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Track hopes to stay on pace for 2015 opening

RELATED: See complete coverage of the Dominion Raceway

MORE: Read more Spotsylvania County news

Hang in there, race fans.

The planned Dominion Raceway in Spotsylvania County is still a go, though it’s unclear if it will open in spring 2015 as planned, owner Steve Britt said.

“It’s probably getting a little close on whether that’s a reality or not,” he said. “But we’ll see.”

Raceway owners Britt and Jerry Evans have not secured a bank loan for the project, nor have they received a building permit for a three-story, 36,600-square-foot entertainment complex.

Britt said he thinks the loan will be in place late this month or in early September. Higher-than-expected construction costs have increased needed financing by 30 percent, said Britt, who said the total price of the project is about $16.5 million.

“There has been an undeniable resurgence of work in the marketplace, and I suspect that has had some impact on our budget and subcontractor resources,” he said in an email. He added that the bank they have been working with has been “terrific and fully engaged in the project.”

Construction of the entertainment complex—which will include a banquet hall, a full bar, eating areas and offices—will take about eight months, depending on the weather, Britt said. The raceway initially filed for a building permit in April and expects to make its third and final submission to the county this week.

The complex had to be redesigned, but Britt says he thinks all of the issues have been resolved.

Dave Ansell, Spotsylvania’s deputy building official, said county officials are doing what they can to help the raceway finish the process. “From our point of view, we have this as a very high-priority project,” he said. “When it comes in, we jump on it.”

Leon Hughes, the county’s assistant director of planning, said the development’s site plan has been signed off by the Virginia Department of Transportation and is ready to be approved once the raceway submits a compliance bond.

The raceway has also submitted an application to the county for an $88,000 concession building and must receive another permit for grandstands that would seat up to 2,000 people. The county has not yet received an application for the grandstands, Ansell said.

The 160-acre Dominion Raceway off Interstate 95 in Thornburg will have an oval track for stock car racing, a drag strip and a road course. Britt said a go-kart course is now scheduled to open in 2017.

He and his business partner in October closed on the raceway property, which is on the northeast corner of I–95 and Mudd Tavern Road. The purchase price was $3.25 million.

The owners initially hoped to open the raceway this summer after the Board of Supervisors approved the project in May 2013. But the opening date was later changed to early 2015.

Britt says he still hopes to finish the project in April but said that will be tough if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Workers have cleared the land and made progress on the drag strip and road course, he said. “We have slowed the project some on site to conserve dollars as there wasn’t any need to spend lots of cash on non-critical activities until the building permit is obtained and the final loan proceeds were available,” Britt said in an email.

Hirschler Fleischer attorney Charlie Payne, who represents the raceway, said the loan process has taken a little longer than expected but said that the project is “absolutely going to happen.”

“Everything is ready to run,” Payne said. “We’ve just got to finish that finance gap, and we’re there.

“I have all the confidence Spotsylvania County will be racing in 2015,” he added in an email.

On a positive note, Britt said, he has been talking to sponsors for the 2015 racing season and says he will have announcements soon. And he said many groups have already booked dates on the road course.

He said he receives questions every day about the status of the project, which he described as “complex and large.”

“Each day it gets better, and there’s no doubt Jerry and I will each age a few years because of it, but we see firsthand its tremendous potential and look forward to its spring completion,” Britt said.

Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402