Raceway Park Left No Choice But to Close

Cars at Starting Line at Hawaii Raceway Park
Cars at Starting Line at Hawaii Raceway Park

(KHNL) Hawaii's only legal race track is closing, and that has many worried that some might start taking their races to the streets.

Hawaii Raceway Park is shutting down at the end of March.

"We're all concerned because we want safe streets," said the park's owner Mike Oakland. "We also want this current crop of people to understand our goal is to get to the permanent facility and not to get antsy and take it to the streets."

Oakland hoped to move the park to Kalaeloa, but those plans have been in place since 1993 with no results.

"The existing facility is just too small," said Oakland. "Too old. Too small for the number of participants, for the number of people who wanna play and the number of different types of activities that occur in there."

The zoning variance at the current location has also expired, the lease is up soon, and Oakland says it would too much money to make improvements to the infrastructure.

"It's pretty sad because there's a lot of my customers and people in general tend to use the track for their outlet," said Ken Inouye.

He works at "Wicked Machine Racing," a car performance shop on Nimitz Highway.

"The track was their main area to go nuts," said Inouye. "But now they might resort to going back up Tantalus, just any quick corner, parking lots and stuff like that, so we'll probably see an increase in accidents."

"We don't want it on Tantalus where they're learning how to drift," said Oakland. "We don't want it at Sandy's. We used to race on the streets back in the 50's and 60's. We know what it's like. We know how dangerous it is."

Both Inouye and Oakland said this is a bad time for the closure, because motor sports and import racing are gaining popularity. They say the racetrack was perfect for that.

"It provides an environment when you're with one, peers," said Oakland. "Second, you're in a controlled environment with motorsports people who can teach those beginners and compete against those advanced players."

"It's better to do it on the track than on the street," said Inouye.