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Riverhead Raceway returns for 62nd season

Wayne Anderson ) drives in his heat in

Wayne Anderson ) drives in his heat in the time trials culminating in the Nascar 140 lap Whelen Miller Light Modified stock car race at Riverhead Raceway. (Aug. 2, 2008) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Riverhead Raceway, a retrospective.

After 34 years operating the track, and another 28 as owners, Barbara and Jim Cromarty have relived the annual rite of spring at the track many times.

"It's very special," Barbara Cromarty said. "The engines, once they start. And all the cars look so beautiful. It's a family there."

The quarter-mile track opens for its 62nd season on Saturday with a full slate. The Cromartys say this season will be a good mix or honoring the past while continuing to keep their foot on the gas.

Take the weekend of May 21. That night is the 100-lap NASCAR Hall of Fame modified race, and the next day will be the first of five 100-foot drag races, a first for for the track.

"We keep trying to add new things to please the race fans," Barbara said. "We think it'll bring a whole different group of people to the track."

This season also marks the 30th anniversary of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, and Riverhead is one of nine inaugural tour stops. Said Barbara of initially signing on with the tour: "All the other tracks were very hesitant, but we took four [races] in the first season."

It has certainly worked out, as the tour is an extremely popular regional circuit that is sometimes broadcast on national television. The tour comes to Riverhead on July 30.

Another addition for this season is a greater variety of concessions, but, as the Cromartys say, some things never change at the track.

"We re-open the first week in April," Barbara said. "And there's so much to do -- plumbing, electrical, the sound system, painting. It certainly dominates our lives. It's so much a part of our being."

With all the bells and whistles in place, there's only one thing the Cromartys can do now, says Jim: "Pray for good weather.

2010 Season points champions

Blunderbusts -- Tommy Walkowiak, Ridge; Chargers -- Chris Turbush, Riverhead; Demolition Derby -- Jason Savoy, Lake Panamoka; Figure Eights -- Scott Pedersen, Shirley; Late Models -- Kevin Metzger, Massapequa; Legends -- Kevin Nowak, Medford; Modifieds -- Tom Rogers, Jr., Patchogue; Super Pro Trucks -- Roger Turbush, Riverhead.

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