Top Colorado Drag Strip Closing Due to Suburban Sprawl
The 65-year-old Bandimere Speedway will close at the end of 2023 after countless quarter-mile passes over the years.
Colorado's top drag racing destination, Bandimere Speedway, has announced it will close after the 2023 season. The track's land will be sold due to the encroachment of suburban development as the Denver metro area expands.
Opened in 1958, Bandimere is Colorado's premiere drag racing facility, hosting numerous events sanctioned by the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). "Thunder Mountain," as it's known, is located at the southwestern periphery of the Denver metro area in Morrison, just over the hill from the acclaimed Red Rocks Amphitheatre. This makes it accessible to multiple of the biggest population areas in the state, and a hub of regional racing culture.
Those days will soon be over as the Bandimere family announced last Friday that it will sell the track and the surrounding land. In a statement issued to multiple media outlets, the track's current owner John Bandimere Jr. declared he seeks to open another drag strip in the area.
"We have been blessed to occupy one of the most unique places in our state and feel that our commitment to the sport is not done yet," Bandimere told Colorado Public Radio. "It's part of the fabric of our family's life, and we're hopeful that another equally unique location can be found to continue the legacy that was started by my parents over six decades ago."
The track's closure is reputed in Colorado's racing community to stem from noise complaints from newly built suburbs on the other side of the highway. The Denver metro area has grown more than 16% since 2013, according to MacroTrends.net, increasing demand for housing, which has popped up on previously undesirable land along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. That includes near Bandimere, where racers have watched the suburbs' approach with anxiety for at least 15 years.
However, contrary to popular belief, there's a lack of evidence that the track is closing due to noise complaints from new transplants. According to a 2014 document from Colorado-based acoustics specialist Geiler & Associates, Bandimere is exempt from county noise ordinances. One local real estate developer explicitly advises clients not to purchase land if they're bothered by the sound of racing, and one poster on drag racing forum Yellowbullet says local homebuyers must sign waivers for noise complaints related to the track.
In reality, Bandimere's departure may be for a much duller reason: money. Denver's sprawling suburbs and climbing land prices have likely buoyed the value of the land Bandimere was built on back in the 1950s, when there were almost no houses in sight. Track owner John Bandimere Jr. told The Denver Post in 2006 that he has been open to selling the land since at least the late 1990s, when he had agreed to sell the track for "a huge price" before the buyers backed out. As recently as 2021, Bandimere also sought to increase revenue from the facility by rezoning it to accommodate more businesses, according to the Arvada Press.
Money has been on the mind, and if the Bandimere family can keep racing while cashing out on valuable land, that'd let it have its cake and eat it too. But while the end is in sight for Bandimere Speedway as we know it, the track still has a season of racing ahead of it, including one more Mile-High Nationals on July 14-16. The skies may be clearing over Thunder Mountain, but the storm of drag racing in Colorado will likely rage on elsewhere in years to come.
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