The person who ran the Capital City Speedway for the past four years says it’s tough to turn a profit on the operation.
Todd Gow operated the speedway for the past four years. He says he decided not to run the speedway this year because of the large amount of money, around $200,000, that he put into the Speedway, without a profitable return.
With only a few weeks before racing season, owner Russell Drummond is still searching for a new operator to replace Gow.
Gow says as he built up the business he broke even in the third year, but last year’s rainy summer resulted in a loss of revenue. Gow says it costs about $12,000 to put on a show, so around 500 spectators need to buy a ticket.
“We had an excellent show, we had an excellent product, we had excellent entertainment value, but the weather just absolutely killed the season,” says Gow.
Gow says he thinks part of the difficulty for finding an operator for the Speedway is because “it’s big money and big risk.”
“If the track was available today, and I hadn’t been there the last four years, would I go back as a promoter? Absolutely,” said Gow. “Because I think the foundation is there, and you’ve got a really good chance to make some money and you’ve got a really good program over the course of the summer.”
The Drummond family owns Capital City Speedway, and leases the business out to an operator who runs it. They were in talks with Shawn Kerr about running the Speedway this year, and even held a joint meeting with the racing community to discuss it, but the deal was never finalized.
“The Drummond Group of Companies is saddened to announce at this time that they will not be moving ahead with a lease for Capital City Speedway with Shawn Kerr. We are actively looking for interested parties to take on the facility. We wish only the best for Shawn Kerr in the future,” said a post on their web site at the end of February.
Kerr declined to comment about the Speedway except to say that it is “never going to make any money when the owners want half the money.”
Drummond says he preferred to keep the dollar amounts and percentages of the lease agreement private. (A previously published figure on their blog in December 2014 indicated that a minimum investment of $60,000 was required.)
“There’s a monthly rent to rent the track,” says Russell. “And there is a profit sharing. If the lessee goes over a certain amount, there is a profit sharing. So it’s a win-win situation then.”
Drummond says there are no plans for the Speedway if an operator cannot be found. He says the Speedway would likely “sit idle.”
Even if Capital City Speedway can find a new operator, the racing season will still be off to a late start.
The season usually begins the third week of May, but Gow says it will likely not open until mid-June even if an operator is found soon.
“Sponsorship deals should be signed, schedules should be out, we should be advertising now, and guys would be getting their cars ready to race already,” says Gow.
Casey Cavanagh has been racing at the Capital City Speedway for over 15 years. He says if the speedway doesn’t open, he will go to some races out of town, but likely end up selling his two cars. Cavanagh and Gow both said that if the Speedway does not open this year, they think it will be the end of racing in Ottawa.
“If they say they are running it next week, I’d have my car ready for next week,” Cavanagh said. “I have a five year old son and I was hoping he would have been able to get into it.”