How Much Does it Cost to Build a Race Track?
For anyone who has a need for speed, building a race track may seem like a dream come true. There are many different kinds of race tracks for all sorts of uses, so how much would it cost to build one?
Building a standard race track for cars and trucks would cost at least $700,000, but could very easily run into the millions, or even hundreds of millions.
You could build a smaller race track for motocross or dirt bikes, or even an R/C track for a fraction of the cost of a full sized car race track.
What’s the Cost to Build a Race Track?
The cost to build a race track varies greatly depending on what type of track and what you’re going to race on it. The land, track’s size, materials, and construction costs can all have a huge impact on the price tag.
An automotive race track costs at least $700,000 to build, with most costing several millions of dollars. You could build a small for-profit race track for RC vehicles for around $25,000.
Whether the track will be for public or private use will increase or decrease the costs significantly.
Cost Factors to Build a Race Track
There are many factors that will impact the cost to build a race track. If you’re building a track for full size vehicles, it will be more expensive than a small RC race track.
A paved drag strip will be more expensive than one made with dirt or clay. The track’s size and where it’s located are all variables that will have an impact on the price tag.
Many of the race tracks in the United States are a quarter of a mile long, though some are a half mile long and others are ⅛ of a mile. They’re mostly made using concrete or asphalt, so we’ll use this information as a guide to come up with a cost estimate.
Land Cost to Build a Race Track
For a ¼ mile race track, the land cost is at least $400k on average. This is based on the average price per acre of land in the United States in 2021 and the estimate of using 120 acres to build the track.
For a quarter mile dragstrip, you’ll need 40 acres of land as a bare minimum (just to have room for the track itself). In addition, you’ll need extra track space for the vehicles to slow down after the race.
For a quarter mile dragstrip, you should have at least another half mile of runoff.
So, to accommodate this quarter mile dragstrip plus the half mile deceleration lane, you’ll need a race track that’s at least ¾ of a mile long. That comes out to at least 120 acres of land.
|State||Average Land Price Per Acre||Price Estimate for 120 Acres|
Of course, this is just for the space you’ll need for the track alone. If you want to add parking, a spectator area (bleachers), an office, retail or restaurant space, bathrooms, or a garage to house vehicles, you’ll need to acquire even more land.
If you already own the land, you can save a lot of money on the project. However, you’ll still need to prepare the land to get it ready to build your race track. This may involve removing trees and vegetation, adjusting the grade, or amending the soil to support the paving process.
Land clearing costs, on average, $1,500 to $3,000 per acre for lightly wooded areas. More heavily wooded areas may cost anywhere from $3,500 to $6,700 per acre.
When you multiply those numbers to the 120 acres of land that you’ll need for your track, the cost gets pretty high, pretty quickly.
Land Clearing Cost Estimate for 120 Acres
|Minimum Price Estimate||$180,000|
|Maximum Price Estimate||$804,000|
Cost to Build the Track
Once you’ve secured the land and cleared it, you’ll need to build the track itself. These are typically made from concrete, asphalt, dirt, or clay. What kinds of vehicles you plan to drive on the track and how it will be used will determine the best materials for the job.
An asphalt road costs, on average, $70 to $170 per linear foot. For a one-mile, two-lane race track, it would cost anywhere from $370,000 to $900,000. To add additional lanes, that figure could potentially double.
Most professional race tracks are made from concrete or asphalt, so these will be your best options for cars and trucks. If you’re building a motocross, dirt bike, or RC track, the options may be more versatile.
Asphalt is the material of choice for most race tracks, but it takes a different process from what’s done to pave roadways to build a stretch of pavement designed to take the abuses of high-speed racing vehicles.
Whether you use concrete or asphalt, you should plan that your track will cost at least $200,000 at minimum to pave.
Asphalt used to build race tracks contains styrene-butadiene-styrene, or SBS, which is a special polymer that’s kind of like what’s used in Styrofoam drinking cups. Using SBS raises the asphalt’s melting point, which keeps the roadway safe even in the hottest conditions.
So, while the track sits under the blazing sun and gets beaten down by hot and sticky racing tires, it won’t begin to break down or melt. Not using this process can create a dangerous situation.
Because the melting temperature is so high, the asphalt has to be laid at a much higher temperature than asphalt used on public roadways. In order for this to occur, the asphalt has to be mixed close by and delivered to the track in special trailers that will insulate the heat.
In addition, the edges of the track are reinforced using multiple layers of paving. This prevents the cracking and erosion that you will see along the edges of roads.
In fact, the entire track needs to be laid using multiple layers of asphalt. Typically, builders would start with a thick base layer, then add the next two layers one at a time, ensuring that the pavement is smooth after each installation.
It’s imperative that a race track is even and free of any bumps or potholes that could cause a disastrous situation for a high-speed vehicle.
Other Costs to Build a Race Track
In addition to the land and construction costs, there are other factors that will impact the price to build a race track. A big variable is whether you plan to open the track to the public or build it just for your private use.
If you’re looking to build a race track as a business venture, there are many more up front costs associated with the project.
Other Construction Costs ($2 million and up)
In addition to the track, you may need to plan for water runoff and drainage, landscaping, and adding curves and hills to the track.
Mechanical and Electrical Design and Construction ($500k – $1 million and up)
Fencing strong enough to protect bystanders from wreckage debris, bleachers for seating, parking, and AV equipment will be necessary if you’re building a public track.
Legal Fees and Permits ($1.1 million and up)
With any business venture, you’ll need to pay legal fees to get all the necessary designations and filings completed. You’ll also need to consider building and construction permits, and insurance costs.
Insurance will be a big part of your budget if you’re opening the race track to the public.
Cost to Build a Dirt Bike or Motocross Race Track
Some of the costs associated with building a dirt bike track are the same as those associated with building a race track for vehicles. However, there is more room for personalization as far as size and design with a dirt bike track, which means that there can be more fluctuation in the budget.
You can build an average dirt bike race track for around $10,000 if you already own the land. If you have to purchase the acreage, the cost will be much higher.
Some people decide to build a track on their existing property, which can save you a lot of money if you have the space. The average motocross or dirt bike race track is around five acres.
These types of race tracks are built using the natural landscape (dirt or clay), so they don’t require expensive paving. This is a huge cost saver. However, you will need to invest in land clearing if there are too many trees and vegetation in the area.
Cost to Build an RC Race Track
If you’re looking to build something a little smaller, you may be interested in building an RC race track. In that case, you’ll need to decide if you want to build an outdoor or indoor track.
A track for your own private use can be constructed for not too much money, but if you’re looking to build a business involving your RC race track, there will be more up-front expenses.
To build an outdoor RC track using artificial turf for the public, it would cost anywhere from $20,000 – $26,000. An indoor RC track built for profit would be a little cheaper, but it would still cost you at least $15,000 to get the business up and running.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the cost factors associated with this business endeavor.
Indoor/Outdoor RC Track Costs
An outdoor track would be highly dependent on whether you own, rent, or purchase the land. Aside from the land costs, you’ll need to consider the construction and materials charges for the track itself.
You’ll need to clear the area to build your track. You can pay someone to do it, or you can rent a mini excavator for a week and do the work yourself. This may cost you anywhere from $600 to $900.
The turf will be one of your biggest expenses for the track’s construction. It costs approximately $1.50 per square foot. So, for 10,000 square feet of coverage, you’ll need to budget approximately $15,000.
In order to prevent your track from getting flooded and washed out, you’ll need to install drainage and piping. This may cost anywhere from $500 to $750.
In addition to these big-ticket items, you’ll also need to consider the AV equipment, computer equipment, construction materials related to a viewing area, security, trash haul-away or dumpster rental, tools, labor, and other miscellaneous costs to get the venue up and running.
For an outdoor track, the costs would be similar, except for the land preparation and artificial turn. Instead, you’ll need a building space to construct your track and materials like plywood and carpet. The overall costs should be about $10k less than building an outdoor RC race track.
The Bottom Line
Building a race track is not a cheap venture, as it can quickly add up to the hundreds of thousands or several million dollars. The main factors determining the price tag are what type of track, how it will be used, and whether it’s a private track for your backyard versus a spectator venue.
Still, if you have the means to finance the project, it can be a fun and exciting way to generate business growth in an undeveloped area. Or, you can use the membership model where people with fast, expensive cars will pay top dollar for the ability to use the track at their leisure.
On the other hand, a smaller track for dirt bikes, motocross, go-karts, or even an RC track can be a viable business venture at a fraction of the cost.
Either way, be sure to work up a comprehensive plan to estimate all your costs, consider local laws and regulations, and check into permitting and insurance fees before you start seriously considering taking on a project like this one.