Speed freaks, thank your supervisors.
A deal to raze and redevelop Old Dominion Speedway in Manassas was killed by the one-year freeze on new residential development permits, which the Prince William Board of County Supervisors adopted in December, according to the site's would-be developer, Stanley Martin.
Reston-based Stanley Martin had reached an agreement last year with Old Dominion's owners to buy the 40-acre site, assessed in 2006 at $4.6 million. It planned to replace the track with a mixed-use development of office buildings, stores and housing. But the supervisors' freeze scrapped the plans, said Steven Alloy, president of Stanley Martin.
"We couldn't get it rezoned in the time period we needed to," Alloy said. "Those votes have consequences."
Alloy said his company still owns land adjacent to the track site and wants to build there. But he acknowledged that the company's only option now is to wait out the supervisors' freeze, then reassess the market, which was already slackening when the slow-growth resolution was approved.
"I'm still a big believer in the revitalization and redevelopment of that area," Alloy said.
For many local racing fans, Old Dominion is a cherished symbol of an older, more rural, fun-loving Prince William, and last year's announcement of its planned demise was bitter news. Speedway attendance plunged more than 30 percent last fall, and Steve Britt, the track's principal owner, said he was planning a big marketing push to promote the track and get spectators back in the stands when racing season begins next month.
"It's been tough for our participants and fans," he said. "I think a lot of people recognize that there's a lot of housing and other development around us that make the continued operation of the track difficult. They understand that there's a life expectancy here, and they're grateful for the opportunity to race a little longer."
Britt said Old Dominion would remain in operation for two or three years, possibly beyond. "We're not actively soliciting the property for sale at this point," he said. "We're focusing on the racing stuff."
More "racing stuff" is what the speedway's long-suffering neighbors dread. For them, the collapse of the development portends more years of high-decibel torture.
"It's kind of like getting ready for your birthday party and then having it canceled," said Jim Faulk, who has lived a half-mile from the track since 1993.
Faulk, a board member of the Hamlets homeowners association, said he's so upset that he has decided to sell his home.
"The noise physically bothers me," he said. "You can sit in my house with the windows and doors closed, with people talking and the TV on, and you can still hear it. It's terrible."
Britt and partner Charles Graybeal bought the speedway in April 2003 for $2.2 million. Since then, Old Dominion's owners have been staging more races, more often and for longer periods of time, Faulk said.
"Even if you live next to Daytona, you don't have races four days a week for seven months," he said.
The speedway's proximity and easy access -- it's off Route 234 and the Prince William Parkway -- make it beloved to motor sports fans and aspiring racers such as 16-year-old Dave Daniels. Old Dominion, the only NASCAR-sanctioned track in the area, is a 15- to 20-minute drive from his family's home in Woodbridge. The next-closest track is two hours away. The teenager said he figures he'll get at least twice as much practice now that the speedway isn't closing.
"I'm excited," he said. "I've been going to that track since I was a kid."
He thinks the 55-year-old track should be preserved as a "Virginia landmark."
"That thing has been there forever," he said. "We've had Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Jeff Burton. I was so happy that it wasn't going to be put in the garbage bin."