NASCAR & Auto Racing

Penske Racing to create test track in Mooresville

Penske Racing plans to build a test track in Mooresville similar in size and layout to the NASCAR Nextel Cup series track at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

The 54-acre site on Mazeppa Road would include 1/4- and 1/2-mile ovals within the 3/4-mile oval track, and a 1.8-mile road course, documents filed with the Iredell County Planning Department show.

At its neighboring race shop, Mooresville-based Penske already designs, makes and tests high-performance vehicles for competition in the NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch series, Indy Racing League, and Automobile Racing Club of America and American LeMans series.

The test track also would accommodate law-enforcement training and recreational motorsports, but is not for spectators paying admission, Penske says in its filing with the county. Testing would be between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to the filing.

The acreage now includes two ball fields and a vacant lot. The land is zoned for heavy industrial uses, including race tracks, Iredell County Planner Rebecca Harper said.

Neighbors include Cardinal Glass and such racing operations as a wind tunnel.

Much of the residentially zoned land near the proposed track has been rezoned for industrial uses, and Mazeppa Road has become Mooresville and Iredell County's primary industrial area, county planning staff say.

Mooresville, which borders the track site, calls itself "Race City USA" for the dozens of motorsports shops it has attracted over the years, including Penske Racing South off Mazeppa Road.

Penske proposes putting in landscaping along the track property's railroad boundary to obscure the track's view from Mazeppa Road, and adding landscaping along Penske Way, which leads off Mazeppa.

The company would leave the woods on the west side of the property as a noise buffer. Industry border the other three sides.

Penske Racing South president Don Miller could not be reached Thursday.

The Iredell County Planning Board will consider the plan at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The planning staff is recommending approval.

County commissioners are expected to consider the board's recommendation in October.