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Myrtle Beach Speedway clears first hurdle in paving way for sale, new life for property

Myrtle Beach Speedway

Myrtle Beach Speedway

BY DAVID WETZEL


Horry County Council began paving the way Tuesday evening for the completion of a pending sale of Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Council passed the first reading of a rezoning request that the speedway needs to complete the sale of the property to a Charlotte, North Carolina-based developer. The rezoning request will need to pass two further readings to be completed.

The developer would turn the iconic short track into a commercial and housing development if the rezoning request is approved, according to track owner Bob Lutz.

Lutz said the property is zoned for commercial development, and the sale is contingent upon the rezoning request being passed by Horry County Council to allow the residential element to be built.

In recent months, Lutz and speedway general manager Steve Zacharias have expressed confidence that the deal will go through, and have said an Aug. 15 farewell race is already planned.

Zacharias recently announced that the newly-formed Speedway Plus Production, LLC — owned by him, Brian Vause and Savannah Brotherton — has agreed to buy Florence Motor Speedway from owner/operator Charlie Powell.

“It isn’t an easy decision to do that but the problem is it’s getting harder and harder for short tracks to survive, and the reason why is because we’re just not getting the attendance that they used to years ago,” Lutz told The Sun News in February. “It makes it hard, because you struggle and do everything you can. I think me and my team have shown that we have put 100 percent effort into building the speedway and making it successful and making it a great place for people to race at, and even though we’ve put in all the effort it still continues to lose money.”

The speedway is off U.S. 501 North, a couple miles west of the Intracoastal Waterway, and has been part of the Myrtle Beach community since it opened in 1958.

The track is slightly longer than a half-mile, hosted the NASCAR Cup series in its early years and NASCAR’s secondary Busch Series (now the Xfinity Series) annually as late as 2000.

It has hosted many of NASCAR’s top names over the years and was the home track of Dale Earnhardt Jr. early in his racing career.

But Lutz said attendance at the track has waned, and he hasn’t been able to turn a profit with the property in recent years. He has brought in other events — such as the Horry County Fair — in an attempt to supplement the racing losses, he said.

“It is so expensive to operate a facility like that, we continue losing money year after year and just at some point you have to say we tried with everything we possibly could and realize that without people in the stands you’re never going to be able to survive,” Lutz said in February. “So the people that say, ‘Why is it going away?’ and ‘We wish it would stay,’ I wish those people would support us week after week and we wouldn’t have to do this.”

According to Horry County land records Myrtle Beach Speedway is 45.5 acres and the county estimates the value to be approximately $2.17 million.

Lutz purchased the speedway in 2012 with two partners in Shark Investments LLC for $2.5 million, he confirmed, and said he bought his partners out to become the sole owner shortly after the purchase.

He also operates the NASCAR Experience and Mario Andretti Racing Experience businesses and owns an outdoor go-kart and miniature golf park in the Charlotte area.

BY DAVID WETZEL / MYRTLE BEACH SUN NEWS / Posted JULY 14, 2020 08:07 PM – David Wetzel serves in both editor and reporter roles for The Sun News