Let’s Make Some Plans for When This All Blows Over

Big retail stores shutting down is a motorsports opportunity. I’m gonna cut right to the chase. The other day JC Penney announced they’re considering bankruptcy and that got this ball rolling again.

Let Me Explain

Autocross is big right now. Well maybe not right now, but it was before nobody could do anything besides drink, smoke, and eat all day. What you need for a good autocross track is a big parking lot, and closed down department stores have those in spades. Sears, K-Mart, Toys-R-Us, Babies-R-Us, Circuit City, and more are all bust. This leaves plenty of unclaimed asphalt just sitting around.

What we do with the actual buildings on these properties is uncertain to me. That doesn’t mean I don’t have any plans, because I do.

The obvious ones to me are indoor go-karting, a place to work on your junk, or a place to store your junk. I really think a place to work on and store your junk project cars you strictly track/autocross would be ideal. You could show up on Saturday morning, do that minor work you’ve been putting off forever, and then immediately take the car out for a test run on a closed course. I imagine this as a sort of project car mecca. People from far and wide would come, attracted by the allure of sharing their strange automotive theories with one another. On Sunday, you could carry on with the autocross or host a cars and coffee. Maybe both! Some of the lots on these buildings are several acres. You could build a replica Olds FE3-X, bring it all shiny to the cars and coffee at 9 AM, and then track it at noon.

How much?

I’ve looked through a lot of commercial real estate, and it seems like the bare-bones cost to entry for doing something like this would be around 2-3 million dollars. The mortgage would be a little steep. That, of course, does not include bills, taxes, etc. What you would have to do is gather a group of investors for a big down payment, and then form some sort of club with dues to pay the bills. This also does not include the cost of a stopwatch, cones, etc. If you went with either of the plans for using the indoor space, you would also have to spend some extra dough to set that up–especially for the karting.

So is all of this worth it? I think there’s certainly a risk involved, but if you have a big group of local enthusiasts who wanted to do this you could certainly spread that risk out to make it worthwhile. This is, however, of course, just a scheme. Maybe you guys have schemes of your own too. Let’s try to make some plans for when this all blows over. Share them in the comments if you got ’em!

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5 responses to “Let’s Make Some Plans for When This All Blows Over”

  1. Zentropy Avatar

    Good ideas. After months of searching, my brother-in-law finally found the commercial space he wanted and started renovating last summer. This week he found a deal he couldn’t pass up, though, and is now changing course. Commercial property is ridiculously cheap right now.

  2. 0A5599 Avatar

    Indoor drag racing would be great, but I don’t think you could get insurance for it in 2020.

    1. 0A5599 Avatar

      You are better off with something that wasn’t designed for retail shopping.

  3. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    An empty retail store with an auto center would be ideal, There’s shop space, a parking lot, storage space, and a store interior that can be used as kart track, mountain bike/bmx setup like The Lumberyard in Portland and possibly indoor motocross, although electric bikes might be better to simplify HVAC. There’s a closed Shopko near me that would be a good indoor track, and a K1 Speed just opened near me in an industrial space.

  4. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    there’s a 40-acre mall by my work that’s been abandoned since 1998. it’s where they filmed Chris Forsberg drifting around in his 370Z. it’s a bleak building to drive past, but if it were 40 acres of go-kart track? or Blues Brothers reenactment set???

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