What's All the Noise About?

Just a quick public service announcement...

I saw a story on WMC TV News last week that sounds like the same broken record we've heard for years at race tracks all across the country. Only this time, it's an attack on one of the oldest continuously operating dirt tracks in the country, Riverside Speedway.

Our neighbor across the Mississippi River, has been staging circle track races on it's noted 1/4 mile dirt oval since 1949. Long before anyone thought to build a home anywhere near the facility, but this fact doesn't seem to do much to stem the complaints after urban sprawl hands you unexpected neighbors. So now, after 60 years of racing, there is a core group of nearby residents that does not seem to be inclined to consider the history of this racing venue or the fact the racetrack was there first... many years ago. Now, their concerns are being presented to the city council by West Memphis Alderman Herman Coleman as a petition to close the facility due to unacceptable noise levels.

Hopefully, this will all amount to not much of anything. I'm inclined to believe that most of West Memphis AR sees the value of this race track to their community. It brings valued commerce to a city of about 28,000 residents, and has produced numerous local racing legends that have gone on to national prominence. Current track owner Clayton Allen has made considerable improvements to the facility over the last few seasons, and has made efforts to be a good neighbor. The most recent of which was to voluntarily implement a rule that mandates muffler use.

However, noise complaints have been known to "get traction" in many other places, so perhaps an extra level of support from local race fans would be appropriate. I'm not sure who in West Memphis needs to be made aware that the track has an audience and a place in the local economy. It all seems sort of obvious to me, but letting the decision makers know what we think of this historic facility is probably a critical element to the continued successful existence of the "ditch". Maybe attending a few races at Riverside would be the best endorsement that could be made. After all, It's pretty hard to ignore ticket buying race fans occupying the grandstands as a statement of economic viability.