Myrtle Beach Speedway Gets New Owners
New owners hope the area's tourism market and Myrtle Beach Speedway's rich NASCAR history will propel the track into a must-see attraction that will also feature a NASCAR Racing Experience opportunity.
The soon-to-be new owners of Myrtle Beach Speedway are hoping that improvements on the track and the addition of a new program that allows fans to drive a stock car will lure new fans and bigger races to the area.
Speedway Group Inc. - which consists of Leonard Ray Watts, owner of Apex Homes, Inc., based in Cornelius, N.C.; Bob Lutz, president and CEO of the NASCAR Racing Experience in Concord, N.C.; and Marshall Biddle, president of the Biddle Law Firm in Carolina Forest - has a contract to purchase the speedway, located just off U.S. 501 near the Tanger Outlets, and the estimated 48-acre property from co-owners Nick Lucas and Billy Hardee.
The group is hoping to take advantage of Myrtle Beach's tourism market and the track's rich NASCAR history to propel the speedway into a must-see attraction as it was back in the 1980s and '90s.
"We want to be one of those destination tracks," Watts said.
"It'll be a good shot in the arm economically for the area."
One of the many highlights of the deal will bring NASCAR Racing Experience to the speedway. The Racing Experience allows fans to drive an authentic stock car formerly driven by one of their NASCAR heroes.
"There's a lot we can do with the facility," Lutz said. "It'll surprise a lot of people."
There are plans to make several upgrades to the facility - Steel and Foam Energy Reduction (SAFER) barriers, new fencing, and the possibility of repaving the track - in an effort to draw more fans, drivers and possibly some of the top series in NASCAR.
"There's quite a bit that has to be done," Watts said. "I think it's going to cost a good bit of money. We're committed to getting after it."
It also means the end of an era for Lucas and Hardee. Lucas bought the speedway in 1968 and had the dirt track paved in 1974. Lucas brought on Hardee as a co-owner in 1987.
"We had some good times and some bad times," Lucas said.
"I met some of the finest people in the world with the racing folks. But time goes along and you start getting that gray hair and it's time to let somebody else handle it ... who has the time and has the money. It's been an experience."
The new owners stressed that while they are looking to new ways to lure fans to the track, that their No. 1 goal is revitalize the weekly series that races from April to November.
Biddle said the new ownership plans to increase the size of the purse for the drivers, make transponders available to help teams track lap times, and streamline the communication between the drivers and track officials.
"We want the drivers and the teams to have a voice," Biddle said. "We don't want to add another level of bureaucracy."
And despite all of the renovations and upgrades that are expected, new ownership isn't expecting any major changes in prices for fans to attend.