Business

Slippery Sam’s is gone forever, but site is about to get a fast new life

Drivers race around the track in Italian-made Birel Art cars during winter races in 2016. A track coming to Biloxi will be a stop on the winter circuit, the developer says.
Drivers race around the track in Italian-made Birel Art cars during winter races in 2016. A track coming to Biloxi will be a stop on the winter circuit, the developer says.

More family entertainment is on the way to the Biloxi beach — this time race cars on the site of what was Slippery Sam’s before Hurricane Katrina.

A dirt hill is all that remains of the water park, and it will be used to landscape the two winding tracks, said Joey Spear with Greater Gulf Development, who is developing the new attraction.

“It’s a go-kart track with an RV park in the back,” he said. Unlike the old-style go-karts, these Birel ART cars designed in Italy are quiet enough to carry on a conversation while they are running and are of the caliber people would expect to see at a Disney park, he said.

“This is totally different than anything you’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s an experience.”

The property is north of U.S. 90 at McDonnell Avenue and just east of Veterans Avenue. For 28 years the site was a water park. Spear said he looked for another attraction to bring to South Mississippi when the cost of rebuilding a water park proved too expensive.

This is the only Birel ART track at a beach, he said. He estimates it will take about 90 days to build the track, and Spear said he’s racing to get the attraction open in time for Cruisin’ The Coast in early October.

The track isn’t named yet — that will be approved by Birel, which also will oversee the construction to make sure the course and banked turns are built to specifications for safety and fun.

Rental cars for adults race at up to 50 miles per hour on a regulation 3/4-mile track. A junior track will be 1,120 feet long.

Spear compared the high-tech cars to “little Ferraris” and said they are wide and run just three-quarters of an inch off the track so they don’t flip. Adding to the fun are LED screens in each cart and a leader board on the track. Ten karts run in a heat so drivers can challenge their family and friends.

There’s also a race circuit that runs from October through February. Spear said he expects a race in Biloxi one weekend each of those months, drawing thousands of fans to stay on the Coast in the off-season and drivers, who arrive with their campers and cars to stay on-site at a 10-acre public RV park planned at the back of the property.

“They want to come here and race,” Spear said, where the weather is good and a crosswalk leads to the beach

The 14-acre site is zoned WF Waterfront along U.S. 90 and CB Community Business at the back of the site. Biloxi’s Development Review Committee on Wednesday advised Spear and Bobby Heinrich, project designer, to go through the process of changing the zoning for the entire site to CB. They also advised the developers to review the project with adjacent property owners.

Eric Nolan, DRC chairman and city arborist, said one damaged tree will need to be cut for safety. The rest of the oaks will be incorporated into the design.

Jerry Creel, community development director, said the city will work with the developers to fast track the course so it can open in time for the race circuit.

“To us it’s more family entertainment,” he said.

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