Onondaga Dragway Prepares to Reopen After 35 Years

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

"It's been long, but it's been worth it. We're here, we're ready to go. Ready to go racin'."
 

-Dan Pranshka, Onondaga Dragway owner

Race weekend has come and gone at Michigan International Speedway for the summer, but that's not the only track in town.

The Onondaga Dragway will welcome drivers and race fans this weekend for the first time in more than three decades.

For now, the roar of asphalt trucks fills Bellevue Road.

"We're just putting the finishing touches on the driveway," Onondaga Dragway owner Dan Pranshka said. "The asphalt, the timing systems, stuff like that."

Come saturday it will be the roar of cars burning rubber on the newly paved Onondaga Dragway, giving the green light to drivers for the first time in almost 35 years. After two failed attempts to reopen and a drawn out battle with the township over noise and environmental concerns, they finally found common ground.

"Just worked diligently with the township to meet the ordinances," Pranshka said. "It's been long, but it's been worth it. We're here, we're ready to go. Ready to go racin'."

It takes drivers about five seconds from start to finish on the eighth-of-a-mile track, reaching speeds up to 200 miles per hour. While that's music to some people's ears, others wish they'd put the brakes on all this.

"They say that it bothers their animals, like if they have cows they say it doesn't help with the milking, like their milk production will go down," Leah Carey said of neighbors in the area. "The others, they just don't like the noise."

But Carey and her family live next door to the track on a farm with animals, and don't have a problem with it. In fact, most people say they like what the dragway does for the community, and it's only a small group of people against it.

"It will bring in a lot of people, it will get our town's name out a little bit," Carey said.

The owners are getting calls from people in Nevada and Florida intereseted in competing. They're expecting more than 3,000 people at the event and up to 500 racers. One of the original land owners, Gary Long, is in disbelief, after working closely with the property since the 1950s.

"Emotions will fly pretty high for me," Long said. "All these years, I can't wait."

The gates open at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, and the races begin a little after 10 a.m.


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