said community and who had plans to continue building right up to the edge of the track. It was then and only then that the excuse of ‘being mislead’ was used to bring AMPs permit into review.

    In the hearings – noise was only the first issue of complaint. But when AMP took it upon themselves to conduct extensive, independent sound level tests (at their own expense) it was found that the ambient noise levels in the surrounding communities was higher than that generated by the track!

    This didn’t slow down AMP’s attackers, who then turned 90 degrees and said that it wasn’t the sound level that was the problem, but rather the ‘quality of sound’ (whatever the bleep that means). When that issue was addressed, their argument changed to the issue of proper building permits not being obtained. As each argument was countered they’d come up with two more complaints to replace them. The pattern… no matter what AMP did, no matter how far they bent over backwards – the only way the community would be appeased would be if they disappeared.

    Since then – at the time of this writing – the land developers that formed the spine of the assault on AMP have finished constructing homes butting right up to the track (and the air force base as well). Think they didn’t step plans up a notch in anticipation of AMP’s 2nd permit app? Think again.

    I had the opportunity to run & race that track a few times (motorcycling), and it was the best thing to happen to motorsports enthusiasts in the area for as long as I can remember. But thanks to greedy, unscrupulous land developers, a spineless and incompetent planning & zoning commission, and a handful of residents with nothing more to do than cause trouble and bitch about gout… we lose it all. And the owner – Maloney – loses alot more. I know he put at least 6 million into the initial construction of the track. I’d hate to think how much money he has into it now, combined with legal fees.

    So very sad.

  17. Sandy Sparacino

    We are now facing a racetrack being built less than a mile from our quite country home which we just moved to 2 years ago.. we have neighbors like us who moved here for the piece and quite and slower country life. We have all invested a lot of money into our properties and homes.

    Its not that I think racetracks shouldn’t be allowed anywhere…but build them where residential housing isnt there already! It seems to me already existing housing should over ride someone coming in after the fact and building something that would lower property values and create a lot of noise! Don’t allow them in a area of residential housing that already exist…

    I have to tell you, we are not happy about this one being built and hope it will not happen! Texas has one of these already in Cesson, Texas…less than a 2 hour drive from here…

    Its easy to say let them build it.. when its not your home and your property value that will suffer from it!

    The builder says this is a life long dream,,,surely ONE mans dream shouldn’t over ride the dreams of MANY…. that were here first! Pick another spot without homes…This is turning our dreams into a nightmare!

    Thank You….

  18. Carter Stapleton

    You know, this is too little too late, Ms Sparacino. If you moved 2 yrs ago then you should well have checked with your city AND those cities around you to see what was up as relates to your area. Is your area close to a tourist attraction within a few miles? Do people clammor to the area for weekly happenings or monthly happenings? Is your little Quite Piece of the Country trying all they can to attract MORE $$ and MORE people to the area? Did you investigate that?

    An area with land abutting a major population is fair game for real estate development that provides for the highest and best use of the land…real estate 101.

    And, Race tracks don’t happen over night. LOTS of planning and debating, redrawing, achitects, lawyers, etc have to go before a city council before somthing of this magnitude is built. ALWAYS check back for at least a YEAR of City Council minutes before pinning your future on Quietude outside a large metro area.

    If you are on the outskirts of a major population area, and I believe you must be, then you MUST expect your ‘quiet country home’ to be Encroached upon.

    It is the very people who move to the edge of major metropolitan areas who scream loudest when ‘progress’ inches toward them…why? because they expect things to stay the way they are and nothing does!

    If you wanted a Quiet country home then you should have moved WELL away from Metropolitan areas.

    After all, they don’t built race tracks in the middle of nowhere, they build them on the edge of where life happens, why? Because that’s where the money is. No money, no race track…let that be your guide when you move the next time, IF you are able to sell…when you expect all the city conveniences moments away or at worse, an hours drive, but you don’t want the city coming to your door.

    Also, what happens to real estate in Texas and elsewhere has been in the news a lot over the last 3-4 years as highest and best use decides what is the highest and best use of the earth under your feet. YOU may think a little spread of land with a new brick home is perfect for you…but the city KNOWS that little bit of land between you and that major population area is PERFECT for Revenue!

    If you have pinned your hopes, dreams and future on this move to the Quite Country but didn’t do due diligence, then you have NO reason to complain…with real estate being the single largest investment a person makes, they really should spend a LOT of time learning about Location, Location, Location.

  19. Dayton Beck

    I couldn’t agree with you more Carter!

    Regarding Ms. Sparacino, realize that many more people besides Mr. Maloney were affected by the closing of AMP. It provided a SAFE atmosphere for all motorsports enthusiasts do enjoy their costly investments.

    Especially with an Airforce Base Adjacent to it! AMP was FAR from this quiet edge of town you speak of!

  20. Shopper Reviews

    Wow. Walczinski, that’s some heavy stuff. Anyway, Kirk Schenck does have a point there. However, I think the main issue in here is the battle between the developers, few residents and the AMP, of which, was the result of the incompetence of the planning and zoning commission. And I really think that the city must learn from this mistake to avoid future issues as this one.

  21. Jim Cozzolino

    Problem is, 99.9% of the politicians are too old to appreciate anything we younger people enjoy doing.

    They don’t want us racing in the street and at the same time take away safe places to do it.

    What a joke the Maricopa County Board of Stupidvisors are.

  22. Kenny Palmer

    I just ran across this thread and had to chime in. I think the situation sucks for Mr. Maloney. they couldnt limit the “times” or days a car can run on the track? no compromises? just a big middle finger and close your track. unbelievable..

    Just goes to show what a bunch of old hags and golfers will do. No doubt those folks at the adjacent course had some say in the tracks demise. Too bad they are to old to realize facilities like this help to prevent reckless driving and street racing.

    I was out in the area on my MX bike the other weekend and had to peer through the chainlink fence at what looks like a nice place. Wish i would have had a chance to ride it!

    ? – is there no chance of “limited” reopen.. special events? DB requirements on vehicles?

  23. Jason Weir

    I am speechless on this whole subject.

    I don’t know what the real reasoning behind closing the track but it’s a real shame for a long list of reasons.

    #1 AMA racing and other race organizations could come to this sate and with it a whole lot of money to dump off into Litchfield park’s community and CREATE JOBS in the area.

    #2 All of the race fans and racers in the state could spend money here in Arizona versus other states.

    #3 The city of Phoenix could help promote roadracing on racetracks instead of our city streets that kill so many people every year.

    #4 it would give familys something they could do together rather than Jr. playing video games all day on his X box.

    I would guess that the resident’s making the complaint about the Racetrack, havn’t lost a loved one to a motor vehichle related death regaurdless if the person were at fault or just walking on the sidewalk minding there own business.

    They have no Idea the importance of this track.

    motorsports will be here long after we are all gone. lets keep it safe for generations to come.

    J. Weir
    Scottsdale AZ
    Track Marshall


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