A recent editorial in the weekly Bitterroot Star of Stevensville, Mont., likened a racetrack proposed for the Bitterroot Valley to "a smelly dog, running from neighborhood to neighborhood in search of a home." Promoters first went to the Ravalli County Commission, asking to build a racetrack at the county fairgrounds in Hamilton, Mont. The commissioners said no.
But this particular "smelly dog" seems to
have found a home on a ranch near the town of Stevensville, and
neighbors have set up a howl of protest.
yeah, we're going to build it," says race-car driver Travis Panko
of the Bitterroot Valley Motor Sports Association. "The 40 acres
will include everything - parking, Porta-potties, a clay-surfaced
track, concessions, and a playground for the kids. It's going to be
a family-oriented place." Panko says that the cars and motorcycles
will use mufflers, and "decibel levels will be kept under 100."
This doesn't quell Richard McKay's anger over
the plan. He moved to the area from Seattle one year ago and he
calls the track a "growing monster." McKay heads a group called
Bitterrooters Against the Racetrack, and vows a serious struggle.
The track would lie less than a half-mile from the Lee Metcalf
National Wildlife Refuge in a county where voters have repeatedly
turned down zoning laws.
"They haven't seen the
tip of the iceberg in this fight," he says. "Where, in all this, is
my right to the quiet enjoyment of my property?"
- Hal Herring