The Texas Mile returns to Chase Field in Beeville this weekend with its fan base of thousands.
The race runs Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. until dusk and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Admission is $25 for a three-day spectator pass, and children under 12 are admitted free.
Beeville residents can receive a discount pass of $20.
While the cars and speed are the obvious focus, there are hidden treasures inside this event.
Matus said that she is continually amazed by the stories she hears.
There is the tale of the daughter who races her father’s car in his memory.
There is a wounded warrior who races a bike he built as part of his therapy.
St. Jude’s will bring children to watch the event.
“Everybody gets to see the flashy cars but, what we have built is more than that,” she said. “The people are the heart and soul that make the event.”
Locally, Coastal Bend College students will again be a part of the event.
“They come out for event, and they shadow our tech staff,” Matus said in a presentation to county commissioners recently. “Also, we are reaching out to our high schools. We came to a career day and spoke to them about marketing careers.
“Those are the things we like to contribute to the community.
“It is the sleepy side of the business.
“It is not something that gains a lot of exposure.
“But to those youths going out there to be inspired, we say we are able to show the world to them so they can see the possibilities of the world they have out there.”
It is this unique quality of the race that attracts thousands to Beeville to meet those who run the mile.
“There are only seven places in the world that this kind of event happens. That is including Russia and Australia,” Matus said.
This weekend, more than 220 drivers will run the Mile.
It all began as a grassroots motorsports event a decade ago and is now one of the nation’s premier speed events for those on four or two wheels.
The Texas Mile, now in its second decade in Beeville area and fourth season at Chase Field after being at a Goliad facility the previous seven years, is held twice a year, March and October.
The concept is simple: drivers line up and go as fast as they can for one mile.
The goal? Try to top the Mile’s record 278 mph record or at least be the fastest car, truck or motorcycle in their vehicle’s class or just to achieve their personal best.
Drivers will race everything from Porsches, Corvettes, Camaros, Audis, BMWs, Dodge Vipers, Dodge Challengers, Ford Mustangs, Harley-Davidsons, Kawasakis, Saabs and even Mini Coopers and Fiats down the mile-long track.
But just what does it take to put on this event?
“It is a incredible amount of work,” Matus said. “There are so many details, it is unbelievable.
“If you study racing events and go look at the safety, most organizations just do the minimum.
“We don’t do the minimum you have to have to do an event.
“We go above and beyond.
“The reason is, at the end of the day, I want to be able to sleep at night...
“There are not many events that have an emergency helicopter sitting at the event.”
Waiting in the wings are the top-notch emergency crews with Angel Care Ambulance Service.
The fire team is headed by a lead instructor at Texas A&M Fire School.
All precautions are taken.
“We choose to do so even though it is not a necessity or a requirement, but at the end of the day, we want to be prepared.
“A lot of people don’t prepare for a worst case, but we do.”
That preparation has kept the event running smoothly and grown it to the point that more spectators are arriving than there are motel rooms in town.
“Even the new La Quinta is booked,” Matus said.
Not everything this year has run as smoothly as she would like.
Matus said that they have overcome a multitude of challenges this year, including a stiff insurance requirement by the Bee Development Authority which coordinates the use of Chase Field.
“The amount we pay for insurance there is unique,” Matus said. “It is unique for Beeville.
“We are about to be running out of Ellington, and their insurance is $5 million.”
Matus stressed that Ellington isn’t a replacement to the Beeville event. She plans to keep Beeville running.
Both the city and county have pledged support for the Mile—albeit in different amounts.
The county offered $1,000 from its newly formed hotel occupancy fund account. The amount was limited because it doesn’t have guidelines yet in place for distributing the money.
The city offered up $29,500.
The money, from both governmental bodies, is to be spent strictly on promotion and not to be used to help pay the cost of a $50 million insurance policy for the event, required by the BDA.
Matus said that the Mile’s main concern remains the amount of insurance required by BDA.
“That is what has frustrated me so much—there wasn’t a good partnering conversation that we had,” she said. “It was more of an attack...”
Despite that, Matus said she is excited to return to Beeville and happy to bring so many visitors to the area and worldwide notoriety to the town.
“I can firmly say we do make a difference,” she said.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.