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Racetrack takes a turn or the better

May 17, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

A new track featuring a hairpin turn copied from the famous Nurburg Ring racetrack in Germany makes Summit Point Raceway unlike any other raceway in the country.

That was the assessment of one racing club representative during a dedication of the new 2.1-mile portion of track at Summit Point on Sunday afternoon.

Track owners began construction on the newest track at Summit Point Raceway more than a year ago. The raceway is in southern Jefferson County near Summit Point.

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Although the $5.5 million new track will be used for car racing, track officials said another reason they needed to build the track is to have more room to conduct anti-terrorism training. Government agencies, including the U.S. State Department, use Summit Point Raceway for evasive-driving training.

About 50 racing enthusiasts came to the raceway Sunday afternoon for the dedication of the new track.

The track twists through open and wooded areas. Among the features that were getting close attention Sunday was a sharp hairpin turn.

Track owner Bill Scott designed the turn, also referred to as a "karussell," after a hairpin turn at the Nurburg Ring racetrack in Germany, said Summit Point Raceway spokesman Bill Reichardt.

To make sure he got it right, Scott and his wife, Barbara, traveled to the Nurburg Ring several years ago, Reichardt said. The Scotts rented the German track for several hours and measured the dimensions of the turn, he said.

Sunday's dedication included an appearance by Brian Redman, a world-renowned race car driver who comes to Summit Point several times a year.

The weekend marked the 13th annual installment of Brian Redman's Jefferson 500, a four-day racing event at the track. As part of the dedication, Redman climbed into a Jaguar sports car and took a spin on the new track.

Redman drove one lap on the track, then stepped out of his car to offer a few remarks.

"It's going to be a really great circuit," Redman said. "We're looking forward to racing here, perhaps next year."

Also attending the dedication was Chuck Allard, president of the Washington, D.C., region of the Sports Car Club of America, which sanctions races at the track.

Allard spoke about how Summit Point Raceway has grown in the 30 years he has been coming there. He praised Scott for making improvements that car-racing enthusiasts wanted to see at the track.

"As I look around here, I keep being amazed. Bill's a visionary," Allard said.

Although the track is asphalt, the hairpin turn is concrete. One of the advantages to the concrete surface is it gives drivers a better grip, Allard said.

The features Scott has incorporated into the track make the facility like no other in the country, Allard said.

"This is all like a fantasy," Reichardt said.

The dedication was held Sunday even though part of the track still is under construction. Track officials hope it can be completed in about two months, Reichardt said.

Work also has been completed on a warehouse where race car owners can rent space to store their vehicles, Reichardt said.

Although living quarters and food service facilities have been planned for the track, they have not been built, Reichardt said.

Although spirits were high at the track Sunday, not everyone has been happy with the facility in the past.

Many Summit Point residents have said noise from the track has become unbearable, that property values have decreased in the Summit Point area and that the track management has no concern for the quality of life in Summit Point.

Last year, three Summit Point-area residents filed suit against Scott and other defendants, challenging county approvals given to allow the track's expansion.

Reichardt said two suits were filed over the expansion and both were settled.

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