There has been some traffic of late about prices Heartland Park is charging
for various amenities in connection with the Solo Nationals.
I was able to ask Ray Irwin directly about some of these, and apparently I was
not the only one. Ray has offered the reply below with permission to pass it
on to anyone interested.
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I would like to offer a response to recent publicly voiced concerns about
changes in the cost for various services and functions at Heartland Park
Topeka since 2003 when I had the privilege of coming to HPT.
Over the last 4 years $15.0 million has been spent to bring HPT up to modern
day race track standards. Without the financial assistance from the City of
Topeka and the State of Kansas none of the renovations would have been
possible based upon the track's previous business operations. Now that all of
the work is complete, it is the sole responsibility of the track to maintain
the facility. In order to be able to maintain this new and improved facility,
increased event costs to our clients were unavoidable. If the improvements and
the associated costs to use the facility have caused hardship for any of our
racers, I deeply regret that fact. However, our chosen sport and passion is
racing and one of the harsh realities of our sport is that is a "pay to play"
activity. I would also like to remind you: Heartland Park Topeka did go out of
business in 2002 due to insolvency.
Heartland Park Topeka is honored and very proud to be the host facility for
both the SCCA SOLO Championships and the Runoffs. During the months of
September and October HPT is devoted almost entirely to presenting those two
events, which provide no direct facility rental. During these two months, HPT
continues to provide for its very future by asking competitors to pay only for
their trackside luxuries; golf carts, electricity and parking spaces for their
motor homes, test days and garage rentals. I believe it is blatantly unfair
that some individuals demand that HPT be denied the opportunity for a fair
return for the services that those same individuals receive and enjoy
throughout the season.
SCCA and HPT believe that the SOLO and Runoffs events represent the pinnacles
of amateur racing. These events and the publicity surrounding these events,
both within the racing community and among the public at large, must be
supported by an awareness of the intense level of competition and the
phenomenal achievement that winning either event represents. This level of
awareness can only be created if those that support the events; sponsors,
drivers and fans alike, recognize the incredible value of these events.
Unfortunately, the level of promotion and publicity necessary to create that
awareness comes at a significant cost. And when confronted with those
increased costs many long term sponsors, drivers and fans experience a case of
"sticker shock". As anyone and everyone can see, we here at HPT, The City of
Topeka and the State of Kansas have made long term investments in the sport
and these SCCA events. Although you may not agree with everything we have to
do, please consider the image of these events in the past and compare that to
where they are now going, and I believe that you will be proud to be
associated with the SOLO Champions, the SCCA Runoffs and our club, the Sports
Car Club of America.
Hopefully, we will see you at the races!
Raymond Irwin; SCCA Member since 1976
Heartland Park Topeka