RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Does Long Island need a drag racing strip?
You might be surprised at how many people think it does — as residents look for ways to make roads safer while keeping motor-sport revenue local.
On Tuesday, racing enthusiasts got a big jump start thanks to some Suffolk lawmakers.
The need for speed — racing has become more popular than ever across the country, but on Long Island drag racers have to take the show on the road.
“Most of them leave Long Island to go racing. They go to New Jersey, they go to Pennsylvania, to everywhere else except Long Island to race unfortunately,” John Moundros, JTM Motor Sports told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.
That’s the reason hundreds packed into the Suffolk Legislature to cheer the creation of a committee to study the feasibility and scout a location for a privately run drag strip.
“There is no reason why I should be going to North Carolina to see a race or NJ, we need revenue in this county and this is just the thing we need,” Suffolk County Legislator Rob Trotta said.
Long Island once had four drag strips, which long ago got sold off to developers.
Enthusiasts — thousands on Facebook — said with car culture coming back, they need a place to race. A drag strip would spur a cottage industry of automotive companies like this one.
It would also offer a legal outlet for kids who now turn to dangerous street racing.
“You can race your mother’s car, you can race your grandmother’s minivan, you can rave whatever you want to race. You don’t have to be a professional. You’re on a safe course in a restricted area,” John Cozzali, Founder, L.I. Needs A Drag Strip, said.
There’s no organized opposition yet because no site has been named. A quarter mile strip needs 100 acres. One location in Yaphank got nixed.
“You hear tires screeching, and they take off, and that’s in residential areas. There are houses, it’s dangerous,” one resident said.
Supporters said the noise issue isn’t a dead end.
“There’s now sound abatement. We can did it down. We can dig it down, we can put up sound barriers. We are willing to comply with any request for us to be able to stay on Long Island,” drag racign enthusiast Al Levine said.
AAA said legal racing isn’t going to stop spur of the moment reckless drivers, but it very well could provide a legitimately safer outlet for those who consider the hobby a classic.
The very first auto race in America was held on Long Island. The committee is expected to come up with recommendations in about nine months.