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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Late night at Lincoln Park kicking up more than mud

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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.

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I have read and reread this story twice now. I am not usually one to comment, but this hits close to home, and really tears at my heartstrings.

I have so many wonderful memories of this race track, and reading these things, just makes me sick. In all of my 76 years I have heard and read some pretty ridiculous thngs, but this just ices my cake!

My late husband was involved with every aspect of this race track since the gates were first open, and that first ever race was held. Later on, my daughter and I became heavily involved with it. My daughter could still to this day, run the concessions without batting an eye!That place is in our blood, and she is very much like her daddy was, she could, and still would, eat,sleep, and breathe that place.And believe me, for a long time she did just that, we all did, we lived right there on the property.

That place has been right there in that same spot for many many years, and people haved moved into the area and out of the area, but you all knew the track was there, did you complain then? Why are you complaining now? It was one late, very late race, and I am fairly certain that will never happen again, so my question is, you say you don't want to shut them down, but isn't that exactly what you are really trying to do? If you were only complaining about the one race, I could maybe just maybe buy what you are saying about not wanting to shut them down, but when you bring the whole, noise, dust, lights and trash each saturday night from April to September into the picture, then that makes this old girl smell a big ol' rat among hungry vultures. Oh and by the way, the dust you claim is coming from the track, is actually more than likely coming from the Lincoln Park Stone Facility. The track itself should never be dusty as they water it before racing, and then the mud is packed on the track.

And the noise generated on a weekly basis...HELLO...its a R-A-C-E-T-R-A-C-K, there is going to be noise, and many of you complaining about that have never seemed to have a problem with it before now.

Trash in nearby yards? Can anyone say for certain that that trash came from the track? Unless you all are sitting outside with eagle eyes or binoculors watching every move that comes from there, I hardly think you can say for certain that it came from there.

As for lights from spectators vehicles, would you rather they did not turn on their headlights until they were 5 miles down the road? That would be mighty dangerous, and seeing as I know that area very well, I am quite positive that lights from vehicles can not possibly bother you all inside your houses, very much at all, if that were the case you would be complaining about every car, truck, semi or bus that went up and down the street at night.

Give these people a break. It was one late race, one...I see no reason whatsoever to condemn them for running a really late race. They've said they were sorry, and that it won't happen again, so why start, for lack of better wording, 'start slinging mud' now?

-- Posted by marjoansmith on Wed, Sep 19, 2012, at 1:39 AM

thats been a race track my whole life also. people that live there know this. i can hear it at my house in greencastle and love the sound of it. what else do people have to do around here?? nothing, hardly!!! one night a week, LET THEM RACE

-- Posted by Terrywhite1947 on Wed, Sep 19, 2012, at 9:34 AM

Sure glad I don't live over there. It's bad enough where I live with the 4 wheelers, noisy cars and truck.

-- Posted by oldlady on Wed, Sep 19, 2012, at 11:39 AM

You are going to have noise, whether it be cars trucks 4 wheelers, motorcycles, racecars, trains, ambulances, police cars and what have you NO MATTER where on resides. Noises are a part of everyday life.

-- Posted by marjoansmith on Wed, Sep 19, 2012, at 2:26 PM

I live at least 10 miles from there and can hear it every time inside my house. It doesn't bother me any, but Mr. Allision might want to do some research on sound level and sound pressure before he goes making claims like that!

-- Posted by JustinH on Wed, Sep 19, 2012, at 3:00 PM

Hey,folks,how about asking Joe and Dave to do a benefit race for you residents in Putnamville and dividing the proceeds among the residents?

-- Posted by kubotafan on Wed, Sep 19, 2012, at 5:04 PM

i used to live across the street from it...extremly happy i dont anymore but all that said that wouldnt b anything without the track...thats what brings that place alive every weekend:)

-- Posted by Shellie Graham on Wed, Sep 26, 2012, at 2:46 AM

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