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Peter Eriksen aims to sail up standings at Riverhead Raceway

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead

A flagman waves the green flag at Riverhead Raceway. (July 16, 2011) Credit: Daniel Brennan

Memorial Day weekend presents a busy time for an owner of a marina, yet that won't stop Peter "Buzzy" Eriksen from competing with his late model vehicle Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway.

"It's funny having a hobby that kind of takes me away from my business," said Eriksen, 51. "You try to make both pieces work. I work until 7 or 8 p.m. at the marina and then put a couple of hours in with the race car. Thank goodness the car is here at the marina."

Eriksen, who operates All Island Marine in Oceanside with his father and company founder, Peter Sr., ranks second on the all-time wins list in the late models class at Riverhead with 46 victories and is a three-time track champion.

After sitting out a year in the mid-1990s and competing part time for a stretch, the Baldwin native has been back at Riverhead as a full-timer for a couple of years. Sponsored by Nassau County Harley-Davidson, he said he's looking to win a couple of the late model features this year and finish at least fifth by season's end. Eriksen missed last week's race because of a scheduling conflict and currently is ranked 11th with 48 points after finishing second on opening night.

There's no way he's missing out again, he said, despite the high volume of customers who are flocking to All Island Marine for boating parts, sales and mechanical service.

"You would think that I'd find a seasonal hobby that didn't conflict with what I do, but it doesn't work that way," Eriksen said. "My father is really behind me with the hobby I have. We have more than two acres here, so we have a large marina. By the end of this week, we're just trying to make all the customers happy."

Eriksen has raced for more than 30 years and said he has been in the marina business with his father "since he could walk." And he'll continue to do both as long as he possibly can, regardless of the fact that juggling both can be difficult at times, especially this weekend.

"Maybe I just don't know any better. We still enjoy racing, we still get excited and we still enjoy winning," Eriksen said. "When that goes away, then we'll go away. We've had a phenomenal run with what we've done."

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