Saturday, September 29, 2007

Drag strip too much for speedway and airport neighbors

KANSAS CITY, Kansas - As I was leaving Kansas Speedway Friday afternoon, I drove out of the tunnel and took a left to go up a block to stop by the Arthrur Bryant's barbecue restaurant to pick up some supper.

It's hard for me to pass up Arthur Bryant's when I come here, but if I'd wanted to eat somewhere else I probably had about 30 choices within a 360-degree scan of the horizon from the top row of the race track.

As I drove through the area, past the Cabela's and the Nebraska Furniture and the whole "Village West" area that's grown up around the track here since it opened, I couldn't help but be reminded of a place a little closer to home.

The first time I went to Lowe's Motor Speedway, it was still called Charlotte Motor Speedway. And for several miles in any direction, that's just about all that was there.

Now, within a couple of miles, there's a golf course, a new resort hotel, a handful of new and used car lots, 25 to 30 restaurants of all shapes and sizes and one of those mega-malls that we're always told ranks among North Carolina's top "tourist attractions" each year.

Charlotte has grown in a lot of directions, and while technically the speedway area has been annexed by the nearby city of Concord - in what largely is a marriage of convenience concocted to work around my home state's convoluted laws governing alcohol sales - some of the growth in that area was inevitable.

But some of it, undoubtedly, was spurred by the presence of the track, too.

People also live out that way, and sometimes living near a place that brings in crowds of more than 150,000 brings with it challenges.

But the track has been in the same place since 1960, and what few people who've been there since then no doubt have largely made peace with all of that by now.

There is, however, a storm brewing that involves some folks who haven't been around quite as long as the speedway has.

There are folks, some of whom built or moved into their houses as recently as last year, who vow to fight LMS owner Bruton Smith on his desire to build a drag strip on the speedway's property. Some of the leaders from the city of Concord appear to be inclined to side with those who have concerns, too, and this does not sit well with Smith, who very much likes to get his way.

As of late this week, the permits and paperwork involved in undertaking such a project had been wrapped up. But Smith already had people moving dirt on the site where the $60 million drag strip facility would be built. The National Hot Rod Association has already saved Smith a slot on its 2008 schedule, Sept. 11-14, and in Smith's mind he could have the new place ready in plenty of time for that.

I sort of wonder about people who'd buy a house located between a major private aviation airport and an oval track that has cars on it maybe 200 days a year, adjacent to a major interstate and within just a few miles of every kind of shop, store or service one could imagine and still think a drag strip would interrupt their quiet, serene bucolic lifestyle.

The residents who oppose a drag strip at Lowe's Motor Speedway have every right to make those feelings known, and the people elected to serve those citizens apparently have some tough decisions to make in the next few weeks.

But if there's one thing I've learned in the 11 years I've been doing what I do, it's that the people who build places like Lowe's Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway aren't the kind of people who usually sit still or who think small.

And once they get a ball rolling, it's awfully hard to stop it.


Anonymous said...

I'm puzzled by their complaints about the fumes. So there isn't fumes and polution from the airport or the highway? But that 4 days of drag racing just makes the air unbreathable. Lower our taxes, do more for us...yet a good opportunity to fuel some added income to the area and the complaints start rolling in. That's America! Give nothing expect everything. It's sad.

Anonymous said...

My vote is that Bruton will get his NHRA date. Hey...Ashley Force will be there!

Anonymous said...

First off, David, it's hard for me to imagine you passing up any opportunity to have a good meal...Arthur Bryant's, or otherwise.

We have a similar problem in Virginia Beach. Oceana is the home of the F-18 Hornet on the East Coast, A Master Jet Training Base (Top Gun), and has had developements surrounding it for a while now. But, it seems that after the glamor of living near a jet facility fades for neubes, noise complaints rise. Over here that's not only the sound of freedom, it's the sound of Navy dollars paying for roads, and schools and it or move is our usual response.

The noise at Charlotte (I like the old name better too) is also the sound of volunteer fire companies getting equipment, roads getting worked on and police upgrading their equipment...If the noise affects you so deeply, then move. How bad could 4 days be for the benefits the community gets? Suck it up!

Anonymous said...

Ooooh-eeee. Arthur Bryant's baby. Oh yeah. I've eaten at the sho nuff original one before - as well as most other KC BBQ local places. I ate at AB's in my suit on my way to KC airport. Nothing like boarding that plane in my worsted wool suit with hickory rib smell under my finger nails. Ahhh, nothing better.

Anonymous said...

Bring on the NHRA. It's about time. For those that are complaining,,,What did you think would happen when you move close to the speedway???

I love the NHRA and welcome them to the area!

Anonymous said...

Blackbug99, I never considered the sound of the F-18 Hornets in Virgina Beach a problem, I considered it a privelege to listen to them. But maybe that's just me.

As far as potential noise at the dragstrip bothering neighbors, there has been racing there since 1960, so there has been noise since then.

I understand the owner is thinking of moving the NASCAR track outside of Concord if he is not allowed to build the dragstrip there. Now if the town of Concord is willing to lose not only the dragstrip, but the Nascar track as well because of a few complaining neighbors, then I would have to question their IQ's.

I for one would welcome it.

Anonymous said...

You moved into an area where there was a race track. Did you think they would stop when you moved into the neighborhood? It's always the vocal minority that gets all the attention because they stomp their and hold their breath until they turn blue so they can get what they want. I live next to several cotton fields and I know here in a few weeks it will be fairly busy and noisy. I chose to move in that area. But I knew what I was getting into when I moved there. If you don't like where you live move.

Unknown said...

The Concord City Council is comprised of short-sighted, yuppie-loving idiots! This community (and, yes, I live within earshot of the track) grew because of racing. Do they think some new cappuccino shops or high-end malls will generate the same revenues, excitement, and tourist interest? To the people who bought those homes, GET A GRIP!! Did you think racing would go away just because you moved in? Don't like it? Soundproof your homes, buy earplugs, or move elsewhere!! The community would be better off without you.

Anonymous said...

If Concord wanted to protect it's citizens maybe it should have stopped the developers from building homes on land that borders a racing complex and rock quarry. Blasting rock must be ok. And then there is the airport and DUMP. I live behind the track and enjoy hearing the cars that run almost every day at the existing track and look forward to hearing the 1/4 mile runs. I knew there would be noise and traffic at times when we bought here.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad there are so many informed readers that post thier opinons. I however actually live in River Walk a community less than 1/2 a mile from the proposed location of the drag strip. 4 days a week means EVERY Thursday thru Sunday. I guess I'm wrong not to want drag strip level noise EVERY weekend I live in Concord. I like living near LMS I think the sound of the cars going around the track is not too bad. The Dirt track is a little louder but they don't use it much. A drag strip that is going to be used 4 out of 7 days a week and is less than 1/2 mile from my house will be unbearable. I only want them to consider a sound deadening wall between the strip and our neighborhood. I love drag racing but take a second to think about my point of view.
I would most likely attend races at the strip if it's done properly. But if I am forced to take what Mr. Smith wishes than I will move.


Anonymous said...

Hey Mr. Smith, we have lots of room in the Southeast Georgia/North Florida are. You would be welcome with open arms and incentives around here!

Anonymous said...

Build the dragstrip! I'll consider moving closer to the track, I love it!

Anonymous said...

Life in the turn lane just near in it just a matter of a train mind that you are located near to a track race. But it's quite disturbing to the people in the village who lived near at their place. But their are some establishments located near that made some spectators a place to relax or have a drink or eat with their favorite food. It sounds good to me....

Dutiful Dad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dutiful Dad said...

To all the readers who responded anonymously and called Riverwalk residents idiots for living there, I take offense.

As the co-chair of the Riverwalk Homeowners Association, I represent the homeowners who are in favor of the speedway, dirt track, and even the drag strip. However, the drag strip will be built less than a mile from our homes, and even neighbors who work in racing do not want it that close for the noise factor.

We have been given no information as to how many races will take place, whether a wall will be built to dampen noise, or any other information that would help our quality of life.

There are alternate sites close to the speedway where the drag strip can be built at a lower cost, mind you, that Mr. Smith owns. Why next door to us?

The about face by the Concord City Council and Mayor was expected.

Residents moved here from other areas and may not have had all the information that they needed to make the best decision.

Over the years since I have lived here, trees have been cut down, which allowed more and more noise to come in from the speedway and dirt track. Many residents work different shifts, weekends, and when they come home to rest, they want to do just that - rest, quietly.

We recognize the economic impact of having the drag strip, we are concerned as to why Riverwalk was zoned for homes so close to the speedway properties in the first place.

For those who think it is great to live so close to the speedway, there are homes still being built in our community, and, as of today 10/11/07, one more was put up for sale.

Whatever happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?

In addition to the speedway and dirt track, airport traffic, and overhead planes come race time, there is blasting at the nearby quarry, which is also very loud and vibrates the homes in Riverwalk.

The drag strip represents revenue for the local economy, but for Riverwalk, it could be one more thing that keeps us up at night, or in the day...

The new elementary school will also undoubtedly be affected depending on the planned use of the track, which we haven't had access to.

Best Regards,
Carlos Thompson,
Riverwalk Co-Chair

Anonymous said...

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