After more than 50 years in Pinellas County, Clearwater’s Showtime Speedway and Dragstrip was spared the wrecking ball this week, thanks to State Sen. Jack Latvala.
The Clearwater Republican announced Friday he has secured assurances from the Florida Department of Transportation that the speedway and dragstrip will not be closed.
At one point, the FDOT – which owns the land off Ulmerton Boulevard – plan to close the quarter-mile track and dragstrip to make room for the $705 million Gateway Expressway project connecting Bayside bridge and Interstate 275.
Formerly known as Sunshine Speedway, Showtime Speedway opened in 1960. The land was purchased by the state in 2004 for $20 million.
“Showtime Speedway and Dragstrip are a part of Pinellas County’s history and the state’s racing history,” Latvala said during a news conference. “Drivers from NASCAR legend Bobby Allison to David Reutimann have come through here and families have enjoyed evenings at the track for decades.”
Latvala also pointed out the employment opportunities, adding he was “happy to say the future of this local institution is no longer in doubt.”
Gateway Expressway will move forward, he said, with a new road running along the western edge of Showtime.
Showtime track operator Bob Yoho praised the move: “Racing is a family sport and the Showtime Speedway family is grateful to the Senator for stepping up to make sure racing has a future in our community. When Sunshine closed down it put a lot of people out of work and over the last five years, the momentum’s been building.”
“Now that the track is truly back,” Yoho said, “we can start planning for the long-term.”
Located at 4550 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater, the track’s current entrance is on the west side of the facility off 126th Avenue N.