MUFFLERS

Not many of you may realize this but the State of New York Assembly Bill 11771, section 398-b is about mufflers and exhaust systems stating, “Every motor vehicle used in a race or contest of speed at a facility located within three-quarters of a mile of an occupied residence shall at all times be equipped with an adequate muffler and exhaust system to prevent any excessive or unusual noise, provided the residence was constructed prior to the construction of such facility.”

Of course though, before you get too upset, this was taken from the June 1972 issue of Super Stock & Drag Illustrated penned by then editor Jim McCraw. I doubt that “Bill” is even on the books today.

In 1999, the NHRA deemed mufflers to be used on sportsman cars running national events. This led to a lot of reconfiguring of race cars, costing racers more expense. That mandate lasted only several years before it was no longer a required piece of equipment. So, what was the reasoning?

In my opinion, it afforded the NHRA a whole lot of data collection so that if they were ever to be called on the carpet for a noise issue, they would have data to challenge said issues. While that “afforded” them the data, it also cost racers who had to purchase and install the mufflers, giving “them” the data somewhat free of charge. Thankfully, I’m not aware of any governmental issues but in the meantime, it forced racers to have to spend more money on something which not too many people use today.

I’m not sure that rule is even in today’s Rulebook because even as an NHRA member, no one receives a printed Rulebook, something which had always been a part of your membership. That’s a whole other story though, or maybe another Blog.

First of all, I have a problem with neighbors who complain about race track noise. In most cases, the tracks were there well before homes encroached on the area. I’ve got two stories about that.

Prior to my wife and I getting married, we looked at a piece of property within maybe a half-mile or so of Raceway Park in Englishtown. We visited the property with a realtor in the winter. I didn’t let the realtor know who I was or my occupation, but I questioned, “Englishtown? Isn’t there a race track near here?”

“Oh yes,” he answered, “but it’s on the other side of town and they only run on Sundays from about noon until three-o’clock.” Are you kidding me?

When I mentioned this scenario to Raceway Park’s owner the late Vince Napp, his comment was that was the problems they had. As a note, Raceway was also one of the first to build the “sound wall,” a huge blockage to eliminate some of the noise.

Story #2. When we first moved to our present location, I may have mentioned it located two pieces of property over from Beaver Spring Dragway. It’s in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by mostly farm land although there is a tiny community (six houses) immediately outside the track’s front gate. Obviously, the noise to us is not an issue, but there are instances where I’d wake up in the middle of the night hearing farmers in their fields with loud pieces of equipment. Me complain? No. I knew well what we were getting into when we moved here.

One particular year, the track hosted an IHRA divisional event, running until 3:30 in the morning. Naturally, the track’s owner was called to appear before a township committee to answer neighbor complaints. The track owner, his father and myself attended, with the town’s committee just wishing to hear the complaints, but clearly on the side of the track.

One neighbor who lived directly across from the opening of the staging lanes was particularly vocal, to which the track owner’s father; who at that time was well into his 80s; posed a question. “Tom (name changed to protect the… well he wasn’t really innocent), when you moved here, did you know the race track was here?”

“Well sure Eddie. You know I moved here 13 years ago.”

“Then shut the hell up and sit down.”

I guess at that age, you can pretty much say what’s really on your mind.

Maybe that’s the problem today. People are afraid to say what’s really on their minds.