CLEARWATER — 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 the speedway's owner, Bob Yoho, announced Friday that a compromise was made with the Florida Department of Transportation to reconfigure a planned road connecting Interstate 275 to the Bayside Bridge so 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."
No representatives of the FDOT were at the news conference where the announcement was made.
Latvala said the speedway's site, which was put on a list by Pinellas County officials as a potential space for a stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, was not seriously considered and will not be a viable option for the Rays.
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 he will lose some parking but wasn't sure how much would be lost.
Yoho, who secured a five-year lease from the FDOT in 2012 to operate in the interim until the road was built, 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.
Contact Colleen Wright at email@example.com or (727) 893-8643. Follow @Colleen_Wright.