That is the message on the back of cards being passed around the community saying “Beeville Welcomes The Texas Mile.” The cards also boast the time-honored motto that the U.S. Navy once painted on buildings at the former Chase Field Naval Air Station, “Chase Sets the Pace.”
The Texas Mile is a world famous land speed event that has been bringing motor sports fans to South Texas for years.
The event will make its first appearance at what is now the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex in Bee County during Memorial Day weekend, May 27-29.
The event had been held at what had served as a bounce field for Navy fighter jet trainees at the heyday of naval air training at Chase Field, the auxiliary landing field north of Berclair in Goliad County.
But the Navy bought the field back from Goliad County recently and the Texas Mile held its last event there earlier this year.
Beeville Main Street Program Manager Michelle Wright said the community owes the decision of the Texas Mile organizers to come to Beeville to Mayor Santiago “Jimbo” Martinez.
The mayor admitted that he had been following the story of the Texas Mile in the Bee-Picayune and when he read that the event was losing its home raceway in Goliad County, he called Bee Development Authority Director Joe B. Montez and his administrative consultant, John Longoria, and urged them to approach the event’s organizers.
As a member of the BDA’s board of directors, Martinez thought Montez and Longoria might interest the organizers in bringing the event here.
Then Martinez started making some calls and managed to get Montez’s and Longoria’s names and phone numbers to the organizers.
Fortunately, Jay and Shannon Matus, the event organizers, had been staying in a motel on Beeville’s east side for the event the last eight years. They already knew the community well.
Although they were about to sign an agreement with another venue for the Texas Mile, they immediately changed their minds.
Martinez said he called City Manager Tom Ginter and suggested that the city make a special effort to work with the Matus family to ease their transition to Chase Field.
“Shannon thought it was a godsend,” Wright said.
Now the Matus family wants to become involved in the community to encourage young people to reach out for success, Wright said.
Martinez said he was not really interested in getting credit for coming up with the idea. But he knew the event would bring a lot of people to Beeville at a time when the economy is starting to improve.
“I think it was just fate,” Martinez said. “It’s like we were kinda looking for each other.”
Wright said the Texas Mile will mean much more for Beeville than just a speed contest. The event will make people from all over the world aware of Beeville and Chase Field.
“There are so many things happening.” Martinez said of the current oilfield activity and events like the Texas Mile. “There is so much potential right now.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.