MIAMI – Longtime South Florida businessman and Homestead-Miami Speedway founder Rafael “Ralph” Sánchez died Monday morning.
Sánchez, who was born in 1948, had been in declining health for much of the past year. He is survived by wife Lourdes, daughter Patricia and son Ralph Jr.
“I am saddened to learn of Ralph’s passing and offer my condolences to Lourdes, Patricia and Ralph Jr,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Matthew Becherer. “Whether it’s the championship races that receive worldwide attention, the economic impact, or the countless memories made by fans that attend track events, it’s directly attributable to Ralph and his foresight. The team at Homestead-Miami Speedway and racing fans in this region are indebted to Ralph. South Florida has lost a true visionary.”
Sánchez, who founded and managed the Grand Prix of Miami starting in 1983, led efforts to bring the motorsports facility to Homestead. He worked with City of Homestead and Miami-Dade County officials to make the track a reality. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the track took place on Aug. 24, 1993 – exactly one year after Hurricane Andrew wiped out much of Homestead. The track is credited with being a major catalyst for redevelopment following the category five hurricane that leveled large portions of Miami-Dade County.