JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — After 65 years of drag racing in Morrison, Bandimere Speedway will close at the end of the 2023 season as the owners look for a new location.
John C. Bandimere Jr., chief spiritual officer and second-generation owner at the speedway, announced Friday morning that the conclusion of the 2023 racing season in October will mark the end of drag racing along S. Rooney Road in Morrison.
Over the past few decades, it developed a loving nickname: Thunder Mountain.
"As we close the chapter on this part of the story, our family is taking the time to reflect on hundreds or maybe thousands of memories we've experienced on Thunder Mountain. And trust me, there have been some great memories — memories including many of the irreplaceable pieces over the years that have added to the unique fabric of Bandimere Speedway," he said. "The relationships that have been created with employees, racers, sponsors, sanctioning bodies, guests, service providers, and more remind us daily what a privilege it's been for our family to continue the legacy started by my parents in 1958."
Bandimere said his family knows the continued growth in the area could impact Bandimere Speedway. That included the Red Rocks Ranch neighborhood across C-470 from the track. Home builder Lennar said in 2020 that it planned to put up 1,200 homes across 310 acres there.
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The Bandimere Speedway family decided to be proactive by trying to locate another possible location.
Looking for a new home has been an equally exciting and stressful endeavor, Bandimere said.
The National Hot Rod Association said the family has worked with investors on a possible new track and facility in the Denver area, but no details on that are available yet.
The family and community has spent the last six decades building up a lot of history.
The Safety Proving Grounds of America — which would later become Bandimere Speedway — was founded in 1958 by Bandimere's parents, John Bandimere Sr. and his wife Frances Bandimere along the hogback on the west side of Denver.
It had originally been planned in 1956 near Arvada, but neighbors realized this could disrupt their quiet community and the Safety Proving Grounds of America relocated in 1958 to the hogback.
It then became known as Bandimere Speedway, which now has a seating capacity of more than 23,000 spectators.
"Surrounding development has become more prevalent in the past several years," Bandimere said. "And once again, our family is prepared to surrender the location we have called home for six decades. Truly, the mission and vision of the facility has not changed over the years. The place has never been ours — it belongs to God. Keeping that in perspective over the years has given the family not only the honor to run a business with integrity and tradition and dedication, but also the realization to hold it lightly, knowing that we will not have it forever."
Bandimere Speedway hosted more than 130 events each year with 30,000 competitors each season. It has challenged competitors at an elevation of about 6,000 feet by affecting tune-ups, aerodynamics, and everything in between.
The National Hot Rod Association, along with the Bandimere family, said the 2023 Dodge Power Brokers NHRA Mile-High Nationals on July 14-16 will be the last NHRA national event at the track. Bandimere has been a longtime stop for the NHRA circuit.
“We at the NHRA want to thank the Bandimere family for their remarkable commitment to drag racing over the past 65 years,” said NHRA President Glen Cromwell. “NHRA Drag Racing at Bandimere Speedway has provided so many incredible moments for our drivers, race teams, fans, and partners. We look forward to celebrating the 65th anniversary this year to close out this chapter at Bandimere Speedway and remain optimistic about future opportunities to have NHRA Drag Racing stay in the Denver area and to continue to work with the Bandimere family in the future.”
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Dean Bagley, who has lived around Green Mountain for about 30 years, said the sound and presence of Bandimere has been a part of their lives for decades.
"We’ve always found Bandimere to be a good neighbor," he said. "My kids — when they went off to college and came home, they said when they heard Bandimere, they knew they were home."