Sandia Speedway has new owners, a new name and a new 'passion'

Mar. 17—"We're doomed. We're absolutely doomed," said Dan Brockett, recalling how he felt when he heard the Sandia Speedway was up for sale last year.

Brockett, a stunt driver who organizes car drifting events, worried that without an owner, the racetrack would fall into disrepair. Besides Sandia Speedway, the nearest tracks to Albuquerque are in Deming and Pueblo, Colorado.

"I was like, I am going to have to move," Brockett said. "I'm gonna have to move out of the city and go somewhere where there's a racetrack because, as of January 1, nobody was holding the lease and the gates were closed."

But just a few weeks later, Brockett owned the place — along with fellow car enthusiasts Mike Ossell, owner of Larimer St. Garage in Denver, and Jim Guthrie, president of Car Crafters. The three pulled together $2.45 million to buy and renovate the property under a new name "Suika Circuit."

"I have a sickness. ... I've raced my whole life," Guthrie said. "I've got two vintage race cars, a Spec Miata and a late model Mustang, so I still have it bad — and I knew that if I didn't buy it, and no one else was going to buy it, that it was going to be a long day in a truck, trailering somewhere to have some fun instead of a 20-minute drive down the road."

Suika is the Japanese word for watermelon, paying homage to the Sandia Speedway name. The park, which includes two paved oval tracks, half- and quarter-mile respectively, a three-eights-mile dirt oval track, a 1.7 mile road course and a skid pad, was previously owned by the Sandia Motorsports Park Board of Directors, which built the track in 2000.

Brockett, Guthrie and Ossell have been updating the park since the purchase, including increased safety features and improved amenities. The work has been completed with the help of many volunteers from the community.

Brockett has also been updating the website and social media. Now, patrons can buy their tickets online.

Despite the ongoing renovations, racing hasn't stopped at Suika Circuit. As the team finishes one section, Guthrie said, they open it up for events. In the past weeks, they've hosted a drift event and a Southwest Motorsports race.

"We had the first SWMS winter series event three weeks ago," Guthrie said. "And that was a smashing success. They have never had that kind of a car turnout."

Brockett said the reaction on social media about the purchase has been overwhelming. His own drift event at the track had a massive turnout.

"The story I was hearing on all of these posts was just, 'You just saved hundreds of people's passion,'" Brockett said. "...The impact was enormous, and I think that's playing into why the events are so big — it's like people realize that there are passionate people in charge that want to have the track grow, and want to see it prosper for once."