Bright lights, loud noise and flying dirt: It's just living the dream for the hotshoes who flock to dirt tracks every Saturday night.
For residents of Putnamville and the surrounding area, the early morning hours of Sunday, Sept. 9 played out more like a nightmare.
On Sept. 8, a night Lincoln Park Speedway's owner referred to as "a 500-year storm," a double bill, a late start and record numbers of racers and spectators converged to make the latest night in the track's history.
Things did not wind down until 5:30 a.m.
Citizens took their concerns to the Putnam County Commissioners Monday evening, complaining not only of the recent late night, but of noise, dust, light and trash each Saturday night from April through September.
"We're three miles away and we couldn't sleep," said Lee Stewart, who lives south of Putnamville with wife Susan.
The Stewarts had with them county documents from the 1990s that established the track's operating hours as ending at midnight. However, the documents listed no penalty for going beyond midnight.
"We're not trying to close them down," Stewart said, "we're just trying to get what was established back in 1992."
A number of other residents added their complaints to the list. Among these were the noise generated on a weekly basis, dust kicked up at the track, trash in nearby yards and lights from both spectators' vehicles and the track itself.
"It's really hard to stay home on a Saturday night," one neighbor said.
Of course, not everyone in the neighborhood had a problem with the track.
"That race track was there when I bought my house," one man said. "I knew it was there. I knew what race tracks were. Most nights they are out of there by midnight."
Both Lincoln Park promoter Joe Spiker and facility owner Dave Allison addressed the commissioners as well, confronting some of the issues brought forth by the residents.
"An apology does nothing at this point," Spiker said. "We were behind the eight ball from the beginning that night.
"We had more cars in our facility that night than any dirt track in the state of Indiana ever. There were 184," he continued. "We usually set the fireworks off at dark. We were an hour and 28 minutes late. The fireworks were shot off at 11:17. That was too late. I was aware of that. Everybody was aware of that."
As the night got later, Spiker said his no-win situation only got worse. Not only did he have to think about disrupting the neighbors, but also about fairness to drivers and fans.
"We tried everything within our power to be fair to our patrons. We cut laps. We counted caution laps," Spiker said. "When they're racing for $3,000, they want every lap they can race. We took a lot of flack for that and we knew everybody would be upset."
Asked if he could guarantee events would not run after midnight, Spiker said he could not. He said even if the county were to establish a penalty for exceeding the time, he would still have angry drivers who felt their night was cut short.
He said Sept. 8 was only the fourth time the track has gone past midnight in 2012, and none of the others had been past 1 a.m.
"That was a one-time thing -- it will never happen again," Spiker said. "We don't need people upset. I try to be a good steward of the race track and I want to make it where it's done by midnight or no later than 2 in the morning."
Allison, who owns the property and ran the business before Spiker, addressed a number of the other issues. He said ambient light from the speedway does not leave the track.
He said decibel meters would read zero in houses outside the immediate area -- a notion at which many residents scoffed.
In addressing the dust issue, though, both he and Spiker said much more dust is generated by the nearby Lincoln Park Stone facility than by the track operating one day a week.
Moreover, a dirt track is ideally muddy, not dusty, both for the quality of racing and the comfort of spectators.
"As a promoter, you want moisture," Allison said. "Dust will run your fans off and your drivers will be screaming at you all night."
While expressing sympathy with both sides, the commissioners said they were in no position to make a decision on Monday.
"We're not going to resolve this tonight," Commissioner President Kristina Alexander said. "We're going to have to have a special meeting and talk to the parties and get something resolved."
A special meeting of the commissioners and the county attorney, the owners and their attorneys and a representative of the residents and their legal counsel will be scheduled at a later date.