Palm Beach International Raceway


Palm Beach International Raceway
Palm Beach International Raceway
PBIR logo.jpg
Location Palm Beach County, near Jupiter, Florida
Time zone UTC-04
Capacity 6,000
Owner Raymond Graziotto,
Joseph G.
Lubeck
J.C. Solomon II,
Broke ground 1964
Opened 1965
Construction cost $1.5 Million
Architect Martyn Thake, Others
Former names Moroso Motorsports Park
Major events ARCA Remax Series Tire Kingdom 150
IHRA Nitro Jam
Road Course
Surface Asphalt
Length 3.27 km (2.043 mi)
Turns 11
Kart
Surface Asphalt
Length 1.29 km (.8 mi)
Turns 11
Drag Strip
Surface Concrete
Length .402 km (.25 mi)

Palm Beach International Raceway (formerly Moroso Motorsports Park) is a motorsports facility located west of Jupiter, Florida. It is currently awaiting an FIA Grade II Certification.

Contents

History

Early days

The facility opened in 1964,[1] costing a reported $1.5 million to build. The track was originally named "Palm Beach International Raceway" and was owned by local contractor Joe Bucheck Jr. and his brother Edward.[2] In March 1965 the inaugural race was held at the track. Some 10,000 spectators attended the event, which was a series of sports car events.[3]

In September 1965 racing promoter Alec Ullman was set to move the 12 Hour Race In Sebring, which had been hosted at Sebring International Raceway for the previous 16 years, to the facility. Those plans eventually fell through due to the $1.5 million it would cost to expand the site.[4] In November 1969 a controversial rock concert was held at the facility after months of legal battles. During the rock festival artists such as Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, Sly & The Family Stone and Jefferson Airplane performed. Since then, several artists including Eric Clapton have performed there. Another concert featuring Led Zeppelin, Bachman–Turner Overdrive and J. Geils Band was in the works in 1975 but organizers cancelled it when they decided the facility couldn't handle the estimated 50,000 fans that were expected to attend.[5]

In April 1971 the Grand American Series of Professional Drag Racing had one of the first major drag racing events held at the track.[6] The facility hosted an air show November 7, 1971. The Air Force Thunderbirds were scheduled to perform but had to cancel due to flooding on the track. In 1979 famous sports car and Indy 500 racer Lyn St. James made her professional debut at the facility, which ended in a major accident in which her car crashed into the swamps and sank in the mud.[7]

Moroso era

Moroso Motorsports Park in 2003

In 1981 Dick Moroso[8] the owner of Moroso Racing Parts, purchased the track and renamed it "Moroso Motorsports Park." In 1982, Moroso spent a reported $100,000 to upgrade the facility to host the opening event in the SCCA Trans Am Series.[9] The facility was scheduled to host a circus in 1987, but it was cancelled after promoters found out about a poor safety record.

The Facility hosted several SCCA national and regional events. The track was also host to several IHRA and NHRA special events and the "Super Chevy Show" which drew more than 100,000 spectators over the three-day event for several years. The event was later replaced with the "All Chevy Show" which generally occurs in March. In 1996 Moroso considered spending $2 million on a one-mile oval track for stock car racing, but those plans fell through. In 1998, Moroso died from brain cancer and his family inherited ownership of the track. In 2002 MTV filmed a drag racing documentary at the track.[10][11] The Speed Channel show Pinks visited the facility in 2007 to film an episode.

Modernization

In 2008, local motorsports enthusiasts Raymond Graziotto, Joseph G. Lubeck and J.C. Solomon II[12] purchased Moroso Motorsports Park. Later Scott Revell, Ron Dixon—father of Indy Car racer Scott Dixon — and Keith Wilson also became partners. The new owners closed the track, remodelled it into a state-of-the-art motorsports facility and changed the track's name back to "Palm Beach International Raceway." The old facility was completely altered, adding a new road course similar to the original but with some minor modifications. Low-glare lighting was added to the track along with brand new safety barriers and an amount of other upgrades. The track hosted an ARCA Remax Series event[13] and several drag racing events. The facility again hosted to the show "Pinks All Out" on March 6, 2010.[14] The facility also host a wide variety of motorsports events, including "Mud Bog" — an event for ATV and Off Road Enthusiasts — CCS, Radical East USA's racing school, Skip Barber Racing School, the Ferrari Cavallino Classic, Porsche BMW Owner's Club (PBOC) and the Florida Sports Car Championship.

The facility is popular with teams from all forms of racing for testing. Several IndyCar Series teams use the track for winter testing, as do several sports car teams from the Rolex Sports Car Series including locally-based Orbit Racing.[15] Once the track gets its FIA Grade 2 certification it will be eligible to host a wide variety of motorsports events including IndyCar Series, Indy Lights, Grand Am and other major forms of racing.

Facility

Map of the Facility

Road course

The road course's length is 2.043 miles and was designed by Martyn Thake with help from several other in-house designers.[16] It is paved with 5-inch-deep (130 mm) asphalt on an aggregate base. It features a 90-foot-wide (27 m) section on the back straight for adding a chicane in the future. The course is currently awaiting a FIA Class II certification.[17]

Drag strip

The drag strip is an IHRA-sanctioned ¼-mile concrete course[18] built to NHRA specifications, as well.

Kart course

The go-kart track is a 0.8-mile track with three straight and 26-foot-wide (7.9 m) corners. The course is considered a World Karting Association Master Track.[19]

Race winners

Road course


ARCA Remax Series

Year Date Driver Car Make Distance
(miles)
Average Speed
(mph)
Team
2010 February 27 Missouri Justin Marks[20] Dodge 150 73.037 Construct Corps

Incidents and accidents

  • On May 26, 2009, a 9-year-old boy was seriously burned when his go-kart overturned and caught fire. He was rushed to Jackson Memorial Burn Center in Miami in critical condition,[21] The boy's family filed suit against the Palm Beach International Raceway, the track's investors, go-kart maker Carter Brothers, and go-kart engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton for personal injury, after the accident caused the 9-year-old to lose all 10 of his fingers.[22]
  • In January 2010, 18 year old Casey Bicknell crashed his Chevrolet Corvette on the Quarter Mile Drag Strip while travelling over 109 mph. He Sustained a TBI (traumatic brain injury) in the incident and was not expected to survive but is currently in an assisted living facility.[23]

Fatalities

Year Name Location
1967 Theodore Detar Road Course[24]
1976 Randolph Thomas Road Course[25]
1983 Oliver Chandon de Brailles[26] Road Course[27]
1987 Paul Gant Drag Strip[28]
1989 Jack L. Roberts Drag Strip[29]
1989 Leon Backus Drag Strip[30]
1992 Graig Hinton Road Course[31]
1992 Dana Kyle Road Course[32]
1998 John Davis Road Course[33]
1998 Phil Kane Road Course[34]
1999 Mario Robinson Road Course[35]
2001 Greg Russakis Drag Strip[36]
2007 Chris Could Drag Strip[37]
2007 Gary Cole Road Course[38]

Links

References

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  36. ^ "Race Car Driver Killed In Accident". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. February 9, 2001. http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/sun_sentinel/access/68291197.html?dids=68291197:68291197&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Feb+09%2C+2001&author=Staff+Reports&pub=South+Florida+Sun+-+Sentinel&desc=RACE+CAR+DRIVER+KILLED+IN+ACCIDENT&pqatl=google. Retrieved September 1, 2010. 
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Coordinates: 26°55′19.54″N 80°18′20.06″W / 26.9220944°N 80.3055722°W / 26.9220944; -80.3055722


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