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DECEMBER 6, 2006

NASCAR gives up on Staten Island

New York is the mecca for all racing series but getting a venue within easy reach of the Big Apple is not an easy thing to achieve - something which Formula 1 found out in the 1990s when it tried to organise a street race in Manhattan. The CART series did manage to host a few races in a parking lot at Meadowlands but this far-from-glamorous location did not last long. NASCAR had been hoping to build an 80,000-seat stadium lon industrial wasteland on Staten Island but local opposition has now finished off the project, leaving the Staten Islanders with a future looking at an industrial wasteland - something that they seem to think preferable to a big new development which would hold just three events a year. The International Speedway Corporation has yet to decide what to do with the land it acquired for the project but will probably sell it.

It is perhaps worth noting that in April a company called North American Motorsport Events presented a proposal to take Champ Car racing to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. This was once the city's first municipal airport, built on 1500 acres of reclaimed marshland, which is now part of the Gateway National Recreation Area. The project has the support of Champ Car team owner Paul Newman who proposes turning an old barracks at the site into a permanent home for his Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a charitable organization for children with cancer or other serious illnesses. That project also attracted noise from politicians but there is little doubt that such an idea would pump money into the areas and would regenerate the area.

The National Park Service, which controls Floyd Bennett Field, has not taken a formal position on the proposal, which would not require permanent construction.