SALEM, Ind. — Crosley Brands CEO and part-time racer Bo LeMastus has completed the purchase of Indiana’s Salem Speedway and the adjoining Salem Airport.
LeMastus purchased the historic racing facility from Owen and Beverly Thompson, who bought the track in 1995 and have operated it for more than 20 years.
The 55-year-old businessman and co-owner with David Gilliland of the DGR-Crosley team that competes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series, said discussions about purchasing the track started roughly six months ago.
“When I was a boy I would sit at Salem and watch those races. I loved the place,” LeMastus said. “I knew the owners, Beverly and Owen, and I said guys, I’m just too busy. I always use the term bandwidth and I said I’m out of bandwidth.
“Well about six months ago we were all having dinner…this is getting ready for Daytona. I was sharing with them all the Truck stuff and all the (stuff) I’m going to do,” LeMastus said. “They said, ‘Well, are you interested at all in the speedway.’ I said: ‘Sure I am.’ Then Owen said, ‘Do you think you’ve got the bandwidth kid?’ I said: ‘I do, I know I do, I’ve just got to figure it out.’”
That conversation led to a trip by LeMastus to Salem Speedway alongside his accountant, R.K. Bruce, and his attorney, Jeff Parrish. The trio walked the entire property and it wasn’t long before LeMastus decided to move ahead with the purchase.
“I walked all that property,” said LeMastus. “All three of us got back in the car and they said, ‘Bo, you cannot afford not to buy this place.’ I said: ‘Guys, can we do this?’ They said: ‘You cannot afford not to.’ So I bought it.”
As part of the acquisition, LeMastus says he is putting together a partnership with ARCA stalwarts Bill and Will Kimmel under the name BWB Entertainment. LeMastus says plans include much more than racing at the historic half-mile track that ran its first race in 1947.
“It’s going to be more than just racing,” LeMastus said. “We’re going to do concerts, we’re going to do something called tough mudder. It’s like crossfit, except we’re going to do a series with a championship and all that. We’re going to do a lot of charity work to where we give money to fallen soldiers’families. What I want to do in life is give back.”
LeMastus said that effective last week the entire property, including Salem Speedway and the Salem Airport, has been renamed Crosley Field. He said the name represents Crosley Brands, but also honors the former Major League Baseball stadium of the Cincinnati Reds that shared the same name and was once owned by radio broadcasting pioneer Powel Crosley Jr.
“It’s going to be called Crosley Field. When I grew up I went to Salem a lot, but guess where I went for all my baseball? My dad took me to Crosley Field,” LeMastus said. “I’ve got to honor the Crosley family.”
While the entire property will take on the name Crosley Field, LeMastus said the race track will retain some form of the name Salem Speedway.
“It will always have Salem in the naming, except it is Crosley Field,” LeMastus said. “The name Salem Motor Speedway obviously has a lot of brand equity in it, so that will lay somewhere within the tag.”
Salem Speedway plays host to several touring series every year, including the ARCA Racing Series, USAC Silver Crown Series and Champion Racing Ass’n. The track also hosts local racing featuring the Lucas Oil Great American Stocks and a Front Wheel Drive Stock division.
LeMastus says he hopes to expand the racing efforts at Salem with the goal of eventually bringing the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to the venue.
“The ARCA events will always be there with me, except I’m going to Lesa France and saying: ‘Lesa, we’ve got to get the trucks up here,’” LeMastus said. “We’ve got to get the Camping World Trucks to the tracks like Salem. Guess what? I’ll invest anything. It is important to the sport of NASCAR to get out of the norm and come to places like that. That’s called Americana.
“They let Tony Stewart do it at Eldora. Well guess what? This is just Bo’s version of Eldora,” LeMastus said. “I’m not saying I’ll get the Trucks there next year, but eventually I will.”