THE MOROSO 5-DAY BRACKET CHAMPIONSHIPS
I’m a TV junkie. Not the Discovery Channel, History Channel-type, although there are some shows on those which are interesting. No, I’m a Last Man Standing, Big Bang Theory, Mike & Molly, or Friends kind of TV addict. Of course though, after my surgery for my “health issue” back in June, I think I have now seen every episode of the aforementioned shows. Maybe not though. I guess I’ll just have to keep watching.
The point though is this. Some of the shows I watch were created by a guy named Chuck Lorre. After each of his shows, he ends them by flashing what he terms as a vanity card on the screen. Now in this day of DVR and the like, if you don’t record the show, the vanity card flashes for only a couple of seconds, so you’re never able to read the whole thing. But it is his way of getting across his message, sort of like what this Blog does, although I give you the time to read the whole thing. I sort of liked the one he which he stated, “This is the official ‘I have nothing worth writing about’ vanity card.”
There are times I can concur. Not this week though.
This week marks what may be the end of an era in southern Florida drag racing. The bracket racing faithful will be traveling to Palm Beach International Raceway for what may be just be the last Five-Day Bracket Championships formally known as the Moroso 5-Day Bracket Championships. As I’ve missed a number of races this year, I’m not there in person but rather in spirit.
In 1981, Dick Moroso purchased PBIR from its original owner, renaming it Moroso Motorsports Park and spending over $100,000 to upgrade the facility which included not only a drag strip but a road course as well. In 1982, along with help from Byron Dragway’s late Ron Leek, Dick Moroso instituted one the highest paying at the time and most significant bracket races of its day. Five days of $5,000-to-win races had many from all of the country making the trek to south Florida to enjoy not only the racing but also great November weather. A number of other Florida tracks also held events which made the lure of Florida in November even greater than normal.
Each year, my wife, son and eventually after my daughter was born, we’d make the trip down Interstate 95 to; I’m not sure what we enjoyed the most, the racing or the weather. We were hooked like many others. Short sidebar; when my son was born in late October of ’83, we had already planned the trip to which our respective families flipped out saying, “You can’t take a two-week old baby on an 18-hour truck ride.” It was then when we got probably the best piece of parenting advice when we questioned our pediatrician as to the viability of a two-week old baby making the trip, he said, “If that’s what you do, then that baby has to get used to your lifestyle, not you to his.” And away we went.
Like a lot of others, we would always couple the trip with visits to other Florida attractions. Those were some great years. I’ve never won any of those races; gone some rounds; but we were there. The race became more of a happening than anything else. Prior to the days of motorhomes, most everyone stayed at the Holiday Inn on PGA Boulevard with most of us hanging out at the pool until the track opened for time runs later in the afternoon.
I think 2006 was my last year but by then, dozens of other high-dollar races had popped up with the track eventually sold sometime after Dick’s passing and renamed Palm Beach International Raceway once again. The new regime continued the tradition but somehow from reports, it just didn’t seem to be the same with the dozens of other high-dollar races taking away some of the lure of Florida in November.
And now, reports are the track has been sold after which warehousing will be built on the property. With the closing of Miami-Hollywood Speedway in 1992 and now the closing of PBIR, if that is indeed the case, it leaves southeast Florida with no bracket racing program; lest for a trip across the state to Immokalee Raceway on the west coast. Joe Castello of WFO Radio tells me that Homestead Miami Speedway does run a street car type program on their pit road but it is far from a bracket program. This is a situation we’re hearing about all too often across the country. And is often the case, when a local track closes, the majority of racers quit rather than make a longer tow to another track. Just tragic, but unfortunately, not much which can be done.
Drag racing in Florida in November; what’s your best remembrances?