File photo: George Faella

With the proposed sale of the town’s remaining 1,600-plus acres of land inside the Calverton Enterprise Park put at least temporarily on hold, motorsports enthusiasts see an opening to renew their quest for a drag strip and racing complex at the sprawling Calverton site.

Board members of L.I. Drag Racing Club Corp., better known as “Long Island Needs a Drag Strip,” returned to Riverhead Town Hall last night to press the new town board to consider siting a drag strip and motorsports park at the Calverton site.

John Consoli, vice president of the group, presented the board with a business plan for “a global motorsports business park.”

The plan cites the closure of old Long Island racetracks forcing motorsports enthusiasts to travel out of state to pursue their hobby.

A racetrack would be “a unique tourist destination for Suffolk County” that would generate $9.7 million annually in “increased regional economic activity,” according to the group, which estimates the track would draw more than 136,000 visitors and racers each year. The plan’s projections were made using the Regional Input-Output Modeling System (RIMS II), a regional economic model published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The island was once home to three drag strips: National Speedway in Center Moriches, Islip Speedway and LI Dragway in Westhampton, which was the last operating drag strip, and closed in 2004. Now the nearest drag strips are in New Jersey.

Riverhead Raceway, which does not presently have a drag strip, is Long Island’s last remaining auto racing track.

Such a facility could also be used for concerts, car shows and auctions, fairs and flea markets, winter sports and for training by police and fire departments, according to the plan.

The group is interested in immediately leasing the 7,000-foot runway at the enterprise park for use as a drag strip, Consoli told the board.

The L.I. Drag Racing Club Corp. is not making an offer to buy the site and it is not clear from the business plan document who would actually develop the site as a motorsports park.

Riverhead town officials have rebuffed the group’s overtures in the past. Former supervisor Sean Walter said the enterprise park was “off the table” for a drag strip. The State Department of Environmental Conservation advised the town it does not want to see a drag strip there, Walter said in an August 2016 interview. The Gold Star Mothers “came out in force against it in 2010,” he said.
The group objected to noise they said would disturb mourners during services at nearby Calverton National Cemetery.

Supervisor Laura Jens-Smith told Consoli the town cannot make any commitments to pursue anything at EPCAL because it has a letter of intent to sell the site to a company formed by Luminati Aerospace and its partner, Triple Five.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.