Bithlo, Florida: School Bus Figure 8 Races

Junker school buses run on a figure-8 course, trying to be the last to be rammed in the crossover.

Orlando Speedway

Address:
19164 E. Colonial Dr., Bithlo, FL
Directions:
Orlando Speedway, between SR 50 and SR 520.
Phone:
407-568-1367
RA Rates:
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School Bus Figure 8 Races

The figure 8 school bus races at Bithlo, FL's Orlando Speedworld racetrack have continued on a fairly regular basis since my original post and remained popular, but now its national notoriety may spread beyond RA. Speedworld held a "night of carnage" on July 28, with bus races, CAMPER-trailer races, and a traditional demolition derby. The ease of destruction of the average tow-behind camper would make a great driver ed film on the dangers of riding in said crackerboxes. The big news was the presence of three custom-painted buses sponsored by Haxan Films (the Orlando-based group behind "Blair Witch") and the documentation of same by a PEOPLE magazine photographer. Bus racing: next stop Indy?

[Dave Mitchell, 08/18/2000]
School Bus Figure 8 Races

At Orlando Speedworld, there are two types of unusual races I have been to: School Bus Figure 8 Races and Boat 'n' Trailer Races, usually the final event of a full card of stock car racing.

Figure 8 School Bus Racing is pretty self-explanatory: a bunch of school buses run on a figure-8 course, trying to avoid hitting one another in the crossover, avoiding tipping over in the turns, or blowing surprisingly fragile engines. Drivers include real school bus drivers, drivers from the racing divisions, and a few who actually have their own custom racing buses and who travel the circuit (I have heard that tracks from Jacksonville to St. Pete now host bus races!) Buses are decorated; many folks just graffiti 'em up with spray paint, but some copy the paint schemes of their NASCAR favorites, or add cartoons of screaming kids in the windows.

Boat 'n' Trailer races are actually much more spectacular. Junker boats are strapped to equally squalid trailers, hooked up to bomber-class stock cars and let loose on the oval. Havoc ensues as the decrepit water craft's inevitable decay is hastened by hot laps around the half-mile oval. Wheels and sparks fly, and the air is filled by a snowfall of Boat Particles of questionable origin (fibreglass? asbestos?). One race I saw had a mannequin of a fisherman standing in a boat. As the trailer lost a wheel, the mannequin lost his head, and the hideous apparition dragged by the catch fence, rattling his fishing pole along the chain link like a kid with a stick. Hilarious!

[Dave Mitchell, 08/21/1998]

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