Trustee puts brakes on Speedway proposed sale: Final lap nearing?
by BRIAN GRAVES Banner Staff Writer
Mar 05, 2014 | 5475 views | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CLEVELAND SPEEDWAY’S deteriorating conditions, lack of funds for upkeep and empty search for a buyer may spell the end for the Bradley County landmark. Banner Photo, HOWARD PIERCE
CLEVELAND SPEEDWAY’S deteriorating conditions, lack of funds for upkeep and empty search for a buyer may spell the end for the Bradley County landmark. Banner Photo, HOWARD PIERCE

The on-again, off-again proposed sale of Cleveland Speedway to a Chattanooga developer has run its final lap.

And it could be a signal the last race has been run as well.

U.S. Bankruptcy Trustee Jerrold Farinash filed a notice Tuesday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Chattanooga saying he has officially withdrawn the recent proposed sale, the opportunity to object and the chance for a hearing on the objection.

Farinash’s notice brought to a finale the original aspirations of Chattanooga developer Marcus D. Lyons to buy the property for $1.1 million.

Lyons had signed a “proposed order” for the deal securing the property at a price of $1.1 million that was submitted to the court Nov. 19.

The hearing that could have finalized the deal was held Dec. 12, but Lyons’ attorney, Ellie Hill, told the court the offer had been withdrawn two days earlier “by hand delivery and email.”

Farinash argued the filling of the agreement was “an act of acceptance” and asked the court to allow him to submit a written argument on the issue.

The scheduled Feb. 3 hearing on the matter was never held when Farinash withdrew his notice of sale at that time.

“There are a number of things going on, none of which I am currently at liberty to disclose,” the trustee told the Banner on Feb. 4.

When asked for an update three weeks later, Farinash responded, “Nothing new to report at this time.”

The Speedway filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Dec. 16, 2011. A trustee was appointed to the case two months later.

On March 12, 2012, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge John C. Cook issued an order allowing the trustee to obtain a $50,000 line of credit from Race Engine Design Inc. of Rossville, Ga.

“The trustee believes it is in the best interest of the Debtor and its creditors to operate the Debtor’s business of being a motor speedway,” the motion read. “The Debtor’s business depends upon the beginning of operations in March of each year.”

The motion noted the funds were necessary to prepare for the 2012 season.

Final orders allowing the credit were issued on May 21 of that year.

The racetrack was able to host action for another two seasons before there appeared to be a serious buyer in Lyons.

Financial reports for 2013 submitted to the court showed the race track ran in the red for what might have been its last season in its current form.

Total revenues for the track were $654,881 with race-generated moneys accounting for $616,981 of that total.

The total amount of disbursements equaled $706,873 — an amount causing a deficit of almost $52,000.

According to the bank statement supplied to the court, as of the end of 2013 the track has a balance of little more than $4,029.

Farinash has been on the record saying the track and its facilties need significant and potentially costly work to maintain the property as a speedway.

“We certainly try to be cognizant of people keeping their jobs. It is a landmark in the area. But, at this point in time based on the work we’ve done, we don’t have a really good feeling that anybody is going to come forward and offer enough money to buy it and operate it as a speedway,” he told the Banner in January.

Farinash has also said although his responsibility is to the creditors, “I’d much rather find somebody to operate it as a speedway.”

Farinash, who has been quickly responsive to inquiries in the past, had not responded to a request for an update as of press time.