June 2018

228 229 THE HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY ricane. At the time, there was a man named Ralph Sanchez, who had been promoting street races in downtown Miami for about ten years, and he saw the need for a permanent facility because he knew that the downtown was going to be developed and that, one day, it wouldn’t be able to host major league auto racing. And that coincided with the rise of NASCAR. So, he talked to the city fathers and they decided that a speedway was the best thing that they could do to stimulate the economy and create jobs.” Groundbreaking for the new 434-acre, 46,000-seat facility took place exactly one year after the hurricane hit, and the track opened in November, 1995. The first NASCAR race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway (which was then called the Metro-Dade Motorsports Complex) was won by Dale Jarrett AT A GLANCE THE HOMESTEAD- MIAMI SPEEDWAY WHAT: Professional motor racing track and venue WHERE: Homestead, Florida WEBSITE: www.homesteadmiami speedway.com in front of a sold out crowd. In 1999, The International Speedway Corpora- tion (ISC) acquired the management lease of the Speedway, which is still owned by the City of Homestead. The ISC owns and/or operates 13 of the nation’s premier motorsports enter- tainment facilities, as well as Motor Racing Network, the nation’s largest independent sport radio network, and Americrown Service Corporation, a pro- vider of catering services, and food and beverage concessions. “The original $75 million barely built the track, and since then, we’ve invest- ed another $150 million,” says Garcia, “putting in a lighting system, building more hospitality areas, doubling the seating capacity, building more me- dia centers, and other infrastructure that was desperately needed.” One major upgrade took place in 2003, when the speedway underwent the most technologically advanced track reconfiguration project in the history of motorsports: a $12 million project that transformed the track from a flat six degrees to a computer-designed 18-to-20-degree variable banking sys- tem in the turns. Today, the Speedway employs 50 full-time workers, and many off-duty firefighters, police, and medical techni- cians also work at the Speedway, part- time, at any number of the 300 events it hosts, yearly, including the final race of the season in all three of NASCAR’s