Editorial: It’s loud and clear drag racing isn’t coming to Riverhead

Lee Zeldin

Late last month, Congressman Lee Zeldin stood before a few hundred people and announced, “One message that’s loud and clear is Long Island needs a drag strip again.” 

It was a pretty safe statement to make, given the audience: drag racing enthusiasts who used a scheduled car show at Riverhead Raceway as a platform to spread their message.

What’s loud and clear is that 5,000 members of a Facebook group want a drag strip and they seem hellbent on getting one here in Riverhead. They’ve been pushing for one at EPCAL for years, and more recently they seem to have begun believing there’s a possibility one could come to Riverhead Raceway. An invitation to the July 31 rally Mr. Zeldin attended stated that the group has “been in talks with the new owners of the track to help gain their support to bring a drag strip back to Long Island.”

It doesn’t seem to be working.

When interviewed this week, Riverhead Raceway partner Ed Partridge said he doesn’t see a fit for a drag strip on the property.
And despite Mr. Zeldin’s support for one, there doesn’t seem to be much enthusiasm for it at the local level, where decisions about such a use would be made.

Unless the congressman wants to work on a federal bill mandating that all islands in the United States must have drag racing venues, we’re not sure his support holds much weight. Neither does his argument that it would bring jobs to the town. The truth is that EPCAL needs to be developed, as Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter said in an article this week, in a way that brings high-paying jobs to the area. It’s not meant to be a place to race cars.

Riverhead Raceway is already a race track, and we’re fortunate to have one in town. The thought of adding a drag strip to the property, where decibel levels are already fairly high one night of the week, makes little sense.

Even if you are convinced Long Island “needs a drag strip,” it’s pretty obvious Riverhead does not.