It's been nearly seven years since the roar of engines could be heard at Long Island Motorsports Park, once known as Westhampton Raceway, however, scenes from the track live on through photography featured on a website run by Ted Pappacena.
For some 45 years, Pappacena, a Smithtown native, has captured the nostalgia of Long Island racing circuits, snapping shots at Riverhead Raceway and the now-closed Long Island Motorsports Park and the Islip Speedway.
For many, the photos are a snip-it of Long Island Racing history where drag racing tracks were filled with the reeving engines of souped-up Chevys and Fords and the air was thick with the smell of gasoline.
"I was disappointed it closed," said Pappacena, of the The Long Island Motorsport Park, which once sat on Old Country Road in Westhampton and is now is a residential development.
Pappacena, who has a background in photography and studied it in college, said he always enjoyed photographing at the raceway, which had many names over the years, including, the Westhampton raceway, the Suffolk County Raceway, Long Island Drag-way and the Hamptons Raceway.
Pappacena recalled photographing the 1953-built dirt drag strip,in the early 1990s when the track was fully paved.
"I loved seeing the cars that I had only read about. I got to get up close and personal with them," said Pappacena. "I really got a better appreciation for cars that I had thought were not so great. I stood next to them and saw how powerful they really are."
Pappacena, who works as a custodian at Nesconset Elementary School, also remembered racing personalities, like Shirley Muldowney, Ronnie Sox Dick Landy, Bill "Maverick" Golden's Little Red Wagon, Bob Riggle's Hemi Under Glass, Warren and Kurt Johnson, Larry Morgan, Bobby Lagana, Vinny Budano/Scott Shafiroff, Mike Ashley, and Mike Castellana.
Pappacena says he stopped going to the track regularly around 1998 when he started going upstate and to Pennsylvania to photograph at larger speedways. Soon after, the owner of the track sold to a developer.
Aside from Pappacena's website, Long Island race fans also flock to an online site, called LIdragracing.com, which features an online store as well as a racing discussion forum.
Patch wants to know: What are your memories of Westhampton's former racetrack? Feel free to comment below and upload your photos.