The rubber is hitting the road again for motor sports fans the weekend of Oct. 30, but this time it will be back in Beeville.
The Texas Mile, which allows gearheads to put their vehicles to the test twice a year, is leaving the Victoria Regional Airport and returning to the Beeville’s Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex.
Since co-owners Shannon and Jay Matus began the international event in October 2003, registered drivers have come from across the globe to see how fast they can get their car going on a one-mile straight away of open tarmac.
The event has moved between Beeville, Goliad and Victoria in past years.
The latest move is because of construction on the Victoria Regional Airport and the arrival of new carrier SkyWest Airlines, which uses the long runway the Texas Mile also uses. The flights will begin service next month.
In the past, flights would land on the shorter runway as the racers used the longer one.
The event uses a long, straight and flat path for racers to reach their maximum speed unencumbered by obstacles, turns, elevation change or a speeding ticket.
Lenny Llerena, director of the Victoria Regional Airport, said with the new airline coming to Victoria, larger regional aircraft need to use the longer runway.
“From day one I talked to Shannon,” Llerena said “And if an airplane of this magnitude would come and fly out of here, that would in essence, stop us from doing (The Texas Mile), and she understood that.”
The move to Beeville will also mean a loss of revenue to city businesses from the event.
The Texas Mile brought in $3 million to Victoria’s economy in the five events hosted here between March 2017 and October 2019, before the pandemic forced its cancellation in March, the Advocate previously reported. Of the $3 million, about $350,000 was spent on marketing, rent, monthly services and maintenance, an ambulance service and local food and vendors.
In 2019, the city awarded the Texas Mile $12,004 in Hotel Occupancy Taxes, which is generated from rented hotel/motel rooms.
Shannon Matus said the runway in Beeville offers 10,000 square feet to fit equipment such as safety barriers, timing devices, cones, merchandise, trailers and other equipment in addition to the raceway.
Van Collier is a longtime driver at the Texas Mile, only missing the event once since its start in 2003. As the self-proclaimed “nut behind the wheel,” Collier has driven countless makes and models at the Texas Mile and other motor sports events nationwide.
At this year’s October event, he plans to break a world record for the Ford Shelby GT 500 that currently sits at 265 mph. When it comes to breaking records at The Texas Mile, Collier said he’s going to go wherever the race does.
Collier said even his wife knows to block off the two Texas Mile weekends each year because “it’s permanently on my calendar.”
The cancellation of March’s Texas Mile because of the pandemic was a hit to Collier and many members of the “Texas Mile Family.”
The Texas Mile had hosted races the last weekend of March and October every year until COVID-19 caused a cancellation. The Matus family received official confirmation to host the October event in September.
“We owe our March participants an event,” Matus said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it, we’re going to make it.”
For the Beeville area, the twice-a-year event’s return will be marked by travelers coming to the area from across the continent, including hotel reservations, restaurant patronage and even folks like Collier visiting longtime friends he met through driving at The Texas Mile.
“Bringing the Texas Mile back to Bee County will provide a much-needed injection of funds to our local business community, which is the backbone of our economy,” stated Bee Development Authority Executive Director Jaime Arrisola in a Texas Mile news release.