High Plains Raceway is another club-owned and operated facility, created somewhat out of necessity when other venues in Colorado closed. Modern and fast, it offers some considerable gradient changes and has quickly become a favourite among Midwest racers.
Club racing organisations formed a new entity - CAMA (Colorado Amateur Motorsports Associates) - to create a new track for their members, with aim of protecting the future of amateur road racing in Colorado.
By any measure, they succeeded, with the facility packed with high speed action virtually every weekend from April through October, with amateur clubs hosting events ranging from track days and driving schools all the way to wheel-to-wheel racing.
Planning for the facility began in 2003 when the regional amateur racing clubs realised the days of their home track – the old Second Creek Raceway near Denver International Airport – were numbered. A serious effort was then launched and the CAMA (Colorado Amateur Motorsports Associates) entity was formed expressly for the job of creating a new track for the clubs.
Second Creek did indeed close in 2005, as did Mountain View and – perhaps more unexpectedly – so too did Pikes Peak International Raceway. With the Stapleton circuit also no longer available, the situation was rapidly moving towards a crisis. Efforts to build a new track in the Denver area consequently stepped up a gear.
CAMA (and its predecessor the Colorado Motorsports Council) was formed by the five clubs which used Second Creek the most. It had operated the lease at Second Creek for several years, building up a surplus from the operating profits which would prove invaluable in developing the new circuit. Of course, it's one thing to have finances in place to build a new home and quite another to have a suitable site on which to build it. Several years passed as up to 40 sites were evaluated and discounted, before land at Byers, to the east of Denver, was finally found in 2005.
An option to buy the land was agreed in May 2006 and the process of designing and planning began in earnest. Engineer and racer Bill Howard came up with a design to make the most of the undulating landscape and then the protracted process of obtaining planning consents began. Even with a local community that actively welcomed the facility, final approval took nearly two years. Finally, Howard's Plan West firm obtained full consent in January 2008.
A funding drive then secured the $3.5 million needed to complete the facility in a remarkable seven months – with around 1,000 private donors bolstering the club's savings to make the project a reality. With contracts signed in August 2008, construction, grading and paving was completed in an equally remarkable seven weeks, enabling an off-season curing period for the new asphalt.
Track operations began in full in 2009, with the first season of races being held. The track received an enthusiastic reception from drivers and riders thanks to its swooping rises and falls (a little reminiscent of Riverside) and it has gone on to become a staple of club and regional SCCA racing. With four configurations and plenty of room for future expansion – as well as a local community which actively welcomes the racers – Highlands Plains Raceway looks set for a long and happy future.