Building a race track used to be fairly simple. If you owned a plot of land big enough to accommodate one, and you had the consent of your local government, then you were most of the way there. A bit of elbow grease and some safety measures, and you could basically start hosting races. As time, and a few lawsuits, passed, states and regions started having tighter restrictions on building a race track. In addition to the costs of land, you needed to factor in amenities and other concerns the public expects at a track. The economics behind building a race track today are quite complex, it takes engineering minds like Robbie Dickson.
How Much Land do You Need?
Let’s begin with the actual land you have to build on, which carries some caveats. It’s not as simple as mapping out each turn and straightaway, you’ll need to factor in whatever the city needs on your track, which will significantly expand (usually) or decrease the size you have to work with. That means more of your budget going toward real estate. A good sized track can cover anywhere from 500 to 1500 acres, increasing as regulation increases. What does that mean? Be prepared to add a clubhouse, multiple garages and anything else your local region says that you need in order to accommodate your guests. Dickson’s group negotiated a lease with the Osoyoos Indian Band, and immediately went to work. One of the founders owned a construction company, so they got the excavations started fairly quickly. The company used GPS guided earth movers to get the layout of the track just right, and 12,139 feet of concrete wall space keeps racers safe on the track.
Your Target Market
Finally, you have to have a target market in mind. Dickson built a true F-1 experience in Canada. It’s not easy to get out and drive your car to the fullest in the snow, so a race track designed for true racing fanatics was like a promise unfulfilled. Dickson knew his kind existed, he just didn’t know how to find them. The answer was to give them a place to gather, and that’s why it’s so important to build something unique and alluring. To solve both of those challenges, he turned to Jacques Villeneuve, Canadian F-1 driver, who shared his dream of creating a true race track experience in Canada.
Under Dickson, Area27 became more than a track. He installed a clubhouse, a spa, a private lounge and a full time restaurant for true immersion. When Dickson’s work was completed, one could move into Area27 and receive full service without ever leaving the track. By encouraging car owners to get out and meet one another, Dickson has created more than a business venture for himself. He’s established a community, which is how race tracks last.
So, after you’ve evaluated your land, what kind of basic costs are you looking at to make the track work on a practical level? You can’t just use cheap materials on a race track, first and foremost. For Area27, Dickson’s team did more than one pass through, layering asphalt for a perfectly levelled surface with minor gradations. Everything from temperature changes to levelling of the ground can affect a turn. It required their team spending upwards of 10-12 hour days getting it just right.