Palm Beach International Raceway
Palm Beach International Raceway is a motorsports facility located near Jupiter, in Palm Beach County in Florida. The facility features 11-turn 2.043-mile (3.27km) road course, 0.8-mile kart course and quarter-mile drag strip.
The PBIR was opened in 1964 and since then it was mostly known as the venue of the IHRA and NHRA-sanctioned drag races. The road course never hosted any of major international racing series, only some American competitions (Trans Am, ARCA Series, USF2000 Championship…)
Drag race was the first event at Palm Beach Raceway
The Palm Beach International Raceway was built in 1964 by local contractors Joe Bucheck Jr and his brother Edward. The raceway was located near the Pratt &Whitney engine factory. The original facility had a 2.25-mile road course and drag strip, which hosted the first NHRA race in October 1964. In March 1965, the raceway hosted its first SCCA sports car events at a road course.
Palm Beach almost replaced Sebring
After a disastrous 12 hours of Sebring event in March 1966, with four spectators and one driver being killed, the promoter Alec Ullman wanted to move the race from Sebring International Raceway to Palm Beach. The contract was signed for new Florida Grand Prix of Endurance but the Palm Beach Raceway had to be reconstructed. The cost would be $1.5 million, what was also the cost of construction two years ago. Unfortunately, bad weather conditions delayed a start of reconstruction and the contract was canceled, so the endurance race stayed in Sebring.
Palm Beach International Raceway lost a chance to became really an international racing venue, remaining the host for SCCA and other minor events alongside its drag races. In 1969 and then during the 1970s the circuit became famous because of few big rock concerts and festivals.
Moroso Motor Sports Park since 1981
By the beginning of the 1980s, the circuit was in poor shape. In 1981, Dick Moroso purchased the track and renamed it to Moroso Motor Sports Park. Moroso spent around $200,000 on essential repairs and circuit continued to host SCCA car races and AMA motorcycle events. In 1983, Palm Beach hosted Trans-Am Series, with Gene Felton winning the race. One of the participants was a Hollywood star Paul Newman.
It remained the only Trans-Am visit to Palm Beach. After that, the track built up a reputation as a good testing venue, so many IMSA and IndyCar teams were coming there during the winter months. To attract people to the circuit, Moroso launched the Super Chevy Show, the premier national event for Chevrolet enthusiasts. About 100,000 people attended the event over three days.
Popular race track for TV shows
Dick Moroso died in 1998 and his family inherited ownership. Nothing changed in racing schedule, with regional races on the road course and national drag events on the drag strip. During 2001 and 2002, the road course was slightly modified with few chicanes.
The Palm Beach Raceway was popular for TV shows and commercials during the 1980s and that popularity rose again during the 2000s. MTV filmed a drag racing documentary in 2002 and the circuit was used as the backdrop for an episode of the Speed Channel’s Pinks show in 2007. In 2007, the famous BBC’s Top Gear show filmed their USA Special at Palm Beach.
Old name and new road course since 2008
In 2008, one more ownership change followed. A group of local motorsports enthusiasts purchased Moroso Motorsports Park. They changed the track’s name back to Palm Beach International Raceway. The track was closed for a few months because of reconstruction. The new 2.043-mile road course was opened, separated from the drag strip.
The new circuit was re-opened in October 2008 and it became popular for club racing and regional events. The first national racing event followed in February 2010, with a round of the ARCA Remax Series. The race winner was Justin Marks. It was the one-off appearance of stock cars at Palm Beach.
Testing facility and driving schools venue
In recent years, of notable competitions only the USF2000 Championship appeared there. During the USF2000 race, Spencer Pigot set the lap record, achieving a time 1.12.783. Except for races, the Palm Beach Raceway are hosting a variety of motorsports events but also the Skip Barber Racing School. Because of mild climate, it again profiles as a testing venue for IndyCar and IMSA teams.
Video : A lap around Palm Beach Raceway
Address: Palm Beach International Raceway, 17047 Bee Line Highway, Jupiter, FL 33478, USA
Phone: +1 561 622-1400
Official website: www.racepbir.com