The NASCAR SpeedPark in Myrtle Beach will shut down at the end of the day Sunday and reopen in mid-May as a resurrected form of the popular Grand Prix parks along the Grand Strand that closed in the early 2000s.
Mark Lazarus, whose family ran the two Grand Prix Family Thrill Parks along the Grand Strand until the last one closed in 2006, is bringing back the brand as the new manager of the go-kart attraction, which will be known as Broadway Grand Prix.
The attraction off U.S. 17 Bypass near 21st Avenue North, which is owned by Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc., aims to reopen May 16, possibly earlier if the park can get rebranded and ready sooner, said Lazarus, who also is Horry County Council chairman.
The Grand Prix also will feature an overhauled ``Thunder Road’’ track for drivers ages 16 and up either with Grand Prix cars or a racing style cart, he said.
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Prices are still being set, but should be in line with the current prices, Lazarus said. But the Grand Prix will have more wristband options, with a separate price for kids under 48-inches tall, he said.
“We are going to kind of rebrand it to the Grand Prix that we had in the past that was very successful for us,’’ said Lazarus, who also owns Wild Water and Wheels in Surfside Beach and the O.D. Pavilion Amusement Park in North Myrtle Beach. ``People all the time have been asking us about the Grand Prix.’’
Lazarus’ family had operated two Grand Prix parks; one in North Myrtle Beach that shut down in 2006 and another one in Myrtle Beach that shut down in 2001 after B&C declined to renew Lazarus’ lease. Lazarus said he doesn’t have any concerns about starting this arrangement with B&C.
“No, not at all,’’ he said. ``At the time, they just had a different direction they were going ... and what we were doing didn’t fit.’’
The Grand Prix in North Myrtle Beach shut down in 2006 when the Lazarus family decided to cash in on its valuable land at the height of the real estate market and make way for a shopping center.
“We’ve regretted it ever since,’’ said Lazarus, who has been in the amusement business with his family for 30 years. ``We’ve missed the business.’’
Many of the NASCAR SpeedPark features will remain at Broadway Grand Prix, including the kids’ rides, arcade, climbing wall and skycoaster, Lazarus said. The property also has seven race tracks. The NASCAR SpeedPark opened in Myrtle Beach in 1998.
B&C, which years ago had planned to open NASCAR SpeedParks in other cities, announced the changes to the Myrtle Beach SpeedPark on Friday.
“Burroughs & Chapin is excited about the opportunity to transition the park to Broadway Grand Prix, and about its potential going forward,’’ Chad Carlson, a senior vice president at B&C, said in a news release.
“Burroughs & Chapin will be making a substantial investment in the park and adding new attractions to the already impressive line-up. Our goal is to offer the best go-kart racing experience in the Southeast.’’
Officials will be investing between $250,000 and $500,000 in the next few weeks rebranding, painting and doing other small upgrades, Lazarus said.
More substantial upgrades are expected in 2015, when crews have more time in the off-season to prepare the park for next year’s busy summer season. Details of next year’s upgrades are still being worked out. Jacksonville-Fla.-based PARC Management had operated NASCAR SpeedPark in Myrtle Beach -- one of only two such parks in the country -- since 2008. It owns the NASCAR SpeedPark brand, and said it plans to focus on the only other one, in Sevierville, Tenn., while aiming to open more of them in other cities.
“The NASCAR SpeedPark Myrtle Beach has been a successful location for our company,’’ PARC CEO Randy Drew said in a news release. “PARC recently decided to focus resources on enhancing our Sevierville, Tenn., NASCAR SpeedPark location, as well as on expanding the development and operation of new concept parks and additional NASCAR SpeedParks.
“Burroughs & Chapin’s interest in creating a new future for the park provided the opportunity for PARC to turn its attention to those other priorities.’’
PARC will no longer have a presence in Myrtle Beach. As of Friday, it no longer manages Myrtle Waves Water Park because of an ownership change, PARC spokeswoman Krishelle Hancock said. No other details on any changes at Myrtle Waves, which hasn’t yet opened for the season, were available Friday afternoon.
PARC and B&C also severed ties recently with another amusement hub in Myrtle Beach. Broadway Amusement Rides LLC recently took over management from PARC of what has been known as the Pavilion Nostalgia Park at Broadway at the Beach, which B&C owns. New rides already have been installed. Bill Prescott, a local who operates rides such as the Slingshot on Ocean Boulevard, is the registered agent for Broadway Amusement Rides. B&C has declined to elaborate on its strategy with rides and amusements at Broadway at the Beach.