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A two-day drag-racing event on the runways at the Calverton Enterprise Park won unanimous approval yesterday from the Riverhead Town Board.

The Scrambul Runway Challenge drag-racing event will take place on the weekend of June 19 and 20 (rain date: June 26 and 27.)

A resolution approving a special event permit for the racing event was on the board’s April 20 meeting agenda, but was tabled to allow for further review. Event organizer Andre Baxter met with the board via Zoom at its April 29 work session to discuss his proposal. Yesterday, the board took it off the table for a vote. It was approved 5-0.

The event will include eighth-mile, quarter-mile and half-mile races, Baxter told the board last week. The half-mile race would be on the 7,000-foot runway, while the eighth-mile, quarter-mile races would be on the 10,000-foot runway.

Baxter said spectators would be restricted to the 10,000-foot runway, where video of the races on the second runway would be live-streamed to a large-screen display Baxter referred to as a “Jumbo-Tron.”

“I understand it’s bringing in $10,000 over the course of two days just for the use of the runways,” Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said during the town board meeting yesterday.

The event sponsor will be required to pay an application fee as well as a license fee for use of the site, according to the board’s discussion at last week’s work session. At the time, board members said the license fee would have to be negotiated with Community Development Agency director Dawn Thomas. The town board sits as the governing body of the Community Development Agency, which holds title to the enterprise park site. Any license agreement is subject to the board’s approval.

“Riverhead really loves racing. And I think this two-day event gives us an opportunity to try this out,” Councilwoman Catherine Kent said. “You know, this is something that’s been talked about for many years. So I’m in support of it,” she said, calling it “a great event.”

Kent asked to have an engineer check the runways before the event to make sure it’s in good shape for the races, because she said she’s heard different things about the condition of the runways.

Prior to the vote, Northville resident Kathy McGraw said she thought the allowing drag-racing on the EPCAL runways was “ill-advised.” She said the town has not adequately vetted the proposal.

“It looks like we don’t know the expected size of the crowds. whether traffic control will be needed, what provision we should have for fire protection in the event of accidents. And the resolution says if it’s determined that police and town vehicles are needed, sponsor will pay. But just when will that be determined — the day of the event? It seems to me we need to know this in advance,” McGraw said. “There’s also a provision to allow tents. But where will they be placed? Will they impact sensitive habitats at the property? We just don’t have any idea,” she said.

The resolution requires information to be provided by May 18 but provides no consequence if it’s not provided in a timely manner, McGraw noted.

She also asked whether the town consulted with its legal counsel handling the sale of the EPCAL site to ask about any possible impact on the contract should the runways be damaged.

Board members did not respond to McGraw’s questions and comments.

The board is currently reviewing a second special event application from racing promoter Peter Scalzo of Florida, who proposes eighth-mile races on the 7,000-foot runway on July 31, Aug. 1, 7, 8, 13, 14, 20 and 21. The first four events would take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the last four would run from 4 p.m. to 10:45 p.m.

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Denise Civiletti
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.