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Myrtle Beach Speedway’s run is expected to come to an end however its heart and soul will live on a little ways up the road

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Myrtle Beach Speedway

Myrtle Beach Speedway’s run is expected to come to an end However, its heart and soul will live on a little ways up the road


With MBS set to close after racing Aug. 15, the track’s general manager, Steve 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.

“I think the ultimate plan is to pick up what we’re doing right now standing in the middle of Myrtle Beach Speedway and put it in the middle of Florence,” Zacharias said. “I don’t know if I’d try to change anything or make anything better. We’ve had a lot of success and we’ll try to duplicate it up there.”

Zacharias declined to discuss the financial details of the purchase, but stated that racing under the new ownership group will begin at the track on Sept. 4.

Driver Eric Joyner, who’s raced at Myrtle Beach Speedway some 28 years, said he’s talked to a good number of track regulars who plan to follow Zacharias and Co. to Florence.

“I’m excited to know that Steve and his people will be taking FMS over. They do a good job of making and sticking to a schedule.” Joyner said, adding that the purchase gave the drivers’ collective morale a boost after being hit with the news that MBS would be closing. “For me and my teammates, it will be good to make a change and still have some familiarity there as well.”

Myrtle Beach Speedway is expected to close after the Aug. 15 Sun Fun 101 as a sales contract with a developer based in Charlotte, North Carolina, who is expected to build a combination of a commercial and residential development, is pending a zoning change. Plans for MBS’s rezoning went in front of Horry County’s Planning Commission on June 25 and, though no decision was made, track officials have said in recent months they’ve received positive feedback from Horry County brass that has them confident the changes will be approved.

FMS, which was supposed to begin its season in late March, didn’t get back to racing until June 27 due to the coronavirus and S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s executive orders that came with it. The Pee Dee track held its final weekend of racing under Powell’s leadership over the Fourth of July weekend, paving the way for SPP’s transition.

Zacharias said that previous to SPP agreeing to buy FMS, he and his partners did their research, which included gauging MBS drivers’ interest in doing some racing about an hour and a half away in the future.

“I wasn’t going to jump in first without seeing if there’s water at the bottom,” Zacharias said, adding that he’s gotten confirmation that many MBS drivers will attend some of Florence’s initial races in the fall.

Zacharias, who’s in his ninth year at MBS, said that he began to weigh his options when news that the track, owned by Bob Lutz, was likely to be in its final season. Options he pondered were the possibility of a new track in the area, buying another one elsewhere or leaving the racing business for a more typical 9-5 job.

Ultimately, his family decided to stay in the racing business.

“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve loved Myrtle Beach Speedway forever. It is what it is. It’s a business decision. You can’t fault them,” Zacharias said of the pending sale. “When this came up, I talked to my wife and my kids and said ‘What do you guys think?’ We came to a unanimous decision that we’d keep racing.”

Zacharias and Co. plan to bring many of the recent staples of Myrtle Beach Speedway — such as a fair, monster trucks and car shows — with them to Florence.

“There is no doubt that the formula that has been so successful over the last nearly decade at Myrtle Beach Speedway will be a big influence at FMS,” said Mike Neff, a fundraiser at The Racing Brotherhood Foundation and former MBS director of sales and marketing, a role he has been hired to serve in at FMS. “Many of the racers have told Steve and Brian that they will support them wherever they go. With Florence being (about) an hour from Myrtle Beach, many racers can make the drive easily.”

Zacharias acknowledged that there will be a learning process in taking over another track. However, he believes having a blueprint of success to work from will help as all get adjusted in the fall.

“Racing’s great, but the fairs and the car shows are the life blood of the facility,” he said.

Zacharias said FMS, a .4-mile layout located at 836 E. Smith Street in Timmonsville, will regain its status as a NASCAR-sanctioned track in 2021. Myrtle Beach Speedway, a little over half-mile track built in 1958 that previously hosted Cup Series races, has the same affiliation to NASCAR.

While the purchase means goodbye for several of MBS’s staples over the years, Zacharias said he’s enjoyed his nearly-decade stay at the track, which has had its good times and tough times over the years.

“It’s been great. I’ve met a lot of great people, good friends,” Zacharias said before mentioning some track regulars who died, such as Jackie Ward and Bob Walker, on its premises in recent years. “There’s been tears and there’s been happiness.”
BY DAVID WETZEL \ JULY 11, 2020 10:48 AM

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