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Letter: Feeling nostalgic for racing's heyday on LI

Leaping start is given to the "Beast of

Leaping start is given to the "Beast of the Northeast" by Rick Siebach during the Long Island Hot Rod Association's drag races in Northport yesterday. Paul Eberest of Freeport Rod Snappers is at the wheel of the car, which has a Cadillac engine with two exhaust pipes standing straight up in the front on Sept. 11, 1955. Credit: Newsday/Max Heine

The May 12 news story “Making the case for racing” took me back to the days of my youth, when Long Island had New York National Speedway in Center Moriches.

When the championship finals came to town, we would get my neighbor’s father to take us to see the greats in racing like Bill “Grumpy” Jenkins, Don “the Snake” Prudhomme, Tom “the Mongoose” McEwen and others. Spotting the queen, Shirley “Cha Cha” Muldowney, arriving all in pink was awesome. We even went to the Long Island Expressway area between Exits 51 and 52 to see the big trailers of racing teams drive past.

Long Island also had the Westhampton drag strip, where we amateurs could race our weekend car projects. Both tracks are gone. Young men and women today either race illegally on the streets or have given it up completely.

Participants in baseball, golf, skateboarding, tennis, bowling and hockey have their venues. It’s quite unfair that car-racing enthusiasts have no place where we can go to enjoy our sport, our passion.

James Clavin,

 Bay Shore

Great article about efforts to bring back a track to Long Island. We who are part of the group Long Island Needs a Drag Strip have been trying so hard to make this a reality.

Go back far enough, and there were more than 35 motor tracks here. The sport is not just for adults; my son and daughter participated for years in a junior drag-racing league. They learned so many skills: all of the sciences related to maintaining and racing our dragster and the social aspects of sportsmanship.

Some police departments around the country have run programs to get young racers off the streets by teaching them safe practices at tracks. It is a shame we no longer have a venue that could be used not only for racing, but many purposes, such as driver training for police, and limousine and motorcycle operators, and for more public events such as carnivals, movie nights and art shows.

Charley Powell,


The return of a drag strip to Long Island would be a fabulous addition to the economy, a much-needed source of new revenue. Long Island has a heavy concentration of enthusiasts who drive high-performance vehicles but have no place to explore the limits of their machines.

A drag strip would reduce the racing on the streets and highways and provide a safe place to enjoy a vehicle for drivers who otherwise might risk their lives and violate the law.

Lawrence Harkavy,

 St. James