Palm Beach International Raceway, formerly known as Moroso Motorsports Park, looks set to be demolished. Its owner has already signed a contract to sell the property to Portman Industrial, which plans to retool the site into an industrial park. Locals in Palm Beach County are putting up a strong fight to prevent the sale and there’s another buyer allegedly interested in keeping the track open, though it doesn’t look good for the facility as it stands.
PBIR is not just a local venue for casual track days. The Street Outlaws TV show has recently been filming at the venue’s NHRA-spec quarter-mile dragstrip, and the road racing course—a roughly two-mile track that’s apparently FIA Grade II certified—is reportedly capable of hosting big-name racing series like IndyCar. In fact, some IndyCar teams already use the track for winter testing. As well as offering these impressive facilities, the track also has a nearly mile-long autocross course.
Needless to say, losing all of this would be a big hit to automotive enthusiasm in the state of Florida. As local news station WPBF reports, locals are not taking it lightly—including some big names in racing. At an advisory planning meeting late last week, more than 100 citizens voiced their opposition to the plan. Some said the new industrial park would cause excessive traffic, while others were worried that the loss of the racetrack would push car enthusiasts from the controlled environment of PBIR onto public streets.
Just the same, a website set up by a campaign to save the track contains testimonials from notable names in and outside the world of professional motorsports. McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, musician Pitbull, John Oates from Hall & Oates, and IndyCar champion Danny Sullivan all say they want the track to stay, with Brown noting that PBIR is “a legendary track in a prime location” with “a great history.” It would be a “shame to see it go,” he added.
In the end, the Palm Beach County zoning commission which hosted the meeting voted unanimously against allowing the deal to proceed, although the commission’s decision is non-binding and strictly advisory. The fate of the track hinges on the will of the Palm Beach County commission, which is certainly influenced by the lower zoning commission but is doubtlessly interested in Portman Industrial’s plan as well. The company claims its redevelopment of the site will provide roughly 1,500 new jobs in the area, as well as bring in a healthy amount of new tax revenue. The other bidder for the property, Formula Race Promotions—which WPBF claims is “sort of involved”—hasn’t had much to say. It refused to provide a comment when approached by WPBF, only noting that it is “encouraged by the community’s support for racing.”
The county commission’s decision will come later in April. If it refuses to allow the deal, there might be some hope for PBIR, a track that has been operating since 1965. If it considers the sale to Portman Industrial to be the best course of action, well, residents of Palm Beach County are likely going to have to say goodbye to a storied racing venue.
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