Palm Beach International Raceway clinging to life
Palm Beach International Raceway in South Florida opened 59 years ago, a $1.5 million facility that combined a quarter-mile dragstrip with a two-mile road course and a seven-tenths of a mile kart track. Though cycling through various owners over the years, including Moroso Racing Parts owner Dick Moroso, the track changed little over the years.
Maybe that was one of the problems. It closed a year ago this month, destined to become, it was rumored, a Walmart warehouse.
A “last lap” event was held on April 23 of last year, announced on a local website with this one-sentence history lesson: “Opened in 1964, this iconic venue has hosted championship road races, South Florida’s most prestigious drag racing event, the Citrus Nationals, and some of the largest acts in musical history including the Rolling Stones, Jefferson Starship, and Eric Clapton. In addition, PBIR has served as a test facility for top IndyCar, sports car, and drag racing teams.”
PBIR suffered from being in a part of the country not particularly enthusiastic about the motorsports scene and from being a comparatively long drive from the Miami/Fort Lauderdale market, and even farther from Orlando and Tampa. The last owner, IRG, which used it as the home track for the sanctioning body it owned, the International Hot Rod Association, pulled back from motorsports, and PBIR closed for good.
Or has it?
On January 26, according to a story posted on Dragzine.com, the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners held a hearing for the owners of the Palm Beach International Raceway to redevelop the land from racetrack to warehouses. After hearing testimony from more than 100 people on both sides, the board voted 4-2 to deny the owner’s request. “The land owners subsequently appealed the decision and the application will now go before a special magistrate who will make a recommendation to the board on the matter on April 19th, 2023.” Which is next Wednesday.
“Since the applicant has appealed the denial decision, the application will now go in front of a special magistrate, basically a Judge, to deliver a recommendation to the Board for another vote,” said racetrack proponent Madelyn Marconi. The track hosted a lot of grassroots drag racing events designed to get young drivers away from street racing and take it to the track. “The Sheriff of Palm Beach County still wants it to remain a raceway. Just because you want to destroy something doesn’t mean you can,” Marconi told Dragzine.
If it is closed down for good, it would likely become Palm Beach Logistics Center, a local asset, a company spokesperson told Hagerty.com, because it would turn “an unused parcel of land into a productive asset to our community, offering quality jobs, millions in new tax dollars and a service that is in demand and needed for our county’s growth.”
We’ll keep you posted on the magistrate’s recommendation.
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I know it’s clutching at straws, but dear Lord, don’t let my grip fail….
Either they open it back up and get the racing off the streets or there’s going to be more racing on the streets and more injuries if not death and kids killed for nothing but a racetrack down the street that they can go to and be safe they have to open this up again for the safety of the community
The track sadly failed because of the greedy people running it. They never cared about the racers, and that’s why it all fell apart. It became all about numbers, and they couldn’t figure out that’s why event after event failed. Chris Lencheski started the downward spiral; lining his own pockets, wasting large amounts of money on stupid shit, like a fancy office building at $15k a month when there was a nice office AT the track. CEO Lou Partenza was a major factor in its downfall as well. He slid in after Chris had practically drained the company of everything. The people responsible need to be named.
If it can be run by racers with business in mind, it can flourish again, like it has in the past. I hope it can be opened again as it is.
Thanks for putting those names out there, the people need to know who’s really responsible for what’s going on at the track.