State Rep. Kurt Vail, Fellow Republicans Oppose Proposed Change To Racing Regulations

(Press Release from the Office of Connecticut State Rep. Kurt Vail)
Connecticut State Representative Kurt Vail (right) with Stafford Speedway competitor Tom Butler at Stafford Speedway (Photo: Kurt Vail/YouTube)

HARTFORD – Several Republican legislators stand in opposition to a proposal that could potentially alter existing state laws regarding local racing rules. State Representatives Kurt Vail (R-Stafford), Rick Hayes (R-Putnam), Kathleen McCarty (R-Waterford), and State Senator Craig Miner (R-Litchfield) expressed issues with unintended consequences of the newly proposed bill, H.B. 6591, because it seeks to regulate the times during which motor vehicle racing can take place.

“Stafford Motor Speedway is a staple to our community and is a top economic driver. There’s no reason to change the way we currently regulate how the track operates, which could limit the track’s viability and overall success. In a day and age when we need to be more business-friendly, this type of legislation sends the wrong message,” explained Rep. Kurt Vail.

Rep. Vail explained that throughout his life he has regularly attended events at the local racetrack and noted that that the legislation was proposed by Maria Horn (D-Salisbury), a freshman Democratic state representative from the state’s northwest corner.

“The legislation proposed by Rep. Horn seems to create a zoning commission right to regulate time of operation for vehicle racing,” said Sen. Miner. “She and I have not spoken about her legislative proposal. I hear it has far reaching effects across the state, and I worry that what she has requested may cause larger problems than she may have considered.”

“Throughout my campaign I promised that I would support local business. In my opinion this bill, as written, is anti-business and would directly impact Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, a locally owned business which has been a great community partner and a local icon for many years,” Rep. Hayes said. “The Hoenig Family has invested in major improvements to this attraction which draws thousands of visitors to our northeast corner of the state. As legislators we need to do whatever possible to attract new local business and make it easier for current business owners to continue in being successful by regulations and operational barriers. I will oppose this bill and will continue to support and work hard on behalf of local business.”

“In essence, I am not supportive of any anti-business bills,” said Rep. McCarty. “This bill certainly over reaches into race track business operations. The bill would do significant harm to our local economy and community. Legislation should not be hindering businesses with more and more excessive and burdensome regulations. The Waterford Speedbowl, which already adheres to the town’s current noise ordinances, is a long-standing community member that attracts visitors to also dine in our restaurants and shop in our local stores. As a legislature, we must invite and support businesses to come to the state and encourage them to stay by reducing barriers to economic growth, especially during this challenging financial time in our state.”

Throughout Connecticut, local tracks are a positive influence to their communities. The legislators all agree that these delicate local economies must be protected and forced changes could disrupt and negatively impact several towns throughout the state.

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Comments

  1. Shawn, any specifics on exactly what is contained in this proposed legislation?

  2. Typical democrats…. this state is already in irreversible disaster, it was only a matter of time before liberal politicians started to take aim at racing… this is only the beginning….

  3. Just wonderful. The “esteemed” representative for the town that Lime Rock is in proposes a bill to give the town the ability to close down the track. They have coexisted, albeit rather contentiously, since 1953 (I believe) due to the fact that the town is unable to unilateraly change the rules because the state has jurisdiction. If this passes, it leaves the door open for a small group of individuals to close down the tracks. Race fans throughout the state need to contact their representatives to strongly urge them to oppose this bill.

  4. Darealgoodfella,
    The actual text of the proposed bill is now a link in the story.

  5. Rich Gourley says:

    Elect democrats and this is the type of crap you get. I thought NY was about as unfriendly as you could be to business, but I guess Ct. wants to take that mantel away.

    Elections have consequences !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Racer Carp says:

    Let’s see….who proposed this bill….a Democrat…should anymore be said….

  7. The actual proposed bill means little without the statute it means to amend, so here it is:

    https://www.cga.ct.gov/2015/pub/chap_246.htm#sec_14-164a

    It appears that 14-164a already acknowledges that the local governments may have other ordinances. The state statute has the pre-noon prohibition on Sunday, otherwise “reasonable” is about all it says.

    Here’s the relevant text from 14-164a: “Such race or exhibition may be conducted at any reasonable hour of any week day or after twelve o’clock noon on any Sunday. The legislative body of the city, borough or town in which the race or exhibition will be held may issue a permit allowing a start time prior to twelve o’clock noon on any Sunday, provided no such race or exhibition shall take place contrary to the provisions of any city, borough or town ordinances.”

  8. Thank you Kurt for standing up for the tracks. Keep up the good work!

  9. Everyone I talk to said they did not vote for Ned Malloy. So please tell me how in the hell he got elected?

  10. humphry, it was those millions of illegal immigrants that Trump imported. They escaped to CT.

  11. Well, let’s remember that Republican Lowell Weicker gave us the income tax. I suppose y’all must love that.

    Shawn, you have any idea what caused this proposed legislation? I hope you will be doing your normal inquisition.

  12. darealgoodfella,
    I don’t know what prompted it. I’ve reached out to the representative who has proposed it and I have not heard back yet. There have long been a lot of issues with restrictions hindering Lime Rock Park in scheduling racing events and I have a feeling this has something to do with that.

  13. You fellows need more kool aid ? You have no idea what it changes , good or bad

  14. It’s a press release from Republicans. With a title and home spun themes that are a bit self serving.
    Put another way the title could read “Republicans block attempt by local representative to give back motor sports regulation authority to local government”
    Rich may be right. It may be a thinly veiled attempt to end racing at one track in one town. Or it may be an attempt to move authority for such decisions down stream from State statutes to local government. A practice that in general is considered more conservative then big brother.
    Seems to me if the tracks are so important and beloved locally they’d have nothing to fear from their local zoning boards. Maybe the 12 o’clock Sunday State statute could even go away.
    Maybe consider getting more information then just the one side before you break out the pitchforks and clubs.

  15. Stephen Devine says:

    As a Democrat race fan this smells of ” Not in my backyard ” people from NYC living near Lime Rock who want to close or severely restrict racing. 25 years ago there were people who live in West Cornwall, who had purchased land next to the closed Pittsfield line of the New Haven railroad , who were upset that the railroad was reopening. The people from NYC who move here to their second home think that the rest of us who have lived here are whole lives and like racing are supposed to conform to their idea of what living in the “country ” means.

  16. Paul Pytko says:

    I read this article along with the replies last night and its got me so upset ive been up most of the night.
    What I read here on this proposed CT House Bill #6591 scares the crap out of me!! This is way to close to home for my comfort as well as it should be for every race fan / competitor that attends these great local CT facilities!! For anyone to think this bill is in any way a positive thing for the CT tracks or its attendees seriously needs to seek some professional help!
    This bill is about as crazy as one that would allow local elected town officials to tell major Airports what time planes can fly in or out or what time the trains can be running on tracks in there town!!!
    I feel bad for Mr and Mrs John Doe who has perhaps recentltly bought a house next to one of these great race tracks and now are in Rep Horn’s ear because they dont like racing! Shame on them for not thinking! Dont you think they should have perhaps thought about the fact that there is race track next to the house thats been there for the past 70 years?
    I think we all need to take the threat of this bill passing very, very seriously! If we don’t it just may well be the demise of every track in this state!
    What will be the next crazy issue brought forth to further impede the track owners?? Let the local town officials regulate track camping during the big race weekends??
    Below is a link to look up your local rep from your area. I seriously suggest everyone that cares to look up their contact information and to call them! Tell them if they like their job they need to vote No on House Bill #6591!!!

    https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

  17. Lightsout says:

    Every legislative member has an email. You can email your face off and get no response but it doesn’t mean they don’t see the emails although it’s usually their aide that reads them first. If you want to make in impact in the racing community, you email, email, email again and keep on emailing and this needs to be done in numbers. One person sending a message won’t do it, 500 will. Don’t waste your time casting your displeasure here, use it to write an email to your senators and representatives which you can find here… https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

    This legislative session goes till August so this will be hanging around for a while but, taking action will get it squashed. It’s only for the people if the people do something about it.

  18. Well, if you look at a map, it’s not too hard to form a pool of who could be complaining… there aren’t that many houses near the track.

    Look at the track schedule… it doesn’t operate at all on Sundays. And the track does not operate at night. The latest events go until 5-6 PM. Not too much going on during the week, mostly on Fridays and Saturdays.

    Really want to see the detailed objectives of this proposed legislation.

  19. A couple years ago, there was a report on people that moved next to a dairy farm. They complained about the odors and tried to get the farm shut down.

    Silly people.

  20. Crazy in NY says:

    They’re coming for our sport boys and girls …know that. ( Who is they Crazy?) The anti anything human being types. The greeniacs , ecofreaks and other Progressive fringe that want to rid the planet
    of people being free to pursue they’re happiness while the smart folks are ridding us the ‘burden” of
    internal combustion power. ( Come on Crazy this is a racing site..leave the politics out of it) OK but
    politics is involved with EVERYTHING we do….ignore it at your own peril.

  21. I don’t agree with the folks that are espousing the grander “democrat” conspiracy. This has been an ongoing battle at Lime Rock for years, and the rep who introduced the bill represents the town of Cornwall, where the track lies. It is a power grab, straight and simple. Every racer on this site from CT needs to contact their OWN reps and senators and stress, in the most sincere way possible, that you are dead set against this bill.

  22. Wow Darealgoodfella!

    Did someone hack your computer and steal your password for RacefayCT.com??

    You actually made to non political posts and you made sence!!!

    Lol!!

  23. Wow Darealgoodfella!

    Did someone hack your computer and steal your password for RacefayCT.com??

    You actually made two non political posts and you made sence!!!

    Lol!!

  24. Best post so far, by Elect: “You fellows need more kool aid ? You have no idea what it changes , good or bad”

    Look at them playing the victim cards. They have no idea why.

    Just rattling the cages of the primates. They are going nuts!!!!

  25. I’m a long time patron of Lime Rock Park, and this is NOT a partisan issue, but another shot in an ongoing battle between the track and local property owners. I’d bet this bill would have been introduced by whoever represented the area, regardless of party. Trust me, there’s plenty of Republican property owners in the Litchfield County ‘hood.

    The battle up there has not been just the nearby neighbors, it’s folks that live along the roads to the track, local churches, and summer camps, as well as the Music Mountain classical music venue. LRP is granted a certain number of unmuffled operation days a year, I’m pretty sure as few as 6, and none on Sunday. Over the last few years, they’ve been trying to get one or two Sundays in exchange for other days to better accommodate TV schedules and national series. Music Mountain is one of the largest opponents, as they produce small, quiet shows featuring string quartets and similar performances.

    Much of the anti-track propaganda mentions long parades of haulers, RV’s and TV trucks passing down country roads. Today, many of the IMSA, WEC, TransAm, as well as hospitality and vendor haulers leave late on the last race day,. They’re pulling out all night long.

    The track is currently used many, many days a year by clubs, schools, even manufacturers testing things like automotive bicycle and ski racks, with street legal mufflers.

    As far as I know, the current number of unmuffled days, the 6 PM curfew, and the Sunday ban is actually the product of a voluntary covenant and not a law. Ever since the track tried to renegotiate the agreement, giving some days up for one or two Sundays a year, the opponents have tried to create a legal barrier to changes.

    Hopefully it goes nowhere.

  26. I’m with Rich. Write your local representative and voice your issues with this proposed legislation. It helps if you are civil and use the English language correctly.
    No, we don’t know how changes might play out but show me the last time a Motorsports venue came out ahead. Look no further than NHMS’s battle to get a concert. Three old biddies from local towns have held up the concert for two years. Now it’s going to the state Supreme Court. We don’t need or want to open our sport up to these people. It will not end well. There is nothing wrong with no change sometimes.

  27. I guess all good things must come to an end, Dareal had to bring politics into it!

  28. Second best post so far, from Crazy in NY, “OK but politics is involved with EVERYTHING we do….ignore it at your own peril.”

    I’m so glad Crazy in NY wrote that.

  29. Another best line, this time from JD, ” It helps if you are civil and use the English language correctly.”

    And another from Barry, “I’m a long time patron of Lime Rock Park, and this is NOT a partisan issue, but another shot in an ongoing battle between the track and local property owners. ”

    NOT PARTISAN!!!! Dang, some just want to blame those Dems for everything. And there are plenty of GOP up there in Litchfield. Just look at all those Trump bumper stickers and lawn signs.

  30. Here’s an example of some of the material distributed by opponents of the track, as well as various other writings on a site fighting any change in scheduling at LRP. It’s important to note that NASCAR bought IMSA and merged it with it’s own road racing body, Grand Am, approximately five to seven years ago.

    http://www.savesundays.org/media/

    The proposed actions at the state level have got to be an outgrowth of this dispute.

  31. More information on why this is probably being pursued at a state level is in Lime Rock’s use of current state regulations to demonstrate why they should be allowed to have SOME racing on Sundays here:

    http://www.savesundays.org/proposed-settlement-from-lime-rock-park-april-15th-2016/

  32. It was disappointing to see the flurry of partisan based insults that as is turned out were mostly groundless. And nice to see posts like Barry’s that provide more information on the issue then the press release itself.
    Seems the local representative is doing the job she was elected to do and is presenting legislation that the majority of her constituents support. The western hills of Ct have some of the most bucolic scenery anywhere. You could understand why locals resent the intrusion of noisy outsiders to their pristine communities. That property is also worth a kings ransom as well and you can bet some developers would love to get their hands on it.
    The racing community is another constituency and we are well advised to make our feelings known as a few have wisely suggested. Unintended consequences is a real danger.
    This feels more like democracy in action then a battle of good vs evil.

  33. I have family that lives near Lime Rock that I frequently visit. In the last year I have noticed a number of signs in front of houses supporting a stop to Sunday racing . Most of these are on local, newer homes that were obviously built after the race track. This area is very popular for weekend homes with the Wall Street crowd.
    We all need to contact our local representatives to make sure this proposed legislation does not succeed.

  34. RichO wrote, “We all need to contact our local representatives to make sure this proposed legislation does not succeed.”

    RichO, what exactly does the proposed legislation intend to do and change? And what does that have to do with the tracks in Connecticut?

  35. It comes down to 1 politician who knows nothing about racing. Although she is a Democrat, the same thing would have happened with a republican. The people living near the tracks don’t realize the economic impact they have, but I would bet they would if the track closed and their taxes went up.

  36. How many “Doug” handles are on here?

  37. “The people living near the tracks don’t realize the economic impact they have, but I would bet they would if the track closed and their taxes went up.”

    They don’t care…

    My view is that it does a lot less than you’d think for the very local area. Most campers come in fully self-contained and never leave once in for for the weekend. Camping isn’t free and is limited to ticketed people only, so you have to gate in and out every time. Most of the Daytrippers most likely buy supplies, gas, etc… in Torrington or Caanan, as there is very little commercial development near the track. This is in contrast to places like Stafford where there are lots of places to eat, a Big Y, gas, etc… very nearby and it’s easy to drive in and out of the facility. My small group alone drops $100-125 at Basil’s almost every Friday night and hit the Big Y on weekend campouts…

    I don’t know what the current taxation of the track is, but it could be much smaller than we might think. There are few decent sized buildings, no grandstands, no competitor garages, a few bathrooms, the press boxes, a small office, and an office / banquet hall. Many of the buildings are very old, and most are very basic.

    If closed, I could definitely see the place becoming a private club track, like this:
    https://www.monticellomotorclub.com/ or a private estate with a track.

    It’s so far out there, I’m not sure it would even be successful as a golf course.

    The 350 campsite number mentioned in the propaganda is a stretch. Of the 350, about 50 are 20×100 RV / Bus sites along the backstretch. Another 50 are tent only, the remaining 250 on the autocross course are only 20×20. The track is a stickler for having everything inside the lines, including cars, so a single 20×20 is really only for a car and tent. Everyone with a trailer or RV ends up renting 2,3 or even 4 adjoining sites, so the true non-car camping contingent is possibly 150 campers. With a 25′ travel trailer, full size pickup, and a Subaru, we fill three. The camping area size is comparable to the camping section behind the main parking area, about the width of the main grandstand, plus the hill at Stafford.

    The area from the bottom tip of the “Autocross Courses”balloon down, and from the lower left turn to the gray roof building with the white porch near the stand of trees, is the entire camping area, the rest of the infield, is parking, car corrals, hospitality, and merch:
    https://goo.gl/maps/3PVqLoYKStT2

  38. The primary business in Salisbury is three private boarding schools. From what I can tell thriving boarding schools with the younglings of wealthy influential people.
    It’s a fairly wealth town that ranks 30th out of 178 towns in per capita income. Waterford 85, Stafford 150 and Thompson 154 if you’re interested.
    Extending Barry’s line of thought the town may not get any real beneficial economic impacts from the track except property taxes that they would get no matter what. And if it’s mostly unimproved land the rate would go down little if it remained dormant. On the other hand were it developed the rate would go up. I tried looking up the assessor card that many towns freely make available on line but interestingly Salisbury requires it be requested. Maybe to guard the value of properties owned by famous residents like Meryl Streep.
    Suffice it to say Limerock Park, the race track, the ownership of it, the area impacts, the type of racing and the demographics of the town bear little resemblance to Stafford, Thompson or Waterford.

  39. Barry, a report said that LRP pays only $83,000 per year in taxes. The PROPERTY will still pay taxes, regardless of what happens to LRP, so no material impact to the town revenue stream.

    There just aren’t many rooms (lodging) or restaurants in the area either to service the crowds. There’s like 6 B&Bs, and about 6 restaurants in a couple mile radius from the track. If you aren’t a self contained and self sufficient camper, you are pretty much out of luck. I’ve been to LRP, and it does not have the concessions to serve thousands and thousands of people.

  40. Stephen Devine says:

    I received the following reply from State Rep. Maria Horn “Thanks, Stephen. I have pulled the concept bill, but it arose out of a court ruling, which interpreted the statute you cite as meaning that while towns retain their traditional authority to regulate race times (in any reasonable way) on every other day of the week, they have no right to do so on Sunday. Perhaps the Sunday provision makes sense to someone, but it was a change from many decades of interpretation , and seemed odd to many.”

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