Limits on Tri-County Motor Speedway remain, but nearby residents unhappy

Caldwell County approves permit for 13-hour event
Jun. 04, 2013 @ 07:46 AM

County officials affirmed their commitment Monday evening to strict limits on commercial racing -- but they also approved a permit for an 13-hour racing event next month, leaving some people who live near the track exasperated.

About a dozen residents of the Baton area who live near Tri-County Motor Speedway came to a meeting of the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners to voice their opposition to any change in the county's restrictions on racing that would let the speedway gear its business back up.

The commissioners were considering a proposal to essentially exempt noncommercial races from rules limiting the times races can be run and how often they could be run.

Laura Watson of Baton said any change that would lead to more racing at the speedway, which is near her house, would create a public nuisance from the fumes, dust, smoke and noise.

"A lot of people can't read their Bible and can't pray when they hear this noise," she said. "We don't object to racing, it's the noise. ... A lot of us are very peace-loving people."

But Commissioners Jeff Branch and Chris Barlowe said the changes were intended only to protect private activity, such as people going out with family members or friends and speeding around on their own property for fun.

"The ordinance, the way it is written, infringes on the rights of private citizens on their land," Barlowe said. "We're just trying not to tell people what they can and can't do on their own land."

But the commissioners also approved a permit for Tri-County to have a race Friday, July 12, sponsored by the United Auto Racing Association. The permit will allow engine noise from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. If it rains, the race could be moved to Saturday, July 13.

Watson tried to object, but Branch told her the public hearing portion of the meeting was over. Outside the meeting room, Watson said the July 12 race will be a hardship on nurses and others who live in the area and work second or third shifts and need to sleep during the day.

"That's 13 hours of racing, and that's just too much," she said. "We feel like we've been thrown under the bus again."