The big news this week is that the 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euroseries season has been officially cancelled due to the pandemic. This means that there will be no more races for the next 12 months at least. This also has significant ramifications for the remaining NASCAR season as all of the racing is now on hold.
There are still some events and races that are on but the only series that has been officially confirmed is the British Superbikes. The Superbikes are due to return to Dunlop Castle Motorsport Park near Edinburgh (Scotland) on September 16th. This is also the same track where the championship was decided last year. For now, the rest of the season will be as planned with the Mexican and South American touring car seasons kicking off in mid-March, followed by the F1 Grand Prix and IndyCar Series in the States and Canada in mid-April.
The question is: How far to Port Royal Speedway? This is the name of a short track that used to host USAC and ASA races back in the 1960s. Since then it has been the home of a monster truck rally and a couple of other minor motorsport events. It is currently owned by a company called Watkins Holdings Limited. Let’s take a quick look at how to get there and what to expect.
The Journey So Far
The journey to Port Royal Speedway starts in Sebring, Florida where the annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring race takes place each March. This is the first race of the year and it sets the tone for the rest of the season. This year will be the 78th running of this legendary 12-hour race and it will be held at the famous Sebring International Raceway on March 15th. The next day, the competitors will be traveling to Port Royal for the first race weekend of the year. This year’s event is being sponsored by Mobil 1 and it will be the first time that the series has visited the track since 2016.
The next race on the schedule is the Grand Prix of Alabama on April 5th. This is a part of the American Speed Association (ASA) series and it is one of the longest-running competitions in the country. The series also used to be called the U.S. International Time Trials (ITS) until 2017 when it changed its name to the Grand Prix of Alabama. This is a very prestigious event that typically draws a huge crowd. The organizers should be commended for keeping an event so important alive during these trying times.
If you live in the United States, Canada or Mexico, you can just jump on I-95 and head towards South Carolina. This is the fastest route to take but there are a few more options. If you are coming from further north than that, you can take US-21 south towards Montgomery. This is the main road that runs through the heart of the state. If you are coming from the east, you can get on I-40 and head towards Nashville. There are multiple connections from there. The journey will be quicker but it will be more convoluted. From further west, simply take I-85 towards Atlanta and get on the Palmetto Expressway (I-85 E).
What To Expect
With every trip to the track, you should expect to see cars and people. Whether it’s for a day or a whole weekend, you will always find something going on at Port Royal. Although the Monster Truck Rally took place several years ago, there are still plenty of fans that travel from far away places to see this historic event. These days the rally is an afternoon affair that consists of an arts and crafts fair, food trucks and mini-golf. If you like motorsport, this is a must-see event. The problem is that it’s quite close to Sebring so unless you have a couple of days free, it may be tricky to fit the two events into a single trip. This being said, even if you are limited to one day, it is still an interesting drive.
As for the rest of the track, apart from the occasional car race or monster truck rally, it is still a rather empty place these days. There aren’t many racing events because there are no facilities to host them. A local group called Friends of Port Royal Speedway has been trying to get the track up and running again but have had no luck so far. If you’re looking for somewhere to visit, the closest real-life city to Port Royal is Beaufort. There is a historical marker nearby that you can read about the tragic history of the place if you’re interested. The area was hit hard by Hurricane Dorian back in September. Most of the buildings were destroyed and there were numerous injuries. Still, the organizers have decided to go ahead with the race as planned. This will be the 24th running of the event. While you’re there, be sure to check out the waterfront if you haven’t already. There are lots of pubs and bars there that you can relax in after a long day of exploring. The next city down the road from Port Royal is Bluffton. This is where the Clemson University Tigers football team practices. The University is also located in nearby Clemson.
If you want to learn more about Port Royal Speedway, the best place to start is its Wikipedia page. You can also look at Flickr for some history shots or the Friends of Port Royal Facebook group for more information. If you really want to dig deep into the subject, you can read the original race program from 1960 or browse through the archived editions of Sports Car Restorations.