Palm Beach Facility Gets Major Facelift
Orbit Racing recently became the first team to test a Daytona Prototype at the refurbished Palm Beach International Raceway, and drivers Kyle Petty and Darren Manning were very impressed with the work done on the former Moroso Motorsports Park, in Jupiter, Florida.
|Palm Beach (Formerly Moroso Motorsports Park) road course|
"It's billiard table smooth, it's a nice layout," said Manning, a veteran of IndyCar Series competition. "It's got good combinations of corners, a nice chicane you brake through, a lot of long corners, and a nice long straight to work on your straight-line speed. It's very green at the moment, and not very scrubbed in, but it's getting quicker and quicker all the time. It's nice, and it's good not to get thrown around by the bumps all the time."
Manning and Petty both ran laps around 1:12 in the No. 45 Orbit Racing BMW Riley on the 2.1-mile layout, which features 11 turns and has a six-tenths of a mile straightaway. The road course is plumbed for wet-weather testing - so teams can test for rain conditions on a typical sunny day. The facility also hosts the Palm Beach Driving Club, with Grand-Am racer Shane Lewis the club professional.
While the facility, located off the Florida Turnpike west of Jupiter, is already an ideal testing facility or automobile country club, raceway C.E.O. Ron Dixon is looking to host major spectator events.
"We are looking to host major events," Dixon said. "We recently were awarded a Grade II license from the FIA, which will enable us to host major events, such as IRL or Indy Lights. And, of course, Grand-Am. Our main concern was to get the facility open and operating. Now, we're still about two years from being totally finished. We will be ready."
The first stages of the transition have involved work on the racing facility, with the seamless track measuring 40 to 60 feet wide, built of hot-mix asphalt five-inches deep set on an aggregate base. It is surrounded by SAVE Safety Barriers and high-level, low intensity, low-flare lighting.
Dixon modified the course when computer simulations had Indy cars hitting 190 mph. Now, he believes the IRL cars will hit approximately 180-185 mph, while Manning reached 175 mph in the Daytona Prototype. If he needs feedback from the open-wheel ranks, Dixon has only to consult with his son, 2006 Rolex 24 At Daytona winner Scott Dixon, who won the 2008 Indianapolis 500 en route to capturing his second IndyCar Series title.
The elder Dixon said the next steps will be a complete reworking of the pits and paddock, with full-length pit garages. An industrial motorsports park is planned, capable of hosting race teams and automotive parts and after-market companies.
"We have no time or noise restraints," Dixon said. "We can hold races during the day or night. Literally, the sun never sets on the racing here."
Palm Beach International Raceway also includes an all-concrete, quarter-mile dragstrip, and a karting center, including an 11-turn, 0.8-mile WKA Master Track.
"It looks great, and they've done a great job with the racetrack," said Grand-Am driver Lawson Aschenbach, who now resides in West Palm Beach. "It's a very nice, classy environment, and hopefully, people will get excited about it.
"This is absolutely a great place for spectator races," Aschenbach added. "With Miami and Orlando within driving distance, it's got a great base of fans, and the Palm Beach area is great for drivers. This town really knows who's who and what's what." Grand-Am