For Michael Dweck, it was like time stopped the day he decided to check out Riverhead Raceway a couple of years ago.
Dweck, 55, grew up in Bellmore and frequented the Freeport raceway on a weekly basis with his father, starting in 1960 until around the time it closed in the early 1980s, he said. When he arrived at Riverhead one day in 2010, he was surprised to see the cars of the Blunderbust division, which are vehicles from the same era Dweck saw when he was a kid, that have been wrecked and rebuilt numerous times over.
Dweck, a fine art photographer whose work has been shown in museums around the world, began shooting portraits of the cars after visiting the track a few more times. But then he had a better idea.
"I was more into just photographing but when I stepped foot onto the track I thought I should probably document this place because of how important it is," he said.
With permission from Barbara and Jim Cromarty, the track's owners, Dweck began coming to the track with a movie camera in October 2012.
"What I found was a really rich story," said Dweck, who now lives in Manhattan. "These guys go to a junkyard, get a car and have it in their garage all winter long. They're all mechanics, boiler repairmen, landscapers, but what they all have in common is that racing is their life during the summer."
Dweck has been captivated by the subculture of drivers at Riverhead. He's spent time with drivers at the track, in their homes and at their paying jobs while working on what he envisions will be his first 90-minute featured film.
"You have a group of people who don't really like their jobs but live for the racetrack," Dweck said. "Everybody has the same thing in common: They all have a love for this track. This track has become, to them, a town and a community. They forget all their troubles when they get to the track."
Dweck, the director of the film, is working with about 14 others on the project, including his friend Greg Kershaw, who is a cinematographer. The plan is to shoot for two more weeks after the season and begin editing in October. The target date for completion is March 1.
"It's kind of a little bit of a love letter to the racetrack," Dweck said. "This is a piece of Americana that I want to make people realize is very important."