Steve Westmoreland, owner of about 600 acres on Chestnut Mountain east of Canton, and Hickory Motor Speedway owner John Huffman, who is looking for a site to replace the Asheville Motor Speedway which closed in October 1998, announce plans to construct a $3 million half-mile race track on the Chestnut Mountain property.
Huffman backs out of the plan after opponents to the race track convince Haywood County commissioners to impose a 90-day moratorium on any race track development in the county to allow time for an environmental impact study. Huffman attempts to regroup with investors after the moratorium is lifted, but investors are no longer interested.
Westmoreland announces a new $71 million plan for a motorsports park, adding an equestrian center, four-acre lake, water park, camping facilities, condominiums, a lodge, restaurant and two hotels.
Work begins on a four-lane $600,000 bridge over Hominy Creek to the planned race track. Work stops when state regulators ask for a mitigation plan to address erosion and water quality issues. Westmoreland later addresses those issues and obtains all needed permits.
Water and sewer lines are extended along U.S. 29-23 east of Canton to the entrance of the Chestnut Mountain property. Canton aldermen also agree to satellite annex 17.7 acres of Westmoreland’s property bordering U.S. 19-23.
Westmoreland adds a winter sports complex to the motorsports plans, hoping to attract new investors.
Westmoreland scraps the motorsports and winter complex plans, but continues to seek financial support to develop the property. For the next 14 years Westmoreland’s efforts seem futile.
The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy purchases 448 acres on Chestnut Mountain from Canton Motorsports Park LLC for $3 million. The Town of Canton will manage the property as a conservation-based public outdoor recreation park in partnership with Haywood County.