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Showtime Speedway
Robert Yoho (L) interviews Davey Hamilton prior to a 2014 $7500-to-win winged sprint car event at Showtime Speedway.


Showtime Speedway

By: Pavement Pounders

Showtime Speedway promoter Robert Yoho is a promotor in every sense. The Pinellas Park, Florida resident is stubborn, but at the end of the day, he has the racers and fans best interest at hand. Yoho has big visions, and most of the time they become reality.

“Showtime” as he is nicknamed, was awarded the lease to the former Sunshine Speedway just prior to the 2012 racing season. Yoho promptly renamed the historic track near Saint Petersburg, Florida Showtime Speedway, and history has continued ever since.

Yoho isn’t afraid to put on big events. In 2013 he hosted the inaugural “Southern Figure 8 World Finals”. He attempted to lure Indianapolis based Late Model Figure 8 cars to the state of Florida with the chance to race in the winter. The purse was modest. The idea worked and this February the event will celebrate its 8th running with the winner guaranteed to go home with $15,000.

Yoho had another vision. Sprint cars from the north battling the local BG Products Southern Sprint Car Shootout Series drivers at Showtime Speedway during Florida Speedweeks. He announced the inaugural “Dave Steele World Non-Wing Sprint Car Championship 125”. The non-wing sprint car event will see 125 laps of feature event action with the winner collecting $5,000 for their efforts on February 20. It’s been over a decade since 410 pavement sprint cars have competed in the state of Florida.

At first, the idea seemed crazy. What Florida promoter would be willing to pay a sprint car purse of well over $25,000 on a Thursday night? Probably nobody except Mr. “Showtime” himself. If anybody can pull this off and put fans in the stands, its Yoho.

Yoho is notorious for his Facebook Live videos where he’s challenging northern Figure 8 drivers, and in particular, Mark Tunny. He claims he’s got something for these guys as Yoho occasionally competes at his own track. Then after he goes through his rants he screams “Wooooooo…. Showtime Speedway” before informing fans his track is where it’s all gonna happen on Saturday night. He’s not as crazy as his live videos suggest, he’s a savvy promoter who knows how to use social media to his advantage. He takes it right to the fan. There is a method to his madness.

When Yoho recently announced that right rear tire prices would only be $195 plus tax for this event, he promptly received phone calls from individuals associated with other pavement sprint car racing around the country that are selling the exact same Hoosier 450 for far more than Yoho, and are not happy with him.

“We seem to have a problem with tire pricing” Yoho explained during a Showtime Speedway Facebook live video on February 2.” There are a couple of people making things hard and there are a couple of other series. I’m in a little hot water over the Hoosier Tires right now. Im gonna put it to you this way. Showtime Speedway is going to have a non-wing sprint car race. This year we’re only paying $5,000 to win. Next year I hope to bump it up to $7,500.

As a promoter, I wanna draw the cars here. The way I gotta do it is I gotta work on being a racer and a racers friend. Try to make it fair, try to make it affordable, and try to give them back enough money to come down here. We can rip the pit gate to $75-$100, $400 for a tire, or charge entry fees. The object is to not do that. Being a promoter is not about getting every car here, it’s about getting people in the stands.

I’ve been yelled at for my tires being too cheap. But I send my people up there to get the tires and bring them back. It doesn’t cost me the same as someone who must freight them in. My prices might be a little cheaper. I’ve seen some of the bill’s racers have been paying for the exact same tire. $217, $235, and I’m not sure why? It’s irrelevant what I’m paying or tires. I’m still making money. I understand I’m the cheapest. But truthfully, I think it’s still too damn much for a race tire. It’s important we don’t charge the racers anymore for fuel and tries than I have to” concluded Yoho

Yoho is smart. He understands you need cars to put people in the stands. Gauging racers because you can, is unacceptable in his eyes. He is a front gate promoter and spends his efforts on getting fans in the stands. Keeping costs down for the racers and creating a level playing field is very important to Yoho. He has gone to great lengths to keep tire soaking out of this event and will impound the right rear tire until just before qualifying.

The initial response to the “Dave Steele World Non-Wing Sprint Car Championship 125” has been positive. To date, Bobby Santos III, Kody Swanson, Aaron Pierce, Kyle O’Gara, Joe Liguori, Shane Butler, Johnny Gilbertson, and John Inman have already committed to run the February 20 event, as well as the 30-lap tune-up race the day before.

In this day in age, Yoho is a breath of fresh air in a sport clouded by huge operational costs to the racers. He gets the big picture and understands keeping the costs down for the racers will translate into bigger car counts, bigger crowds, and eventually bigger events with larger purses.