By Evelyn Rupert
The Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors is giving drivers at the Natural Bridge Speedway an extra hour to cross the finish line.
The board voted Monday to extend the speedway’s weekend curfew from 11 p.m. to midnight.
Some nearby residents are upset about the decision, even though it comes with a few conditions.
The speedway can use the extra hour only when there are special events, or if a race is delayed because of an accident or bad weather.
Track officials must also submit monthly reports to the board, explaining why the extra time was needed. Races can run late 14 times a year, which is about half of the season.
Lannie Ballard, who lives less than two miles from the track, told the supervisors that he feels that he lives closer to the track than he does.
“I can hear whose birthday it is from my front porch because of the loud speakers,” he said. “And I qualify for a hearing aid.”
Jerry Deacon, a co-owner of the track, suggested the drag strip, located right next to the speedway, may be responsible for more of the noise.
Natural Bridge resident Gary Johnson spoke at the board meeting in favor of the extended hours, pointing out the business that spectators bring to gas stations and restaurants like Pink Cadillac.
Ramsey first asked for the extended hours after two NASCAR drivers came to compete at the speedway last June. Their race was delayed because of rain, and they did not finish until after 11 p.m. He said he thinks the speedway should not be penalized for running late.
The speedway opens at the end of this month.
Reporter Betsy Cribb
contributed to this story.