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Speedway owner plans motorsports complex in Vado

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December 24, 2016  |  by Steve Ramirez, Las Cruces Sun-News

A proposal to build and operate a multipurpose motor sports complex on state trust land near Vado is under review by State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn.

The proposed facility will be on 127 acres on the west side of Interstate 10, at the Vado exit. It would be just north of two truck stops at the Vado exit.

"Ideally, we're hoping it could be ready by the start of the 2018 racing season, which usually begins in May," said Las Cruces businessman Royal Jones, who is developing the project and has entered into a lease agreement with the New Mexico State Land Office.

Jones owns the Southern New Mexico Speedway, which operates on a track at the Southern New Mexico Fairgrounds, about 15 miles west of Las Cruces. Jones said his company still has "a few years" left on its contract to rent that facility. Jones' company also used to run the El Paso Speedway Park — renamed the Western Tech Speedway Park in January — until it closed in September.

The proposed facility in Vado includes a motocross course and tracks for go-kart racing, BMX cycling and dirt-track racing.

"As a multifaceted motor sports facility, we envision this as the kind of place where dads and granddads could bring their kids, their grandchildren on weekends," Jones said.

He said a three-eighths of a mile clay oval would probably be built at the complex. That is same size of the dirt track at the Southern New Mexico Speedway.

Plans for the proposed facility also include grandstands, an area for roping events, an amphitheater, vehicle pits at the dirt track, and a concession stand. Jones said he also envisions skyboxes.

"We're in the preliminary stages of design, so we don't exactly know how much the motor sports complex could cost," Jones said. "We're hoping we could break ground on it sometime in the next year."

Rue Stone, who has been involved with the management and operations of the Southern New Mexico Speedway for several years, said he is enthused about the plans.

"It's going to be awesome," Stone said. "We're already looking at booking the World of Outlaws to come in 2018, and the Lucas Oil Short Course is also considering it. ...We're also thinking about concerts and maybe even a fair. This will be the kind of facility where people can bring their families for events."

Jones said the proposed site would likely appeal to motor sports fans in Las Cruces and El Paso.

"For Las Crucens, it would be about the same drive as it is now to the Speedway," Jones said.

Scott added, "There really isn't a facility like this anywhere in the Southwest."

Jones has a 35-year lease with the State Land Office, and will pay an annual base rent of $19,800. When the facility begins operations, the rent will increase 3 percent a year. As much as 74 percent of the proceeds from lease payments will be used to support and enhance public education in New Mexico.

Dunn said the proposal has merit. That's why a lease on the land was approved.

“This project will spur economic development in Doña Ana County, create construction jobs and permanent jobs, increase the tax base of every community in the region, and at the same time earn revenue for public education.” Dunn said in a news release.

The proposal would also make good use of the state land.

“Trespass and illegal dumping are common on state trust lands and especially troublesome in the area of the proposed motor sports complex.” Dunn said. “Not only will this project boost the local economy and support public schools, but the lessee will also help mitigate these ongoing problems.”