By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
While the GunterRing dream is over, Farr's is just beginning. It's a bright September day, and the morning session of Bobby Archer's Championship Driving Clinic is winding down. The cars will cool down underneath the covered grid area near the track while the drivers cool down with a quick lunch of sandwiches and potato salad in the club's drivers building about 100 yards away.
Except it's difficult to pull the drivers away from the track. Their laps may be over, but the driving continues as they recount the speeds they reached on the straightaways, the way they slid through the corners, the new maneuvers they tried out, the things they did wrong. Around 20 drivers signed up for today's clinic, and as each car pulls off the track, the driver is quickly swept up into the discussion. Almost everything they say is gibberish to untrained ears, a mess of technical jargon that makes an episode of CSI sound like Hooked on Phonics. This is the scene Farr always envisioned.
One driver, a pretty young Asian woman, doesn't join the group. Instead, she slides out from behind the wheel of her car and immediately begins speaking to a film crew.
"These guys are with a lifestyle television show, doing a deal here," Archer says. "You know, you've gotta do a little bit of selling every day."
"If you don't, it just starts to crater," Farr adds, sidling into the conversation.
He shouldn't worry, because MotorSport Ranch is far from cratering. It makes dollars for Farr and sense for the drivers. Farr has done his best to give them everything he would want: a secure environment, plenty of access, a convenient location. What sets MotorSport Ranch apart are all the little things Farr has included that a non-driver might forget.
The covered grid is the best example. At other tracks, drivers are often forced to bake in the sun, sitting in their helmets, gloves and driving suits in cars without air conditioning. Farr wanted something different at his place. That's why he built the covered grid first, before the track was even paved.
Soon enough, he'll have to pave another track. Construction is set to begin on a second course. The 1.5-mile course has already been laid out, and the top three or four inches of sod have been stripped away with a motor grader. It will have six turns and 70 feet of hills. "So it'll be like a roller coaster," Farr says.
The members are funding the new track (which will cost another $1.3 million), so Farr won't have to rob Digital Print to pay MotorSport Ranch any longer. That leaves Farr's bank account free to focus on the Ranch's other developments. Construction on the first phase of a planned 80-lot residential community that overlooks the track's north side is already under way. When that is up and running, Farr will begin to develop the half-mile of ranch property that sits alongside Highway 377 into office buildings and restaurants.
If it sounds like Farr is building a city, well, he already has. Cresson, with a population just north of 200 people, was incorporated before MotorSport Ranch moved in; Farr pushed the city in that direction and almost ended up as its first mayor for his efforts. He gives local residents work whenever he can, which has amounted to around 50 new jobs. He also voluntarily allowed Cresson to annex his property, making the city more than 20 percent larger as a result.
Farr is happy to do all of that, because Cresson isn't just MotorSport Ranch's home. It's his family's as well. Five years later, he finally has time to relax and enjoy it. They all do. When MotorSport Ranch closes for the day, his kids--two girls, 13 and 11, and two boys, 7 and 4--take over.
"If we're not doing go-carts or they're not driving the golf cart around the track, we're out there on Rollerblades or bicycles," Farr says. "As far as they know, everybody has a road-racing course in their back yard, not just us, which would be kind of interesting if that were true."
To hundreds of drivers in North Texas, it kind of is. Farr has given them the next best thing.