The two-year-old track is still trying to find its place in the
competition for racers and a supporting fan base.
The track had Sunday night racing the first year and changed to
Saturday night last season. The change did not fare well for the
business. Fan attendance fell off. Hammer said, "I would like to,
but I can't afford to run just Saturdays. Saturday nights lost money
The businessmen asked to be able to choose between Saturday or
Sunday nights in accordance with decisions made by other competing
tracks for the coming year.
The track generated a lot of complaints about the noise in its
first year of operation. What remains as the main issue of those
complaints is the lateness of the hour that the noise would stop if
the races were to take place on a Sunday night or if there were a
special event during the week.
Aldermen discussed the days and hours that they thought might be
more or less tolerable to their constituents. Part of the focus was
to protect hours to rest for those who work a standard week and
Aldermen's comments were spoken with firmness and, as one
alderman later pointed out, their positions coincided with their
ward's proximity to the racetrack.
Alderman Marty Neitzel opened by saying that she would support
either Saturday or Sunday and one special event for the year as a
special promotion during the week.
She said, "I am not a racing person; I am a person for the city
of Lincoln." She acknowledged that the track noise is an
inconvenience to citizens. But other people tolerate noise where
they live. The airport has crop dusters flying over housing in the
spring and all summer long; the LCHS band practices 7:30 a.m. to
noon outside. These people accept some inconvenience, she said.
She named a number of businesses that benefit from the races:
McDonald's, Rusty's, Daphne's and Dairy Queen. "What we're doing up
here is for the promotion of Lincoln, Illinois," she said, "I don't
want to be the last one out in Lincoln and have to shut the lights
Alderman Wanda Lee Rohlfs presented a different view. She said
that some uptown businesses say that they lose business the night of
She also said that some property-tax payers are saying that they
would appreciate the council listening to them.
In the middle of the seating of aldermen and like distance from
the track, Alderman Jonie Tibbs said that she has gotten as many
positive calls as some other aldermen get negative calls. Callers
say that it is good for business and for the families attending the
"Your best interests are our best interests," she said to the
track owners. "It is good to have something for families to do."
She hoped to work together to set a time and make it work.
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Alderman Verl Prather said that families do need something to do,
but they need to be able to enjoy their backyards too.
A lengthy discussion launched about the benefits and drawbacks,
comparing Saturday and Sunday, and what ending times might be
possible. An early start would allow for an earlier ending.
The biggest drawback to starting earlier is that the sun is
hotter and more dust would be created. There isn't actually that
much dirt coming off the track, Gary Horn said. This is because they
have ample water trucks now wetting the track down. However, most of
the dust generated is from the surrounding horse track and streets,
An issue of noise after the races was resolved. Horn normally
grades the track immediately after the races. He said that in the
future he'd come back the next day and do that work.
Alderman Melody Anderson said that she could not give free rein
to what night the races could be. She noted that there weren't
complaints on Saturday, but also said that she was willing to offer
some flexibility with making concessions if the races would end
earlier on Sundays.
Alderman Derrick Crane apologized to the track owners, saying,
"We're placing restrictions on you that aren't done on other
He and Alderman Kathy Horn suggested an earlier start and stop if
it were on a Sunday.
He encouraged the owners to negotiate a change in the Sunday
Prather said that it is the role of government to place
restrictions on matters of quality of life. This business is
different because it does affect people around the track.
Mayor Beth Davis questioned, "Is the city council charged with
regulation?" She cited that Lincoln just had three trains a day
added that might bother people living near the tracks; the
demolition derby added another event; and she named other new noise
The track owners asked for flexibility in choosing between days
on the weekend, keeping the races at one weekend night per week, and
to be able to add a few special races that would attract larger
A motion was made to permit the flexibility of scheduling for
either a Saturday night or Sunday night race along with one special
event for the year during the week for the coming 2007 racing
season. The motion was amended to address curfew times. Saturday
curfew would stay at 11 p.m., and any Sunday or special event curfew
would be at 10 p.m.
The motion was denied 6-4 with Rohlfs, Prather, Huskins,
Anderson, Horn and Busby voting no. Neitzel, Whittaker, Tibbs and
Crane voted yes.
The mayor suggested to the track owners that they submit a new
The matter will likely be brought before the council again.