After 17 years of planning, Pacific Raceways broke ground on its $200 million expansion project on Aug. 18.
Construction is underway on the first two buildings of the Pacific Innovation Center and Motorsports Park. The two buildings will be part of the larger project of developing over 1 million square feet of commercial space including garages, labs, office spaces and a restaurant.
The goal of the expansion is to make the Pacific Innovation Center the hub for innovating new technologies surrounding the auto industry, according to the center’s website.
Several local public officials including Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus and King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer were in attendance along with several Auburn City Councilmembers.
The expansion is expected to have a large economic impact on the Auburn area.
“It’s important for Auburn because of the opportunities it gives fans in the area, but also because of the revenue it generates each time there is an event out here,” Backus said.
Pacific Raceways was founded in 1960 by Don Fiorito Sr., the owner of a construction company. Since then, legendary drivers such as Dale Earnhardt Sr. have raced on the track. It is still owned and operated by the Fiorito family.
Jason Fiorito, the current president of Pacific Raceways and Pacific Innovation Center, gave a speech at a podium set up next to the construction site to talk about the project. He thanked everyone who collaborated with Pacific Raceways to make it happen.
“The city of Auburn has pulled us under their wing. We’re part of the city’s Innovation Partnership Zone, the IPZ, and our innovation center dovetails very well,” Fiorito said. “We feel like we’re partners with Auburn. We feel like we’re included with Auburn. Mayor Nancy has never given up on us.”
Pacific Raceways is one of the area’s economic powerhouses. Events held at the raceway generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue, Fiorito said. Supporters expect the new expansions to generate even more revenue. The groundbreaking marked the beginning of a new era for the raceways, Fiorito said.
“We are going to continue to be a racetrack, and now this transition redefines the infrastructure to include a test bed for transportation industry innovation, and that solidifies the sustainability of racing in our region,” Fiorito said.
Companies will be able to test their technology on the various tracks at the raceway and have prototype manufacturing, laboratory and office space in the innovation center, Fiorito said.
Of every dollar spent on labor costs for the project, 90 cents will be to companies that employ union laborers, Fiorito said. The partnership with union labor came from Auburn Councilmember Larry Brown, who is also president of the Washington State Labor Council which represents nearly 500,000 workers across the state. Fiorito thanked Brown for working with Pacific Raceways.
Fiorito also thanked King County Councilmember Rod Dembowski for his work to ensure the protection of the environment around the raceways.
“Rod is a supporter of the industry, the jobs, the economic impact,” Jason Fiorito president of Pacific Raceways said. “He also steadfastly guards the environmental protection in this region and on the property. He’s held our feet to the fire to make sure everything we do out here meets the highest environmental standards.”
Councilmember von Reichbauer also spoke about the project and the jobs it will create.
“Some people see the heavy machinery, some people envision the future buildings, I see jobs,” von Reichbauer said. “My job is to create jobs. Rod Dembowski joins Larry Brown and I in recognizing that this is all about jobs. Jobs in building the project, jobs in sustaining the industry and jobs for the future.”
The Pacific Innovation Center is considered one of the state’s four “projects of statewide significance” by the Department of Commerce.