Hurricane Florence impacted the Carolinas last weekend, leaving behind historical flooding and significant damage in many areas. That impact stretched into the racing world, as local tracks are now tasked with assessing the damage and determining the future of their 2018 racing programs.
Fayetteville Motor Speedway (NC) has been hit particularly hard by the storm, facing damage from both the wind and rain that deluged the Carolinas over the weekend.
“It’s pretty rough right now,” Fayetteville Motor Speedway Promoter Jim Long told Speed51.com. “Nothing we can’t fix. We’ve just got some flooding. It looks like it tried to pick the roof up off the tower. We’ve got quite a bit of water in it. Water in our concession stands and the VIP tower above the concession stand.
“Just a lot of water,” Long added. “The water in the infield is drying up already. More water than I’ve ever seen in the infield. Tore a lot of fencing up. We’ve got a bunch of signs down. The lack of power around the track is the biggest issue. We’ve got generators running trying to keep the food in our freezers.”
Long checked on the track several times during the hurricane and saw first-hand some of the damage as it unfolded.
“[The scoring tower] sits up on a hill,” Long explained. “Whatever wind you’ve got, it blows a lot higher up there. I was actually up here during part of the storm. The wind was blowing directly straight from the back-straightaway to the front-straightaway and hitting everything flush. It tried to lift the roof off a little bit and opened some gaps. It’s definitely stressed, the roof up there.”
Unfortunately, the Fayetteville area is still facing the effects of Florence. The Cape Fear River, which runs through Fayetteville, is expected to crest Wednesday at nearly 30 feet above flood stage levels.
“Other than that, the biggest thing right now is the river in town is not scheduled to finish cresting until Wednesday sometime,” Long said. “They’re predicting it’s going to crest higher than it did with Hurricane Matthew. We’re concerned about that for the rest of our town. It’s a lot of devastation around here. Not so much the wind and that stuff but the flooding around the community.
“Flood stage is 35 feet and it is expected to crest around 63 feet,” Long adeed. “It crested around 58 feet during Matthew, which is the worst flooding we’ve ever seen. It’s difficult times for everybody right now.”
Fayetteville Motor Speedway announced Tuesday night that this weekend’s racing has been canceled due to current conditions.
“We’re not a priority for the Public Works Commmission because we’re a commercial business and they’re trying to get all the residents power,” Long said. “There’s still quite a few thousand without power. They’ve restored power to the area, but two of the main lines feeding power to the track have been ripped down. The track’s in pretty bad shape, it’s going to take a lot of work.
“Next weekend is in questions for numerous reasons. I-95 to the north and south of us is closed. I just got word it won’t be open until the 26th of September. It’s a lot of stuff to try and figure out, so it’s tough to speculate a couple of weeks away.”
Myrtle Beach Speedway (SC) fared much better in the storm and has now turned to helping the Myrtle Beach area as it deals with the storm.
“We’re working on some stuff that came up in the last couple of days, helping some local people with hurricane relief,” said Myrtle Beach Speedway General Manager Steve Zacharias. “As far as the speedway, it fared okay. A few things down, the infield flooded. We’re working on some stuff trying to help some people right now.
“A couple of billboards in turn one and two, some signs in front of the tech building,” Zacharias said, listing the damages. “Nothing devastating. There’s a couple of local groups needing help, and we’re trying to assist with that now. They just need land to get stuff out of flooded areas and bring them somewhere safe. There’s no spot in the Wilmington, Florence, Dillon area. They’re just looking for land.”
Without a scheduled race until October 20, Myrtle Beach Speedway has shut down its NASCAR Racing Experience program to divert all of its resources towards community relief.
“We’re trying to accommodate right now,” Zacharias said. “It’s a balancing act. We just announced we had to close the NASCAR Racing Experience. We don’t have much in this half of the year. We shut that down for the rest of the year just so we could have the space without having people come through it as well.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Fayetteville Motor Speedway