Just a few weeks ago, the gates at Myrtle Beach Speedway closed for the final time, with its last racing event contested on August 15-16. Now, former Myrtle Beach Speedway General Manager Steve Zacharias is part of the new ownership group at another South Carolina short track, Florence Motor Speedway.
Zacharias, Brian Vause, and Savannah Brotherton formed Speedway Plus Production, LLC, which purchased Florence Motor Speedway in July. Now, they are ready for their first event at their new home on Friday, September 4.
It’s been a lot of work in a very short amount of time for the group, preparing to go racing at a new venue just weeks after closing historic Myrtle Beach. However, Zacharias is excited about the progress already achieved going into Friday’s race.
“It’s just been crazy. We’re a month and a half behind where I wanted to be, but we got a lot done in two weeks,” Zacharias told Speed51. “The new aluminum grandstands are completed. There’s one section we weren’t able to complete this round, but it’s half-complete.
“We’ve painted all the walls, cleaned all the buildings. Cleaned the surface, got rid of tires, we’ve done a lot in a short period of time.”
Typically, preparations going into a new season take place during the winter offseason. However, very little has been typical in 2020, and that is especially true for Speedway Plus Production, LLC. taking over mid-season.
Much of the preparation has taken place underneath South Carolina’s unforgiving summer sun, but that hasn’t lessened the team’s spirit.
“It’s been hot, that’s the first thing I notice when we’re out here. When you’re excited about something, it doesn’t feel like work. We’re enjoying every day coming here. I’ll be excited when everyone gets here and has that new sense of relief.”
Closing Myrtle Beach Speedway, opened in 1958 and managed by Zacharias for nearly a decade, proved emotional for everyone involved. However, many that day took solace in the transition to Florence, knowing the Myrtle Beach racing family would stay together.
“With Myrtle Beach closing, it was kind of frustrating and kind of a sad day. Hopefully, we can turn around and start something new, the future of Florence Motor Speedway, with our friends and family at Myrtle Beach Speedway.”
Zacharias knows there will be unforeseen challenges. The first big change he has noticed is that Florence, a 4/10-mile oval, will not be as spacious as his former home, which will present some logistical hurdles.
“Downsizing a little bit, track-wise, will be a challenge at first with haulers, who parks where and when. We’re not going to have as much free reign as we did at the Beach. I think, every event, you’re going to see something new happen.
“I’m sure there are things we’ll do and wish we had done differently. We’ll come back to them, address them the next event. We’ll do the best we can to put together this event. Hopefully everyone enjoys it, and then we’ll make our phone calls and move together in the future.”
Still, Zacharias is excited for the new challenge, and the opportunity for his team to act as owner and operator of Florence. While he spoke highly of former Myrtle Beach Speedway owner Bob Lutz and their time together, he is enjoying the freedom of being able to represent Florence entirely.
“Bob was great to us and had complete ownership of the place and gave us free reign to do stuff. He was very accommodating.
“[Now], being able to have those conversations with Brian [Vause], Savannah and myself and make those decisions and feel comfortable, I’m looking forward to doing it for ourselves, with everyone that built the Myrtle Beach Speedway.”
Race fans worldwide will be able to watch a new era of racing begin at Florence Motor Speedway this Friday night live on Speed51.TV. A live broadcast will be available to monthly and yearly subscribers.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Florence Motor Speedway (Facebook)