Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Heartland Motorsports Park Faces Closure Amidst Ongoing Property Tax Dispute

Heartland Motorsports Park, a distinguished racing facility known for hosting events like the Country Stampede and Menards NHRA Nationals, is at risk of closure. This news comes in the wake of a rejected tax offer from the track’s owner, Chris Payne, to Shawnee County in Kansas.

“I want people to understand that this community may lose Heartland Park due to exorbitant taxes,” Payne shared. “I don’t want people to say, ‘I didn’t know that.’ At least they’ll know now.”

Chris Payne identifies a section of pavement in need of repair at Heartland Park.

Payne’s company, Shelby Development LLC, is currently embroiled in a property tax legal dispute with Shawnee County. The company owes the county over $2.6 million in delinquent property taxes. While the county appraised the property at $9.05 million, Payne argues that its fair market value is closer to the $2.4 million he paid for it seven years ago.

“We believe the property was and is worth close to the original purchase price, and it should be taxed appropriately,” Payne explained. He adds that if the property were valued as highly as the county appraiser suggests, he would have sold it immediately.

Heartland Park’s closure would have significant implications for the community. “The economic ripples would be exponential,” said David Holstead, Payne’s attorney. However, Shawnee County officials maintain that the property taxes levied are appropriate, and the courts have so far supported this stance.

The racing facility, which first opened its doors in 1989 as Heartland Park Topeka, spans over 619.51 acres and features a quarter-mile drag strip, a road course, an autocross/drift pad, and a motocross track. It’s hosted national events for many prestigious racing bodies, including the NHRA, NASCAR, AMA, and SCCA.

Heartland Motorsports Park owner Chris Payne

Payne, who purchased the track in 2015, emphasized that his involvement in Heartland Park has never been about money, but passion. “I don’t do this for the money,” he said. “I’ve never taken a paycheck out of this. Never will. It doesn’t render one. I write a check to work here, ironically.”

However, Payne acknowledges that there are limits to his investments. “I’m not super wealthy,” he admitted. “I don’t mind writing a check, but I can’t just throw money away.” He paid the property taxes for 2016 but has since refrained, claiming that the county’s appraisal value far exceeds the track’s actual market value.

Payne’s legal battles against the county’s appraiser’s office began in 2019, leading to a 11-count lawsuit filed by Shelby Development against Shawnee County and its appraiser’s office. A Shawnee County District Court judge ruled in favor of the county on all 11 counts in April 2022. An appeal has been filed, and a decision is expected within the next two to four months.

With the future of Heartland Park hanging in the balance, the loss of the iconic racing facility would mark a significant blow to both the drag racing community and Shawnee County.

This story was originally published on May 17, 2023. Drag Illustrated

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

You May Also Like


The star-studded STREET OUTLAWS: No Prep Kings series is set to return for its 6th season in the summer of 2023. Fans can expect to...


Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings star and renowned engine builder Pat Musi joined the recent episode of The Wes Buck Show and provided an update...


Street Outlaws: No Prep Kings star Lizzy Musi announced today that she has been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer via her Youtube channel....


Tony Christian, one of the pioneering drivers of the Pro Street movement, passed away Thursday, June 9. Christian was infamous for his battles with...

Since 2005, DI has informed, inspired and educated drag racers from every walk of the racing life - weekend warrior and street/strip enthusiasts to pro-level doorslammer and Top Fuel racers. From award-winning writing and photography to binge-worthy videos to electric live events, DI meets hundreds of thousands of racers where they live, creating the moments that create conversations.