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Homestead-Miami Speedway New President's Mission: Make NASCAR South Florida Cool

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Changing Perception Is Key for Homestead-MiamiSean Gardner - Getty Images
  • A new track president means it’s time for a new chapter in the Homestead-Miami Speedway's history.

  • Guillermo Santa Cruz’s plans to put the South Florida facility through another metamorphosis.

  • However, this one isn’t on the aesthetic side, but rather the way the facility is perceived.


Homestead-Miami Speedway has undergone several metamorphoses since Ralph Sanchez constructed the 1.5-mile track to help Dade County recover economically from Hurricane Andrew, which devested the area in 1992.

It’s been reconfigured twice, undergone a name change, and had a new multi-story media center constructed. When Sanchez opened his track in 1995, it’s food and beverage offerings were different from other NASCAR speedways, more characteristic of the Southern Florida culture.

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A latte could be purchased at the garage entrance concession stand and in the grandstand area Arepas de Choclo (cheese stuffed corn cakes) were cooked on request. Those unique features disappeared after International Speedway Corp. and now NASCAR acquired the management lease from track owner the city of Homestead.

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NASCAR held its championship weekends at Homestead-Miami from 2002 through 2019 before moving the season-ending showcase to Phoenix.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

Now, it’s time for a new chapter in the speedway’s history with recently named track president Guillermo Santa Cruz’s plans to put the South Florida facility through another metamorphosis. However, this one isn’t on the aesthetic side, but rather the way the facility is perceived.

Even though Homestead is less than an hour from Miami, it’s never been viewed as a part of South Florida’s glamorous sports scene. Santa Cruz, a longtime sports and entertainment media executive, plans to change that perception, integrating NASCAR into the “broader sports ecosystem” so that when people think of South Florida sports they think of NASCAR.

The son of Cuban exiles, Santa Cruz realizes that within the Miami, South Florida, Homestead sports community one must have an international strategy while not forgetting the grassroots. He points to NASCAR’s diversity initiatives as being “on point because that helps drive change and that helps drive the image of NASCAR” beyond its core and historical constituency.

Santa Cruz believes there’s untapped potential for the speedway within the local community as well as South Florida in the events it hosts. He also believes the pride that should exist there due to champions being crowned at the facility for 18 years isn’t always evident because so much occurs in the area. Santa Cruz believes the speedway should embrace the Southern Florida sports scene instead of shying away from it. That means being active in the community and the market, making a “little bit of noise” and making sure that people know what’s occurring at the speedway.

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Bringing the glitz and A-listers from the Formula 1 grids of South Beach to Homestead-Miami Speedway is no easy task.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

Santa Cruz’s background should be beneficial to his plans. He comes to the speedway after more than 10 years at IMG, a leading global sports agency, where he was vice president, Latin America, Mexico and U.S. Hispanic. In that role he managed sales, business development, and client relations, with a heavy focus in sports and entertainment programming across Latin America.

Prior to IMG, Santa Cruz spent more than a decade at Telemundo where he was executive producer of Olympics and vice president, special events/news and sports. He began his career in sports media at Univision Network, where he was the lead producer of two FIFA World Cup events. His leading role on the 2004 Olympics won him a Sports Emmy Award with NBC/Telemundo, and his contribution to coverage of the events surrounding Sept. 11, 2001earned a special citation from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. In 1996, Santa Cruz was part of the Univision team that collected an Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Newscast following its coverage of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta.

However, the key element in Santa Cruz’s impressive resume is he understands South Florida, its culture and its business acumen. His parents moved to the Miami area from Puerto Rico as he started middle school so his ties to South Florida are lifelong.

So, could NASCAR’s championship weekend return to Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2026? It’s certainly on Santa Cruz’s radar. And on the amenities side, it sure would be nice to have lattes and Arepas de Choclo return to the concessions’ menu.