Myrtle Beach Speedway has been named by the RACE22.com staff as the “Best LMSC Track” in 2018. Beating out South Boston Speedway and Kingsport Speedway for the award.
Myrtle Beach Speedway has certainly undergone a lot of changes since the days when Billy Hardee owned the track. It has always been a fan and driver favorite but since Bob Lutz bought the track and Steve Zacharias took over running the facility, the difference has been huge.
Zacharias and his staff have elevated Myrtle Beach Speedway to the best track in the region according to many in the region. Myrtle Beach plays host to the season opener every year, the IceBreaker, which is fast growing event and also hosts the Myrtle Beach 250 and 400 in back to back weeks in November. The Myrtle Beach 400 is easily the second biggest Late Model Stock Car race in the region behind Martinsville Speedway’s ValleyStar 300.
Myrtle Beach Speedway has also been the home of the highest average counts for the last few seasons, staying above the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series number of 18 and many times have mid to high twenty-something counts for races during the regular season. A feat not accomplished by many tracks in the region.
How has Myrtle Beach done this? Talking with drivers and team owners and team members from many of the teams that call Myrtle Beach Speedway home or travel there on their off weekends from their home tracks, they say it’s because of how Zacharias, his wife Jacqulyn and other members of the staff treat them.
Many have pointed to the track having one of the lowest tire costs in the region, free practice sessions and a good payout. The drivers feel as if Zacharias and his staff will bend over backward to accommodate the racers. Of course getting to travel to a vacation destination and spend time on the beach during trips to Myrtle Beach doesn’t hurt their cause. It’s really the best of all worlds for the racers.
One of the few downsides to Myrtle Beach Speedway has been the crowds attending the races, though under Zacharias’ leadership they seem to have grown some. Myrtle Beach because it’s a vacation destination is a tricky place to promote and have people attend races on Saturday nights because they are either getting into town or leaving town typically on Saturdays. It also makes for some tricky traffic to get to the track for locals, but it’s well worth the trouble.
Among the other nominees for this award was South Boston Speedway in South Boston, VA and Kingsport Speedway in Bloomingdale, TN. South Boston Speedway is another track that’s seen a resurgence in recent years with a total track renovation and rules changes that have made racing cheaper and more exciting.
South Boston adopted a two-tire rule beginning in 2016 coupled with paying $500 to start in the Late Model Stock Car division gave the track a resurgence that saw car counts climb and racers move up from other divisions because they could now afford to do so. South Boston’s new pavement at the end of 2016 along with a move to longer lasting Hoosier F-50 tires also saved teams money and helped to build more full-time racers.
South Boston has led the way in many categories and continues to keep their prices lower than many tracks around the region while offering some of the best racing anywhere with some of the biggest names in Late Model Stock Car racing. Their other divisions have also been on the mend with car counts growing in nearly every class over the last few seasons. And, the crowds at South Boston Speedway have been as high as any track in the region and even bigger for their big shows such as the season opener and the Independence weekend 200-lap races.
Kingsport Speedway will have a new owner in 2019, but it’ll be much the same as the Stiltner family who has been leasing the track will now own it. They’ve done a great job along with track manager Karen Tunnell in keeping alive many of the things that helped the track have a resurgence when Robert Pressley reopened it in 2011 after sitting dormant since 2002.
Kingsport Speedway produces some of the best racing in the region and often times is as wild as Bowman Gray Stadium. The Late Model Stock Car division at Kingsport has also been consistently one of the strongest car count wise for several years and was again in 2018. The crowds at Kingsport have also been on a steady increase and the ones who come are really into the action on the track. It’s hard to find a more vocal crowd for those that they love and love to hate.
A couple of other tracks that are worth mentioning but barely missed the cut would be Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA and Anderson Motor Speedway in Williamston, SC.
Langley Speedway didn’t have a great season compared to their reopening in 2017 but 2018 wasn’t that bad either. They played host to the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown and the Hampton Heat, which was moved twice due to rain and had some great racing with Philip Morris coming in to gain points as he chased the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Championship.
Anderson Motor Speedway is owned and operated by Sylvia Porter and in 2018, Anderson Motor Speedway had a great season. Good car counts, good crowd counts and the racing especially in the Late Model Stock Car division were fantastic. They had nine different winners in 14 feature races at Anderson this season and one race came down to a photo finish. Anderson’s continued growth could have them atop this list in 2019.