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Dover to auction off Memphis Motorsports Park today UPDATE After being vacant for more than a year, Memphis Motorsports Park sold at a live auction Tuesday morning for slightly less than $1.9 million.

Independent investor Joe Lubeck placed the highest bid for the tract – $1.875 million – after the bidding opened at $3 million. Lubeck is managing partner of Jupiter, Fla.-based Palm Beach International Raceway, formerly Moroso Motorsports Park. Jason Rittenburry, Lubeck’s partner, ran the track for 11 years.

The bidding took place onsite at one of the facility’s parcels, , near Millington. The property’s two tracts were sold as a whole after had publicized it could be sold as separate tracts or together.

The multi-track complex includes a 0.75-mile asphalt oval, a 0.25-mile championship drag strip and a 1.77-mile road course.

The auction drew a big crowd but only a few serious bidders. After no bids at the opening price, Morris Auction Group quickly dropped the price to $2 million and then $1.5 million.

“Guys, we’re really below value here,” said Morris Auction Group owner and namesake , after little interest appeared in the room. “This is for the whole thing.”

In April, and of Colliers International listed Memphis Motorsports Park for $6 million, a price “substantially below value,” according to the website created by the commercial real estate firm to sell the property.

A 10 percent buyer’s premium was added to Lubeck’s bid, bringing the total to $2,062,500. The closing will be within the next 30 days at the law offices of .

Lubeck’s bid had not been accepted as of press time, Morris said.

The real estate sold within less than 10 minutes of the auction’s open. The personal property was then sold individually, including everything from tractors to kitchen equipment.

In all likelihood, the property will remain a motorsports park.

“That’s the highest and best use for the property,” said Morris. “This is unique to this piece of property to have a fan base as strong at the Memphis Motorsports Park. There’s been a lot of excitement and nervousness by the fans.”

The park opened in 1987, and is the former site of more than 150 annual events including NASCAR and NHRA races. A group of local investors originally developed the property as a drag strip with an adjacent road course, a dirt track and a go-kart track.

Memphis Motorsports Park was acquired by the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach in 1996, and a three-quarter-mile paved oval was built on the site of the dirt track. In 1997, . bought the park in connection with its purchase of the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach. The property has been owned and managed by ., an affiliate of Dover.

Dover ended its 11-year run with Memphis Motorsports Park in October 2009. Prior to closing, Dover had an agreement to sell the park to Gulf Coast Entertainment for $10 million, but Gulf Coast was unable to secure financing.

Dover, Del.-based Dover Motorsports is also the parent company that owns Dover International Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway and Gateway International Speedway, presenting more than 400 motorsports events annually.

In November, Dover announced it would cease operations at Gateway International Speedway in St. Louis after its last Nationwide race in October. The track is now listed for sale.

, director of communications at Dover, said Memphis’ situation is similar to Gateway’s – a matter of minimizing losses.

“We’re confident that the auction is going to bring whatever the market will bare,” Camp said. “This is not a distressed sale. We’ve had tons of inquiries of late, and this (auction) is really an opportunity for everyone to come to the table.”

Tuesday’s auction comes after the NASCAR and NHRA 2011 schedules have been released. While the NHRA has 140 tracks, Memphis was one of only 23 to host a national event and was sanctioned in 1988 as the host site of the Mid-South Nationals.

“I can only imagine that it would be challenging to try to be added to their schedule at this point,” Camp said. “But the facility is in great shape, and with some minor work, both the NHRA and the Motorsports oval could be race ready.”

Many fans of the park hope the current cycle does not repeat itself, including , who was employed there for 22 years.

“If they’re in it for the tax write off, then it’s only going to be open for another 10 years,” Cartwright said. “I just hope it gets more of a local, community support then it had in the past.”

12/14/10 Potential bidders have expressed lots of interest in today's auction of Memphis Motorsports Park, said Jeff Morris, president of Morris Auction Group.

"We've had probably the largest number of hits or unique visitors on our website than we've ever had in an auction," Morris said. "They are literally coming from all over the United States based on the nationwide advertising.

"We expect a good number of bidders for the real estate and personal property."

Owner Dover Motorsports is selling the Memphis racing facility at 10 a.m. The live auction will be held at the former NASCAR and NHRA racing facility, just off Fite Road just north of Memphis. The auction is open to the public; bidder registration starts at 8 a.m.

The sale will include the entire racing facility: the racetrack, drag strip, road course, all equipment, tools, furniture and other personal property.

The real estate will be auctioned in two tracts.

Tract 1 comprises about 115 acres and the three-quarter-mile banked oval, former NASCAR racetrack.

Tract 2 has about 227 acres and the former NHRA quarter-mile drag strip and 1.77-mile road course.

Bidders may bid on Tract 1, Tract 2 or both.

The auction's personal property includes pickup trucks, Kawasaki Mules, tractors, restaurant equipment, vehicles, office furniture, shop tools, equipment and more.

Morris believes that whoever buys the property will maintain it as a racing venue.

"The highest and best use is as a racing facility," he said.

Asked if there is a minimum bid, Morris responded, "The seller will be there to approve a high bid.

"I think the bidders just need to worry about the other bidders and not whether the seller approves it or not.

"There's good interest in the facility, and we expect to have spirited bidding on all of it."

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