If You Win This Race, You Get to Keep the Track

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Image for article titled If You Win This Race, You Get to Keep the Track
Image: Badlands Motor Speedway (YouTube)

In the town of Brandon, South Dakota, there’s a race track with a recent history that’s about as incoherent as whatever you just read on Facebook. It was bought a few years ago, remodeled, listed for sale, given an expiration date to be torn down on, and, now, its owner is hosting a race with the track itself as the prize.

Confused? Let’s try to figure this out.

The Argus Leader, which has covered the recent narrative of the three-eighths-mile Badlands Motor Speedway dirt track for quite a while now, published a new update on Monday: In August, Badlands’ owner wants to host a race where the winner receives the track he’s been trying to sell for years. If they don’t want it, the track website says they can take a “$3.6-million cash bounty option.”


It’s not as easy as showing up with a race car and trying to win ownership of the track, though. The Argus Leader reports that track owner Chuck Brennan said the race is currently scheduled for Aug. 13, but that the price to show up is steep: a non-refundable placeholder of $200,000. Some will get their money back, while others will be out a lot of cash.

It’s like gambling to potentially win a struggling business, which everyone just loves. From the story:

[Brennan] just needs enough people to sign up – drivers, teams, sponsors or investors. Brennan plans to host up to 36 spots in the race, and will need at least 18 to be filled before a race takes place, he said. [...]

Brennan hired Sioux Falls-based law firm Meierhenry Sargent LLP to handle contracts and other preliminary work that goes into organizing the race.

Prizes for the race are simple: Winner takes all – the Badlands track and facility – and the second place driver will get [their] $200,000 back, with third and fourth prizes added if the race fills out to 36 drivers.


Brennan told the Argus Leader that while drivers and teams might not have the cash for it, he’s hoping investors will buy race entries in an attempt to win the track for $200,000. That’s compared to the $15.8-million investment Brennan and his payday loan company have apparently put into it since the purchase, and compared to the $6.3 million asking price he had on it late last year.

But the idea of racing to win the track is just another development on an already strange saga for Badlands. Badlands opened in 1954 as Huset’s Speedway, and Brennan bought the race track in 2015. He renamed it, poured money into it, and showed off an uncharacteristically upscale renovation in an October 2017 video about its sale listing.


Brennan’s tried various avenues to sell the track since then, and gave its sale a deadline of Dec. 31, 2018 before he’d bulldoze it into a wildlife sanctuary for tax purposes. The race track got a buyer right on time, former track operator Steve Rubin, but the Argus Leader reported in March that the deal fell through.

That sent Badlands back onto the market, and eventually got us to this point.

Brennan told the Argus Leader that he likes to “do things big,” and thinks this attempt to unload the track will work.


“This is the craziest, biggest, most shocking thing to ever happen in motorsports,” Brennan told the Argus Leader.

Sure, something like that.

This story has been updated to say that if the winner doesn’t want the track, they can choose a cash option. Thanks for the email, Cole!