The state of affairs for Orlando - and short track racing in general


OK. So I don’t get to the races as often as I’d like, due to work schedules.

However…I’ve been around the Florida short track racing scene for over 35 years now. Started out at Palm Beach and Hialeah - gone. Dad got involved as a crew member and crew chief in about, oh, '75 or so, down south. Seen it all in the last 35 years: Melbourne, Palm Beach, Vero, Ft. Pierce, Tampa (the 'Gate and the Fairgrounds), St. Pete…all gone. Orlando seems to be on the verge of almost gone. How many asphalt short tracks do we have left in this state that are currently running? Orlando, New Smyrna, Auburndale, Inverness, Punta Gorda, Bradenton, and Pensacola. That’s all I can think of right off-hand. SEVEN paved short tracks. That’s it. If I missed any, please let me know. At one time, we had:
Hialeah, Palm Beach, Orlando, Eau Gallie, Vero, Ft. Pierce, New Smyrna, St. Pete, Bradenton, Inverness, Auburndale, Tampa (Golden Gate), Bronson, St. Augustine, Volusia (paved), Naples <?> (Collier County?), Miami-Hollywood, Pensacola, old Orlando…and I’m sure many more that I may have missed. Granted, not all of these tracks all ran at the same time period…but that’s still a LOT of tracks that we’ve lost over the years.

I want to first of all say, by no means, am I a promoter, a track owner, a race director, or official, nor am I affiliated with any sanctioning group or race series. Here’s some of my thoughts as a LONG-TIME race fan wishing to see short track racing of all kinds survive in this state. This “rant”, if you will, will pertain to Orlando mostly, but could go for just about any track.


Why are there no fans in the stands in one of the biggest metro areas in the state, if not the country (with all of the tourism here in central Florida)? Does anyone that races or comes out to watch the races at Orlando Speed World come west of I-4 besides me (when I can get over there)?

No cars in the pits? Is it the payouts keeping cars, drivers, and owners away?

Why is there no REAL promotion for what should be a great facility? You can only do so much - and reach only so many people - on a very dedicated (i.e., reaching a very small minority of racers) message board.

Is there a weekly printed race program that fans can buy at the track - and kids can get autographed after the races?

Are there any “Orlando Speed World” T-shirts at the souvenir stand? Is there even a souvenir stand any more at the track? Can fans still buy photos of their favorite drivers at the track?

The grandstands…man…the last time I was at Orlando (Orange Blossom), the grandstands looked like they could use some new life. The seating (wood) definitely needs to be replaced in a lot of places.

Get a new scoreboard…< :wink: >

One thing I’ve suggested a few times on here (and of course, not sure if it goes anywhere else from here…) is that Orlando could use a HUGE stand-alone Super Late Model race weekend. Something that doesn’t conflict with New Smyrna, or Pensacola, or Auburndale, or Punta Gorda, or Bradenton, or Inverness. BRING BACK A REAL ORANGE BLOSSOM 100 weekend. Practice on Friday night for all divisions. Saturday afternoon, more SLM practice. Saturday night, run SLM heat races to determine the starting lineup for the 100, and pay good money to win a heat (or even the top three in each heat). Run your local divisions on Saturday night (maybe Mini Stocks, Strictly Stocks, and Modifieds) WITH HEAT RACES as well. Give the fans their money’s worth.Run the feature on Sunday, along with a LONG autograph session after maybe a morning practice session. Then invert the top 16 starters, pay an incentive to come from deeper than say, 10th or 20th in the field to win the 100-lapper. Start 30 cars for the feature. Top 24 through six heat races (top four in each heat), then four more from a consolation/last-chance race, and two Promoter’s Option cars that may not have made the field otherwise. Pit stops in the infield for the feature on Sunday afternoon. Offer a two- or three-day discount grandstand ticket and pit pass. Make it the last weekend in December, just like the original Orange Blossom race, and try and attract some out-of-town racers whose seasons are done elsewhere, so they can make the trip down.

Someone on one of the other threads said they were “passionate” about Orlando Speed World. Me? I’m passionate about short track racing in general, all over the state. I grew up at just about every race track in this state at one point or another. When I was three years old, I could give you the starting lineup for a Late Model feature at Palm Beach - including car numbers AND names - before I learnt my ABC’s. When I was about 16, I “dated” a girl from St. Pete (Sunshine) when I lived 160 miles away in Vero (didn’t last very long, though…:wink: ). I couldn’t keep a girlfriend while I was in high school because I would go racing on Friday and Saturday nights with Dad rather than go out on a date…LOLOLOLOL

Remember, this is mostly about what needs to be done to Orlando Speed World, but could relate to any short track. What are the others doing RIGHT that’s NOT being done at Speed World? I hear ads on the radio all the time down where I’m at for Auburndale. I should be hearing ads for Speed World instead…

Let’s see where this goes…

Good post Jimmy. billy

Now that my KARNAC friends is how to write constructive criticism. Good job Jimmy !


Although I would absolutely love to see that, aren’t we asking alot for the teams to be there three days for a race that would pay no better than a lot of one days SLM races elsewhere? You are talking about crews taking Friday off of work, and food, hotels, admission, etc for the entire weekend.

Just my two cents. Good post!!

$$$$ is #1 for all parts of a track*,now if some how some one can fine a very rich nut with more $ then god ,well actully it some times only takes a few not so rich. Tracks have all types things that afect the cost of A RACE and what nite they can even have a race.
*rent or payments ,upkeep,adds,pay outs,staff all need to be.
To have fans it must have a show,no show and all the fans go seems harder to get fans and sometimes races back the starting a new group of fan.
How ever ya get no show with out racers and some big $ for about a year+ to built up a great fan turn out most of the time,that is not around now,so every one go fine the $,say the right thing to the right guy who ever and were ever that maybe.:confused: Barring doing that then show up with any type of racecar and help show.
O O if ya fine enough extra,have them also build a new 1/4miler in south east florida.

Make it dirt…It will create excitment again fot the Orlando Based crowd.There isnt a short track w-banking like OSW.My 2 cents

start alllllllll over again…

rr11, you are hung up on making Orlando a dirt track aren’t you? And where are you going to pull Dirt cars from? Ocala runs Fridays and Volusia runs Saturday. I don’t think any of them will pull to Orlando when they have a dirt track in their own back yard. I’ll quit before I myself goes Dirt racing.

Thats the problem here Dave… everyone has already quit racing there. Where are they pulling cars from now???

The answer is NOWHERE.

A total of 74 cars in 7 divisions… 27 that the TBARA brought themselves, and a Strictly Stock team that brought 9 of the 22 cars in that race. Take these 2 divisions out, and you have a TOTAL of 25 cars in 5 divisions. Averages out to 5 per class. Whoop-dee-dooo!

Every idea known to man has been tossed out there… none of them applied.

Going to dirt saved Ocala Speedway, and Volusia found out they made a huge mistake in paving their track several years ago. OSW would make an outstanding dirt track, would avoid the problems with the “weepers”, would allow time for the teams to get there on Fridays, it would withstand most of the summer showers we get here in Florida, and bring a lot of excitement to a place that has been a complete dud for many years now.

The fact is, what is being tried is NOT WORKING. The ship is sinking and nobody is bailing the water out.

Dave… I have respect for you for being a long time competitor at OSW, and if there were 100 loyal guys that show up every week, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But there IS no loyalty, no continuity, no consistancy. Even from DD38… racing a few times a year doesn’t really qualify as a “loyal” customer". Other than Boneman, name me 10 racers that show up every week. There used to be, but no more.

As a race FAN, every time I go to OSW I sincerely hope that it won’t be a waste of time and money (Friday night, it WAS worth going, but still overpriced/under quality). Meanwhile, the very next night I drove the 2 hours to Tampa KNOWING I would see a good show at East Bay.

It’s sad that the very closest track to home, is the one that gets the least of my money. I hope someday that it will turn around, but there has been NO improvement in several years.

Someone needs to lock Robert Hart and Mike Peters in the same room for a few hours, and I think you’d see dirt being laid down at OSW. It’s the RIGHT thing to do, since all else has FAILED.

When the 1/4 mile next door raced they pulled 10 or so cars on a sat. night.
U have the Fl mini sprints that would be a perfect fit.
Sprint cars from tampa,
the ministocks need a place to run now.
It would be a handling track more so than hr power,that will be the draw to the drivers.Equal the classes out…
A new challenge for the area racers and there r alot…
all 4 tracks that r dirt are healthy right now
Orlando lost the pr show now the winternationals the fri night events…
But the drag strip does great…???
Just saying,the BUZZ would be HUGE.

dd38 i use to go to OSW all the time,in the 90-s,but then the car counts started to fall,then we went to VCS.The car counts were double they raced 2 or 3 wide.I hated going to a race spending 45min drive to see the mods have 3cars,that sucks…Im just saying from a fans point.I respect the love for the road of OSW,butt it seems to be at its end.Sure hate to c it shut down…

Hey guys, just going to dirt is not the answer. I agree with most of what Jerry normally says but I’ll disagree here. I can’t tell you how many times Ocala has been rained out in the last 2 years. A bunch. I can tell you that Citrus is paved and hasn’t had a complete washout since I’ve been there. Asphalt dries much faster than dirt. If there are already weepers there, that will lead to wet spots and, eventually, holes and a rough track. If the track is covered with dirt, it must be a good quality clay and not something that is sensitive to a little water.
Rhino mentions that all 4 dirt tracks are fine now. Seriously, how well is Hendry County doing? They only drew 7 late models to the UDLMCS show a few weeks ago. I’m asking as I haven’t been there or been following them much. Putnam County is closed and hasn’t re-opened.
One thing the dirt tracks have in common are fewer classes of cars running. I know Volusia dropped the mini-stocks this year and Ocala dropped the sportman division because the car counts weren’t there. When is the last time an asphalt track dropped a division. I believe Citrus stopped running the trucks this year when they only drew 3 or 4 trucks to race. How many traveling series visit the dirt tracks? I can think of the sprints and mini-sprints that don’t race regularly on weekends with the exception of East Bay’s sprints. The UDLMCS late models are the other traveling series that race dirt and the late models do race regularly at most tracks. Now to asphalt. Using Citrus as an example, you have the Pro Challenge Series, 2 wingless sprint series, one winged sprint series, dwarf cars, mini-cups, Champ Carts, Mod lites, legend cars, bandeleros, trucks, TQ midgets, 2 antique racing clubs, and the FAST late models. I believe most of the other asphalt tracks host pretty much the same. Let’s see, I named 15 different traveling series that race asphalt in Florida. I’ve probably missed some. I count 3 traveling series racing on dirt and I’ve probably missed something there also. If we could eliminate some of the traveling series and consolidate them into regular divisions or a stronger traveling series, we could improve the general racing. Does asphalt really need more than one series running motor cycle engines or the little 4 stokes? OK, I got carried away with the traveling series. My same logic applies to the regular classes the tracks run. If OSW or any track hosted just 4 or 5 classes of cars they would have larger classes and better racing. That would be a start and then the spectators would come back.

118, #1 about me not running my car much this year. Initally they only had the Open Engine Modifieds scheduled for 3 times this year, initially, We ran 1 of them, the Joslin Memorial. #2. Then they changed the tires.I’m not gonna switch. I’ll let it sit, which I am until, if and when they switch back to slicks of some sort. #3, My finances aren’t that good this year. I support my car out of my pocket. Don’t have any sponsors to help. And it’s not from a matter of trying. Oop’s I forgot I have !. Willie’s Paint and Body. But that’s not weekly support. If you know of any sponsors, send them my way.