.

Photographer Captured Westhampton Race History [PHOTOS]

Ted Pappacena, of Smithtown, features the former Westhampton raceway on his website.

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.

 

Tommy Gleave April 16, 2012 at 10:11 PM
I miss not being able to race my car on LI, instead I to travel out of state to enjoy my hobby now. Shame!!!! To bad we can bring LID back!!! But maybe we can get a new one built!!!
Bob Buehler April 17, 2012 at 03:59 AM
All motorheads on the island miss this track. Nothing worse then giving our money to another state and the long drives needed to get to them. I hope one day to get a track back on the island to get the people off the streets and back to a safe place for all.
Mario Minervini April 17, 2012 at 11:44 AM
I miss being able to spend the day racing my car on a test and tune day. Helped me clear my head by the end of the day. Its a shame to spend money in another state to do the same thing. Driving thru bridge tolls , wasting gas in traffic jams to drive 2 hrs away doesn't help our Long Island economy. I would love to see a conservative raceway built that would make everyone happy.
Art Bichsel April 17, 2012 at 01:11 PM
It is a shame that the first purpose built drag strip in the US was not saved as a historical place. I made my first passes at Westhampton. Hopefully wiser heads will prevail and legal 1/4 mile drag racing will be back on Long Island.
bob April 17, 2012 at 09:18 PM
I also race off long island don't the politicians realize that a lot of revenue is going off the island too. I don't get it. Great job Ted you've taken great photo's over the years

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something