July 8, 1999
Mesa Does The Fourth
This past Friday, I spent an evening at Mesa Park for a night of racing
action. With a festive, holiday spirit in the air, Mesa Park celebrated its
first Fourth of July "Swamp Style."
For myself, Mesa Park is easier to get to than any other track in the state.
It is located in Fellsmere, FL, one mile east of exit 69 on Interstate 95.
This provides easy access for people along Florida's East Coast, from Cocoa to West Palm Beach. Several people that I talked with lived in Melbourne or Palm Bay, which along with Vero Beach are Mesa Park's main drawing areas.
This was my second trip to Mesa Park. I first attended a race there last
December for an unofficial soft opening. Park officials used the time as a
dry run to work out any kinks before throwing open its doors to the public.
In December, parts of the Park looked excellent but some parts were
unfinished. They officially opened in January. By this trip, all
construction had been completed. The fit and finish that was lacking in
December is now in place. Sidewalks are paved. The concert arena is built. Mesa Village has been "inhabited." All in all, Mesa Park is a first class operation.
Daytime rains put a damper on some things. The parking lot and pit area
became quite muddy. However, a swamp buggy race cannot be rained out by rain alone. Since the track is filled with a few feet of water, a little
more water won't hurt. Only lightning will cancel an event because of
safety hazards. By race time, the announcers had done a little rain dance
which kept the rains at bay for the show.
The racing facility at Mesa Park is unique to racing. The oval track is a
half mile in length, but it has an egg-like shape reminiscent of Darlington
Speedway. The track also has one leg of a figure 8 track cutting across the
center of the oval. A two lap swamp buggy race covers one mile and utilizes all parts of the track. The water covering the track is between one and two feet high, except for two "holes" located on the front and back
straghtaways. The "Monster Hole" on the front straight is over four feet
The water level at the track is maintained by a complex pump and drain
system. The bottom of the track is lined with clay, but there is not
plastic liner under the clay to hold in water. The clay is simply saturated
with water. The complex pump system allows the Park to drain the track and use the dirt bottom of the track for other events such as tractor pulls and
Races at Mesa Park are sanctioned by the North American Swamp Racing
Association (NASRA). Swamp buggies run three weekends of the year in
January, July, and September. Big Rig tractors pull into town in March and
October. July 30 through August 1, NASRA will sanction a high flying
Monster Truck show. Big Foot, Bear Foot and all the other top car crushers
will be on hand.
The president of NASRA is Matthew Graney. I had the opportunity to speak
with Graney during the course of the night. Graney operates as head
timer/scorer as well as overseeing how the entire night flows along. He
also handles day to day operations involved with promoting events. Graney
also works with Florida Sports Park in Naples, the world's only other swamp
buggy race track. He is not competing with them because both tracks only
race three weeks per year. Graney is also trying to start a driver base
local to Fellsmere by hosting an open house in June for swamp buggies.
Graney has alot of enthusiasm and it shows in his work. Mesa Park's racing is growing and with Graney at the helm, this will continue in the future.
Mesa Park has all the pieces in place. A sparkling new facility. An
entertaining announce crew. TV quality lighting. Dedicated leadership.
The next race at Mesa Park will be the Monster Truck show July 30 through
August 1. The next swamp buggy race will be September 3-5. Mark those
dates on your calendars and come experience Mesa Park, Florida's freshest and most versatile racing venue.
For ticket information, call Mesa Park at (888) MESA-TIX or visit their
website at www.mesapark.com . For NASRA questions, visit www.nasra.com or call 1-877-GO-NASRA.