Texas World Speedway (TWS) opened in 1997 as the Lone Star Speedway – a 1.5-mile track in the middle of the country – to great fanfare, with people traveling from across the United States to see it. Owned by Bob and Vicki Liguori, the speedway offered auto racing in a scenic setting (rolling hills, beautiful countryside, and starry skies) and brought in big-name racing teams to compete.
The project quickly drew more than 500,000 visitors per year, and it became one of the top-grossing American motorsport venues, pulling in more than $25 million annually. It’s been a wild ride since then, with the track taking on several different names and owners before regaining its current identity.
Here’s a quick look at what happened to TWS over the years:
The Project Grows.
The Liguori’s had grand plans for the speedway from the beginning, envisioning a tourist attraction that could bring in big-name race teams and sell out the 600-seat grandstands on a regular basis.
When the project opened, it quickly became apparent that the original plan might not be able to accommodate the speedway‘s growing popularity. The track initially laid out just 450 feet of paved racing surface, which was barely enough for oval track cars.
While the Liguori’s were able to secure an additional 300 feet of dirt oval, fans soon began to complain about lack of on-track action due to the dry climate of Texas and the infrequent rainfall that makes the dirt surface extremely dusty and unsafe for motorsport.
When the track finally decided to lay down a concrete surface in 2010, it was a bold and groundbreaking move that provided fans with a more authentic motorsport experience while also allowing for faster speeds and more intense competition.
After years of growth and prosperity under the Liguori’s ownership, the project reached a turning point when they decided to sell the speedway in 2016 to Chip Ganassi Racing and Scott Pruett. While the new owners saw great potential in the track, it took them a while to figure out what to do with it; in fact, it wasn’t until the end of the 2017 season that they finally decided to put their heads together and come up with a racing plan.
The reason for the delay wasn’t just due to the need for some time to think up a new name for the track (it had been known as Texas World Speedway since opening in 1997) but also the need to secure funding for the project, which would require a substantial investment from the owners. It was an expensive and time-consuming process, but the new owners were willing to take the risk and commit the capital to put their plans into action.
The Evolution Of A Speedway.
As a result of the delay in buying and developing the track, the new owners had to wait till the end of the 2017 season to reveal their plans for the track. At that point, they chose to keep the same name, but gave it a complete makeover, transforming it from a 1.5-mile track to a 1.686-mile track, increasing the number of turns from 19 to 24, and adding a new section of track that was previously an unused portion of the venue.
While the new owners had grand plans for the track, it took them a little while to get the finances in place to make the project a reality, and it wasn’t until the end of the 2018 season that they officially opened the new section of track, renamed it “The Final Round” and began construction on a new 600-seat grandstand.
The new owners were realistic about their expectations for the project, knowing full well that it would take time to get the track where they wanted it, and that not everyone would like the changes. Nonetheless, they were determined to give it their all and make the new section of the track as good as new, as well as to make the overall experience for the fans as good as possible.
The new owners were confident that the changes to the track would enhance its appeal to fans, but they were also realistic about the fact that not everyone would like the changes. Nevertheless, they were determined to give it their all and make the new section of the track as good as new, as well as to make the overall experience for the fans as good as possible.
In keeping with their name, the new owners sought to take the sting out of the racing experience for the fans. While there are still grandstands and other amenities associated with a standard motorsport stadium, the track now features a chicane – a type of curve in a road that cars coming in the opposite direction must pass through in order to maintain stability – and a new catch-penny structure that generates more revenue for the owners. According to Ganassi, “You have to expect that there will be changes to make it better and make the most of it, but you also have to accept that it’s not going to be the same as before. We heard a lot of negative feedback last year and decided that we were going to fix certain things that people didn’t like (like the layout of the track and the name), but we also knew that there were some things that people liked (like the fact that it is a banked track and the location). So we had to evolve with the times and try to make it work for all types of racing fans.”
The changes to the track have been met with varying degrees of acceptance by fans. While many have come around and embraced the new changes and are excited about the future of the track, others are still not too keen on the idea of change, especially concerning the naming of the track. Responding to a question about the new changes, Ganassi said, “It is what it is. We named it after where it is because that is how we found it, and we try to keep the names as close to the locations as possible. The track itself is a work in progress, and we will continue to make changes as we go along.”
Regardless of whether fans like the changes or not, it’s clear that the new owners have put in the time and energy to make the track better, and it will be interesting to see what else they come up with. Until then, it’s still a matter of whether or not you will like it, but at least the changes are for the better.