Racers Propose "LEO MUSGRAVE PARKWAY" As New Roads Name
by Bill Green - "From Behind The MIC!"
St. Petersburg, FL (Dec. 3rd, 2004) The vision of Leo Musgrave, that would be a Pinellas County Landmark for 44 years, has now seen it's last race.
November 20th, 2004, marked the end of an amazing era.
Leo and Sybil Musgrave raised 11 kids on this gulf coast peninsula patch of farm land. I'd like to believe that even the lone patriarch of Leo Musgrave's clan, Sybil, would have like to have seen it go on forever.
My first day at Sunshine Speedway is only a distant memory some 44 years later. An old family photo of me in front of the front stretch fence, with my Dad's 32 Ford coupe on the track behind me has even disappeared over the years. Coming full circle in 1995, I became an announcer at Sunshine "ACTION" Speedway and remained there until my move to East Bay in 2003.
I was privileged to have work where legends like Bobbie Allison, Red Farmer, Smokey Unyoke, Buzzie & Wayne Reutimann and thousands more, have driven and walked the sacred pits. I met local characters and racing families over my tenure as announcer. I will always look proudly on the 2000 race season as my favorite. The "Battle of the Tracks" that I was privileged to be a part of should stand as a reminder, tracks can coexists, be competitive and have fun. That year will also always make me tear up, as I think of the loss of our friend, "Wild" Bill Revard.
As most racers know, progress has killed off the bulk of Florida's speedway's over the years. But unlike Golden Gate Speedway, Phillips Field and the dozen other tracks that came and went over those 44 years, Sunshine "ACTION" Speedway made it through til now, as progress closed in.
You have all heard the story of how Leo Musgrave had visited local raceways leading up to the birth of his big plan. Seeing the car tags, that were mostly from Pinellas county, in the parking lots of those "other" tracks, set the wheels turning. Leo owned quit a bit of land in Pinellas County and the new airport wanted some of it, so a deal was struck and the vision began to rise up from the farmland.
Sybil Musgrave has outlived her husband, and now his prize gem, Sunshine Speedway. The loss of which will have a big effect on the local economy through the loss of revenues, race shops, speed shops and all the rooms, food and parts sold in the area. But, it is the Sunshine "ACTION" Speedway's buildings, ticket booths, flag stand, scoring tower, fencing and more, that has already made it's way south to Charlotte County Speedway to live on.
All to make way for the future roads planned through and over the property by the Florida Dept. of Transportation. That's the part that got me to thinking. Roads are important, but so is Pinellas County's history and Pinellas Park's amazing little oval track. So if we must coexist, let the name that marks the future highway across our beloved Sunshine Speedway read: "LEO MUSGRAVE PARKWAY." This proposal is already being drafted and forwarded to the Florida Dept. of Transportation and Pinellas County officials.
Thousands of race fans from all over the United States and beyond have trekked the necessary miles to visit the gem Leo designed in the late 50's. So in the future as they drive through Pinellas county I hope one of their grandkids or your grandkids reads a sign and asks, "Who was Leo Musgrave?" When they do, you take the time to recount the dream and vision of the dairy farmer and his speedway, you tell them about the opportunity and the institution that will forever be, Sunshine "ACTION" Speedway.
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