Longtime fans, racers prepare to say goodbye to Myrtle Beach Speedway

Longtime fans, racers prepare to say goodbye to Myrtle Beach Speedway
Bill Zacharias drops the green flag as one of the final races begins at the Myrtle Beach Speedway. (Source: Janet Morgan/My Horry News)

Story courtesy of our news partners, My Horry News.

In the same pit where he once played with Matchbox cars, Bryant Barnhill prepared for a final race. 

The Myrtle Beach Speedway — the track his grandfather managed, the place where his father raced and the site where Barnhill tasted victory before he could legally drive on a highway —will close this month. A developer plans to raze the track and convert the property into offices and townhomes, maybe even a hotel. 

But it will no longer be a racetrack. After 62 years, the Speedway has entered the final turn of its final lap. The last race is scheduled for Aug. 15.

“It doesn’t really hit you until a certain moment,” the 21-year-old Barnhill said Saturday as the sun eased behind the metal stands. “It’s so hard to believe because of how fruitful this track has been throughout these past few years. The racing has just been amazing.”

No one disputes that. Not the drivers, not the mechanics in the pit and certainly not the fans downing Budweisers and Diet Mt. Dews in the bleachers. The track has seen Earnhardts and Pettys. Long considered a training ground, the .538-mile asphalt oval shaped drivers in ways other small tracks did not. 

“Honestly, there’s really not a track like this anywhere in the Southeast or anywhere across America,” said Barnhill, who also drives in NASCAR’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. “When you think of short track racing, NASCAR roots, it’s primarily your quarter-mile tracks, three-eighths tracks, really small, tight-corner tracks. This track, it challenges you so much. … You’re not having to just battle the guy beside you. You’re battling the racetrack.”

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