It was in mid-April 1974 that Orlando SpeedWorld’s oval race track started operation and Friday night’s season opener will mark the beginning of the 40th anniversary celebration for the three-eighths-mile facility that has hosted weekly racing events, major sanctioned races from the likes of USAC, All-Pro, Florida Pro Series and many more plus the ever-popular Crash-A-Rama shows.
The adjacent drag strip began operating ten years earlier, in 1964, and both were initially built and owned by Billy Herndon before being purchased by Clyde Hart in late-1987. Clyde’s son Robert continued to operate the facility until last year when Ozzy Moya took over the reigns. The first race held on the oval track was a Limited Sportsman event won by the late Ed Meredith in a 1965 Chevy Chevelle. The big race on opening day was for Late Model stock cars and was won by the late Gene Johnson of Fort Pierce.
Johnson’s stepson, Doc McKinney, still competes at SpeedWorld to this day. After a somewhat dismal 2013 plagued by some unforeseen management issues and terrible weather, SpeedWorld is bouncing back with a vengeance this year. Moya has named Donnie Vivier as General Manager and he will oversee day-to-day operations of the track as well as helping promote the drag strip. Vivier recently operated the highly successful Central Florida Racing Complex in South Orlando. CFRC opened its doors in 2009 as the Central Florida Road Course, and as it evolved, it developed into an autocross and drifting course as well as a one-eighth-mile drag strip. (more…)