12/27/12 7:30am
12/27/2012 7:30 AM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | The Riverhead Raceway indian statue is once again intact after being cut in two during Superstorm Sandy Oct. 29.

Two months after being cut off at the waist by strong winds from Superstorm Sandy, the indian statue at Riverhead Raceway is once again fully intact.

Raceway owners Jim and Barbara Cromarty had vowed at a Chamber of Commerce dinner earlier this month that “The Indian” would be back on his feet by Christmas. They were right.

The iconic statue, which was brought to Riverhead in 1980 from the old Danbury Fair in Connecticut, was split in two in the late afternoon of Oct. 29. “The Indian” once appeared in an episode of HBO’s hit television drama “The Sopranos.”

12/06/12 10:41pm
12/06/2012 10:41 PM

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce honored its 2012 “People of the Year” during its annual holiday party Thursday night. The event was held at Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue.

Here’s what the chamber has to say about this year’s honorees:

Person of the Year

Ray Maynard, Skydive Long Island

“It’s not unusual for Ray to take a leap of faith,” said presenter Tracy Stark James of the Riverhead IDA, the chamber’s treasurer. “So he jumped into Riverhead … and off he flew.”

Business of the Year

Riverhead Raceway, Barbara and Jim Cromarty

“Their business helps drive business to the Town of Riverhead,” said presenter Robert Bugdin of American Tent Company, a chamber board member.

The Cromartys could not attend the dinner since they were traveling to a Nascar event. They did appear via Skype and announced the iconic Indian statue, damaged during Superstorm Sandy, “will be up by Christmas.”

Gold Key Award

Star Confectionery, The Meras Family

“They are a true reflection of the town,” said presenter Tom Lennon of Pine Barrens Printing, chamber director at large.

Brian Stark, who delivered a bit of a roast to the Meras’ said: “The nice thing about Papa Nicks is that you always feel like you’re at home.”

“My parents taught me … you take an interest in your customer,” said Anthony Meras, who then rattled off the regular breakfast, lunch and ice cream orders of a few of the guests at the event.

Agricultural Achievement Award

Long Island Cauliflower Association

“The officers, directors and management of the Long Island Cauliflower Association, some of whom are descendants of its founders, are still committed to the success of the Long Island Cauliflower association and to serving the growers of Long Island,” the Chamber wrote in its program. Chamber executive director Mary Hughes presented the award.

Director of the Year

Carmela DiTalia 

“While always the consummate professional, she always has a fun personality,” said presenter Robert Kern of 2XS Consulting, a chamber board member. Ms. DiTalia is an attorney with Esseks, Hefter & Angel LLP of Riverhead and the secretary of the chamber.

Spirit of Riverhead Award

2012 RHS Girls Basketball Team

“In 2012, we were dazzled by a group of smart and unstoppable girls,” said presenter Janine Nebons of Tanger Outlet Center, the chamber’s president. Accepting for the Blue Waves was coach Dave Spinella, and players Marta Czaplak, Jocelyn Zaneski and Katie McKillop.

Lifetime Service Award

Jesse Goodale, Sr.

“He has lived a life of honesty, integrity and community and it shows,” said presenter Pat Snyder, executive director of East End Arts, a chamber board member. “Riverhead Building Supply is a reflection of its founder.”

10/21/12 1:13pm
10/21/2012 1:13 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | A 2012 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport was the most popular choice to test drive among visitors to Riverhead Raceway at this weekend’s first public test drive event at the racetrack.

A 2012 Chevy Corvette Grand Sport was the most popular choice to test drive among visitors to Riverhead Raceway at this weekend’s first public test drive event at the racetrack.

After consumers purchased a $10 ticket, they were driven around the banked track at high speeds in the Corvette by professional driver Paul Parisi of Riverhead. Other cars available for a test drive in the banked track included Camaro, Scion FRS, Fiat 500 Abarth and other models.

Matt Fowler of North Valley described the Corvette test drive this morning as “unbelievable.”

“I loved how fast it was,” he said. “I wish I could drive it in the racetrack, but I understand.”

The event’s organizer, Michael Lucki of ARC Test Drive, said over 300 people visited the racetrack Saturday and he expects a large turnout again today because of the sunny weather.

“Most of the kids want to go around the racetrack again and again,” he said. “Everyone has said they’ve had a great time.”

Mr. Lucki, whose family owns several local dealerships in Riverhead, said the event is designed to help consumers shop for cars without having the pressure to go to different dealerships. He said he reached out to Riverhead Raceway in August with his idea because he believes it would help consumers find the perfect car.

“Most people go online to search for a car,” Mr. Lucki said. “This gives them an opportunity to have fun and shop at the same time.”

Next year, he plans to organize 10 different test drive events throughout the country.

This weekend’s event featured more than 100 cars from brands sold at local dealerships; including Toyota, Jeep, Honda and Volvo.

Attendees were also able to test drive cars themselves along a road course and some trucks were taken off-road.

Port Jefferson siblings Leo and Alyx Sternlicht test drove a Jeep Wrangler and a Ford 350 off-road this morning. Leo Sternlicht, 25, said he prefered the Ford because he felt it was more sturdy.

“This was a lot of fun,” he said. “We like to go hiking, so this was a great opportunity to test drive different trucks.”

The event ends at 6 p.m. tonight.


10/21/12 1:10pm

We thought it might be fun for those of you who couldn’t test drive a new car at Riverhead Raceway this weekend to see what it’s like sitting in the passenger seat as a Chevy Corvette whips around the race track.

Here’s a one-minute video that puts you in the passenger’s seat:

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Michael Lucki of ARC Test Drive, which organized this weekend's event.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Michael Lucki of ARC Test Drive, which organized this weekend’s event.

10/19/12 4:00pm
10/19/2012 4:00 PM
Riverhead Raceway, Route 58, Riverhead Toyota

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Car shoppers will even get the chance to check out how a sports car hugs the curves around the track this Saturday and Sunday.

Port Jefferson native Michael Lucki wants to change the way East End customers shop for cars.

Instead of going to dealerships, consumers now use the Internet to find the majority of information about cars they are interested in, he said.

But there’s one crucial thing missing.

“You can’t physically test drive vehicles online,” he said. “When you test drive a car, you’re actually getting a deep understanding.”

Mr. Lucki’s company, ARC Test Drive, plans to give customers just this weekend, when it holds its first public test drive event at Riverhead Raceway.

Mr. Lucki, a co-founder and CEO of ARC Test Drive whose family owns several local dealerships in Riverhead, said the event is designed to help consumers “shop for cars without [having the] pressure to go to different dealerships.”

“Most people don’t like the experience of buying a new car,” he said. “I want the experience to be something people will enjoy.”

The test drive event will feature more than 100 cars from 14 brands sold at local dealerships, including Toyota, Jeep, Honda and Volvo, Mr. Lucki said.

Attendees will be able to test drive cars on three tracks: a road course, an off-road course and the racetrack itself.

For the racetrack course, consumers will be driven around the banked track by a professional driver in a Corvette, Camaro, Scion FRS, Fiat 500 Abarth or other models. (Mr. Lucki said the banked track would be too dangerous for normal drivers.)

While access to the first two courses will be free, riding on the racetrack will cost $10 per vehicle, he said. The test drive event will also feature a live DJ, sponsor booths, prizes and food vendors, Mr. Lucki said.

“It’s kind of a mix between a car shop, a ride and drive and a sales event,” he said.

The event, “hopefully our first of many,” has already gotten positive feedback from local dealerships, Mr. Lucki said. Dealers will not be given the names of the customers who take their cars out during the test drives, though they will receive the attendees’ information after the event is over.

“We set up the event so it’s really pressure-free,” he said.

The test drive will be held Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20 and 21, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., weather permitting.


10/01/12 2:00pm
10/01/2012 2:00 PM


The curtain came down on the 63rd season of racing at Riverhead Raceway on Saturday evening with a full card of Enduro racing that saw Bob Engelfried of Stony Brook take his first career victory in a 50-lap Grand Enduro. Greg Harris of Riverhead scored his second win of the year in the Four/Six-Cylinder Truck event. The two drivers, however, took different paths to the winner’s circle.

Greg Zaleski, who started the Grand Enduro race 11th, moved by a struggling James Charrier for the lead on the 34th lap. Laps after surrendering the lead, Charrier, a five-time feature event winner, dropped to the infield with a left rear flat tire that had slowly been losing air.

Despite falling out of the race while seeking his sixth win of the year, Charrier clinched the 2012 Grand Enduro title on the strength of his five wins. It is Charrier’s second title in three years.

Once out front, Zaleski pulled away from the field and seemingly won his third race of the year. However, Riverhead Raceway’s chief technical inspector, Walter Bonczyk, told the top six finishers that an involved teardown would take place. Zaleski was one of four drivers who refused the teardown, earning an instant disqualification. Phil LaManna (fourth), David Antos (fifth) and Erick Zegel (sixth) all balked at the teardown as well.

Engelfried moved into the winner’s circle as his Chevy passed inspection. Steve Mastro of Port Jefferson was second. Glenn Simonin of Holtsville who, one week earlier had a career-best fifth-place finish, improved upon that tally with third-place honors. Chris Lescenski of Riverhead and Michael Retus of Manorville completed the top five.

Greg Harris liked the feeling of his first career Enduro win a few weeks back so much that he went out and won another 50-lapper.

“I guess the saying is true, the first win is the toughest, the rest get easier,” said Harris.

With a runner-up finish, Robin Vollmoeller of Riverhead sewed up the Four/Six-Cylinder Truck Enduro championship. Dale Owen of Oceanside was third, Don Nelson of Rocky Point fourth and Greg DiCanio of Seaford fifth.

Frustrated with how his Labor Day weekend Eight-Cylinder Enduro effort panned out, Anthony Pizzo of Lake Ronkonkoma was a driver on a mission Saturday as he scored a convincing win in a 75-lap feature that was the first of two for the class that day. Dominic Ranieri of East Northport clinched the Eight-Cylinder Enduro championship with his runner-up finish in the race. Jess Martines of Shirley was third, Dege Russell of Rocky Point fourth and Rob McCormick of Calverton fifth.

In the second Eight-Cylinder race that went a distance of 50 laps, Russell ended his season on a high note, driving to victory. Ranieri was second, with Pizzo third in the nightcap. Ray Fitzgerald of Manorville and Mark Wolf of Shirley were fourth and fifth, respectively.

As Steve Trimboli saw it, there was only one way for him to clinch the Four/Six-Cylinder Car Enduro title, and that was by going out and winning Saturday’s 50-lap main event. That is just what the Freeport driver did. Trimboli worked his way by the early race leader, Mitchell Pattern, on the eighth lap to take the lead, and once he was out front he dominated the remainder of the race. In a postrace interview, Trimboli disclosed that this win and championship would be his final one in the class as he will concentrate on a full Grand Enduro effort for 2013. Bob Haeger of Hampton Bays was second in the race. He was followed, in order, by Joe Warren Jr. of Rocky Point, Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach and George Davis of Patchogue.

09/28/12 4:37pm
09/28/2012 4:37 PM
Riverhead Raceway, Jim and Barbara Cromarty, NASCAR

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Jim and Barbara Cromarty and dog Candy at the Riverhead Animal Shelter.

What do dogs and race cars have in common?


At least, on Friday, they did.

That’s when Jim and Barbara Cromarty, the longtime owners of Riverhead Raceway, were on hand for the planting of six trees donated by NASCAR to the Riverhead Town Animal Shelter.

The trees will provide shade for the dogs there, as well as add some aesthetics to the shelter grounds.

The Cromartys through NASCAR, which sponsors the Whelen All-American Series at Riverhead Raceway, actually have donated a lot more trees than this.

As part of NASCAR’s Green Clean Air Program, nearly $10,000 was donated to provide trees in the town, with that money going to the purchase a 71 trees, which will be supplied by for Ver Der Ber Landscape Nursery in Aquebogue.

The Green Clean Air Program plants trees for each green flag that drops during a NASCAR-sanctioned race.

NASCAR says the plantings will capture 100 percent of the carbon produced by the on-track racing.

Riverhead Raceway was just one of five tracks nationwide in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series to be selected to participate in the program, and the Cromartys chose the Town of Riverhead to be the recipient of the trees, officials said.

“These trees are much appreciated as they will provide comfort to man’s best friend and will make Riverhead that much more beautiful,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.


09/24/12 2:00pm
09/24/2012 2:00 PM


For the first time in his young career, Jason Savoy of Lake Panamoka won the 2012 National Demolition Derby Championship on Saturday night at Riverhead Raceway. In addition, Jarrod Hayes of Calverton topped the field in a 50-lap Late Model feature for his second win in as many starts this season.

Savoy overcame star-studded field to win his title, outlasting Mike Smith of Kings Park when they were the last two standing. Smith, in his first Demolition Derby in eight years, took one last hit from Savoy on the left front suspension of his car that ended up being the fateful final blow.

Smith was named Judge’s Choice, while the Fan’s Choice went to Joey Palmeri of Lindenhurst. Other drivers in the field included Pete Mikos, Tim Mulqueen, Jack Levix, Bryan Fass, Brian Savoy, Rich Predmore, 2012 track champion Andrew Fowler and his father, Rich.

In the Late Model feature, Hayes ducked under Roger Oxee, a 61-time winner in the class, while entering a turn to take the lead on Lap 28. From there he pulled away to victory. Oxee of Peconic was second, with Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead third.

Arne Pedersen of Mastic Beach took home the win in the Figure Eight class, leading from green flag to checker flag. It was his third win of the season. George Brown of Fort Meyers, Fla., chased Pedersen to the finish and came in second place. Tom Ferrara of Patchogue was third.

Chris Turbush of Riverhead collected his 33rd career Charger victory when he won a 30-lap event. Turbush scored his fourth win of the year in the CWC Motorsports Pontiac. After winning the race, Turbush extended congratulations to the class champion, Jeremy McDermott, who made a late-race move to finish second in the race. Ray Minieri of Bay Shore was third.

One driver who didn’t want to see the 2012 Blunderbust season end on Saturday was Jimmy White Jr. of Southampton, who won his second consecutive 30-lap feature event. White drove to his third career win, all of which came this season. Jack Handley Jr of Medford made a last-lap pass for second, and Rob Bader of Holtsville followed him in third.

In the Super Pro Truck 30-lap feature, Roger Turbush of Riverhead put the wraps on his second championship in three years with his fifth win of the year and 14th of his career. Mike Albasini of Flushing was the runner-up. Third place went to Lou Maestri of Deer Park.

James Charrier of Shirley continued his winning ways in the Grand Enduro ranks as he won a 50-lap event for his fourth win of the year. Steve Mastro of Port Jefferson and Walter Stroud of Yaphank were second and third, respectively.