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Bethel Motor Speedway public hearing set for March

Jacqueline Herman
Posted 2/20/24

BETHEL — There was a letter of request for an annual renewal permit from Bethel Motor Speedway in White Lake, which will be entering its 64th year of operation. A schedule of events and race …

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Bethel Motor Speedway public hearing set for March


BETHEL — There was a letter of request for an annual renewal permit from Bethel Motor Speedway in White Lake, which will be entering its 64th year of operation. A schedule of events and race dates were submitted at the Bethel Town Board meeting on Wednesday, February 14, which included the allowed number of Thursday practice sessions. 

In addition, General Manager George Van Arsdall asked for extra practice dates during the week, mostly for 1-2 car teams, so that extra revenue could come in. The drivers would be taking laps and checking the safety of their cars. This had been requested before and had been denied. 

Van Arsdall has been General Manager since 2018. Before then, he was the Head Tech in 2008-2012, and Race Director in 2012-2018. The letter requested a public hearing which was set for March 13.

Van Arsdall’s letter explained, “[The Speedway is] requesting to have private open practice sessions during weekdays, to racers who would like to test their cars for a fee…Many drivers and private teams request these type of sessions that fall outside of our monthly Thursday open practice sessions…” 

Van Arsdall continued saying that it would give them the opportunity to accommodate and bring new business to the area.

“The main thing is a lot of racetracks are having a hard time with extra revenue,” Van Arsdall said.

The letter further explains that this extra revenue is crucial to enable them “to continue as a local short track venue.” 

He states that many speedways have been forced to close due to the current economy, and that there has been a decline in business since the pandemic, going on to say that the extra hours would potentially benefit their profits.

They also asked to renew their option to open early on Saturday concert nights to alleviate congestion on Rte. 17B, Rte. 55, and Horseshoe Lake Road. 

“In 2023, our on-track operations started at 4 p.m. and had a hard stop at 11 p.m. We take our 11 p.m. deadline very seriously.” 

The speedway doesn’t allow alcohol, maintaining a friendly, family environment. Last year, the in-house concession stand was remodeled. Children, ages 7-12 can race small go-cart-like cars in the Bandoleros division and there are usually a dozen at a time. The entrance fee for racers’ in pit admission is $40. The gates open at 2:30 p.m., practice begins at 4 p.m., and races begin at 6 p.m. A schedule for the season will be available online.

Planning publicly and other issues expressed

Barbara Lerner, of Swan Lake, presented a letter urging the Town Board “to compel the Planning Board Chairman” (as done by the Town Board during its public comment portion of meetings) to “use his discretion as leader, to allow speakers to extend their three-minute allotment of time. Doing so indicates a willingness to listen, and more often than not, more relevant information can be presented.”

She also asked that Planning Board meetings be accessible online through Zoom or video recording so that more people can participate. The lack of this participation “tells residents they don’t matter. Not the person who doesn’t feel well, not the parent caring for young children, nor anyone with an evening shift...this creates an atmosphere of animosity and distrust.” She explains that it seems that “by the time a public hearing is on the agenda, many concerns have already been decided upon without pubic input. Letters written and documentation provided appear to have gone unread or ignored, or worse, denied existence.”

She continued, “The very distinct impression to all present is that the Planning Board isn’t that interested in what members of the public have to say, despite the fact that many are well informed and even others are professionally qualified.”

She expressed concern that there is control of the narrative by applicants and developers, and routine acceptance of (their) studies with no verification and no point of reference.

 She stated, “ We need a certified planner who can advise us regarding the impacts of projects and how they comport, if at all, with the Town’s current zoning.” 


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