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Motorsports Advocate Plans to Visit Town Board

Supe says he won't consider noise test for drag strip at EPCAL and process must be followed.

Marty Johnson has a dream.

And Johnson, the founder and CEO of the Long Island Motorsports Association, said his vision for a drag strip at Enterprise Park at Calverton is entirely do-able.

His vision, Johnson said, includes a drag strip and a road course at EPCAL in Calverton similar to what once existed in Bridgehampton and Westhampton.

The plan, he said, would take little time to execute. Should all forces align, Johnson said his organization would like to rent the space and the space at least temporarily for drag racing. Jersey barriers, or concrete walls, would have to be set up; Johnson said the operation could be up and running in weeks. "We've asked the board to give us the time to do this for one season."

A season is approximately four to five months, Johnson said. The rest of the year, the facility would be quiet, with grass that was mowed and no chemicals or fertilizer used, as is done at golf courses.

A motorsports facility, Johnson said, would be a win-win. "You would now have the draw in your backyard," he said. "What better opportunity to do something positive for the town?"

The problem, Johnson believes, is public miconception of the sport. "There are a lot of untruths," he said. "There's a lot of bigotry and ignorant people casting their opinion, saying that drag racing is for dirtbags and hoodlums. It's silly. I want to tell them there's a good chance that the doctors or lawyers they use could be drag racers."

Johnson added, "It's a family sport. When I went to the track as a little kid years ago, I sat with my mom and dad, aunts and uncles."

Part of the problem, Johnson said, is that many associate drag racing with people breaking the law and street racing accidents.

Racing fans, Johnson said, now have to travel long distances to pursue their passion, spending money on gas and other expenses and infusing cash into other locales that could be spent close to home if a strip was sited at EPCAL. "You have a very large motorsports community in the Town of Riverhead, but pretty much everyone's spending their money in New Jersey or Connecticut," where motorsports parks are located, he said.

In recent weeks, Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter has said one option for EPCAL could include a with a quarter mile track. But he added that the bottom line is that before any future use can be discussed, the subdivision process and environmental review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation must be completed first.

Recently, Walter , saying that a recent tape leaked, on which Walter allegedly says he would try to quietly approve drag racing at Enterprise Park at Calverton, could slam the brakes on any future drag racing discussions. Walter said by moving forward before the process was complete, Johnson "is destroying drag racing on Long Island."

Johnson responded to that statement this week: "I'm tried of him using my people to get votes and stringing them along with a carrot," he said. Johnson said he asked many members of his group to call Walters' office. "He got annoyed and then made those disparaging comments in the paper. So I released the tape."

Walter said he does not believe he got any phone calls at his office. "Marty Johnson is just using this as his 15 minutes of fame. He has no clout."

Johnson also said environmental concerns raised by some are unfounded and that golf courses are the source of the greatest pollutants on Long Island. When the drag strip was removed in Westhampton, Johnson added, "there was no property contamination." EPCAL, the former Grumman Corp site, was a place where planes were constructed, and the best thing to do "would be to pave over it" to prevent effects of any possible past contamination, he said.

Although some elected officials including Senator Ken LaValle are "against this," Johnson said, and are asking for other uses at the parcel, he doesn't understand why the site can't accomodate everyone; the racing strip would only need approximately 1320 feet.  "Why can't we have it all? The noise won't bother anyone."

To that end, Johnson says he's been asking the board for a noise test for the past seven or eight years -- and plans to come back before the board at their next public meeting in two weeks to try again.

Walter said Johnson is "barking up the wrong tree" if he plans to come to the town board. "I'm not doing anything until we get through the Department of Environmental Conservation and the subdivision process. I'm not jeopardizing a $1 billion potential subdivision for a noise test. If we're ever going to build anything here that's racing related it has to be built correctly, not just built on an open runway."

A philanthropic group, Johnson added that the motorsports community opens their hearts to those in needs, such as when, before car show enthusiast Don Coady died last week, over $60,000 was raised to help him. 

Long Island, he added, was the birthplace of motorsports in the United States, with over 40 tracks. 

"There is a huge need," Johnson said. "Much large than anyone thinks. The motorsports community that is displaced right now is in the six digits."

Walter said his brother and friends are motorsports fans and quarter mile racers. "I'm a guy that loves drag racing. If I had the money I'd own a '64 Thunderbolt. But Marty Johnson is doing more than any other individual to hurt drag racing," Walter said. "He's trying to force a square peg into a round hole. We're just not ready for this."



knowitall August 08, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Great, except there are no access roads. Traffic would be a nightmare.
Charlie August 08, 2012 at 11:56 PM
No access roads how did the thousands of people that worked at Grumman get to work? It's know it all's like you that ruin it for everyone get your facts straight.
elliot August 09, 2012 at 01:23 AM
you can get to the site from exit 69 to 73 river road grumman ave route 25 route 25a many ways to get into the site all visiable on a map when that site was in operation it employeed almost 4,000 people and thats without the extra truck traffic the Long Island Expressway had fewer lanes plus the roads were narrower at the time traffic will not be a problem a simple dragway,multi purpose road course, drive in movie that could also host car shows keep it simple no giant over developed monster park
elliot August 09, 2012 at 01:35 AM
you can get to the site from exit 69 to 73 river road grumman ave route 25 route 25a many ways to get into the site all visiable on a map when that site was in operation it employeed almost 4,000 people and thats without the extra truck traffic the Long Island Expressway had fewer lanes plus the roads were narrower at the time traffic will not be a problem a simple dragway,multi purpose road course, drive in movie that could also host car shows keep it simple no giant over developed monster park
Jimmy Popp August 09, 2012 at 01:57 AM
I'm Sorry Mr. Walter,but I believe you are a liar.With out the efforts of men like Mr. Johnson we would continue to be ignored!!!! You disparage him because he is not afraid to call you on your actions and will not go away.I have news for you Mr Walter...You can not make us go away either but we can make you go away with our votes!!!! Stop the nonsense and tell the truth!!!!
Art Bichsel August 09, 2012 at 02:41 AM
That property is accessible from exits 68 thru 73 with little trouble.The reason the air show that everyone remembers was not properly planned. Properly planned events such as the US Open draw just as many people with no issues to even less accessible parts of the Island. Please be aware that at this moment that property is already properly zoned for the use we seek/ Did you also know that right now, at this moment there is a 30 acre parcel for sale within EPCAL? The asking price is 8.9 million dollars ($295,000 per acre) Who is going to spend that sort of money to be all the way out in Riverhead when there are less expensive parcels elsewhere? Rail access or not. Regardless, Splish Splash has no traffic problems and they are open daily in the summer. I think you don't really "know it all" sir.
L.I.M.A. August 09, 2012 at 03:20 AM
sean says, ""if he plans to come to the town board. "I'm not doing anything"" , and he means it just like that, this added bit after that ""until we get through the Department of Environmental Conservation and the subdivision process"" i have spoken with the DEC and they have no problem with using ANYTHING that is ALREADY in existence there.. So again the town super isn't fit for the position he is in.. Then he says ""Walter said. "He's trying to force a square peg into a round hole. We're just not ready for this."" We aren;t trying to force any peg anywhere, he is forcing US to make this a national issue.. We again want a place to safely be, and epcal can be that area tomorrow with no need for reviews or anything else.. There was no review for "Top Gear" to use the site There was no review for the other uses people have used it for There was no review for the PD who are using it during the week There was no review for the model airplane people to use it, nor any noise complaints. BUT let sean dig that liars hole deeper and deeper... Maybe if we give sean a fake check for oh lets say 200 million and he gets his picture in the paper for another good 30 minutes of fame he might do it..
L.I.M.A. August 09, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Remember Riverhead town residents it was US that warned the town super that RHR has no money and it was Me that warned sean there is no money coming thru or even being whispered at the justice dept, We have had the back of the residents of Riverhead town, while your elected town super has done everything to harm you and kill peoples jobs and shatter their dreams and threaten YOUR board members working for you... .
Tami Casale August 09, 2012 at 05:10 AM
"Marty Johnson is doing more than any other individual to hurt drag racing," Really? How is he doing more then any individual is doing to hurt drag racing Mr Walter? Why? Because Marty Johnson IS doing more then any other individual is doing because not only is he trying to make the dreams come true for himself, but he's also trying to make a dream come through for thousands of individuals. Mr Walter was right with only the first half of that sentence. What is so wrong with building a drag strip? I see nothing wrong with it at all. It would be creating more jobs, which is a huge problem right now. Unemployment is at its highest. It would create a safety for all who love to race there cars. It also creates something for families to do and enjoy without costing them an arm and a leg. Most recreational activities that families try to do today are way too expensive and to the point thy families can't go out and enjoy themselves anymore. You can't even go to a movie today with just one child without spending a good $50.
Tami Casale August 09, 2012 at 05:11 AM
Continued - Marty Johnson was not looking for 5 minutes of fame. He's putting his all into something that thousands of people want and because he called Mr Walter out on a line of crap that he was feeding everyone, he now has his panties in a bunch. That's whats wrong with politicians today. They don't listen to the people anymore and when they do they feed them a line of crap just to make themselves look good at the moment and not expecting someone to call them out on it. We're grown ups. Not children that you think you can hand a piece of candy to just to smooth out the problem at that given moment. Put a drag strip in. There are more pros then cons with it and it will be making a lot of people happy. Which is something that people need right now with all that's going on between the war and the poor economy that is bringing nothing but a lot of unhappiness to a lot of people. Whats so wrong with making people happy for once.
Bob Mannara August 09, 2012 at 11:38 AM
How do you know when a politician is lying??? Thats Right . When they move their lips!!!
novadose August 09, 2012 at 02:46 PM
and as we speak....still nothing is done with the land...other people rent it...and can use it...and they say we cant?....wake up riverhead...this land will stay vacant forever...your board just doesnt seem to want to just do its job.....make some money for the town.....drag racers spend hundred and thousands of dollars on thier cars and on drag racing...your losing your piece of the pie by sending them to neighboring states to spend thier money every weekend.....that money could be spent in riverhead....
Dennis August 09, 2012 at 02:52 PM
WHEN exactly Mr. Walter's is the RIGHT TIME??? Election year?? This is another GREAT example of why government should have NO LEGAL authority,much less run something when they have no clue on how to run a "business" If someone would have acted on this oh say 8-10 yrs ago when it was first mentioned,the town would be raking in thousands upon thousands of potential tax dollars....BUT OH I FORGOT...ITS NOT THE RIGHT TIME!!!!
Edward Pascale August 09, 2012 at 03:03 PM
there are more people wanting to drag race on long island now then ever before,it would be a good thing for suffolk county, keep the money here! and it would keep the drag raceing off the streets tus makeing our streets safer.People with the pull to get this done open your eyes we need this. Eddie from oakdale

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