Opinion: Race Fans Want Facility at EPCAL for Christmas

"We have been labeled as hooligans, trouble-makers, and worse."

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.

C A Bertone December 17, 2010 at 11:28 PM
We need this facility. It is always the few with the loudest voice that will try to control the freedom and liberty of the masses. More people need to be informed that a motorsports facility can be built in Calverton to gain support. The biast media needs to report the news and concerns of all not just the select few. Freeport and Islip Speedway were exciting when I was a kid. Richard Petty actually raced here on Long Island. I took my son to Riverhead and he is now hooked. We need to teach the kids to keep it off the street and give then a place to race legally. The few need cancel their subscrition to Newsday and CNBC and live in the real world with the rest of us.
Charley Powell December 17, 2010 at 11:59 PM
Please listen to our voices. After so many rallies and false hopes and starts, return us to a place where those who do not use a stick or ball for a sport have an outlet. Everybody else has millions of acres devoted to the majority sports, how about one for the minority.
Joe Mig Migliaccio December 18, 2010 at 12:07 AM
Look at it like this, the auto makers keep producing cars faster and faster . For what ? So people could drive fast on the public street's and highway's. Long Island needs a race track facility.
ron pisco December 18, 2010 at 12:25 AM
there is no doudt that long island needs a first class motorsports facility.. IF it wasnt for the previous town board in riverhead we could have had one already, and bringing in revenue..and now we have the present partial town board that is renaging on campaign promises that we would have a facility.. but once again kickbacks to certain town board members prevail and we still dont have a facility....
Tony Currier December 18, 2010 at 02:15 AM
I am a long Island fire fighter and drag racer that would love to see this track happen. I can't tell you how many people (many kids) I've seen being cut out of wrecked cars that were street racing. A track would be a safe place for people to enjoy the sport we love. Please we don't need any more shopping malls or golf courses. If people continue to street race without a safe facility you could always turn it into a cemetary.
andy christon December 18, 2010 at 03:12 AM
my son and i raced on long island till the track got taken down.....now we race in jersey and pa....please....give us a piece of property to build a track on ....lets get racing off the streets and on to a safe environment....we need a track....
Terrence Mckeever December 18, 2010 at 03:36 AM
As a long time active member of the Long Island Motorsports Assoc. & LIDragRacing.com I have been out in communities all over Long Island promoting a purpose built legal and safe motorsports facility here on Long Island. My motivation comes from making things safe all that follows to me is just perks. Lives can be saved by a legal facility and the safe environment they provide. People have more than once walked from wrecks at race tracks at speeds over three hundred miles an hour because of the design of the track. Our kids are dying on the streets at less than a third of that speed, maybe because their acting foolish or irresponsible, but also because there is no safe alternative to the street. What would you rather see kids run in gangs, take drugs or in some cases just fall between the cracks. Racing and motorsports can give these kids out there searching for somethng, a positive alternative where they learn skills and dedication that can bring them great careers in automotive or any other field as the automotive hobby covers everything from aerodynamics to upolstrey. I do have to say though after seven years of this it has been frustrating and it sometimes comes out in things people post. I know many of them their not bad people, a bit tired, but their your neighbors just trying to do the right thing
ken Wiesmann December 18, 2010 at 04:30 AM
mtbmopar climb board member. Love the pic of the Cuda. LI needs a place for motersports. Please listen to L.I.M.I .
Wes December 18, 2010 at 06:16 AM
This has probably been one of the most practical proposals for EPCAL property." NASCAR is the No. 1 spectator sport -- with more of the top 20 highest-attended sporting events in the U.S. than any other sport ', (Google it). Just read local papers or car enthusiast magazines announcing car shows and swap meets, this is part of our national and Long Island culture. I would have assume a venue on Long Island would stimulate interest from many facets of the auto industry spuring the local economy and therefore create jobs. It would probably cause less damage to the ecosystem than construction of ski mountains, massive commercial structures or amusment parks. W.C. Riverhead
L.I.M.A. December 18, 2010 at 12:30 PM
To show a point that Wes brought up "less damage to the ecosystem" http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n10/trahsub/BMP.jpg http://i108.photobucket.com/albums/n10/trahsub/LRP.jpg Motorsports facilities make great parks when not in use the other 285 days a year, or more..... .
Michael Petry December 18, 2010 at 02:20 PM
I can't say that I'm an avid race car enthusiast but I do enjoy watching it on the tube and a few times live on out of state racing facilities. You just can't compare watching it live as to on TV (even with HD). The opinion by Mr. Marty Johnson represents a solid, supported, factual and educated point of view. Let's provide the generations to come with an additional outlet (besides watching MLB, NFL, etc.) for the racing enthusiast while providing the younger kids a safe way to test their testosterone levels. In my humble opinion, it certainly sounds like we need to start changing the face of the local politicians who quickly forget how they got elected . These unanswered promises by politicians must stop! (that is across the board). This change can be done with the right leadership, I'm on board now and I'm willing to take on this challenge.
Nick Pittas December 18, 2010 at 09:01 PM
Long Island was the home of many racing related tracks. Freeport, Islip, Bridgehampton, Westhampton, Riverhead and NY National Speedway. As a kid I remember going out to National and thinking how lucky I would be to be able to race on such a great track when I got older. Then little by little the tracks were slowly taken away and finally as the last straw Long Island Motorsports Park. Long Island Motorsports Park was a place where we could all go on the weekend and race our vehicles and have a good time. We could do this without having to travel for 3 hours in either direction and we could do it legally. Grudge matches didn't need to be dueled out on the street. A track in Long Island will not only bring Motorsports back to an area that has a deep racing history but also bring $$$ into the county. We need to all voice our opinions and work together to make this happen.
james December 19, 2010 at 08:53 PM
suffolk county desperatly needs a attraction most small businesses cant survive !! a attraction would attract a large amout of business, common sense , saftey & prosperety !!! street racing was eliminated in sandiego ca right after they set up a 1/4 track !!!! calverton has a air port that is not being used ,.... pavement is allready in place this area can accomidate this demand ,. as for the journalist who calls me a hooligan, trouble-maker look at your self in the mirror be for you cal me any thing ,.. james >> deepseadvr@hotmail.com any time
jared December 20, 2010 at 07:31 PM
Me and my friends spend thousands on our cars to make them perform better. We have tried to race legally 3 times now attempting to rent atco raceway in NJ only to have it rained out all three times. If we had a motorsports facility here on the island we would not have to make plans days in advance take off from work and spend so much money in another state. This is a no brainer guys. As much as you might not believe us we all would rather do it the legal way.
jared December 20, 2010 at 07:33 PM
Well Ben maybe you should move out and they'll be less.
Bob December 20, 2010 at 11:51 PM
Long Island needs a motorsports complex more than ever, being a small engine shop(ACE CRANKSHAFT, ALL-OUT PERF ENG) I can tell you personally that alot of us aren't going to make it another year. Trans shops, paint shops, auto parts, tire shops and many more will benefit from this. I think town, state, and local goverment needs to hear the people and give us one place a the island.
steve adams December 21, 2010 at 02:21 AM
I've been working in calverton for about 2 years now they still have the landing strip for the planes we use to be able to drive right though grumman about 3 months ago till they closed it(from grumman road right to 25) theres 3 motocross tracks in there(you also need to spend a 1000 bucks just to join the track without even looking at the track so you really have no idea what your spending 1000 bucks on but thats beside the pont) and you cant hear the dirtbikes from the road or anything grumman is a huge place trust me hugeeeeeeeeeee and located in the middle of no where half the people that come to the shop are car fanatics with old cars and some that come in there race all the way in jersey(they also closed down the car meet in wading river at the king kullen parking lot because all the people that were in the club were taking up all the parking lot spaces at king kullen in wading river now they meet in riverhead)also there used to be races right behind grumman
steve adams December 21, 2010 at 02:21 AM
you can go on grumman road and see all the tire tracks like i said i work right in calverton and passed by this everyday for 2 years and there still doing nothing with it the landing strip is still there(now they have a few buisnesses that are in the warehouse right there(reily woodworks ect ect)they tried building a man made lake but they came across a special kind of dirt and the people that bought the land sold it and made millions they also built a baseball field that never gets used(and i mean never not one game or anyone playing baseball)but there is a motocross track in there actually beileve it or not 3(yes motocross tracks and you would never even know there was one because there is no signs,and cant see it from the road(half the people that come to the gas station come into the back at the shop that i work at and ask where theres a motocross track in calverton)like i said i posted something on some website about a few months ago about( i know a few people have been trying to get a strip built in grumman
Darren December 21, 2010 at 08:03 PM
"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." Ben and Shara did you forget to read this? Talking the way you are sounds uneducated and ignorant. Having a track would help Long Island benefit in many ways, just like the article says. I know I would be there at least once a week.
lynn December 22, 2010 at 12:07 AM
There would less fatalities from street racing if there was a legal sanctioned track with all the officials and safety crews to keep it all good. "Give us a place to race without consequences"
James December 22, 2010 at 05:14 AM
This place will fail quicker then Dale Earndardts seatbelt.
Chris O'Keefe December 22, 2010 at 11:48 PM
motorsports promotes the use of math and science. It is a thinking mans/womans sport. At every track you have diversity of people of all walks of life together for the love of vehicles. "Sportsman racing is family racing". If you looked at any event you'd understand.
Edward Pascale January 03, 2011 at 04:55 PM
i would love to see a drag strip, we have to go to NJ to race lets keep the money on long island and it would also end a lot of the street raceing. For the people that can make this happen OPEN YOUR EYES!
Phil King July 31, 2012 at 04:00 PM
The only thing preventing a race track on LI is the politicians that refuse to listen to the voice of the people and believe that they know better. Their efforts have only served to frustrate the people and slow much needed progress. The results - our economy keeps slipping into ever worsening state while the county and local governments stall and postulate. Why not address the issue and bring the jobs and money that building and operating a racetrack will provide? If this was a publicly owned and operated business, every one of these politicians would be looking for a new job. Only the red tape and bureaucracy allows them to survive and it needs to come to an end - we simply can't afford it anymore!
Joe Damico August 02, 2012 at 03:30 PM
His seat belt failed due to faulty installation.
HEMI-ITIS August 04, 2012 at 04:29 AM
It would also be time for the Connecticut tunnel!!Could you imagine the revenue from the tolls.This motorsports thing is the money printer for Suffolk county & Riverhead.


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