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Dover speedway owner acquired as sale closes

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The parent company of Dover International Speedway was acquired in a $131.5 million deal Wednesday, ending local control of the Monster Mile racetrack. | PHOTO COURTESY OF GETTY IMAGES/NASCAR

DOVER – Dover Motorsports, the parent company of Dover International Speedway and one of the last independent owners of a top-tier NASCAR racetrack, is officially no more, after its planned sale closed Wednesday.

The publicly traded Dover Motorsports had announced the $131.5 million deal with Speedway Motorsports, one of the sport’s two biggest track owners and operators, last month. The deal means that control of Delaware’s crown jewel sports facility, the track known by fans as “the Monster Mile,” is no longer local. It also spells the end of the “international” name, with the track rebranded to Dover Motor Speedway to fit the new owner’s typical branding.

Speedway Motorsports, the North Carolina-based public company that owns and operates famed tracks like Texas Motor Speedway and Bristol Motor Speedway, paid a 58.3% premium on Dover Motorsports’ share price to acquire both the Dover racetrack as well as the recently reactivated Nashville Superspeedway.

“On behalf of our company I’d like to thank Denis McGlynn and Dover Motorsports for their cooperation and support through this process,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith in a statement. “As our acquisition becomes complete, we look forward to turning our focus toward engaging the teams at Dover and Nashville to produce exciting events for race fans in 2022.”

The deal did not come without some controversy, however, as shareholders have filed lawsuits in both federal district court and the Delaware Court of Chancery seeking to prevent the sale. The Delaware suit in particular claimed that an unidentified private equity investor offered a better deal than the one completed with Speedway.

Cases in both jurisdictions are still winding through the courts, but failed to prevent the consummation of the deal. Both sides had originally said they expected the deal to close before Dec. 31.

The largest shareholders of Dover Motorsports included board chairman Henry Tippie and the Rollins family, who found their fortune through the Rollins company, a pest control giant that owns Orkin and other brands.

Dover International Speedway has been hosting races since 1969, and two race weekends a year since 1971, but 2021 marked a change: it moved its fall race to the Nashville Superspeedway, its other racetrack.

Meanwhile, Speedway Motorsports is seeking to control as many top-tier tracks as it can, especially after its largest competitor, International Speedway Corp., was bought out by NASCAR itself in 2019 for $2 billion.

“While this marks the end of our 52 years as an independent operator in NASCAR, our future advancement is best secured by joining forces with a major player in the sport and we are happy to be able to become part of the Speedway Motorsports family and to be able to work with Marcus Smith as NASCAR embraces its future,” Dover Motorsports President and CEO Denis McGlynn said in a statement announcing the deal last month.

The closing of the transaction means there is one less publicly traded company headquartered in Delaware – 13 still remain.

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