Racing fans applaud Riverhead’s approval of 2-day drag racing event

It’s full speed ahead for a two-day drag racing event after Riverhead City Council approval.

The race is slated to take place next month at a Calverton facility where Grumman was testing F-14s and other military jets.

Racing fans are thrilled with the news. For decades they tried to build temporary races or a permanent track. They say the sport attracts thousands of people from all over who will come and spend money on local businesses.

Opponents are worried as the area is home to the largest area of ​​remaining grassland on Long Island. They say it is home to rare birds and animals, and they fear the event will harm the environment.

“There are a whole bunch of grassland nesting bird species that you won’t find anywhere else on Long Island,” says John Turner of Epcal Watch. “The birds’ nesting season has just entered, when they are scheduled for June, so they couldn’t pick a worse two-week period in the whole year to host this event.”

Supporters of the event say it will all be done safely.

“We’re 100% safe,” says John Cozzali of Long Island Needs a Dragstrip. “We’re not going to spoil the ground. You are on a concrete runway on which we all know the F-14s and 15s worked. Noise is not a problem.”

The Riverhead Town board of directors voted unanimously in favor of the event, saying measures have been put in place to protect both the property and the animals.

“The particular supplier that is coming here will be installing concrete gates. There will also be partitions and fencing. So we are going to keep everyone strictly in our concrete and asphalt areas,” said the City Councilor for Riverhead, Ken Rothwell. “Parking, we will use the taxiways and spectators will be on the taxiways and the tracks themselves. “

Cozzali says the United States Motor Sports Association conducted an economic impact study that showed the event would bring in $ 17 million a year to the economy of Riverhead and Long Island.

Riverhead City Council is also considering eight more racing events for Calverton in July and August.

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