Motorsports is more than a sport or entertainment. It is not a group of beer drinking red necks rebelling against society. It serves to improve automotive technology, improve the safety of vehicles, reduce emissions, as well as enhance the finances of the communities that support them. As one example, the Environmental Protection Agency is in partnership with motorsports. This helps the government see real world possibilities for automotive manufactures through hybrids.
Since I believe that I am truly representative of the typical motorsports fan, let me introduce myself. I am a father of 3 boys and a small business owner. My company does business in Riverhead. I am a patriot, the son of a police inspector, a man who served for 20 years in the USCGR, a grandson of a WWII veteran. I am a community-minded individual who has been a lifelong resident of Long Island.
On Long Island, we have lost five of six racing facilities that once existed. Bridgehampton Raceway - a historic landmark - was turned into a golf course. Hamptons Raceway - the first drag strip built in the United States - was turned into a driveway for housing. Today, we are left with one racing facility, Riverhead Raceway. Riverhead Raceway is a quarter-mile oval racetrack that simply cannot meet the needs of the motorsport community. We – the Long Island Motorsports Association – are not looking to establish numerous racing facilities. All we want happens to be one single area. Not multiple. Not three. Just one single area, a place we can be safe at.
Supporting motorsports facilities can assist communities in a number of ways. Adolescents drawn to automotive racing and without legal facilities in a reasonable commute to their homes, will be drawn to the street. Illegal street racing is dangerous, inconvenient to the residents in the area, and puts a drain on law enforcement resources. Providing a place where those interested could race safely would serve to increase local finances as well as reducing the dangers of street racing.
A local racing facility will also allow the average Long Island race fan to enjoy the sport without having to travel out of state and having to be away from family for a day or days, or more importantly, without spending our money in some other states' economy instead of our own. A local racing facility can also be used for testing by other local businesses, further enhancing our own economy. (Imagine creating jobs, during a recession. What a terrible idea!)
We have seen a number of proposals to building this facility at EPCAL, formerly Grumman, only to be ignored. Investors have been deterred by stalling tactics and having government officials select other proposals for the property that did not have the appropriate funding, even after research was done for them and brought forward.
EVERY attempt we have made to bring a motorsports facility to our area has been stymied by a small group of people with the support of a biased media. We have been labeled as hooligans, trouble-makers, and worse. Many of these misrepresentations were uttered by our civic leaders, and government representatives. That is not who we are and not what we represent. What we ask now is for a fair hearing of the facts by people who don't simply want to say NO and who are willing to listen to reason and compromise for the good of all.
Those who crusade against this project often make spurious allegations. Noise is not an issue. Noise abatement technology is a part of the facility's design and easily achieved.
The Island needs this facility. Not only for me, not only for the people who enjoy motorsports, but for the thousands and thousands of people, and hundreds of businesses that will experience financial growth. Young minds need it to test theories, test the next great automotive or transportation design. Many firsts in the automotive world came from this island. We need this for economic growth, for quality of life, yours and mine.
Marty Johnson is the president and founder of the Long Island Motorsports Association and owner of Long Island Driveshafts.