New and more stringent noise and time restrictions at Dells Raceway Park for its 2016 season left track neighbors hopeful and the track’s owner frustrated but still standing Wednesday night.
The Lyndon Town Board enacted the new restrictions after almost 90 minutes of discussion during its monthly meeting, in the wake of continuing, vociferous complaints from people who live near the track.
More than a dozen of those neighbors attended the meeting and packed the town hall on Highway J, with many of them weighing in about the track’s continued noisiness during its warm-weather racing season, both for weekend events and weekday practice sessions.
An especially long and noisy racing weekend this past fall apparently upset a lot of residents — and even a bow hunter or two — and led in part to Wednesday night’s robust gathering, during which citizens sounded off, track owner and operator Wayne Lensing listened and responded, and the town board took action.
The board enacted a 95-decibel noise restriction, banned fireworks displays and set new times for racing — and the loud engines that go with it — to begin and end. From now on, no engines can be revved before 10 a.m., and races must be over by 10 p.m.
Race-day competition cannot begin on race day before 11 a.m., and Wednesday racing is limited from noon to 8 p.m. Racing by the Drifters, a local racing club — with those particular Sunday activities a significant bone of contention by neighbors — will be limited to seven Sundays during the season, with times set for noon to 5 p.m.
“That’s a good start to being able to at least have a productive life and do something during the summer,” said raceway neighbor Dan Buelow in reaction to the new restrictions. “If that is abided by, I guess that would be the first step in allowing people some freedom, if the noise level is actually kept down.”
Track owner and operator Wayne Lansing, who sat directly in front of the board during the 90-minute discussion, with the audience to his back, said he would accede to the new restrictions, even if he doesn’t necessarily welcome them.
“Do I have a choice? The only choice I have is to abide by it and work with them and not make anybody upset,” Lensing said following the board’s decision. “I’m trying to cooperate the best I can with the community, with the people who live around here.”
Once he had time to think about the decision further, Lensing contacted Dells Events by telephone less than an hour after the meeting ended, sounding a little more frustrated with the restrictions — especially regarding fireworks at the track.
“All the years I’ve been doing this, I can’t believe I can’t have fireworks on July 4,” Lensing said, adding that he considers the track’s July 4 activities “a family event” and noting the plethora of local fireworks displays during that holiday.
The restrictions also may hinder the track’s ability to allow the region’s fire and police departments to conduct vehicle testing there, Lansing said, as the “squealing tires” complained about by neighbors Wednesday night usually accompany such tests.
The town’s action regarding the popular regional track was its second in less than a year. In the spring, the town board required improvements to campground facilities in the wake of equally vociferous complaints by neighbors regarding noise, litter and reckless driving by raceway patrons after events.
The board on Wednesday made minimal mention of camping, other than to remind Lansing that camping cannot take place in the parking lot. The board also requested that the track employ an on-site staff member at the campground who can be reached by phone in case of problems.
“No campers in the parking lot of the racetrack, right?” Town Board Chairman Pat Mitchell said to Lensing. “Obviously, you don’t have (total) control — some drunks can’t drive (after a race and must remain in the parking lot), I understand that, but for practical purposes they’re going to be in the campground from now on.”