TAMPA, Fla. — It’s the end of an era. After more than four decades, Grand Prix Tampa has run its last lap.
The miniature golf and go-kart spot closed its doors for good on Monday to make way for an apartment complex on the 15-acre site. Visitors have long enjoyed pool tables, an arcade and batting cages at Grand Prix.
“Of course, it’s the end of an era,” said Susan Fredricks, who couldn’t help but feel a little nostalgic when she heard the place was closing after 43 years.
Fredricks was one of many who drove by for one last look – and the memories came rushing back.
“My sister and I used to go to the batting cages when we would play fast pitch softball. And, you know, mom will drop us off here for the day and you know, we had a blast,” she said.
Like so many others in the Tampa Bay area, Fredricks spent more days than she can count at Grand Prix Tampa.
Generations of people held birthday parties there, went go-karting, played video games and miniature golf.
“I have any fun memories there,” said Christian Yepes. “I still have my Malibu Grand Prix driver’s license from when I was 12.”
While Yepes shares those same fond memories, he’s also the builder who plans to put apartments on the site.
Yepes and his family say it was the original property owners who decided to sell the spot for redevelopment. His family’s business scooped it up when another deal fell through late last year.
The current plan calls for 11 three-story buildings to be built on the property. Close to 300 units.
“There is such a need for housing,” said Yepes. “Especially new housing in that market, that it was a no-brainer for us to step in and complete the sale.”
“It looked like it would be a really good afternoon with my son. Lots of different things to do here,” William Adams said.
Adams was one of several people who drove into the parking lot thinking the place was still open.
“And well, apparently, I was a day too late,” he said.
For those who are truly nostalgic about Grand Prix Tampa, you might be interested in an absolute auction taking place on the site on the morning of Aug. 9.
The owners say people can purchase childhood memories – including parts of the miniature golf course, the arcade, even the go-karts will be up for sale.
“I can’t say that I am surprised, you know, that it was on its way out,” said Fredricks. "But still it’s the end of an era.”
“That property was developed back in the late 70s,” said Yepes. “It’s led a great life, but it’s time to move on.”
Editor's note: This story misspelled Christian Yepes' name. It is not "Christopher."