On Tuesday afternoon, Myrtle Beach Speedway unveiled an updated event schedule for the 2020 racing season. That schedule is condensed to six remaining events for the South Carolina facility, with an August 18 event being advertised as “the last race at Myrtle Beach Speedway.”
That event may not prove to be the final race at Myrtle Beach Speedway, according to General Manager Steve Zacharias. However, he expects the facility to close following the 2020 season, whenever it concludes.
In February, the speedway announced on Facebook it had been approached by developers for a potential purchase. At that time, 12 short track racing events remained on the schedule after the season-opening Icebreaker, including the famed Myrtle Beach 400.
A potential purchase was contingent on the rezoning process to allow for development of the facility. According to Zacharias, that process is currently slated to conclude by the end of August, leading to the updated event schedule.
“It is all based on rezoning in the area. Right now, it looks as though, based on the scheduling of rezoning, that will be the final race if and when the rezoning is approved. If, for some reason, it moves a month or two back, but it looks like based on the timing that is the date. If it doesn’t work out on the zoning side or something doesn’t jive with the county, the date could move back a month or two.”
Even if the final race date is ultimately moved, Zacharias is approaching the upcoming months as the last ones for his facility.
“As long as the rezoning happens. In all likelihood, it’s going to.”
Steve Zacharias has been general manager of the facility since 2012, when current owner Bob Lutz was part of an investment group which purchased the historic race track. Zacharias understands Lutz’s decision to sell the race track, but is understandably disappointed after nearly a decade of investing his time and effort into the venue.
“It’s tough. My family has been part of that facility for going on our ninth season. I’ve done a lot of work there. We’ve tried really hard to make the drivers enjoy what they do there and make the facility as best we could, so drivers came and had the best experience they could. As a businessperson, like everyone in the racing world is, it’s part of it.
“It’s a great area. It’s a good location. What they’re trying to build there will be profitable for the people doing it. It’s a bad situation for the racers and myself, but as a business, you can’t fault anyone for what they’re doing.”
Myrtle Beach Speedway was built in 1958, then known as a dirt track named Rambi Raceway. It spent time as both a dirt and pavement track before undergoing its final transformation to pavement. During its early years as a dirt track, it hosted nine events in what is now the NASCAR Cup Series, with Dick Hutcherson winning the final such race in 1965. Other winners in those years included Bob Welborn, Ned Jarrett, Buck Baker, Joe Weatherly, Jack Smith and David Pearson.
From 1988 to 2000, Myrtle Beach Speedway annually hosted what is now the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Rob Moroso, Jimmy Spencer, Mark Martin, Chuck Bown, Jeff Burton, Elton Sawyer, Larry Pearson, David Green, Elliott Sadler, Randy LaJoie and Jeff Green were all NASCAR Busch Series winners at Myrtle Beach.
The track also hosted several touring series over the years, most recently the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour from 2017 to 2019 and the CARS Tour from 2015 to 2018. It also was the home site of the Myrtle Beach 400, one of Late Model Stock Car racing’s crown jewel events. The event was originally part of the Winston All Pro Series, with Jody Ridley winning its inaugural running in 1993.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo