The topic of the racetrack brought three people to the meeting to
speak on the subject: Joyce Seelye, Pat O'Neill and Norm Horn, owner
of the business.
Seelye was the first to take the podium, and she
addressed the council in opposition to the track.
She began by saying, "I read in the paper that the first races are
to be April 2. That is Good Friday, that is a Holy Week, and I think
we should not be having races."
She went on to say that she was opposed to having the races more
than one night a week.
"If we have to have a race," she said, "I think they should have
it one night and one night only. Two nights is just too much for the
She handed out copies of the city ordinance that was passed in
March of 2006. She noted one section that stated the races should
not be detrimental to or endanger the public health, safety, morals
or general welfare.
She went on to say: "We hate it. Why don't they move out to the
country? Nobody in town makes money. If you go out and watch, they
come into the fairgrounds, and when it is over they turn around and
go right back out. They do not spend money here."
Business owner Norm Horn was the second person to address the
He began by commenting on news articles related to last week's
discussion on the track and said that he was very disappointed by
the accusations that the track was taking advantage of the
extensions simply to go longer.
He said that in the past year, they used one extension for 16
minutes, and another night they used the full 30 minutes.
He spoke specifically about the last extension, saying that it
had been used to hold the race up while a driver was extricated from
his car by the fire department.
"We are real cautious when we think somebody is hurt," he said.
"We're not going to jerk them out of the car and try to get our
program on for the sake of getting our program on."
He went on to note that there were several occasions last year
when the races ended prior to the established curfew.
"We don't go late just because we can," he said. "I hope you will
give that a little consideration when you are voting on our
Pat O'Neill was the final person to speak, saying that he was
present to give his support to the racetrack.
He commented on the agenda item that is asking for a 9 p.m.
curfew on school nights. He said he didn't see the problem, as he
had attended three junior high events last week, and all three ran
well past 9:30 on school nights.
He said he didn't believe there should be special requirements
for one entity.
O'Neill said: "The No. 1 thing that really bothers me is, looking
down Woodlawn Road in the last two months, we are losing so many
businesses. We need as much revenue as possible, and if we continue
to make it so much harder for the Speedway to do business, we may
eventually lose them too."
When O'Neill was finished, Seeyle said she had one more
comment. She has noticed that on race nights the rural fire
department is the one on duty at the track. She noted that the
fairground is city property and wondered why it wasn't the city fire
department out there instead of the rural.
Horn also asked to make one final comment and said he wanted to
ask all the council members to come out one time a year, go to the
top of the grandstand and watch all the people who are there who do
enjoy the racetrack.
When it was time to make a motion and vote, the mayor called on
Alderwoman Melody Anderson, as this was to be a change in policy and
procedure, and she chairs that committee.
The item was listed under new business and stated: "Lincoln
Speedway curfew changed to 9:00 p.m. on school nights (week day or
weekend) when District 27 is scheduled to hold classes the following
Anderson said, "If I am going to make this motion, I would move
to not approve."
The mayor asked for a second and received none, so the motion
died on the floor.
The mayor then asked if anyone would make the motion in the
affirmative, and Alderwoman Kathy Horn said she would make that
motion. It was seconded by Alderman David Wilmert.
During discussion, Horn spoke first, saying that she had heard
from area schoolteachers in favor of the curfew. They had told her
that children are not attentive in classrooms when they are deprived
Alderman David Armbrust spoke up, saying that one of the nights
the curfew would be in place is tied into a four-day program. He was
referring to the Monster Midwest Sprint Nationals, scheduled to begin on
Thursday, Oct. 7, and run through Sunday, Oct. 10.
He noted that it is a major program that had to cost a good
amount of money to put on, and imposing the 9 p.m. curfew would be
detrimental to Horn's business. Ambrust concluded by saying, "I
cannot vote for this."
Wilmert commented that if the curfew is adopted, the track owners
have enough notice that they could make arrangements to start those
races earlier so they could end earlier.
[to top of second column]
Alderwoman Joni Tibbs said that for this particular event, with
it being a four-day event, there would be people coming to the city
and spending the night. She added that there might also be people
who wanted to get into the race and have to come after work, and
starting earlier would deter them.
She said: "Everybody is having a hard time getting their ends to
meet. These gentlemen do a great job for us, it is something for the
whole family, and one night -- my goodness, I just cannot believe we
are up here doing this."
Alderwoman Marty Neitzel said that she agreed with Tibbs.
At the end of the discussion Mayor Keith Snyder offered a comment
that schools are in session 176 days each year, which allows 189
days when a 9 o'clock curfew would not be in play.
"So," the mayor concluded, "there are a lot of other choices."
When the motion to approve the 9 p.m. curfew came to vote,
Alderwoman Stacy Bacon, Alderman Jeff Hoinacki, Wilmert and Horn
voted yes. Anderson, Tibbs, Neitzel and Armbrust all voted no,
leaving the vote at a 4-4 tie.
According to city policy, when a tie vote occurs, it is the
responsibility of the mayor to enter a vote and break the tie.
Snyder said he would vote yes on the motion, and thus it was
passed with a vote of 5-4.
The second item on the agenda pertaining to the racetrack
addressed allowing for three 30-minute curfew extensions per season.
Neitzel made the motion to approve the extensions and it was
seconded by Tibbs.
During discussion, Anderson said: "I would like to clarify this,
as there has been confusion, not only on our part but the
racetrack's part. Three 30-minute extensions were asked for, for
specific dates in 2008. They came before the council and asked for
those dates and it was granted. There was absolutely nothing that
was approved that gave that to carry on for further years or for
"I agree that cutting them off at 9 is probably going to be a
little early," she continued, "but to allow them to run beyond 11
o'clock, I think, is too late regardless of what night it is."
Wilmert addressed his comments to track owner Horn, saying that
he understood business, what it takes to make a business work. He went on to
say that as the business owner, Horn should understand the community
in which he is operating, and when that community has strong
feelings one way or another, as a business owner he should take that
Wilmert's position was that Horn should look at starting his
events earlier in the evening, rather than going late.
When the motion came to a vote, Armbrust, Neitzel and Tibbs voted
in favor of the extensions, while the remaining five voted no.
Had the motion passed, the extensions would have meant that on
three occasions the races could go past their curfew without having
a fine imposed on them.
According to city ordinance, the races can still exceed their
curfew, but with financial consequences.
City Ordinance Title 11, Chapter 5, Section 7 reads as follows:
(C) Penalties: As part of the restrictions authorized by
subsection (B) of this section, the city council of the city of
Lincoln has established a curfew for motor racing if it is
authorized as a special use in a C-2 district. In order to provide
enforcement of said curfews, the following fines shall be
established for any person, entity, business, or other operator
conducting motor races pursuant to subsection (B) of this section:
1. Any person, entity, business, or other operator
conducting any type of racing activities, including, but not
limited to, track maintenance, motor car racing, motor car
racing practice, demonstrations, courtesy laps, or any other
activity, past the designated curfew, as set by the city
council, shall be fined as follows:
(a) The sum of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00)
if such activities are conducted after the
designated curfew, but ending not more than fifteen
(15) minutes thereafter.
(b) The additional sum of one thousand dollars
($1,000.00) if such activities extend sixteen (16)
minutes over the designated curfew, but less than
thirty (30) minutes after the designated curfew.
(c) The additional sum of one thousand dollars
($1,000.00) for each and every fifteen (15) minute
increment, or any part thereof, thereafter that such
activities continue after the designated curfew.
[By NILA SMITH]