For those in the know of Speedway, the Houston area isn’t a market you’d expect to find the chain in. Even after an aggressive expansion campaign that landed the chain with a handful of stores in and around El Paso, H-Town is far from Speedway’s turf. The reason for the location of the store is due to the previous parent company of Speedway, Marathon Oil. The first Speedway to be built in Texas actually dates all the way back to the previous Melinium, yes 1999. When Speedway opened its first location outside of the Midwest, a Travel Center conveniently located just off I-10 in Baytown. In addition to all the usual Travel Center affairs, the location also featured an interesting Church’s Fried Chicken and A&W Foods combo store. This travel center, however, was not destined to last, and the store would close in 2001, being sold to Love’s, which continues to operate it as of 2022. For the next few years, Speedway would focus on building its brand in the Midwest, expanding to take the rank of one of the largest C-Store chains in the U.S., mainly through acquisitions of other chains. One such buyout occurred around 2018-2019, landing Speedway in and around El Paso after buying out the Howdy C-Store chain. This, however, is not how we ended up with a single Speedway in the Houston area. In fact, it appears this singular location was built at the request of Marathon, near their refinery in Texas City, and was mostly being shopped by folks associated with the refinery. While Speedway did have intents to eventually grow from coast to coast, it seems as if these plans will never come to fruition as just about a year ago, Speedway was purchased by 7-Eleven, who has begun to discontinue certain aspects of the stores similar to how they dealt with Stripes.
Oddly this Speedway is the only true “outlier” location in the chain, with even the two South Dakota locations having closer neighbors than the poor Texas City store. The next closest Speedway is just under 500 miles away in Alabama, with the other Texas locations even further at nearly 800 miles away. With stats like these and the discontinuation of expansion by 7-Eleven, it’s hard to say how much longer this Speedway will stick around. The question is, will it become a 7-Eleven, or will it possibly be spared but lobotomized like a few remaining Stripes stores have been left? If you’ve ever been to a Speedway before, you know that experiences can vary wildly based on location and lineage. However, newer locations, especially those with a Cafe, are always pretty consistent. The Texas City store represents one of those newer Speedways, everything is really nice, and while the food selection is not the same as, say, Sheetz, it’s far above Buc-ee’s food (no freezer-burned-tater tot for me!). The next time you head down South of Houston if Texas City is on your list of places to stop, give this Speedway a try, especially if you’re a native Houstonian without experience; give some “gas station food” a try. It’s broader than the premade boxed junk and roller grill items our locals love to hock. Don’t wait around for this Speedway, though, chances are it won’t be here too much longer, and besides, there’s plenty to check out in Texas City too!
I was familiar with the Speedway brand since it is popular in some other parts of the country, but it was quite a surprise to me to learn that they had a location in Texas City when I learned about it recently! I didn’t know about Speedway’s earlier attempts at this market, but certainly it was surprising to see a location in this area. That said, if they were going to put a location here, I think putting it right in front of the Marathon refinery was the logical place for it. I’m sure employees enjoy/enjoyed using the employee discount there (I’m not sure if that discount still applies with Speedway now being property of 7-Eleven). Marathon did previously briefly have a gas station in an old Exxon at the intersection of Palmer Hwy. & 146 in Texas City in front of the old, abandoned Kmart, but when HEB tore the Kmart down to build their new store, the gas station was torn down as well and replaced with a new HEB gas station.