Palm Beach International Raceway (formerly Moroso Motorsports Park) is a motorsports facility located west of Jupiter, Florida.
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The facility opened in 1964, costing a reported $1.5 million to build. The track was originally named "Palm Beach International Raceway" and was owned by local contractor Joe Bucheck Jr. and his brother Edward. In March 1965 the inaugural race was held at the track. Some 10,000 spectators attended the event, which was a series of sports car events.
Racing promoter Alec Ullman was set to move the 12 Hour Race in Sebring from Sebring International Raceway for the 1967 season to the facility after multiple fatalities in the 1966 race. Those plans eventually fell through due to the $1.5 million it would cost to expand the site. In November 1969 a controversial rock concert was held at the facility after months of legal battles. During the rock festival artists such as Janis Joplin, The Rolling Stones, Sly & The Family Stone and Jefferson Airplane performed. Since then, several artists including Eric Clapton have performed there. Another concert featuring Led Zeppelin, Bachman-Turner Overdrive and J. Geils Band was in the works in 1975 but organizers cancelled it when they decided the facility couldn't handle the estimated 50,000 fans that were expected to attend.
In April 1971 the Grand American Series of Professional Drag Racing had one of the first major drag racing events held at the track. The facility hosted an air show November 7, 1971. The Air Force Thunderbirds were scheduled to perform but had to cancel due to flooding on the track. In 1979 famous sports car and Indy 500 racer Lyn St. James made her professional debut at the facility, which ended in a major accident in which her car crashed into the swamps and sank in the mud.
In 1981, Dick Moroso, founder of Moroso Racing Parts, purchased the track and renamed it "Moroso Motorsports Park". In 1982, Moroso spent $100,000 to upgrade the facility to host the opening event of the 1983 SCCA Trans Am Series. The facility was scheduled to host a circus in 1987, but it was cancelled after promoters found out about a poor safety record.
The facility hosted several SCCA national and regional events. The track was also host to several IHRA and NHRA special events and the "Super Chevy Show", which drew more than 100,000 spectators over the three-day event for several years. The event was later replaced with the "All Chevy Show" which generally occurs in March. In 1996, Moroso considered spending $2 million on a one-mile oval track for stock car racing, but those plans fell through. In 1998, Moroso died from brain cancer and his family inherited ownership of the track. In 2002, MTV filmed a drag racing documentary at the track. The Speed Channel show Pinks visited the facility in 2007 to film an episode.
The raceway featured quite prominently in Top Gear's 2007 USA Special. Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richard Hammond, and The Stig's American cousin all raced cars at the speedway, that the former three had purchased in Miami earlier. This was its most notable appearance on television, and one of the most recent appearances.
In 2008, a group of local motorsports enthusiasts purchased Moroso Motorsports Park. The new owners closed the track, remodeled it into a state-of-the-art motorsports facility and changed the track's name back to "Palm Beach International Raceway." The old facility was completely altered, adding a new road course similar to the original but with some minor modifications. Low-glare lighting was added to the track along with brand new safety barriers and an amount of other upgrades. The track hosted an ARCA Remax Series event and several drag racing events. The facility again hosted to the show "Pinks All Out" on March 6, 2010. The facility also host a wide variety of motorsports events, including "Mud Bog"--an event for ATV and offroad enthusiasts--CCS, Radical East USA's racing school, Skip Barber Racing School, the Ferrari Cavallino Classic, Porsche BMW Owner's Club (PBOC) and the Florida Sports Car Championship - Street Survival which teaches teenagers the driving skills necessary to survive on today's roadways.
The facility is popular with teams from all forms of racing for testing. Several IndyCar Series teams use the track for winter testing, as do several sports car teams from the Rolex Sports Car Series including locally based Orbit Racing, as well as Riviera Beach-based Extreme Speed Motorsports. Once the track gets its FIA Grade 2 certification it will be eligible to host a wide variety of motorsports events including IndyCar Series, Indy Lights, Grand Am and other major forms of racing.
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The road course's length is 2.043 miles and was designed by Martyn Thake with help from several other in-house designers. It is paved with 5-inch-deep (130 mm) asphalt on an aggregate base. It features a 90-foot-wide (27 m) section on the back straight for adding a chicane in the future. The course is currently awaiting a FIA Class II certification.
The drag strip is an IHRA-sanctioned 1,000-1,320-foot concrete course built to NHRA specifications, as well.
The go-kart track is a 0.8-mile track with three straight and 26-foot-wide (7.9 m) corners. The course is considered a World Karting Association Master Track.
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Incidents and accidents
- On May 26, 2009, a 9-year-old boy was seriously burned when his go-kart overturned and caught fire. He was rushed to Jackson Memorial Burn Center in Miami in critical condition. The boy's family filed suit against the Palm Beach International Raceway, the track's investors, go-kart maker Carter Brothers, and go-kart engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton for personal injury, after the accident caused the 9-year-old to lose all ten of his fingers.
- In January 2010, 18-year-old Casey Bicknell crashed his Chevrolet Corvette on the Quarter Mile Drag Strip while travelling over 109 mph. He sustained a traumatic brain injury in the incident and was not expected to survive but is currently in an assisted living facility.
Source of the article : Wikipedia