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Show revs up public effort for raceway

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Harry Guzman showed his 5-year-old son, Race, the engine compartment of friend Jon Jei's Ford Mustang GT yesterday at Aloha Tower Marketplace at the "Build the Track!" Motorsports Show. The event was meant to build support for efforts to create a new motorsports facility on Oahu.
  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Ed Chow, left, shines his 1966 Mustang fastback as Jeff Sawyer polishes his 1966 Mustang coupe. The Ford is the first car Sawyer ever owned, purchased in 1979 when he was in high school.
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This story has been corrected. This story has been corrected. See below.

Motorsports enthusiasts gathered at Aloha Tower Marketplace yesterday to show off cars that are souped up but have no place to go.

The Oahu Motorsports Advisory Council hosted the fourth annual "Build The Track!" Motorsports Show to publicize the need for a racetrack in Oahu.

"We keep pushing as much as we can to get it done," said OMAC chairman Michael Kitchens.

Developer George Grace Jr. of Save Oahu’s Racetrack leases nearly 30 acres from the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands for a proposed racetrack in Kalaeloa. But the group is still trying to raise more than $1.5 million to build a track and still needs a green light from the city and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

Kitchens is hopeful the group can get the necessary approvals by the end of the year and said donations are coming in.

"A new track would cut down on road racing a lot," said Travis Kaneakua, an exhibitor with Oahu Electric Cars Co.

"Without it, we’re going to see more of the fatalities on the road," said Ewa Beach resident Russ LaPierre, who brought his restored 1941 Chevrolet Special Deluxe Coupe to the show.

Racing and "drifting" — the sideways, in-and-out-of-control sliding of cars — have long been problems on Oahu roads.

But the 200 motorsports enthusiasts who came to yesterday’s show say a legal place to race and drift will reduce illegal racing.

"There’s a lot of guys that have learned, after being on a track, to be responsible," Kitchens said. "Some of the new guys, they don’t really have that peer guidance and the only place is on the street. That’s not what you want to teach them."

City transportation officials recently announced plans to spend about $175,000 to install nonskid surfaces on the winding roads of Tantalus to discourage drifters from sliding their cars on the narrow, two-lane roadway.

But Kitchens believes drifters will still try to practice their sport on Tantalus, regardless of the road surface. Unless there’s a controlled environment to practice drifting, he said, drivers would only "look upon it as a challenge."

"The guys that are really hard-core, they’re going to do it," he said

Plans for the Kalaeloa Raceway Park call for a 1/4 -mile dirt oval track, 1/8-mile drag strip and multiple track layouts to support dirt, drag drift, go-kart, moto and road racing.

"Every year when I do this show, I always hope that next year there won’t be a show, because if there’s not a show, that means there’s a racetrack," Kitchens said.

CORRECTION

» A June 20 article on Page B1 incorrectly reported that the Oahu Motorsports Advisory Council owns 38 acres for the track.

 

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