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Groesbeck car community grinds on despite Grand Prix cancellation

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Posted at 10:08 AM, Aug 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-27 13:16:44-04

GROESBECK, Texas — Do you remember the feeling when you bought your first car? What about your first sports car?

It's something recent high school graduate Brant Latray put into words, as he stared at his Mazda Miata parked outside his father's office in downtown Groesbeck.

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A Steven's Grocery Store sign fashioned like an oil derrick bounces up and down as drivers go past in their way to Groesbeck.

"I just got this recently for graduation and I love it," Latray said, as he opened the driver's side door. "I always really liked JBM cars, and once I found one. I was like I have to have it."

Latray says his father wasn't sold on pairing him with the Miata at first, but once they took it for a spin, they were both hooked.

"My dad was skeptical at first, but he loves standard," Latray said. "We took for a drive and now he loves it."

The pride Latray exudes when talking about his vehicle perhaps matches his shock when asked by this random reporter on the street about his car.

Latray is part of the growing community in Central Texas, where oftentimes a pop-up car show can pack an empty lot of cars and people in less than an hour.

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Groesbeck Grand Prix poster is displayed in the window of a building in downtown Groesbeck. Michael Satterfield said last year's Grand Prix brought cars and people from seven states and more than 87 zip codes across Texas.

"I really think car culture here in Texas is really growing," Groesbeck resident Michael Satterfield said.

"I bought a building here in downtown Groesbeck about three years ago," he said. "I was just kind of looking for a different type of life and I found it here in Groesbeck."

Satterfield has found a place in Central Texas where his lifestyle and passion for classic sports cars fit like a glove. He's an active member of the Groesbeck Sports Car Club and editor of The Gentleman Racer, and organizer of the Groesbeck Grand Prix.

"Last year we kind of had this idea of creating an event in town, and we came up with the name Groesbeck Grand Prix," Satterfield said. "It really isn't like a Grand Prix where you race around going in laps. This was more of a time trial."

Satterfield said it was best described as an automotive lifestyle festival he created based on the Goodwin Festival of Speed which takes place in the U.K.

The 2020 Groesbeck Grand Prix found a home at Old Fort Parker, where Satterfield said the event brought people and cars from 87 Texas zip codes and seven different states.

"We actually sold out of tickets the first week we opened up, and we actually had to limit the number of people we could let in," Satterfield said. "What was so impressive was that we had so many locals come out and bring these incredible sports cars, you wouldn't know we're here."

He says the event also helped give local vendors a boost, amid the crippling conditions businesses were at the height of the pandemic.

"Being able to bring an event to this town and this community. And the use of local vendors is a big boost to the local economy."

The event was a success, Satterfield said. Unfortunately, perhaps too much of a success. This year, the anticipated 2021 Groesbeck Grand Prix isn't happing.

"This year it just wasn't going to work with the larger crowds that we had coming," Satterfield said. "We really couldn't plan the event to the caliber we wanted to have the event. Adding 1,500 to 2,000 people in that space really wasn't going to work out."

Satterfield said crowd safety was the primary obstacle in working out the logistics of this year's festival, and the number of attendees planning on coming far exceeded what Old Fort Parker would be able to accommodate."

While the cancellation was undoubtedly a disappointment for Central Texas car enthusiasts and Satterfield. It doesn't mean the car community is leaving Groesbeck anytime soon, he says.

"This is kind of the home base for what I do for The Gentleman Racer."

In fact, it's growing.

"It will be our offices and studios."

Satterfield gestures towards the building he's remodeling in downtown Groesbeck.

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Michael Satterfield, editor of The Gentleman Racer, gestures toward the building he's remodeling in downtown Groesbeck. Here he says will be a home for podcast and video production, as well working on the magazine.

"The next step is the facade, Originally the building was abandoned and filled with stuff, so we had to clean out," he explains. "This will be our studio space where we record our podcast and produce the magazine."

He says the building will serve as a home base for him to deliver stories to an audience that extends across the country.

"We actually just finished wrapping shooting a series with Shell Oil where we're basically going on great road trips across the country," Satterfield says. "We were in California a few weeks, we do one where we take a McLaren and drive across some of the best roads in Texas."

As for the future of the Groesbeck Grand Prix, Satterfield says they're still looking for a more permanent venue, they could possibly hold the event for next year. Until then, Satterfield says Central Texas provides more than enough road for the car enthusiast to get their fill.

"I think if you're coming to this area to explore, there's a lot of things you can explore," he explained. "We have Teague just up the way where we have this awesome railway museum, we have this beautiful 13,000-acre lake, we have Old Fort Parker as well."

Just a few unique places full of unique people.

"It's a lot of fun in Limestone County and Groesbeck. It's a great place to live."

For more information on the Groesbeck Sports Car Club visit this link. To see more videos of the 2020 Groesbeck Grand Prix or watch the Great Road Trip series visit The Gentleman Racer YouTube page.