Suffolk County working to create legal drag strip to cut down on illegal drag racing

Kristin Thorne Image
Tuesday, February 7, 2017
Suffolk County working to create legal drag strip
Kristin Thorne has more from Hauppauge.

HAUPPAUGE, Long Island (WABC) -- Officials in Suffolk County are working to cut down on illegal street racing by creating a legal alternative.

This comes after an alleged street racing crash killed five people a couple years ago.

For decades street racing has been an issue on Long Island.

Young drivers are on major roads showing off the speed of their cars, sometimes with deadly consequences.

"People get killed, hurt," said Donald Schilt, a Lindenhurst resident. "We need a legal track to get the street racers off. You're never going to stop them all, but you'll get most of them."

John Cozzali started the "Long Island needs a drag strip" movement eight months ago.

"I would like to see a quarter mile race track and a road course," Cozzali said. "A motor sports park where everybody can enjoy their racing hobbies whether it be quads, motorcycles, drag racing."

The Suffolk County legislature announced that it's on board too.

They're putting together a committee to study a potential location for a drag strip and the impact it would have on the Long Island economy.

"There's so much energy behind this move that we have to give it our best effort," said Legislator DuWayne Gregory, (D) Amityville.

Mainly because a drag strip and motor sports park could bring in major revenue.

"There's no reason why I should be going to North Carolina to see a race or going to New Jersey," said Legislator Robert Trotta, (R) Smithtown. "We need revenue in this county and this is just the thing we need."

It's not just that.

"It teaches kids driving responsibilities. It teaches them how to respect the sport," said Lisa Amore, a Mastic resident.

John Montecalvo, a two-time world champion drag racer who lives on Long Island, also weighed in.

I want today's kids to be able experience what we did growing up," Montecalvo said. "A lot of my friends went into drugs, alcohol, not me; I had to work day and night so I could buy wheels for my car. Whatever I had to do. It just helped me in so many areas of my life."

Legislators say it will take nine months to complete the study.