Fall 2023

Bandimere Speedway hosts final NHRA Nationals after 65 years of ministry

The National Hot Rod Association Mile-High Nationals came to Bandimere Speedway, located just outside Denver, one final time over the weekend, as the famed track is set to close later this year. Also known as Thunder Mountain, it has been owned and operated by the Bandimere family for the past 65 years, and hosts more than 100 annual events, most of which are for amateur drivers.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

While the weekend’s festivities marked the end of an era, the Bandimeres have no intention of leaving the racing world. They are planning to open a new, much larger racing facility near Denver International Airport in 2025.

“Everybody thinks that we’re being pushed out by houses,” owner John Bandimere Jr. told the Denver Post. “Of course, there’s no question, they’re building a lot of houses around us. But that’s not why we’re leaving. We really feel comfortable with why we’re leaving: We need more space.”

The goal is to incorporate some of Thunder Mountain’s unique features like downhill staging and an uphill shutdown into a more modern venue. Bandimere Speedway does not have restrooms, running water or grandstands with backs. The new track would also have more parking and could possibly include a road course.

What will not change is the Bandimere family’s heart to share God’s love with the racing community by ministering to fans as well as drivers.

“The family sees the facility as a place where God is present and desires that those who come through the gates see God here as well,” says the Bandimere Speedway website in its section dedicated to track ministry.

There are multiple chaplains at the track, and volunteers from Bandimere Speedway Ministries run the guest services tent for large events. A chapel service is offered every Sunday morning during racing season.

The Bandimeres are also involved in Racers For Christ, a non-denominational racing ministry started in 1971. Tami Bandimere is currently serving as the chair of the organization’s board of directors.

The speedway is on pace to be sold this year, and John Bandimere Jr. suggested in his interview with the Denver Post that it will maintain a connection to the automotive industry under its new owners.

It is likely that the Bandimere’s new facility will involve outside investors, so it is unclear whether their name will be connected to it or not. As long as they are providing a place for people to gather and enjoy the sport of racing, the Bandimeres don’t care whether their name is featured at all.

“Racing is what we do, but it’s not who we are,” said John Bandimere III, who is a member of the track’s executive team. “Whether we own the new facility or not really doesn’t matter to us. We want a place for this (racing) community to go — to watch events, to compete in events, to be a part of it.”

The family plans to take 2024 off as it works on finalizing the sale of Thunder Mountain and putting together plans for the new venue. While the Mile-High Nationals is the biggest event Bandimere hosts, events will continue at the current track through the rest of 2023.

RELATED STORIES:
SS PODCAST: NASCAR’s Aric Almirola on prayer, tough decisions, returning to racing
— Aric Almirola at peace with God’s plan for him ahead of final Daytona 500
— Defending Daytona 500 champ Michael McDowell in new short film: ‘God is faithful’
— Aric Almirola goes from frustrating season to NASCAR playoffs, praises God
— SS PODCAST: NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip on being a successful Christian