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To the Editor:

I personally feel having the drag strip at EPCAL is a positive thing for Riverhead and Long Island. My reasoning:

  • There is a demand for it.
  • There are no drag strips within two-plus hours from here. And not without additional expenses: Tolls, ferry, gas, hotels, food, etc… Why not keep our money local?
  • Riverhead does not offer much in affordable family fun. Bowling is expensive (approx. $10 per game, per person and each game does not last too long.)
  • Yes, we have beaches, but not all of us swim or enjoy the sand
  • Suffolk County does have a minor baseball team
  • Long Island’s only ice hockey team is moving to Belmont (40 miles away from Riverhead and on a good day over a 45 min drive 1 way).
  • Thank God Riverhead Raceway has survived 60+ years, allowing new generations to share in the family racing experience (and get them off the darn computers).
  • Each drag race competition only runs approx. 10-20 seconds for 1/8 or 1/4 mile tracks – with breaks in between.
  • When you think of an official NASCAR race (oval track) the sound goes up to 106 decibels over a consistent four hours, (similar to any concert you’ve ever attended in an arena). The NHRA type drag strips are far less harmful regarding sound. As a concert attendee you do not wear protection for your ears, unlike most racing attendees. And let’s not forget how loud some people have their car radios on – to the point where you can feel their bass vibrating in your gut.
  • Regarding Calverton National Cemetery: I’m sure an agreement can be made…for example: No practices/races before noon or after 10 p.m. appropriate race times on Memorial – Labor Day holidays, etc. I can personally tell you racing fans are the most patriotic of any sport. Many fans are veterans themselves, and typically have recruitment booths at races (Army, Air Force, etc).
  • Racing (most specifically this drag strip) will bring people / families to our communities. Not tourists racing to wineries, forced to eat only the foods provided by the winery itself. These are regular, everyday hard-working people. They will eat at our establishments, grab snacks/beverages at our local stores, etc. Keep our economy booming (LOL… most men don’t plan very well when out with their kids).
  • Unlike with our wineries, in the future we can make an agreement with drag strip owners that 25% to 50% of their vendors must be from the Riverhead / Suffolk County area — such as food trucks, local scouts, brewers, crafts, etc. (who must also set up/clean up at their own expense). I’ve seen it done, as has any attendee to a race. Bristol Tennessee has not only a race track but also a drag strip. The community welcomes it and thrives because of it. From the Bristol Motor Speedway March 2015 news: “According to the combined research, the direct economic impact of Bristol Motor Speedway and Bristol Drag….totaled more than $417 million for 2012 through 2014. This figure was derived from racing and ancillary activities held on site, charitable events, contributions, and tax revenue. The indirect economic impact of the venue totaled more than $1.4 billion through the regional economy”.
  • Again, I reiterate having a drag strip at EPCAL would be a positive thing for Riverhead and Long Island.

Michelle Smith

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