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Upgrades have Riverhead Raceway ready for new season

Race teams at Riverhead Raceway are going to be greeted with some brand-new pavement next month when the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season opens.

But the new pavement doesn’t cover the whole track.

Riverhead track owner Ed Partridge says that they made the decision to pave the entire pit area and a certain section in turns 3 and 4 for this year.

“Turns 3 and 4 were always patched up and had pieces of concrete, so it was always rough. We had a group come down, grind it like they do the roads, and we put two down lanes in the bottom and middle groove of brand-new asphalt,” Partridge said. “It was pretty bumpy, but right now, they paved it and we drove over it and it does seem to have a little bit of a dip, but no bump. We are playing it by ear and seeing how it works out.”

The pit area was the beginning of the process for Partridge and his team, hoping to improve the quality of experience for race teams and fans both.

“Our pits were in need because it was breaking up; they needed it for the cars and the people just walking and almost twisting ankles. Every year we start to do some upgrades to the facility,” Partridge said. “We were asphalting the pits, we have the first coat down and we’re waiting on some better weather but we figured we would take a look at the track while we were at it. We have some demos and some enduros here during the summer, so we when we put asphalt down, sometimes the rims drag and it can pull it up. It’s a toss-up whether we want to pave through the whole track or not.”

For more than 30 years, Riverhead, a quarter-mile bullring on Long Island in New York, has also featured as least one race each year since the inception of the Whelen Modified Tour in 1985. This year, the series returns for two more visits on Saturday, July 6, and Saturday, September 7.

“The Tour shows have been action-packed, the last one was a rainy night, but the races here are really good. I’m not knocking any other tracks, but we have a bullring and we have a lot of action and a lot of passing going on,” Partridge said. “The last shows I remember here were really good shows. Everyone who comes through the pits says that they love the Whelen Modified Tour here.”

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series season opens on Saturday, May 4, and rolls through Saturday, September 28, but the racing won’t only take place on Saturday nights. Riverhead made the decision to place three Whelen All-American Series shows on Wednesday nights, and if there are any rainouts throughout the season on a Saturday, the entire racing will be card on the next Wednesday night.

“We only have so many days we can race at the track,” Partridge said. “A lot of different tracks run more than one night. Up at Seekonk Speedway, they run Friday and Saturday. If people want to race, they are going to come.”

For now, with just under a month to go before the first green flag, Partridge is busy making the sure the facility will be ready for action.

“We’re just trying to do some tire management as well to offset costs for the competitors this year,” Partridge said. “We’re looking forward to the season, and we’re just looking for some better weather. Last year was a killer with rain.”

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