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Michael Waltrip Raceworld complex under contract to top auto dealer


By Dave Yochum. Business Today reported last week that the owners of Lake Norman Chrysler Jeep Dodge have the former Michael Waltrip Raceworld under contract for an undisclosed amount.

LKNCJD owners Robin and Jack Salzman plan a new retail facility that would include a prep shop and 10,000 square feet of space for non-profits and community events.

The dealership plans to house internet sales for both parts and vehicles on the site as well as executive, accounting and administrative offices.

Co-owner Jack Salzman was Time Dealer of the Year for the entire country last year. He also won the Lake Norman Chamber Businessperson of the Year award.

Retail efforts would include Carolina Custom Wheels Tires & Accessories, which would be housed in roughly 5,000 square feet of space in the MWR facility that began its life as a multiplex cinema called Movies at the Lake in the 1990s.


The Salzmans would consolidate three locations on Hwy. 21 into the MWR space. The main showroom on Torrence Chapel Road would remain; franchisee agreements prevent them from selling cars from another location.

The result would be the same number of cars parked as there were at Michael Waltrip Raceworld when it was fully operational.

The famed race car driver turned the cineplex into a cornerstone of the motorsports and sports tourism business in Cornelius.

Michael Waltrip Racing and racing superstar Clint Bowyer mutually agreed to separate at the conclusion of the 2015 season and investor Rob Kaufman turned his attentions and money to Chip Ganassi Racing in Concord, leaving MWR in a lurch.

The Salzman purchase plan will require a technical change in the zoning to allow automotive uses in a building that was largely automotive—but not sales—under Michael Waltrip. According to a chamber letter supporting the Salzman plan, the MWR operation involved the “fabrication, repair and maintenance of race cars,” which makes it ideal for Lake Norman Chrysler.

Business Today polled Cornelius Town Board members who will have final say over the change. A majority were in favor.

A commercial real estate—and economic development—prize, the property was recently under contract to SPRiZZi Bev-Co. which planned to bring up to 250 new jobs to Cornelius.

The company, which makes the SPRiZZi Drink Machine, planned to upfit the 118,000 square foot facility to produce “flavor bullets” on-site.

The plan quietly fizzled out this past summer and MWR went back on the market.

The landmark property is valued at $8.77 million, according to Mecklenburg County property records. MW Ark is the owner of the property.  The manager of the MW Ark, according to the NC Secretary of State, is Waltrip.

The property was listed for sale for $8 million with Jones Lang LaSalle.