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Travis Pastrana scraps plans to develop Circuit 199, a rally car racetrack and motorsports complex, on Eastern Shore

Travis Pastrana, seen here with his wife Lyn-Z riding bikes and skateboards on a pump track with one of their daughters, has pulled the plug on his plans to develop a state-of-the-art racing facility and motorsports park in the Eastern Shore town of Sudlersville.
Travis Pastrana, seen here with his wife Lyn-Z riding bikes and skateboards on a pump track with one of their daughters, has pulled the plug on his plans to develop a state-of-the-art racing facility and motorsports park in the Eastern Shore town of Sudlersville. (Courtesy Photo)

Travis Pastrana has pulled the plug on his plans to develop a state-of-the-art racing facility and motorsports park in the Eastern Shore town of Sudlersville.

Pastrana contacted the The Capital and cited ongoing litigation as reason for the decision.

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The Queen Anne’s Conservation Association filed three lawsuits against Pastrana Racing LLC and Sudlersville to prevent the project from moving forward. Attorney Joseph A. Stevens, representing Pastrana Racing LLC, had succeeded in getting several of them dismissed.

In a statement issued Thursday, Pastrana blamed additional lawsuits and the likelihood of further appeals for their decision to scrap the complex that was to be named Circuit 199.

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“Revised lawsuits have been filed that will clearly tie up the project in court for an unacceptable period of time,” Pastrana Racing LLC said in the statement.

“Although the Circuit 199 team and the town are confident they would have ultimately prevailed in these legal challenges, a Circuit 199 track in Sudlersville would not have opened by October 2021 as the partners and sponsors required,” the statement added. “It is not feasible for Pastrana and his partners to be held up in litigation for the foreseeable future, and thus have decided to terminate the project.”

Pastrana told The Capital he has sunk $700,000 of his own money into planning and development of Circuit 199. That money went toward essential items such as conducting noise studies, submitting water, sewage and stormwater management plans along with hiring architects and engineers.

Extensive litigation costs were an unexpected use of the original funding.

“I was at the cusp of having to put in another $150,000,” said Pastrana, adding that money would have gone toward legal fees, engineering, public relations work, economic impact study and a final traffic plan among other things.

“I can’t risk my family’s financial future and the future of the sport we are launching next year with so many unknowns and lawsuits from people who clearly didn’t understand what they were fighting,” Pastrana added.

Pastrana, who grew up in Annapolis and currently resides in Severna Park, hoped to make Circuit 199 the “crown jewel” complex within the world of rally cross. Since it would have been located approximately an hour from his home, Pastrana would have spent considerable time at Circuit 199 conducting testing and development.

“I was planning to make this the flagship facility and it would have been my home base,” he said.

Pastrana Racing LLC is currently working to construct six rally car tracks around the world, including in France and the United Arab Emirates. Three of the facilities are slated to be built in the United States.

Circuit 199 in Sudlersville would have joined those six other tracks to form a Nitro Rally Cross (NRX) circuit that is slated to launch in 2021.

“We had a group of eight people meeting every Wednesday for the last year and a half to make Circuit 199 a reality,” Pastrana said. “It’s disappointing, but I have to move on to other things at this point in my life. I don’t have time to be a politician. I have other things I need to focus on.”

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Site plan for Travis Pastrana's proposed action sports complex on the Eastern Shore.
Site plan for Travis Pastrana's proposed action sports complex on the Eastern Shore. (Courtesy Photo)

Circuit 199 was designed as a multi-purpose racing venue that would have included multiple pump tracks and what was being called a “progression park.” It would be constructed at a cost of $15 million on 124 acres in the rural Eastern Shore municipality.

Pastrana would have personally overseen construction of ramps, jumps and other equipment necessary for freestyle motocross, BMX and skateboarder riders to practice their acrobatic routines. He envisioned the Circuit 199 progression park becoming a desired training base for athletes from all over the globe and hosting action sports events such as his Nitro Circus Live Tour.

A third element of Circuit 199 would have been an area for pump tracks that would be used by bicycles, skateboards and scooters. It would include three separate courses catered to beginner, intermediate and professional riders.

Velosolutions had agreed to construct the pump tracks, which Pastrana promised to make available to the public on a year-round basis. Pastrana hoped Circuit 199 would host the Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championship.

On April 1, town commissioners proposed and passed an amendment to the Sudlersville Zoning Ordinance to “better describe” the types of uses that fall under the outdoor recreation facility category. That amendment added skateboard and bicycle parks, rally cross tracks and motocross facilities.

Town commissioners also amended the Sudlersville noise ordinance to exempt motocross arenas and rallycross tracks.

The Queen Anne’s Conservation Association lawsuits, filed in April and May, contend the town commissioners overstepped their authority in introducing both amendments.

A judge in the Circuit Court of Queen Anne’s County dismissed both lawsuits. One lawsuit was dismissed “with prejudice” because the judge ruled the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association did not have proper standing.

Four married couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit were given 30 days to amend the complaint and do a better job explaining the facts as to why they had standing in the matter, according to attorney David Applefeld.

Applefeld, with the Baltimore firm of Shapiro, Sher, Guinot and Sandler, has represented Pastrana for years and was working with Stevens to fight the lawsuits. He said an amended complaint was filed within the required 30 days and a hearing had been set for Dec. 11.

Queen Anne’s Conservation Association is no longer a party to the case because the court ruled the organization did not have standing.

“I think we had a very strong defense to all of this. To date, the judge had agreed with everything we contended," Applefeld said. “Regardless, it would be a long, drawn out litigation.”

Pastrana was told by his legal team the litigation could end up costing as much as $500,000 and take years.

“This organization has a strategy of tying up its opponents in costly litigation until they just throw up their hands and give up,” said Greg French, Pastrana’s longtime accountant who had spearheaded the Circuit 199 project.

Pastrana called it “unfortunate” the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association, under the leadership of executive director Jay Falstad, so strongly opposed a recreational complex that would have benefited Sudlersville economically.

“I’m crushed. It was my goal to bring a positive outlet to the whole community to create something exciting for people of all ages on the Eastern Shore, and to help stimulate the local economy," Pastrana said.

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In a statement, Falstad said Pastrana’s decision spares Sudlersville from coping with the facility’s noise, air pollution, congestion, accidents, crowds, and post-event clean-ups — “logistical challenges the town has neither the staff nor the know-how to handle.”

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“Consistent with its mission to protect the life-enhancing values of our predominantly rural county, QACA is proud to have stood with the nearby homeowners whose lives would have been ruined by the day-and-night noise and influx of out-of-state crowds,” Falstad wrote in the statement.

“The Pastrana facility in Sudlersville was the wrong project in the wrong place, wrongly advanced by illegal means. It is better for all concerned that it is now history.”

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