Scrambul drag racing event to continue despite last minute safety concerns

A second drag racing event at Enterprise Park in Calverton will take place this weekend after safety concerns raised by Riverhead Town supervisor Yvette Aguiar were addressed in a council working session municipal Thursday.

A presentation with comments from City Attorney Bob Kozakiewicz, Police Chief David Hegermiller, Chief Fire Marshal Craig Zitek and event promoter Andre Baxter allayed the supervisor’s concerns for the Baxter event , the Scrambul Runway Challenge, which will take place on Saturday and Sunday on the 10,000 foot track at EPCAL.

Aguiar’s concerns included a lack of concrete barriers along the length of the drag strip, questions about safety inspection protocols and helmet requirements, and concerns about insurance coverage from the event.

She said the lack of barriers can pose a risk to drivers, and compared the event’s operations and safety protocols to the latest drag racing event, “Race Track, Not Street,” held by veteran promoter Pete Scalzo. Aguiar said that an accident at the Scalzo event opened his eyes to the problem and that minimal damage was done to the driver due to the barriers. She said it was the responsibility of the city council, even after approving the events, to make sure they were carried out safely.

Some of Aguiar’s concerns were taken from a letter the city council received from Mike Scano, who is employed as a safety engineer at South Mountain Raceway in Boiling Springs, Pa., And owns MS Racing Components, which sells various engine tools.

Scano attended the “Race Track, Not Street” event and is also a member of the “Long Island Needs a Drag Strip” Facebook group. His letter asks city council to postpone the event until the concerns are resolved.

Kozakiewicz said runners accept a risk in drag races. He said comments Aguiar received that the event would result in serious injury or death were “speculative” and that he, Hegermiller and Zitek had all approved the event’s current safety plans.

Although the Baxter event and the Scalzo event feature drag racing, the events are significantly different in several respects. While the Scalzo event was a single eighth-mile track, the Baxter event will have two tracks – an eighth-mile track and a quarter-mile track – and will also include rolling races, where a car starts racing at 35 mph, Baxter said.

The Baxter event will only have concrete barriers in place for the spectators and not the racers, unlike the Scalzo event, which had barriers on both sides of the track protecting the cars from each other. and spectators along the track. The barriers should only protect spectators and are not legally required for racing cars under state law, city officials said. The barrier requirement is a condition of National Hot Rod Association sanctioned events; The Scalzo event was sanctioned by the NHRA, not Baxter’s. Kozakiewicz said the barriers were not in the original site plan agreement approved by the city.

Aguiar also questioned the terms of a waiver / liability agreement for event runners. She doubted that an insurance company would insure the event with the conditions and asked Kozakiewicz to explain whether the disclosures should relate to the city or the event.

Kozakiewicz said the deal is, in fact, longer and more extensive than Scalzo’s, and that the insurance company and city council accepted the liability deal when the claim for the event was approved. .

The few things that have changed for the event are the number of security personnel – which has grown from 15 to 20 – and an increase in insurance coverage limits from $ 1 million to $ 2 million to $ 5 million. , said Kozakiewicz. Insurance was also changed to include Riverhead Building Supply, whose site runs parallel to the runway at EPCAL, as they own part of the runway taxiway, Kozakiewicz said.

There is no problem caused by Insurance Auto Auctions’ use of the 7,000-foot runway, Kozakiewicz said, noting that Baxter had decided not to use the 7,000-foot runway even before Tropical Storm Ida. Baxter told RiverheadLOCAL right after signing the IAA user agreement that he decided not to use the runway a month before the storm.

The Scrambul event announced the cancellation of the half-mile races on Wednesday morning, resulting in numerous angry comments on Facebook. In response to a comment posted on Facebook on Monday, Scrambul said the cancellation of the half-mile race was “out of our control,” contradicting statements by city officials and his own to RiverheadLOCAL.

“The point is, we don’t own the land and if the city wants to let the insurance company put flood-proof cars on one of the tracks, there’s nothing we can do about it,” the commentary read. Scrambul.

Scrambul is offering a ticket swap for its next event, which has yet to be scheduled, and the company has said it will prioritize a half-mile race. People unable to make it to the next event can get a full refund, according to a Facebook post.

Baxter said this weekend’s event will have a limit of 175 mph, but doubted a car would hit over 140 in a ¼ mile run. Baxter said if runners exceed 165 mph, they will need to wear fire safety gear and use steel roll bars.

The board was also concerned about the potential noise from the event. City police responded to a noise complaint from the Scalzo event, but there were no city code violations, Hegermiller told the board. City council also received five written complaints listed in correspondence to council on the agenda for this week’s meeting.

Baxter told the board that the event currently has 400 conductor tickets and 500 spectator tickets sold. The event will take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Doors open for pilots at 8:00 am, with the pilots meeting at 10:30 am, while doors open for spectators at 10:00 am.

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