First Posted: 9/13/2009
ARARAT, Va. Rolling Thunder raceway may be rolling out a few changes due to a settlement being discussed by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the dirt track.
The settlement, which has not been signed by either party, would tweak the schedule and times of Rolling Thunder events due to Patrick County residents complaints about the noise emitting from the track.
The proposed settlement says the track will not be allowed to expand on its scheduled activities for the rest of the year. Weekly competitions may continue as scheduled, but the track would be prohibited from holding certain races from Oct. 1 until March 31. Rolling Thunder would be obligated to take reasonable steps to ensure that its regularly-scheduled races are finished by 11 p.m.
In 2010, a few new rules would be added. The track would be allowed to hold no more than six Saturday events for lawnmower races, tractor pulls or similar events from April 1 until Sept. 30. Rolling Thunder also would be prohibited from holding more than two two-night special events between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 and said events also must end by 11 p.m. The Steel Heads Class would not be allowed to run past 10 p.m. on any given night.
As an incentive to use mufflers to stifle noise, an award of $50 would be given to race winners that utilize mufflers.
Last year, five Patrick County residents signed a petition declaring Rolling Thunder a public nuisance due to the empathic sounds of the raceway that echoed through the hollows Friday nights and the occasional Saturday. Last October a grand jury found the case worthy of trial. From that point on, Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Vipperman represented the residents of Patrick County.
Due to vague legislation regarding what exactly a noise nuisance is, the best route to go was a settlement that addressed issues causing the complaints of residents.
This consent order does not settle, contemplate, adjudicate or hear any private nuisance action, the proposed consent order reads.
The settlement does not sit well with everyone. Patrick Countys Herman Logan signed the initial petition dubbing Rolling Thunder a public nuisance. He said his goal was not met.
Shut them down, he said. Close (track owner Gary Nester) down, absolutely. That was the objective. That didnt happen.
It was a disappointment to those who filed the complaint.
With the amount of money private lawsuits will cost, Logan said he doubts any further action will be taken in the near future.
Nester said he has yet to see the proposed settlement and declined comment.