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Memphis Motorsports Park may have a suitor

By admin | October 31, 2009

By Richard Allen

On Friday, Dover Motorsports, Inc. announced that they were going to shut down the racing facility they own just outside the city of Memphis, Tennessee. Months ago, the facility appeared to be sold to Gulf Coast Entertainment but that group was unable to secure financing.

The facility has enjoyed a decade long relationship with NASCAR. The .75 mile track at the Memphis Motorsports Park began hosting Camping World Truck Series events in 1998 and the Nationwide Series in 1999. There has never been a Sprint Cup Series race at the facility but the track has been used by Sprint Cup teams for testing purposes throughout its history.

Aside from the D-shaped oval track, the facility also contains a ¼ mile drag racing strip which has hosted NHRA events dating back to the 1990s.

In the announcement of the Memphis facility closure the Dover company also announced that Nationwide and Camping World Series events slated for the Memphis track would be moved to other Dover owned facilities in Nashville and St. Louis.

The NHRA does not have Memphis on their 2010 schedule.

Dover Motorsports now hopes to sell the racing complex and its adjoining property and is seeking potential buyers. One rumor, and it is just a rumor, has Sheik Khalid bin Hamad Al-Thani of the small middle eastern nation of Qatar interested in taking over the facility.

Sheik Al-Thani is already involved in motorsports. He is part owner, along with Alan Johnson, of Al-Anabi Racing. That team fields both Top Fuel and Funny Car entries for drivers Larry Dixon and Del Worsham on the NHRA circuit.

Should the Sheik actually be interested in buying the property it is not known what his intentions would be. Since his motorsports interest lies primarily in drag racing, it would be uncertain as to what plans he might have for the oval track.

The same rumor which has Al-Thani buying Memphis Motorsports Park also declares that an August date may be added to the NHRA schedule in 2010. Anyone who is even remotely familiar with the climate of the mid-south region knows that such a date would be less than favorable.

Rumors such this will often surface when race teams or tracks become available. Perhaps it is someone’s wishful thinking or just pure speculation by those with little else to do. Or, just maybe there is some degree of truth to this conjecture.

It would seem highly unlikely that the purchase of MMP by Sheik Al-Thani will come to fruition, but it is not completely outside the realm of possibility. He is certainly a man of means and he obviously has a passion for motorsports.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Check for more racing news at RacingWithRich.com.

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