Florida’s Palm Beach International Raceway has been a continual source of rumors in recent months, as word of a potential sale to land developers has spread from the locals out to the drag racing community at large. And now those rumors appear they could be true, as news media outlets out of the Jupiter area indicate that a contract is now in place between the builder of distribution warehouses and the ownership of the multi-purpose raceway.
According to NewsRadio WFLA, a group known as Formula Race Promotions bid a staggering $55 million — a number we would have to question the validity of for a racetrack without any high-value racing events — but was denied, losing out to the warehouse development bid. Formula Race Promotions’ owner Al Guibord told The Town-Crier earlier this month that his group was the only party with an interest in keeping PBIR a racetrack, as other groups who had shown interest or produced bids were seeking to convert the 149-acre property into industrial space.
More than 16,000 people signed a petition urging support for the continuing use of the property for racing — among them were numerous celebrities, car enthusiasts, local residents, and city leaders, and included rapper Pitbull, former Indy 500 champion Danny Sullivan, and musician John Oates of Hall & Oates fame.
According to the Palm Beach Post, industrial land is in high demand in the greater Miami region, as a boom in e-commerce has driven retail giants like Amazon and Wal-Mart to “gobble up land for warehouse space needed to fulfill rising demand from customer orders.” Likewise, with the pandemic driving property values nationwide to record highs, it no doubt entices racetrack owners to cash in while the price is right.
Per the Palm Beach Post, the property is zoned for industrial use, but it still would need county site plan approval to be redeveloped for purposes other than racing.
The proposed sale has the attention of Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who expressed in a statement his concerns that the loss of the raceway could lead to more illegal street racing.
“If this racetrack is lost, it means we could see an increase in drag racing, motorcycle racing and reckless driving on our neighborhood streets and highways, which could lead to senseless fatalities.”
Palm Beach International Raceway is located Northwest of the city of Palm Beach on Beeline Highway — a flat, straight four-lane roadway that locals say is void of stoplights and rarely patrolled, making it a prime target for local car enthusiasts who would be left out in the cold — figuratively speaking — with the pending demolition of the racetrack.
Built for a sum of $1.5 million, PBIR was opened in the spring of 1965 and held various drag racing, sports car, and open wheel contests, as well as several major concerts. In 1981, Dick Moroso, of Moroso Performance Products fame, purchased and renamed the facility, and it didn’t change hands again until 2008, when a group of local motorsports enthusiasts bought and remodeled it into a state-of-the-art motorsports facility and reverted its name back to “Palm Beach International Raceway.”
The IHRA-sanctioned 1/4-mile dragstrip is part of a complex that also includes a 10-turn, 2.2-mile road course, 0.8-mile autocross course, 7/10-mile kart track, and a mud bog track. In addition to E.T. bracket racing and road course races, it hosts various driving schools and driving experience events.