Okay, it’s been closed for years, the grounds are weed choked, and the racetrack itself is cracking up in places. True, it’s a figure of eight banked oval, so it lacks the style of Goodwood and the allure of the ‘Ring, but let’s not talk it down, because as mancaves go, this is brilliant.

The Desoto Speedway in Manatee County, Florida, covers sixty three acres. Amenities include floodlights, ticket booths, PA system, race control, spectator stands, workshops and service vehicles, together with an office, meeting room and lounge area, and even a fully equipped canteen; and I’ll remind you it’s in Florida, a place where there is sunshine, cheap petrol, and it’s legal to drive ‘thru’ a bank, a buffet, a church, or Hooters.

Better still, a council didn’t buy the speedway, so it wont be made into a skate park, cycle path, or environmentally friendly housing. The new owner is Cleetus McFarland. Cleetus does epic things that have no relation to a sustainable future, like building a record breaking twin turbo drag car out of a $5000 snotter Corvette, or spinning the tyres on his 1000hp Camaro until they melt faster than a Greenland ice sheet.

He’s a proud ‘murican who likes cars made in America, especially if they are improved by ‘muricans in their backyards so that they are loud, boosted, tuned, and noxious. He believes the V8 engine in his Corvette is made from the DNA of bald eagles, and if he puts the hammer down it lets them sing.

You will either be saddened or relieved to know that Cleetus is not actually real. For some of his 1.95million fans this may be akin to saying bad things about Santa, but it is a fact.

Cleetus is the alter ego and happy accident of Garrett Mitchell, a devout petrol head on a mission to not take himself too seriously. Filmed by his boss doing a pastiche of ‘Chevrolet Man’, the footage went viral. Garrett had the good sense to run with it, using Cleetus as an excuse for him and his mates to build dragsters, street racers and drift cars, and hoon them mercilessly. His passion, humour, and drag racing skills, won him an army of fans, and a serious YouTube income.

Recent videos show him wondering around his new purchase with a look of wonder and joy on his face akin to those normally reserved for the arrival of a first born child, or better still, their first puppy. It’s clear he is in love with the place, why else would he post a video that consists of him cleaning the bleachers? (That’s spectator seating to you and me)

He’s fixing the electrics and pulling the weeds, preparing the track as a film and event venue called ‘The Freedom Factory’ where the smell of barbequed ribs will mingle freely with barbequed rubber. Most of the time however, him and his mates have the ultimate playground to let their homebrewed V8 behemoths run wild. Well played chaps I say, or translated to ‘murican; Hell yeah, Brother.

About The Author

Steve Swanson

Steve turns any opportunity to write about cars into a roadtrip. It's seen him ride shotgun in a Bentley Blower with Clive Cussler, and cross paths with automotive YouTubers in Canada and the US. His work has been published in Classic Cars and Classic American and some magazines that no MotorPunk reader has ever heard of. When he's not writing or driving you can find him kicking tyres at seedy auctions and hawking junk optimistically described as Automobilia

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