Denied 4-2: County Commission sides with racing fans over warehouses

After a motion to approve warehouse zoning at the former Palm Beach International Raceway died for lack of a second, Palm Beach County commissioners tossed aside concerns over being sued and voted to deny the plan.

History repeats itself.

Faced with a room full of avid racing fans fighting for their way of life, a county board once again rejected plans for warehouses on the site of the former Palm Beach International Raceway.

Palm Beach County commissioners voted 4-2 Thursday to deny the application from property owner IRG Sports & Entertainment to convert the shuttered racetrack on the Beeline Highway west of Jupiter into a 2.2-million-square-foot warehouse complex.

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Proposal paves way for warehouses at former racetrack

Palm Beach International Raceway owners seek County Commission’s blessing on Jan. 11 for updated 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse plan.

The conversion of a beloved local raceway to warehouses is back on track after the property owners eliminated a major hurdle that forced them to make an unscheduled pit stop in April.

The owners of the shuttered Palm Beach International Raceway west of Jupiter are moving forward on their own, without construction giant Portman Industrial, which pitched a 2.1 million-square-foot warehouse development before angry racing fans packed a meeting April 7 to block it.

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Last days at Palm Beach International Raceway: ‘Like you’re losing a family member’

They drive for hours to race at Palm Beach County’s lone racetrack: Amateurs with muscle cars, hobbyists with pricey foreign models, seasoned drivers with off-road hot rods. Now a plan for warehouses threatens the place they love.

Marcus Falden left his digital marketing job south of Miami at 11:30 on a recent Friday morning to get to the Palm Beach International Raceway before it opened at 5 p.m. 

He’s looking forward to 11 — maybe 12, but certainly not 13 — seconds of joy, as he guns his Infiniti Q50S to 119 mph for a quarter-mile straightaway. 

Marcus Falden and his Infiniti Q50S.

As soon as it’s over, he’ll line up to do it again. If the night goes right, he’ll get in three runs before the busy track closes at 11 p.m.

He and his buddy, Miguel Cruz, also from the Kendall area, drove more than 100 miles March 25 to place their cars among the first ones lined up for the drag strip at PBIR, the former Moroso Motorsports Park on Beeline Highway west of Jupiter. 

Miguel Cruz in his BMW Z4. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

“It’s hard to explain,” Cruz said. “You’re sitting in your car, and the lights start flashing (to signal the start) and your heart starts going 100 mph. It happens so fast.”

But it won’t be happening much longer.

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