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Tim Nye turns a lap at Mountain Creek Speedway in his No. 42 micro sprint. (Lucas Halbert photo)

Local Board Rules On Mountain Creek Speedway’s Future

NEWTON, N.C. — During a public hearing at Catawba County Justice Center on Tuesday, Feb. 20, Mountain Creek Speedway was cleared to continue racing by the Board of Adjustment.

The one-sixth-mile dirt oval hosted various karting divisions and 600cc micro sprints last season.

Track owner Adam Stewart was served notice on Oct. 6, 2023, by Catawba County that the track must cease operations due to a zoning issue. The reason being that the property Mountain Creek Speedway is located on — at 5237 Little Mountain Road in Catawba, N.C. — is technically an R-40 residential district.

However, as the race track has been operational since the 1970s, it is legally protected by its “grandfather status.” Meaning, since it was founded prior to the zoning ordinance, which was adopted in 2007, it does not need to abide by the modern zoning requirements.

As such, Stewart filed an appeal with the county, which then led to two public hearings — the first on Dec. 19 and a follow-up on Feb. 20.

The stipulation presented by Catawba County in the ensuing case surrounded Mountain Creek’s grandfather status and whether it was still viable.

The primary issue presented to the five-member board on Tuesday night was as follows: “Has the race track lost its grandfather status due to a cease of operation of more than 180 days?”

The county relied on several aerial photographs of the track between the years of 2009 to 2014 to illustrate whether or not the track had ceased operations.

That was the same evidence utilized by Catawba County Planning & Parks Director Chris Timberlake to make his initial decision on the zoning issue on Oct. 6.

On Tuesday, the board came to the conclusion that the photographs were not sufficient evidence to use, in retrospect, to determine if Mountain Creek Speedway had ceased operations for more than 180 days during that time period.

It is also worth noting that there is not a definition of “race track” in the Unified Development Ordinance or what constitutes as use of a race track.

The Board of Adjustment unanimously voted to reverse the hold on Mountain Creek Speedway that was placed on Oct. 6, allowing the track to return to action.

“The county’s decision was being made off of very, very weak evidence on the fact that we were shut down when we were not. So I’m glad to see it overturned and that the appeal process worked like it should,” Stewart said.

When asked what this means for Mountain Creek Speedway moving forward, he added, “We’re getting ready to go. Obviously, we are way behind on planning the season. We didn’t really want to make assumptions as far as getting everything out there, so it’ll be a little bit rushed.

“We’ll see what dates we can have to kind of work around everyone else with other race tracks and try to keep things going so everybody can have a good place to race at Mountain Creek Speedway.”