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Feb 1, 2023
The journey to the 2023 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway has not come without adversity.
Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida on September 28, 2022 as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing widespread damage to the state. New Smyrna Speedway saw both wind and flood damage because of the storm.
During an appearance on Racing America’s “The Bullring,” New Smyrna Speedway General Manager Rusty Marcus described his reaction upon seeing the damage to the facility.
“It was so disheartening,” said Marcus. “The storm was still going on and I went to the race track, since I live down the street from it. I wanted to see if we had gotten any damage. I walked up to the grandstands. The winds are still blowing, not too crazy, but they’re still blowing pretty good.
“When I walked onto the track, many of you have seen the picture we posted on Facebook. That is what I saw. I was like, ‘You have got to be kidding me.’
“It was 19 inches of water inside the tech building and inside the concessions down there, inside the pit office, the tire room. Turns three and four were just submerged. It was so sad to see. Of course, you get the wind damage, too. You get the signs blown down. You get the damage here, damage there. The tech building roof came loose and sunk down a little bit.”
Undeterred, Marcus and the New Smyrna Speedway staff immediately went to work to bring racing back to the half-mile as quickly and safely as possible. Unfortunately, racing did not return for the remainder of the 2022 season, including the cancellation of New Smyrna’s fall classic, the Florida Governor’s Cup.
“We lost all of October. We lost the Governor’s Cup, and the Governor’s Cup carries a lot of weight. We had to let it go because we weren’t sure what the surface of the track was going to do.”
Good news came in December for the future of the track.
“We had lots of testing. We had lots of people out here to check things out and make sure everything was okay. When I was at the Snowball Derby, that Saturday morning, I got a phone call that said we are all good to go. That was absolutely great news.”
Racing returned to New Smyrna in January with the Red Eye. Casey Roderick scored the Super Late Model win that evening, while Michael Hinde went to victory lane in the Pro Late Models.
More importantly, Marcus was excited by the turnout for the event after so much time away.
“When we opened back up for the Red Eye in January, we were blown away with how blessed we were with the number of cars and the people that showed up for the Red Eye.”
All eyes will be on New Smyrna for nine nights of racing this month during the 57th Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. With the entries nearing 50 for Modifieds and already over 30 for Pro Late Models and 20 for Super Late Models, there will be plenty of star power on the premises as part of Florida Speedweeks.
This year’s World Series will also be the last one before a complete repave of the facility scheduled for November as part of the ongoing efforts to maintain New Smyrna’s status as one of the top short track facilities in the nation
“We had talked about repaving the race track before the World Series. That’s going to wait until November of this year, and the track is going to be repaved. When it gets repaved, it’s going to be the track, the aprons and pit road. If you’ve been here, you know pit road is a little bit gnarly. It’s going to be such a huge improvement when that happens.
“In reality, the track surface isn’t that bad. It’s actually pretty good. I’ve been to a lot of other tracks, and we’re in pretty good shape. But we want New Smyrna Speedway to be a cut above. This is one step in that direction. There’s a lot of things we want to do here in the coming months and years, and it’s not going to happen overnight, to transform this place to what it should be.”
Fans can click here to listen to more from Rusty Marcus’ appearance on The Bullring. Other guests on the episode include SpeedFest Pro Late Model winner Augie Grill, Corey Heim, Natalie Decker and Rod Wortham of Race Face Brand Development.