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Home Tracks Stand Up To Sandy

Storm Impacts Several Tracks, But Minimal Damage Reported
By Paul Schaefer, NASCAR
October 31, 2012 - 4:57pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The impact of Superstorm Sandy has been devastating throughout the eastern portion of the United States, but NASCAR Home Tracks in the areas hardest hit were able to avoid major damage.

New York’s historic Riverhead Raceway was buffeted by 90 mph winds generated by Hurricane Sandy on Monday. The quarter-mile oval, located near the eastern tip of Long Island N.Y. – about 75 miles east of New York City – escaped serious harm. Speedway billboards and power lines were scattered throughout the property, but the buildings remained intact.

Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl, situated to the north of Riverhead across Long Island Sound, sustained minor damage, as did Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. A survey of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series tracks in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire central New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Ohio and Michigan indicated little or no damage from hurricane-related storms. Some reported power and electronic communications interruptions.

Despite being surrounded by three bodies of water including Long Island Sound, Great Peconic Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Riverhead did not experience flooding.

“Our scoreboard, power lines and billboards are a real mess,” said Jim Cromarty, who, along with his wife Barbara has owned and operated the 61-year-old track for 36 years. “It was the weirdest thing. We didn’t have any rain, and five miles west of the track they had eight inches of rain. We just had winds of up to 90 mph that lasted 12 to 18 hours.

“Our press box and pit buildings seem (fine). They might have lost a little roofing. Our team is still assessing the damage,” Cromarty said. “We may not have electricity again for seven days.”

Waterford Speedbowl, located near the Thames River and Long Island Sound also did not experience flooding, although winds were reported to be 75 mph.

“We lost some billboards to the wind, but that was about it,” said Waterford promoter Terry Eames. “We’re lucky. We’re used to flooding. In this storm, the water in the river didn’t push north and there was no surge.”

Only two days earlier, the Speedbowl hosted its final event of the season. On Saturday night, Jeff Rocco won his first career SK Modified feature and Tyler Chadwick won his first Speedbowl SK Modified championship.

As fans left the track after the races, 20 acres of speedway property became a regional staging area for Connecticut Light & Power storm response vehicles.

“There are hundreds of people and hundreds of tree trimming and power company line trucks from many states staged here,” Eames said. “They’ve set up a village that looks like an Army operation. It’s quite a sight.”

The track property was first used as a regional staging area for power company crews after Hurricane Irene last year, Eames stated.

Stafford Motor Speedway, about 50 miles to the north of Waterford, experienced some minor structural damage. Some roofing was torn from the viewing tower known as “Jack’s Tower” overlooking Turn Four by winds reported to be upwards of 60 mph. All other buildings were secure, promoter Mark Arute said.

“We lost some of that roof and a small amount of siding,” Arute said. “We never lost power. The shore got clobbered but we just got some wind.”

Eames agreed with Arute’s assessment.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Eames said the Speedbowl enduring the storm. “There are parts of the beach near here that will never be the same.”

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"Jack's Tower" overlooking Turn 4 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway suffered some cosmetic damage as a result of high winds. Courtesty SMS