Neighbors at odds over Millbridge Speedway noise

Published 12:10 am Saturday, April 29, 2023

MOORESVILLE — What started out as a hearing over a special use permit to build new bleachers for Millbridge Speedway at the Rowan County Board of Commissioner’s second monthly meeting in April turned into a dispute over the dirt racing track located just off Mooresville Road.

After Jeremy Burnett, owner of the speedway, talked with the commissioners about the permit, several neighbors spoke to the commissioners about noise issues, parking and how the facility is affecting property values for surrounding houses.

Jackie Shaw, who lives next door to the speedway, bought her property in 1992, which includes her house and a repair shop called Sudden Impact Auto Body and Repair Shop. In the 30 years that she has lived there, Shaw said the speedway has never been an issue for her until recently, mainly because what started off as a go-kart track — that was formerly called Millbridge Go-Kart Track — with minimal noise has turned into a place that has started to race bigger vehicles with louder engines.

While Shaw said she is a fan of racing, the noise and the constant racing has made living on her property nearly unbearable. She thinks there needs to be some limitation on noise levels, hours of operation and the number of days racing takes place. Sometimes racing goes on seven days a week, according to Shaw.

She also has concerns over the expansion of the race track. Burnett and his partners bought property adjoining the track and cut down trees to provide more parking, which Shaw said she finds concerning and worries that the owners’ plans have outgrown the property.

“If I were them I would look for some property somewhere else because I think they have some big plans for their business and it seems to be a popular thing for people to come from other areas to do there. I’m afraid that maybe they’ve outgrown their space. But of course that’s their decision not mine,” Shaw said in a phone interview Wednesday.

Another concern for Shaw is how the speedway has affected her own property value, saying “nobody in their right mind would buy my home” because of the issues with noise. But she was quick to say that the speedway used to be a fun a place for her and her family to enjoy and she is hoping that there can be some kind of compromise that works for everyone.

“We used to enjoy that track years ago. We thought it was fun. I believe in private property rights, free enterprise and I’m really not for government regulation. But when other people’s rights are trampled on that becomes a concern and of course property value,” Shaw said.“We’re hoping for a friendly and decent resolution so that all the parties can exist happily next to each other, that’s our goal.” 

Pat Blide, another neighbor of the track who lives across the street, said her main issue is simply that it’s too loud. She can hear the engines and the PA system used to announced the races in her house with both windows and doors shut. Blide said she is also concerned over talk of expansion.

“We support racing, we’re not opposed to racing. However we are opposed to the future expansion that they are planning — all of that because of noise primarily,” Blide said.

Blide and Shaw both said there are plans to talk with Burnett and his partners about what can be done and try to figure out a compromise. Blide outlined some of the things she would like to see.

“We don’t want expansion. Period. We need the owners to do something to provide sound barriers, which there are ways you can do that, and add mufflers to the cars, which will then give them more volume on their PA system so they don’t have to turn that up so loud,” Blide said. “We also need them to restrict the hours, the lighting, the number of heats that their running and the number of cars.”

But other neighbors have a different point of view.

Colby Bartlett and Bud Hoffman, who both live on Goldenrod Circle about 1 mile from the track, said they find it frustrating that neighbors are complaining because the speedway has been around long before any of the houses were built in the neighborhood. They both said that people should have done more research before they bought a house near the speedway.

“I find it kind of frustrating because everyone has access to research the area they are buying a house in and obviously buying a house is a big commitment. So everyone should have done their research. You drive past the racetrack to get in and out of the neighborhood,” Bartlett said. To me, it’s insane that someone will complain about it.”

Bartlett works in in the racing industry in the parts department for Hendrick Motorsports and said he goes to enjoy the races with his wife regularly. He said he thinks a lot of people would be pretty upset if anything happened to the track.

“There’s a ton of people who go out there all the time. People bring their kids out there, people go out there to race. I think it would be pretty upsetting for a lot of people if anything had to change,” he said.

Both Bartlett and Hoffman said they can hear the noise of the engines from the track, but it doesn’t bother them and they’ve never heard any racing going on past 10:30 p.m.

“I have no issue with the speedway at all and I am in total support of the speedway. I can understand people have issues with the noise, but that speedway’s been here way before these houses were even thought of,” Hoffman said.

He also thinks that having the speedway is great for the community.

“That speedway bring a lot of people in and you figure with hotels and eating, it’s bringing a little bit to the community,” Hoffman said.

Burnett was contacted by the Post for this story but said he wanted to talk with his lawyer before speaking on the record.