Original Speedway Park started in 1958. They were Central Florida’s Premier Dirt Go-Kart Track then and still are today. On beautiful Spring and Fall afternoons on the weekends the deep rumble of the karts can be heard up and down Micro Racetrack Road and route 466A. Conveniently located in Fruitland Park, Florida the track has been through a ton of history. For many racers this is where it all begins.
The 1/8 mile oval has been producing track champions for years. The Speedway has been right in the middle of a booming housing market and influx of people to the area. Located just outside The Villages in Fruitland Park, the area has seen plenty of change.
One thing that has not changed is the racing. Since 1958 the track has been dirt. The track hosts a variety of different classes. In all, about 15 classes regularly race at the facility. The karts come in different sizes and body styles with racers starting at just 5 years of age! Racing is generational and there are competitors that are even in the senior group classes who’s age I likely should not give out but they are much older than 15 years of age which is the minimum on many of the bigger kart classes.
Racing is held from February through May and sometimes June and then goes quiet in Late June, July and August as the Florida rainy season makes it difficult to race on dirt tracks. Racing kicks back off in September and runs through December as well. This is the track of dreams in many ways. Dirt racing is unlike any other kind of racing. It’s a very close community of people who absolutely love it.
(In Dirt Racing the track takes rubber through the event. Here you can see the dark area which has rubbered in. Track prep is key when dirt racing and the crews here have been preparing this dirt track for over 65 years now.)
Many great drivers got their start on dirt including Kyle Larson who’s one of the best all around racers currently, Brad Sweet, Steve Kinser, Stewart Friesen, Buddy Kofoid, Logan Seavey and Donny Schatz just to name a few. You may not know these drivers names, but too many of these young kids want to be the next Kyle Larson. Down the road at Volusia Speedway these drivers can be seen yearly and every year I tend to see children at the event getting driver autographs. Oftentimes I wonder who the next great driver will be.
(Children start racing at 5 years old. Boys and Girls compete together. Hopefully we see some of these girls in Sprint Cars, USAC, Silver Crown, Late Models or NASCAR one day.
The Speedway in Fruitland Park is more than just a place to race. It’s a place where family and friends gather. It’s a place where competition thrives. Sure there are the guys who come in with the expensive trucks and trailers and Karts. My favorite thing though is watching a small pickup truck carry a small trailer with a Kart that may not have the speed of the other Karts. But the team and family has more heart than anyone else out there.
Racing has and always will be about the money. No doubt about that but when you get a little team that finishes in a top 10 or top 5 position on any given day, those are the memories you cherish. Those are the moments I love seeing when I head out to the race track.
(All in a nights hard work. This is what it’s all about at the end of the day. Standing in victory lane with family and friends.)
In fact my favorite drivers growing up were NASCAR Underdogs Kyle Petty and Morgan Shepherd. Sure those guys never ran good but I would always root for the underdog. Anytime they ran good it would warm my heart just like seeing some of these underfunded teams do at a track like Original Speedway Park.
As the track enters its 65th year of racing I can’t help but see the potential of this facility. There is nothing like it in our area and I hope that it sticks around for a long time. Development in the area will include a new Winn-Dixie in the coming years along with many new retail spaces. The old Burkes BBQ joint has been shut down for years and that land will likely at some point be developed.
(65 yeas is a long time. The Go-Karts have gotten faster, the bodies have become more aerodynamic. But one thing remains the same, is the competition between competitors. “If you ain’t first your the first loser.”)
Will the Speedway be around for its 70 year anniversary in a few short years? I am hopeful for its future. For future young racers I sure hope so. All the tracks I grew up racing on in Massachusetts are now closed. F1 Boston and F1 Boston Outdoors fell victim to Covid-19 and never reopened. The big outdoor track was developed into apartments. I hope that is never the case but you just never know in this day and age.
Here’s to The Original Speedway in Fruitland Park!
Photos Courtesy of Original Speedway Park