Sanchez was one of the principal owners, along with Wayne Huizinga, of the Homestead Motorsports Complex, nearby. The idea for the county-financed deal materialized at virtually the same time as the ill-fated plan to privatize the air base and convert it to become a commercial airport benefiting the reconstituted board of the Latin Builders Association. Both plans arose from the ruins of disaster.
Hurricane Andrew, in 1992, devastated Homestead, but the response of the business elite to the disaster was not unlike using the calamity of war as a pretext for to mine profits. Wars are good for business. That certainly was how Homestead rolled after the category five hurricane, and the case with the Homestead Motorsports Complex.
As fate had it, I arrived in Miami with my family from Key West the weekend after Hurricane Andrew. I only knew Homestead as a pass-through agricultural community, a last gasp of the old South on the way to the Keys. I also understood the importance of preserving farmland as filters for clean water desperately needed for Biscayne Bay and the Everglades to function. So both the Motorsports Complex and the air base, sited squarely in the middle of wetlands of national importance, were out of place.
The Homestead Motorsports Complex was pitched as a necessity, a way to create economic activity in Homestead and "jobs" after Hurricane Andrew. How the deal was constructed with tax payer money never made it into the Herald obituary. Here is how the Herald put it:
"Sanchez, however, already had solicited governmental support to build a permanent racing facility in Homestead as a significant project toward the devastated area’s recovery from Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Ground was broken in 1993. The picturesque facility with its 1.5-mile oval sprung up in time for Dale Jarrett to headline NASCAR’s initial venture here with a dramatic Nationwide (then Busch) series victory in November 1995."
I am not a NASCAR fan. I've never been to the Motorsports complex, once. But to skip over the facts how county tax dollars, in 1993, were used and never recovered seems pertinent. At the time, observers knew the project was cooked faster than a fried egg on a racing car engine block. The money flow was scarcely "transparent".
To call Sanchez' work a "solicitation" is, well, wrong. The picturesque deal involved a contract between the county that gave up tens of millions of dollars to the investors, featuring Sanchez prominently. Ask Maurice Ferre. It didn't take long for the Sanchez/ Huizinga partnership to be flipped to new owners after the facility was completed; the county never got a dime back.
Today, the Homestead Motorsports Complex is scarcely the jobs generator it was promised to be. I don't know whether Sanchez was a great man, a great businessman, or a great family man. May he rest in more peace than we obtain here, on earth.