The future of New Jersey’s iconic Atco Dragway has come into question after information surfaced and began circulating this week regarding the proposed repurposing of the 60-year-old facility at a Pinelands Commission meeting in early May.
In that meeting, commission members referred to a “contract purchaser” in their pre-meeting minutes and went on to explain that, “the purchaser wants to change the use of the raceway into an automobile storage and auction facility. They would use almost exclusively the existing developed portions of the raceway.”
The Atco facility is owned by Len Capone, who purchased it from longtime proprietor Joe Sway in 2012.
For New Jersey-area racers, the story is possible deja vu all over again, as little more than two years ago, the other major 1/4-mile track in the state, Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, inked a contract to store automobiles and permanently dismantled its drag strip. If the proposal does come to pass, it would leave Great Meadows’ Island Dragway as the last remaining strip in the state of 8.8 million residents. Island would also be the nearest drag strip to New York City.
It was noted in the Pineland Commission meeting that the contract purchaser was to provide its application for the proposed changes, including wildlife and vegetation effects, to the commission by early June.
Update 6/30: In a report issued today by the Burlington County Times, Illinois-based Insurance Auto Auctions has submitted a proposal to re-develop the site and surrounding property. In its application, IAA notes the existing paved portions of the raceway would be used for automotive auction purposes, and would include the construction of a 10,000 square-foot office building and the demolition of two unspecified structures.
Insurance Auto Auctions is the same firm with a storage and auction contract in place with the former Englishtown strip.
In a statement issued last week, the Atco Dragway staff said:
We have been receiving a lot of questions and comments over the past two days. We are writing this to try and clear up any misinformation.
We are open for business. We will be racing this weekend, June 27 and 28, and then will start with our revised 2020 schedule for the remainder of the season (starts July 10 and goes through November).
Calls to members of Atco’s main office staff have gone unanswered, as have messages left with Capone and members of his management staff for comment. The Atco Dragway staff has thus far not responded to inquiries from local racers on social media regarding this story.