A Pine Bluff City Council committee on Wednesday continued their discussions about a proposed automotive race track in Pine Bluff.
The council’s Traffic and Aviation Committee began the discussion during a meeting in February after being approached by members of the Arkansas Drag Racing Association.
“I believe it is workable for the City of Pine Bluff,” Committee Chairman Ivan Whitfield said. “Hot Springs has a casino and a horse racing track. West Memphis has a casino and a dog racing track.”
Members of the drag racing association said in a letter that they believe the race track could boost tax revenue, adding that the area around the city could support drag racing.
The letter said there are about 50 drag car owners in the City of Pine Bluff. Add to that another 200 when Little Rock, Jacksonville and Bryant are combined, the letter said. There are 30 cars in Stuttgart, 10 in Sheridan, 10 combining England and Scott, 15 combining Monticello and Dewitt, 10 in Warren and 10 in Rison, all of whom would participate, according to the letter.
The letter also predicted that at least 500 cars a month would come to Pine Bluff to race and said the track would boost revenue from the casino when it is opened, as well as to existing businesses. In addition, the letter said a race track would stop a lot of the illegal drag racing on the streets.
“Something like this can’t be done overnight,” Whitfield said. “It’s got to be long term.”
In the early 2000’s, Ron Lusby proposed a motorsports park for Pine Bluff, and Larry Reynolds of Southeast Arkansas Regional Planning said the city paid for a study of the proposal. To date, attempts to locate the information collected for that study have been unsuccessful.
Whitfield said that while the results of that study might not be applicable with current conditions, they could serve as a starting point. He also said he wanted any such efforts to be in partnership with Jefferson County and others, since any proposed track would probably have to be located outside the Pine Bluff city limits.
“I talked to the county judge,” Whitfield said. “Right now, he’s dealing with some financial issues, but he would be interested in being at the table at some point in the process.”
Former Jefferson County judge and current member of the Arkansas House of Representatives Mike Holcomb developed plans for a mud racing track several years ago, and committee members plan to talk to him about that project.
Questions also arose over what entity would manage the proposed track.
Council Member Donald Hatchett, a member of the committee, said more research has to be done before those kind of questions can be answered. Council Member Joni Alexander is the third member of that committee.
Members of the drag racing association, who were at the meeting, also mentioned a city-owned race track in Newport that is located at a former airport as an example of what could be done in Pine Bluff.