Palm Beach Lost Its Drag Strip Last Year: The County May Have Found a New One
Denver’s Bandimere Drag Strip closing on Saturday leaves many drag racing enthusiasts thinking, “Which strip is next to go?” That’s what Palm Beach International Raceway fans were thinking with its closing last year. But both strips may have a fairy tale ending. Bandimere may build an even bigger racing facility outside of Denver. In Palm Beach, a temporary new home may be around the corner.
A Palm Beach county commissioner says a runway at Palm Beach Glades Airport could become the next local drag strip. There are a few caveats. But at least someone in a position of authority is doing something to benefit Florida drag racers.
What will it take for this temporary Palm Beach drag strip?
First, the runway can only be in use one day a week. So, it is not a permanent course, with the airport closing on race day. The idea would need to receive Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval.
“Right now, we have a lot of street racing, and they need, I believe, a safe place to go,” Palm Beach County Commissioner Sara Baxter told 12 News. “Does that mean everybody who street races will go there? Absolutely not. But ultimately, this will provide the people who want a safe, legal place to race to get off the streets until we have the Twenty Mile Bend project potentially done.”
What’s the Twenty Mile Bend project?
The Twenty Mile Bend project is a plan to create a racing facility on a 128-acre site inside Palm Beach. Though the project is facing headwinds from local residents, others in Palm Beach have given the idea a thumbs up.
A public meeting just took place this week to gauge the residents’ feelings about the idea. Around 200 people were in attendance, including NHRA Southeast Division Director Cody Savage. “With Palm Beach International being gone the past few years, you’ve seen an uptick in safety issues with street racing and things like that, let alone the economic impact that the racetrack itself could bring to a community with jobs and sponsor dollars,” he said. “You know, recreation spending.”
What will Florida drag racers know if this plan is a go?
“These street racers, the reason they race in the street is because they have nowhere to go,” said local resident Madelyn Marconi. “So by giving them a place to race and to bring the cars that they’ve worked on and the souped-up cars that they have, it allows them to do it safely.” Enthusiasts know all of this yet are frustrated that other municipalities don’t also recognize the differences between having local strips to race and not having any.
Back to the airport strip, Commissioner Baxter is expecting to hear back from the FAA next month. So we’ll know soon enough if this temporary plan can actually move forward. As for a drag race at a permanent home, we’ll keep you posted.