Posted on January 09 2017
Homestead-Miami Speedway is a race track born from a hurricane. Hurricane Andrew caused significant damage to the city of Homestead, FL in 1992, following which the city undertook a massive rebuilding effort. The hope was not just to bring back what had been lost, but use new development to give the local economy a shot in the arm. As part of that effort, motorsports promoter Ralph Sanchez spearheaded a plan to build a 434-acre multi-purpose racing facility. They broke ground on August 24th, 1993, exactly one year after the hurricane.
In November, 1995, the track officially opened. It was a four-turn, rectangular-oval modeled after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a European-style road racing course splitting off from the oval’s straightaways and into the infield. From its grand opening, Homestead drew sold out crowds for NASCAR Busch Series and CART Indycar races.
However, people soon realized that Homestead had a problem. Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 2.5 mile, four-corner layout had to be scaled down to 1.5 miles for Homestead. The result was turns that were sharp and flat, which made passing difficult and all-around speeds slower. Even more significant, though, were the safety concerns it created. Those concerns came to a head in 1997, when John Nemechek died from a collision in a Craftsman Truck race. After this fatal accident, Homestead undertook an $8.2 million renovation to convert the rectangular-style corners to a more traditional oval (after the movie Super Speedway was shot there). When the track re-opened that fall, the NASCAR Busch Series returned. That race was won by an emotional Joe Nemechek – John’s older brother.
While the oval track was undergoing it’s transformation, attention was turned mainly to the road course on the infield, which was unaffected by the construction. Though the road course wasn’t the most challenging in the U.S., it was still well-liked by drivers, and in a rare occurrence for international road racing, Homestead was chosen to host FIA GT Series races in 1998 and 1999. The road course has continued to host major road racing events since then, including races in the Grand-Am and Trans-Am series. More recently, many of these road racing series have been using a modified configuration of the road course, which bypasses the East side of the original road course and instead opts for the East half of the oval track.
In 2003, a $12 million dollar, second rebuild of the oval track began. This time, they changed the mostly flat turns to a computer-designed steep, variable banking system. In 2005, night lighting was also added to allow for night races. The changes have been praised by fans, as they have created several competitive races and close finishes.
Homestead hosted a grand total of five season-ending racing series events in 2009, including the IRL IndyCar Series GAINSCO Auto Insurance Indy 300, and the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
Currently, Homestead hosts races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Xfinity Series, and Camping World Truck Series – all sponsored by Ford EcoBoost. They also hose the Trans-Am Series, which returned for the first time in 2014 after being absent since 1998.
Homestead has an on-site Kart facility, “Homstead Karting”, as well as an RC Raceway for radio controlled cars, which hosted the 2011 IFMAR World for 1:8 IC Track Cars.
Homestead-Miami Speedway is in the city of Homestead, FL, which is about 31 miles south of Miami International Airport.