FLORENCE, S.C. — Charlie Powell said he is relinquishing ownership of Florence Motor Speedway, transferring it on a lease-to-own basis July 5 to Steve Zacharias, Myrtle Beach Speedway’s general manager since 2012.
The news was first reported by TheFourthTurn.com. Powell would not comment on how much the track is being leased for, or how long the lease is before it constitutes ownership.
Myrtle Beach Speedway, meanwhile, is expected to host its final stock-car event in August.
Powell had shared ownership of FMS in 1995 and said he has owned it outright since ‘98. When Powell first had a share of ownership, the track was known as I-95 Speedway and was NASCAR-sanctioned. But after talking with a friend, Powell decided the track needed a more personable name than one named after an interstate, so it was changed to its current name.
In 1998, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Dale Earnhardt Jr. even won a Late Model feature race at Florence. Powell talked about his relationship with the Earnhardt family while Junior raced there.
“Dale Sr. was a real personal friend of mine, and I’m not just saying that to be saying that,” Powell said of the seven-time Cup champion who died on the final lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. “Dale Sr. had called me over the winter before the 1997 season, and he said he wanted no special treatment for his son.
“He told me not to give him nothing, don’t give him something anybody else doesn’t have,” he added. “Dale Jr.’s dad wanted him to earn it the hard way.”
Although FMS is no longer NASCAR-sanctioned, Zacharias told TheFourthTurn.com he plans to have the track sanctioned by NASCAR again for next season.
Meanwhile, Powell said it will be difficult to say goodbye to the 4/10-mile asphalt oval.
“Things go by so fast, they’ve really gone by fast since February,” said Powell, 83. “Now I don’t have but over two weeks left before I’m gone.”
Those two final events are June 27, and July 3-4. As of now, no fans are allowed.
According to TheFourthTurn, FMS’ first event under Zacharias will be Sept. 4, which is part of the same weekend as Darlington Raceway hosting its Southern 500 weekend.
Powell said he’ll help however he can with the transition.
“I’m here to help,” Powell said. “(Zacharias) said he expects me to help some. It’s sort of a legacy to me, now. I’ve made a lot of tremendous friends with a lot of tremendous people in this business. It’s all about entertainment. I’ll miss that.
“I just hope that everybody who has attended the races that I’ve touched their lives in some way and that I’ve made them happier and the races that much more exciting,” Powell said. “I’m glad I was able to do that. We’ve got the next two races coming up, and my focus right now is on that.”
An eight-time APSE national contest honoree, Scott recently authored his first book,”70 Years of Thrills and Chills, Drama and Dents at Darlington Raceway.” In college, Scott played on a tennis scholarship and earned degrees from Young Harris College (Ga.) and Berry College (Ga.).
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