Progress is being made in the hunt for a new location for the former Western Speedway, but the group behind the search isn’t quite ready to wave the green flag just yet.
Steve Copp, president of the Vancouver Island Safe Speed Association, said a new potential location has been identified in addition to the four possible options they had identified in early summer, but he is being coy about where exactly it is as discussions around its potential use are still in the very early stages.
“It’s probably the most hopeful of the bunch, and right now we are working with the owners of that one and hoping to get a meeting with the local government to see if it is a possibility. We think there is a good possibility, but until we get that next step in, we can’t be 100 per cent sure,” said Copp.
This most promising location is further up Island than the group had originally hoped, but Copp said the reality they have had to accept is there simply are no more suitable plots of land available in Langford to build a motorsports park, and the location being looked at is “not too far a drive.”
Copp said the group has also been approached directly by the owners of one of the other potential properties as they are very interested in hosting a track, and want to have a proper meeting to discuss potential details.
But while things are moving forward in a positive direction, Copp admits work on finding a new location has slowed over the past couple of months, as the group and its large roster of volunteers have been focused on taking down and preserving as much of the old Western Speedway as possible since it held its last event on Sept. 17.
“We are just so happy with the volunteers who are out in the community here. They have been at it for nearly two months, helping weekends, after work, any time they can spare,” said Copp. “Everything costs money, so as much stuff we can save, the better. The grandstands themselves, we have taken down more than half of the grandstands so far and it is all being stored at a facility that one of our supporters donated to us … a new set of grandstands would cost just shy of $3 million, so if we can use the existing ones, we can save a couple million dollars.”
While exact details of the new track complex won’t be known until a suitable property has been secured, the current vision calls for the classic oval track, as well as a road race track, drag strip, and space for go-karting and motocross events, and potentially even a campground. The total project cost is estimated to be in the $15 to $20 million range. The hope is to have the new facility open for racing by summer 2024.