PINELLAS PARK — The Showtime Speedway, once thought to be a temporary attraction until a connecting road was built, is here to stay.
State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and speedway's owner Bob Yoho recently announced that a compromise was made with the Florida Department of Transportation to reconfigure a planned road connecting Interstate 275 to the Bayside Bridge so that it bypasses the speedway. The change will allow the quarter-mile, figure-8 speedway and dragstrip originally named the Sunshine Speedway to continue operating.
Latvala said it took "just me sitting down with the department and explaining how important this was to people in the community and they just figured out a way to do it."
"We worked with the property owner and were able to design the Gateway Expressway so the roadway alignment did not impact the operations of the Speedway," said FDOT spokeswoman Kris Carson.
The road will run on the drag strip's west side and will be more compact, with walls as buffers instead of dirt. Yoho said the speedway will lose some parking.
Yoho, who secured a five-year lease from the FDOT in 2012, will continue paying about $15,000 a month in a lease renewal for five more years, though he plans to stay longer than that.
"We're thankful of Mr. Latvala because without him and all the people and support … this dream of mine would never be true," Yoho said.