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Drag racers get Riverhead's OK to speed down EPCAL's runways

Riverhead Town Hall in Riverhead in February 2020.

Riverhead Town Hall in Riverhead in February 2020. Credit: Randee Daddona

For two days in June, the sound of drag racers in fast cars with roaring engines will fill the air in Riverhead.

Scrambul Inc., a new motorsport entertainment company based in Hempstead, will host races June 19 and 20 at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. The Riverhead Town Board voted 5-0 at its May 4 regular meeting to approve the "Scrambul Runway Challenge Drag Racing Event."

The event is projected to bring in about $10,000 in lease fee revenue for the town, according to Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar.

Andre Baxter, a Hempstead resident and founder of Scrambul Inc., told Newsday that he is excited that Riverhead greenlighted the event, noting the idea was conceived years ago.

When Baxter, 41, noticed the runways at the EPCAL property haven’t been used for years, he saw Riverhead as an ideal place to hold drag races, noting that drag racing has become more popular in recent years. Baxter said that though a permanent location for such races is necessary, the runway challenge will help drag racing enthusiasts race safely.

"If you don’t have a drag racing strip, the only other alternative is for people to race on the streets, which isn’t safe for anybody," Baxter said. "It only makes sense for there to be an area where people can push their rides to the limit. This is a small step, but ultimately we’re happy that we got the go-ahead, so we’ll see what happens."

The June event will feature quarter-mile, half-mile and eighth-mile races for drivers, and car displays and exhibitions for fans.

Kathy McGraw, of Northville, said at the May 4 meeting that she was concerned whether tents for the event would impact sensitive habitats at EPCAL and questioned whether the town knew how many people to expect and had a safety plan in case of accidents.

"It seems to me that there are too many unknowns and not enough vetting, and I would ask you not to approve the permit at this time with the limited information you have," McGraw said.

Aguiar said Friday that the town took all safety concerns into consideration in its decision before ultimately concluding the event could proceed.

"As long as all the safety protocols and insurance for this event are in place, we all fully support and welcome Mr. Baxter’s event," Aguiar said. "Finally, after many years of support for this type of event, it will become reality on June 19 & June 20th."

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