Ralph Sanchez, founder of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, passed away Monday after a long fight with cancer.
Sanchez, a Cuban immigrant, was born in 1948 and was a pioneer, innovator and legend within the greater Miami area. Sanchez’s history in Miami began with a sports car race in the streets of Miami in 1983; IndyCars later raced in the Tamiami Park area thanks to Sanchez’s efforts.
Sanchez earned his accounting degree from Florida Atlantic University and worked as a real estate salesman and land developer before getting involved with motorsports.
The track now known as Homestead-Miami began life as the Metro-Dade Homestad Motorsports Complex and hosted its first race in 1995, the NASCAR Nationwide (then Busch) Series.
The track itself went through three different configurations. It began as a four-corner squared oval similar to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, before the corners were curved before 1998, and later banked before 2003. Homestead annually hosts the final weekend of the NASCAR season and has also hosted IndyCar and sports car races.
Lewis Franck offers a touching tribute here for Autoweek; further reflections are here from RACER, veteran writer Anne Proffit, and below from American Le Mans Series President and CEO, Scott Atherton.
“We are all deeply saddened by the news of Ralph’s passing,” said Atherton. “He was a true motorsports promoter, an accomplished businessman, a family man and a visionary – all wrapped in designer suits and old-school gentleman’s etiquette.”