Looking for advice and feedback for starting a road course

Discussion in 'Tracking & Driver Education' started by Bendrover, Mar 10, 2020.

  1. Bendrover

    Bendrover Karting

    Dec 18, 2005
    Tulsa, OK
    I'm in the beginning phase of researching, designing, and building a road course. Looking for feedback on what I have so far.

    Track will be 2.0 miles long

    Members only - 300 - 500 depending on fee structure.

    Open Wednesday - Sunday 9 AM - 5 PM

    Open March - October

    Track will host up to 4 - 8 weekend events (Friday - Sunday) per year. Depending on filling events and if members are accepting of losing that many weekends per year.

    Track can probably hold up to 60 cars each day. 10 cars on track at a time for 15 minute sessions. 4 - 5 sessions per day.

    Will have to sign up on website or call to reserve one of the 60 spots per day.

    Will have person to check members in and have 2-3 flag personnel on track.

    Track amenities - Jacks, Air Compressors, Basic toolbox, Shaded parking for drivers, Race Fuel, Restaurant and Bar, Restrooms, Conference Room, Trailer parking, and hoping to get some sponsors to offer discounts to members.

    Offer family memberships - Kids could learn to handle a car (with member in passenger's seat), wife/husband/partner could enjoy track days.


    Member initiation fee - $1,500 non-refundable fee, $1,200 yearly member fee, $100 year food and beverage fee. Target would be 500 or so members.

    Other thought is to have a higher initiation fee of $3,000 that can be sold or transferred on the open market? Yearly dues would be $1,500. Only way to lose membership would be failure to make the yearly member dues. If we did this we could keep membership around 400. The total number of members would be set before any offerings.

    Would have member guest passes for a fee.

    I know there are many things I'm missing, but this is a start and would welcome any feedback.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. Ianjoub

    Ianjoub Formula Junior

    Dec 22, 2019
    Homosassa, FL USA
    Full Name:
    Ian Joubert
    Sounds like a losing proposition. I'd think it would be $1.5m to $2m per mile to grade and pave, never mind all the other costs.
    sainthoo, Schatten and Texas Forever like this.
  3. blkfxstc

    blkfxstc Karting
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 30, 2016
    Full Name:
    Buy an existing one from an owner deep in debt and hope you have a different result. Most private road courses are struggling to stay afloat (for many reasons).
  4. Bendrover

    Bendrover Karting

    Dec 18, 2005
    Tulsa, OK
    Thanks for the reply's. As far as cost goes if we have have the number of members in either scenario payback would be 2 years based on our situation. We are still working on getting hard numbers, but believe they will fall in our estimated budget.

    I'm trying to get a feel if our fee structure is inviting and creates value for what we would have to offer.

    Is 300 - 500 members realistic number for a track?

    What other amenities should we consider?

  5. Hocakes

    Hocakes Formula Junior

    Apr 24, 2010
    Judging from your annual schedule, this will be somewhere in the frozen north. I never understood the "logic" of having a big azz mortgage you have to pay all 12 months on, but the facility is only usable maybe 6 months out of the year. Automatic handicap. Situate it somewhere warm where it can be used & producing revenue all 12 months.

    Sent from my Samsung Note 8 using mobile app
  6. Jaguar36

    Jaguar36 Formula Junior

    Nov 8, 2010
    Cherry Hill, NJ
    I think your fees (and therefore likely your costs) are off by an order of magnitude, although it certainly depends on the location. Have you look at other private race tracks? The two private tracks I know of are around $10k a year for an unlimited membership, with a $100k init fee. Even if its outside of Tulsa, you're not going to be an order of magnitude cheaper than those tracks.

    Get some solid numbers on track design and construction costs, clubhouse costs, paddock costs, a realistic staffing plan, insurance, land, maintence and so on. Take a look at high end country clubs in your area, costs are going to be roughly similar. I think you'll find your membership rates are going to need to be significantly higher.
  7. dmundy

    dmundy Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Sep 11, 2010
    Full Name:
    Arthur Dent
    Others are chiming in on the revenue side. I’d add that almost all tracks do not do enough work (spend enough $) the FIRST time they put pavement down. Even someplace that was open checkbook like barber required new drainage very quickly.
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  8. Rosso328

    Rosso328 F1 Veteran
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Dec 11, 2006
    Central FL
    Full Name:
    Even COTA needed serious resurfacing work after not so many years.
  9. dmundy

    dmundy Formula 3
    Rossa Subscribed Owner

    Sep 11, 2010
    Full Name:
    Arthur Dent
    Texas Forever likes this.
  10. blkfxstc

    blkfxstc Karting
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 30, 2016
    Full Name:
    If they had built COTA on the virgin soil, it would have been fine. Adding all the elevation changes with fill caused all the problems.
    greg328 and Thecadster like this.
  11. LBBP

    LBBP Formula Junior

    The best advice I could give you is to seek out someone who built a abandoned race facility into a world renowned track, that would be Connie Nyholm, the Owner and CEO of Virginia International Raceway. They have a business plan that is the envy of most race tracks worldwide and her advice should be taken seriously.
    I don't think a purely membership based facility, irrespective of the fees, will prove to be positive in the long term. Seeking the best advice from someone that has "been there, done that" would be more beneficial to your future endeavors.
    sainthoo and Thecadster like this.
  12. Ky1e

    Ky1e Formula 3

    Mar 4, 2011
    #12 Ky1e, Mar 17, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2020
    I raced in 40 pro races last year at about 17 different tracks around the country last year. (IMSA, SRO, 24HR/Crevantic). Here's some feedback:

    1. What part of the country would it be? (determines months of year it will be used, accessibility to major populations that are close driving distance, airports, proximity to competition with other tracks, close enough that nearby track enthusiasts can make it to your track, etc).

    2. Will it be high level enough and have satisfactory safety measures to attract racing organizations (Pro or Am Series and organizations)

    3. 2 miles is a pretty short track, too small in my opinion. Lime Rock is the only track that I've raced on that is that short (and it is by far the shortest). It will get monotonous for regular members, secondly it takes under a minute to complete, also you cant fit that many cars at once, and any slower car wrecks your lap time because you catch them and lap them so quickly. Most tracks are closer to 3.5 miles, if you could stretch it to 2.5-3 miles that would fit with the shorter tracks.

    4.. Make sure you have some banking in some turns, slight camber in others, some elevation change, some long straights (to have hard braking zones and passing areas), some tighter series of turns for slower technical turns, and some high speed sweepers that require some commitment/balls. There needs to be a variety of radiuses in turns (some tight, some mid, some open, some with decreasing radius and some with increasing radius, some short duration turns adn some long duration turns) so each turn is different and they dont all have the same character. You need to have a variety to have a good track. The best tracks have some risk/reward i.e. some danger that some can push and others cant-- MoSport, VIR, Road Atlanta. Hard breaking areas (a slow turn after a long straight/fast section) are needed for good passing zones and brake commitment.

    5. I know someone who is currently building the longest sportscar road course track in the county (~5 miles long) in the Mid-West. I might be able to put you in touch with him (I would have to check to see if he s ok with that first/confidentiality)

    6. The price seems low and membership goal high. I would think charge more but you probably wont get as many members as you think. You'll have to have more events/rent out the track to make up the difference. Chin Track days, HPDE days, PCA, SCCA, etc.
  13. jcurry

    jcurry F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Jan 16, 2012
    Lk Stevens, WA
    Full Name:
    Check out other private tracks. For example

    Agree with other comments.
    1/ track too short
    2/ fees WAY too low. I recall that Area 27 had initial buy-in @ >$50K(Canadian). Annual dues are still much higher than you are suggesting. Not sure how many members they have, but there is waiting list at this time. For the first couple yrs they did not have any outside events. That has changed last couple yrs, probably as a need to generate income.

    Good luck.
    Texas Forever likes this.
  14. Ky1e

    Ky1e Formula 3

    Mar 4, 2011
    I fit is going to be a track like Roebling Road (2 miles), Palm Beach Int'l Raceway (PBIR) 2.2 miles, The Firm in FL 1.5 miles (all of which are small tracks, flat, somewhat narrow, little camber, no real commitment corners, no exciting corners, homemade layouts), it is a waste of time. A track has to be quality to bring in the customers. There are lots of these 'local" small little known tracks, there are few quality tracks.
  15. f12019

    f12019 Rookie

    Apr 9, 2019
    Full Name:
    if you need a bank loan to finance the construction of the road course, you'll end up going broke and filing bankruptcy. a road course is a money losing business without long term financial commitments from sponsors and racing series funded by television advertising deals.

    the two mile road course that you're proposing is too short to appeal to any professional racing series. it's a road course for amateurs and weekend tracking enthusiasts.

    if you're building the road course because it's a hobby and you have the money to fund the construction, you should be prepared to spend at least $5 million or more (all-in costs).

    when you consider the costs, it doesn't make any sense to do this. you'll never earn enough revenue from membership fees to recuperate the costs.
  16. LightGuy

    LightGuy Three Time F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Oct 4, 2004
    Full Name:
    #16 LightGuy, Mar 21, 2020
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
    If you have to ask the question you dont have the experience to put this together unless you have really deep pockets or a deep supply of cash from investors.
    My advice is to go work for someone that has made it happen.
    Learn everything from filling fuel to running the show.
    Then you will have the experience to ask investors for their hard earned cash.

    If you want a short cut I know the guy that stared it all... Jack Farr.
    He will want a fee for his hard earned painful expertise.
    Worth every penny.
    And with him as an adviser you will gain instant credibility.
    Texas Forever likes this.
  17. henryr

    henryr F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 10, 2003
    Full Name:
    Juan Sánchez Villa-L
    looked at doing something in the SE before AMP came along. been almost 20 yrs now but i think we were looking at $1M per mile. could never make the numbers work.

    if your looking for some ROI - this is the last idea you should be looking at

    have money to blow and want to build something? location and track layout is key.
  18. spicedriver

    spicedriver Formula 3

    Feb 1, 2011
    If you've got 500 members, and you're only putting 60 cars on the track per day. Members can only expect to use the track once every 2 months. Everyone is going to want weekends.

    Whatever cost estimate you get, double it to be safe. Make sure that your insurance company approves of the design and layout before you build it.

    Get deposits from the members first. If you can't get the money up front, then cancel it.
  19. absostone

    absostone F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Jul 28, 2008
    2004 Autobahn Country Club in Joliet was exclusive to 250 or so members but that lasted only a few yrs. There is easily 500 now. There are a lot of expenses and maintenance. Asphalt, paddock repairs infield and surrounding landscaping, grass mowing. building repairs, corner worker stations, Tens of thousands of tires to bolt together in sections at runoff/ impact areas, I could go on. I was a member there for 10 yrs. in 2004 it was 10k initiation and $2000dues I think. Fastforward to today I believe they are $5000 dues and 40 or 45k Initiation.
  20. gatorgreg

    gatorgreg Formula 3
    Silver Subscribed

    Dec 13, 2004
    You want to be near a large population to make the numbers work. For example, PBIR is near a large seasonal population, Palm Beach. The track has a road course, drag strip and a go-cart track for income. I am not sure about the go-cart track. I heard a rumor someone was killed and they shut down the go cart track?
    The track is not very good for a expert drivers, but good for a novice driver because of the short length. It can be mastered quickly. You have pros and cons to a short track. The key is the proximity to a large population density. My 2cents.
    Owning a race track is not a extremely profitable business. It's a fun break even plan, if you are lucky.
    Texas Forever likes this.
  21. jag-oo-r

    jag-oo-r Karting

    May 27, 2015
    I was very, very involved as Miller came together (Utah, 2004-2006). Not the same model as you're proposing, but the idea started that way. Miller quickly abandoned the idea of a private club track, because it just didn't make sense, any way you looked at it.
    This from a guy who ultimately laid-out over $300 million of his own CASH.... no financing, to build what's there now.

    When it was going to be a simple ribbon of asphalt with a fence around it, he was still well over $5m projected construction costs, and that's without having to buy the 500 acres it was on.

    I wish you luck, because the world cannot have too many racetracks.
    But listen and learn first.

    Sent from my SM-G970U using Tapatalk
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  22. Bendrover

    Bendrover Karting

    Dec 18, 2005
    Tulsa, OK
    Thank you for all the advice and replies. It appears that a road course is a money loosing business!

    This has taken a backseat for a few weeks due to the virus, but we are back working on it now. Things seem to change each day as we work through what we need to make it work and adding value to the memberships.

    One thing that I didn't mention in the first post is my cousin owns and operates a successful dirt track. So the land, restaurant, garages, restrooms, fencing, equipment, office, meeting/business rooms, stands, concessions, and so on are already there. We will have to build the road course around the dirt track.

    On the business side of things we will need commitments from 350 people to make this happen. We will be drawing from a 4-State region - Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Missouri and Arkansas do not have a road course. Topeka, Kansas has a road course which is 4 hours away and Oklahoma has Hallett (1.8 mile track only available during events and track rentals). If we cannot get commitments from at least 350 people this will not be a viable business. We will not start building until we have those commitments and they have made initiation fee deposits into an escrow account set up at a bank. The escrow account will have 30 days to fund the 350 members, if it doesn't fund in the 30 days all deposits will be refunded. As soon as the escrow account is funded we will start moving dirt the following week. We will have 6 months to build the track and be open for members. With our 350 founding members, existing facilities, and our own cash we are investing the track will be debt-free.

    What we are trying to do is create a club where car guys can come out and enjoy their cars in a safe and fun environment and find value in their membership.

    The track will have multiple elevation changes and different layouts to run. I had a guy that has raced around the country and has run the NASCAR truck series for a bit come out and help me layout the track. What we have right now is just our initial layout. I'm sure it will change a few times before we finalize it.

    So, here is the updated information that we have as of now:


    We need commitments from 350 people to make this project a go.

    Once we have 350+ verbal commitments we will make calls to each person letting them know we have enough commitments to get started.

    We will set up an escrow account at a local bank for interested members to make initiation fee deposits.

    The verbal commitment members will have 30 days to fund the account with their deposits.

    After the 350 deposits have been made, we will start moving dirt the following week.

    If the 350 verbal commitments do not fill, all deposits will be refunded from escrow.

    Members will need to pass a limited background check

    Benefits to being one of the first 350 founding members:

    Equity membership initiation fee will be $3,500.
    Members can elect to divide up the cost of the initiation fee with a $2,000 deposit into escrow and the balance of $1,500 3 months later.

    The track will NOT sell any new memberships during the first season the track is open.

    The track will focus on making this a top destination based on feedback from our 350 members and figuring out what will make the track better.

    Founding members yearly dues will be $1,200 for the first year, $1,800 second year plus a $200 yearly food and beverage fee, and $2,000 for the third year plus a $200 food and beverage fee.

    Yearly dues for members 351 – 500 will be $2,000.

    Membership yearly dues cannot increase more than 10% in a given year.

    Total members will be capped at 500.

    Membership initiation fee will increase to $4,000 for founding members ($4,500 for members 351 - 500)

    Founding members can sell/transfer their membership on the open market after 36 months from the date the track opens. This gives the track 2 years (no new memberships the first year) to sell the remaining 150 memberships. This keeps the Track and members from competing against each other when selling memberships.

    Members 351 – 500:

    Initiation fee increases to $4,000 to $4,500

    Yearly dues for members 351 – 500 increases to $2,000 year with $200 food and beverage fee.

    Family memberships:

    Limited to immediate family members only.

    Initiation fee goes up $1,500 for first additional family member and $500 for each additional member up to a total of 5 family members.

    Yearly dues increase $500 for first additional family member and $200 for each additional family member.

    Family members can be added or taken off at any time.

    Same formula applies to members 351 – 500.

    Family members under the age of 12 are free.

    12 and under need to be under adult supervision.

    One car on track at a time per family (if track is full).

    All drivers must be 14 years of age or older. Restrictions will apply for members without a driver's license.

    Non-member day pass

    To be used to invite business associates, friends, and colleagues.

    Each non-member will be required to take the safety class before using the track.

    Members will be charged $375 for non-member use.

    Member/Family membership will have 2 non-member passes per year.

    Non-members can bring his/her own car.

    Non-member passes can be used on Wednesday & Thursday with advanced registration.

    Non-members passes can be used on the weekend if 50% of available spots are not filled one day before wanting to use.

    Member payments:

    All members will be set up on monthly auto-draft billing.

    Selling of existing membership:

    Members can sell/transfer their membership on the open market after the initial 36 months.

    All new members who have bought from an existing member will be charged a $500 fee paid to the track on top of what they paid for the membership. This fee is for track orientation and administration. New members must pass the limited background check before sale of membership is approved.

    Reserved weekends for track events (Fee applies to members / non-members):

    Track will reserve 4 weekends (Friday – Sunday) for the entire year to host certain events.

    Member food and beverage yearly cost / Restaurant:

    Each member will have a $200 year F/B cost.

    Can be used at the concession stand. Concession stand will have limited hours.

    Can be used at the Finish Line restaurant. Finish Line will be open Thursdays – Saturdays, 4 – Midnight.

    Membership amenities:

    3 garage shops to work on cars during the day if needed.

    One shop will have a lift.

    Toolbox for members to use

    Floor jacks (3)

    Air compressor

    Race fuel

    Timing system

    Membership events

    Shaded areas for drivers.

    RV parking with hookups.

    Spectator stands.



    Meeting room – Can be used for business / corporate meetings.

    Business center

    Live streaming of track

    Electronic safety light system

    Sponsorship discounts

    Track Website:

    Members can login and add their member number to one of the available 60 spots for the day.

    Members can reserve spots 60 days in advance.

    Members can reserve up to two weekend days per month in advance.

    Members can run as many weekend days they want if spots are available.

    Website will update if the track is closed due to weather/other.

    Website will have live feed of track.

    Member profile section on website if members want to add a profile. Only members can access this section of the website.

    Photo gallery on website.

    Attached Files:

    Texas Forever likes this.
  23. Ky1e

    Ky1e Formula 3

    Mar 4, 2011
    #23 Ky1e, Apr 22, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2020

    Only suggestions:

    I would stretch the horse shoe in the upper right all the way to to the highway by the entrance road if you can. It extends the straights/highspeed areas. Needed for top speed, passing zone, drafting, cars that arent as good on turns but excel on power, to have a hard breaking zone, time for driver to make in car adjustments, radio communications, etc..

    Also sharpen the corner at the bottom right after the straight (assuming clockwise track direction) so you have one very hard brake zone at the end of a long straight-- key passing spot and critical braking zone.

    BTW based on the States you are going to be serving that is the same/similar area that other new track I mentioned is being built (5 mile road course that is currently under construction now).
  24. mdrums

    mdrums Formula Junior

    Jun 11, 2006
    Full Name:
    Needs longer straight.....track needs to flow...look at iconic tracks and why drivers and fans love them...copy those elements.
    Ky1e likes this.
  25. Manda racing

    Manda racing Formula Junior

    Feb 25, 2015
    Bakersfield, Ca
    Full Name:
    #25 Manda racing, Apr 23, 2020
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2020
    Image Unavailable, Please Login Kind of resembles Puhrump.

    I copied this for you from a Sebring Program.

    Btw— I have a friendly acquaintance who is trying to do a track in SoCal for $250mill— if it took $300 mil in Utah— I can see why it’s difficult.

    edit— I have never said this before, it just occurred to me— will it be completed in my lifetime? :) ( I have a bucket list trip to RA, Mid Ohio, Indy, and WG. Would like to add yours to the list since I have relatives in NE)

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