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Riverhead board to vote on 2 proposals to host drag racing at EPCAL

Riverhead Town Hall in Riverhead on Feb. 6,

Riverhead Town Hall in Riverhead on Feb. 6, 2020. Credit: Randee Daddona

The fate of two planned drag racing events that would take place in late summer at the Enterprise Park at Calverton in Riverhead — which some residents have opposed — will be decided Wednesday when the Riverhead Town Board votes on whether to allow the races.

The board has two resolutions on its agenda for the 2 p.m. Town Hall meeting. One is a special event application for the "Race Track Not Street at EPCAL Drag Racing Series" over four weekends in August and September. The second seeks approval for the "Scrambul Runway Challenge Drag Racing Event," a two-day competition and exhibit now rescheduled from June 19 and 20 to the weekend of Sept. 25 and 26.

Residents and civic group representatives said they worry that drag racing might generate noise for those who live nearby and cause pollution at the site’s environmentally sensitive areas.

Pete Scalzo, 76, of Sarasota, Florida, a drag racing enthusiast who is promoting the "Race Track Not Street at EPCAL Drag Racing Series," told Newsday that he proposed drag racing at EPCAL to previous administrations and boards, but nothing ever came of it.

"It’s been years and there’s been others besides myself proposing something like this," Scalzo said. "I think it’s about time a town board is open to saying ‘Let’s listen to this.’ We know there is some interest in this. Let’s see if this is something that can work."

Scalzo’s competition would be held Aug. 21-22, Aug. 28-29, Sept. 4-5 and Sept. 11-12. Some races are scheduled in the morning and others would conclude in the evening. He said cars would have to have mufflers and motorcycles will be barred from competing so noise can be reduced.

On the environmental concerns, Scalzo said he moved back his event dates to avoid disrupting the bird nesting season at the property, which he said he heard concerned some residents. He added that he is confident event staff will be able to keep spectators away from the site’s delicate environmental areas.

John McAuliff, a Rolling Woods resident and member of local watchdog group EPCAL Watch, told Newsday that while his group was glad the rescheduled dates for both proposed events will not disrupt bird nesting season, they still prefer the site not host drag racing.

"It’s not a path that we should go down, and I’m sorry for the people who are big fans of drag racing, but that’s just not appropriate for this area," McAuliff said.

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