Fans of the Palm Beach International Raceway have started petitions to save the iconic facility located along the Beeline Highway west of Jupiter and north of The Acreage. So far, they have collected more than 16,000 signatures.
The raceway recently came up for sale, creating concern from motorsports enthusiasts that they will lose their only local racing venue.
Al Guibord owns a racing company, Formula Race Promotions, that is bidding to buy the property. Other bidders are also looking at the property, including several who have indicated that they want to convert it to industrial space.
“I think we’re the only bidder that wants to keep it a track,” Guibord said. “All the other bidders were looking to turn it into industrial warehouse space.”
He explained that Formula Race Promotions owns several race car series that travel around the country.
“We’ve rented Palm Beach International before, and I’ve personally raced there since the early 1990s, so I’m very, very familiar with the facility,” Guibord said. “Our plan is to keep it operational as a racetrack but enhance it tremendously, including a major facilities reinvestment that would include bringing water and sewer to the site and constructing a first-class clubhouse that would be able to house a museum, banquets and function hall capabilities, a restaurant and more.”
His firm also wants to put up a “garage condominium” to store cars. “It’s a formula that has been successful in other parts of the country,” Guibord said. “We would look to turn it into an iconic destination for the county.”
He said his company would bring a seasoned staff that is specifically focused on auto sports.
“This is a passion for us, and we have a group of senior management that has done this before and have a clear vision of what that facility could be,” Guibord said.
He added that between two petitions that are being circulated, more than 16,000 people have signed so far, including high-level supporters, such as Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner.
“I think the biggest problem was that a lot of people didn’t even realize the track was for sale,” Guibord said. “Now that they’re realizing that it’s for sale and could be transformed into a warehouse and distribution center, our point is we’re not against a warehouse and distribution center. It’s fantastic that the area is growing, and they need those kinds of projects. Our point is there’s plenty of other alternative sites that you can do that in. Once you get rid of the racetrack, you’re never going to get another one permitted and approved in the area.”
The 200-acre Palm Beach International Raceway dates back to 1965 with a rich history. Guibord said there is a tremendous amount of unused space at the site to make it a true events center.
“Some of the stuff that we’re capable of doing are multi-day events,” he said. “It’s not just racing. It could be very similar to the equestrian festival in Wellington.”
Evie Calcagno of Loxahatchee and her family are auto racers and have been going to the Palm Beach International Raceway for 25 years.
Her husband and daughter both participate in race events at the track. She is circulating one of the petitions to keep the raceway open.
“This is the only track local to our area where people can actually go and race their cars,” Calcagno said. “Any other track is over an hour’s distance away.”
She said auto racing has become a family activity that keeps the younger ones out of trouble.
“The whole family goes to the track, it’s a day thing,” Calcagno said. “Kids learn responsibility… It keeps the kids off the streets. You don’t want them driving fast on the regular roads. That just leads to disaster. Nothing good is going to come out of that. It’s really a safe place for them.”
Her 16-year-old daughter drives a junior dragster.
“Eventually, my 8-year-old son will drive that as well,” Calcagno said. “My husband has a 1963 Corvette and a 1970 Dodge Dart.”
She feels the raceway has the potential to bring in a lot more participation than it does, particularly in the winter when it’s too cold to race up north.
“In February or March, the professional drag cars come out, so we have all the top fuel cars,” Calcagno said. “They show them on ESPN and ABC. The professional drag car racers come here in the winter months. It’s kind of like we have the equestrian season. They come here in the winter months to start practicing and tuning their cars because they can’t do it in North Carolina or Tennessee, or those places where it’s snowing. We could have more of those events here.”