It’s race night at Ocala Speedway in Florida, and the odor of exhaust and rubber mix with the smell of boiled peanuts and beer and cotton candy and grilling hamburgers. The stands, capacity 3500, are filling. The little racetrack has been here for a long time. There are grandparents in the stands who first came as children. Friday night without Ocala Speedway? Hard to imagine, but it almost happened. And it has already happened in so many other towns. “There was a time when, if you could talk the county commission into letting you carve out a racetrack on your property, you were instantly rich,” says Rich Pratt, 38, a third-generation race-car driver who lives just up the road. “Those days are over.” Ocala’s owner, Mike Peters, stands at the entrance to the pits, wearing his aviator Ray-Bans. Peters, 39, is a jet pilot who flew Boeing 737s for an airline, but he quit to buy the speedway and run it. He admits he really doesn’t know what he was thinking when he and his fiancée, Angie Clifton, a 41-year-old vice-president of a bank, bought the racetrack at the end of 2005. But he knows what he was thinking a… Read full this story
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