The Texas World Speedway complex at College Station is to close this summer to make way for a new housing project, its owners have announced. Construction on the $55 million project will begin immediately after the circuit hosts its final events in mid-June.
Track CEO Bill Mather is also the developer of the Southern Pointe community, which will see around 1,400 homes, commercial sites and nature trails constructed, alongside space for a new school. College Station City Council last week approved a development agreement to extend the city's planning authority to the property.
The nearly 400-acre racing venue around 75 miles north of Houston held its first sanctioned race in 1969. The superspeedway oval was once the fastest in the world but has had a chequered history, with recent years seeing the focus turn to the sprawling road course which has become a staple of the local club racing scene.
After initially hosting NASCAR in the early 1970s, racing was interrupted by the 1974 oil crisis but resumed towards the end of the decade. Indycars also graced the oval during the decade and into the 1980s, but small crowds and deteriorating track conditions saw both events move elsewhere. Oval racing was briefly revived under new ownership on the 1990s but again saw little money to be made. The track ownership eventually fell to Mather, a property developer, who was always candid about his eventual plans for the facility, but was happy to allow club racing to continue while he sought the necessary planning approvals.
One of only seven superspeedways in the United States, Texas World Speedway saw a number of speed records set during its lifetime. In 1973, Mario Andretti broke the world closed course speed record of 214.158 mph during qualifying for a USAC Indycar race – a mark that stood in the Guinness Book of World Records for another twelve years. In 1993 it was Mario's son Jeff's turn, when he took the record up to a staggering 234.5 mph during testing in a Lola-Buick, the fastest speed ever recorded at the circuit. As recently as 2009, NASCAR ace Greg Biffle set a stock car record top speed of 218 mph in a test for Roush Fenway Racing, with the average speed for the full lap set at 195 mph.
While the opening of Texas Motor Speedway and more latterly Circuit of the Americas at Austin largely ruled out the return of any major events, the facility remained busy year round for testing, manufacturer and training days as well as hosting a busy calendar of club races.