It seems like we write about a race track for sale every other week. That's great if you like to dream about owning a retired dirt oval or drag strip, but bad if you actually enjoy attending events at them. The reality is it takes a lot of time, effort, and—yes—money to operate such a venue, and that's still true of the small-town outfits. For example, Twin River Raceway in Virginia is maybe the furthest thing from an NHRA-certified facility, but it's one of the gnarliest no-prep drag racing destinations out there and it's still listed for sale at nearly $3.4 million.
I wrote about Twin River last year after seeing photos of its bumpy two-lane with grass growing in between. While talking with the people who helped run the place as well as the drivers who raced there, I found it's actually one of the most beloved old-school tracks around. What the rest of us see as tremendously sketchy is really a dream for the run-what-you-brung crowd.
"There's a reason no-prep became a thing," said Chris Cook, owner of a Fox Body Mustang called Jigsaw that frequented Twin River Raceway. "If you have a surface that's equivalent to an NHRA weekend, there's no mystery in who's going to win. It's about who has the most horsepower and the biggest wallet. Unfortunately, it kind of takes that type of racetrack for regular people to compete. Of all the cars that race at Twin River, I would say that 90% have more power than that surface would take, so you get down to a tuning game.
"When you put it with blacktop from the '60s, it makes for a lot better racing to me than just seeing who's got the biggest wallet."
Still, it'll take a big wallet to purchase the property. It's a 30.45-acre lot bordering the Guest River. The listing mentions that "[t]he land is flat and very usable for those with a desire to build," which would be a plus for anyone wanting to make a serious investment in the strip. Or, as the description continues, it "could also be used as an RV park." Now that would be upsetting.
Twin River is just down the road from Lonesome Pine Motorsports Park, and a little more than an hour away from Bristol Motor Speedway. The fact that there are other tracks nearby means it could be tough to draw folks in, but it proved pretty popular when it was still hosting events. I haven't found any mention of a 2024 race calendar and it looks like the last races ran there in late October.
A decent amount of money has been poured into the track in the past year or two. Michael Wheatley, who helped organize events and run Twin River, told me in July that they "got a lot of support from locals on helping us install guardrails, lights, etc. to help make it a safer place like it is today." In the past, it had been "a drag strip, a small airport, had cattle, and then laid dormant for years until this," as Wheatley explained.
I don't know what will come of Twin River now that it's been listed for sale, but I hope it sticks around. It's a time capsule of sorts for people who accept the dangers of racing and still choose to run anyway. It will take someone even more passionate and a lot more well-off than me to save it, though.
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