After several months of downtime and renovations the former Sunshine Dragstrip is bringing drag racing back to Pinellas County, Florida under a new name: the Showtime Dragstrip. The facility, which also contains a circle track, is an icon in the drag racing community having been in operation since the 1950’s and hosted many pioneering racers through the years and many division track championships throughout its long history.
The first pair out since the renovations on the new Showtime Dragstrip.
The property was purchased several years ago by the state with plans to extend the connection of interstate through to the Bayside Bridge, which crosses the western portion of Tampa Bay. The poor economy had the state without the funds to get the project done and it has been under lease to operate the dragstrip since then.
As we reported last year, the State put the property – including operation of the circle track – up for bidding. Local circle track racer and business owner Robert Yoho won the bid with backing by Q Auto & Injury Attorneys and together with his crew and many other racers and friends lending a hand, has gotten the facility turned around and back in running shape.
For now, the track is making due with this temporary track sprayer to apply the traction compound. There's still other equipment needs that will be addressed shortly.
One new addition is Joto's Pizza now having a presence on the ground on the first floor of the tower. No more waiting, unless they run out. There's also a full concession stand on the pit side and snow cones for a tasty treat.
The office and tower have been renovated along with the spectator bathrooms. A new Accutime system is in place and new concrete walls to 660-feet, with plans to extend the walls and timing to run 1000-feet in the future. Back in the day, Sunshine did run a full quarter mile but the starting line was back further and, frankly, cars were slower then. With the 1000-foot surface they will be an NHRA-sanctioned track.
Last Sunday the track held a car show and swap meet and Wednesday May 2nd was the first test ‘n tune session. Of course in this short time there is still much work to be done around the property, but the good news for area racers is that it’s back to racing in their backyard.
Tim Bohart had the unfortunate distinction of being the first car to crash. He hit the wall near the tree after getting crossed up on the burnout. Sad to see an old classic damaged like that; there's always someone to be the first though and we're glad he was okay.
Wednesday’s session was cut a bit short due to rain and a car versus gaurdrail incident, but there was a good turnout to see what’s been going on there with about 25-30 cars o habdand a lot of familiar faces. Several of the staff under the prior management was hired back, including long time announcer Hasley Hood, starter Todd Moroni and track prep man Darren Burns. Darren’s return has many racers pleased as they’re sure he’ll do his best to get the surface in proper order.
Due to the shortened session yesterday and the need for more rubber on the track and getting things going smoothly, another session was run on Thursday with a Street Wars from 8pm to 2am Friday night and racing this Saturday as well. The track has an active Facebook page where they update information daily as well as a website which is still under construction.
Check out some photos from the Showtime opener after the break.