By Edwin Buiter
Topeka’s Heartland Motorsports Park will be closing at the end of October. Shelby Development, the company that owns the track, cites “an enormous and ever-increasing tax burden,” and will be putting the property on the market at the end of October. According to KSNT, Shelby Development bought the property for $2.4 million. Shawnee county has since re appraised the value of the compound at $8.9 million for 2018-2019. Since the appraisal and tax dispute began in 2017, Heartland Motorsports Park has not paid property taxes. The park sued Shawnee county for damages, but had the case dismissed in court. This ruling meant the park would have to pay their taxes in full. In a post on social media, Heartland Motorsports Park announced they would close their doors at the end of October. Heartland Motorsports Park was built in 1989, according to the park website, and contains an NHRA sanctioned ¼ mile drag strip, 2.5 mile road course, and large concrete pad for autocross and drift events. Over the 34 years the park was in operation, big names in the racing world have held events there, such as NASCAR, SCCA, NHRA, IMSA, as well as numerous local grassroots events. The track has seen varied success over the years, as well as several owners. CEO of Shelby Development Chris Payne, the current owner of the motorsports park, purchased the complex in 2015, and has since made improvements to the facility and hosted regular events. Payne believes the Shawnee county appraisal of Heartland Motorsports Park is a deliberate effort to tax the park out of existence by raising the appraisal of the property value. Heartland Motorsports Park will be missed by local motorsports enthusiasts, the NHRA, and other organizations are finding new places to hold their events.