Drag racing promoter Peter Scalzo has been living in a motor home on a Calverton runway without permission for more than a week as he sets up the track for the drag racing series set to being Aug. 20. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Updated- 5:30 p.m. Town Attorney Erik Howard said drag racing promoter Peter Scalzo informed him this afternoon he had removed his RV from the Calverton runway and will supply the town with the required liability insurance certificate that was due to be filed with the town 30 days prior to the first event in the summer series.

Original post:

Drag racing promoter Pete Scalzo has been living in a motor home on the town-owned 7,000-foot runway at the Calverton Enterprise Park without permission while he sets up for his “Race Track-Not Street” summer drag racing series scheduled to begin Aug. 20.

Scalzo, the Florida-based promoter who helped reignite drag racing on Long Island last summer, said in an interview he arrived last week to set up the track for his event. Asked if he had permission from town officials to live in the motor home on the runway, Scalzo said, “I don’t think I need any permission. It’s self contained. So the answer to that is no.”

Town Attorney Erik Howard said this morning he was unaware Scalzo had been living on the runway and confirmed he did not have permission from the town.

In fact, Howard said, the town has not yet signed a runway use agreement with Scalzo for the upcoming summer or fall series, which will take place on weekends from Aug. 20 through Oct. 16.

The town attorney’s office is in the process of drafting the agreement, Howard said.

Without that agreement, Scalzo has no right to be on the property, even for set-up. Riverhead Police Chief did not respond to a request for comment this morning about Scalzo staying in the motor home and whether patrol officers had any contact with him.

Racing promoter Pete Scalzo of Florida addressing the town board at its meeting June 2, 2021. Photo: Denise Civiletti

Past runway use agreements for the racing series did not allow camping on the premises.The agreement for the spring series, which took place on three dates in April, prohibited the use of the premises for any purpose besides the races “without the prior written approval” by the town. 

The runway use agreement Scalzo entered into with the town for his spring series, which occurred in April, allowed the promoter access to the premises for set-up in the month prior to the first race on April 9. It required him to remove all equipment, bleachers and vehicles within seven days of the end of the event.

The agreement required Scalzo to pay the town a use fee of $2,500 per day for the three dates of the spring series. It did not require any fee during the set-up period, which began March 14. 

The spring series agreement also required Scalzo to procure liability insurance coverage indemnifying the town for at least $2 million.The insurance certificate was to be filed with the town at least 30 days before the commencement of the series. The certificate Scalzo had previously filed with the town is expired, Howard said.

“I think I will suggest he check into one of our beautiful and well-maintained county parks,” Howard said.

Scalzo said Wednesday he has rented a house in Wading River which he plans to move into when his wife joins him in New York on Aug. 15.

The Town Board in January approved Scalzo’s special event applications for all three of his 2022 drag racing series. In the applications, Scalzo proposed using the taxiway at the 10,000-foot town-owned runway, but said he would be willing to use the 7,000-foot runway, where he held last year’s events, if the taxiway is not available. The events were moved to the 7,000-foot runway because the taxiway at the 10,000-foot runway is not owned by the town, Scalzo said. 

Editor’s note: This article was updated after its original publication with new information from Town Attorney Erik Howard about the status of the liability insurance certificate on file with the town, which had expired in June. It was updated again with new information from the town attorney about the removal of the motor home from the Calverton site.

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Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: alek@riverheadlocal.com