Raceway Park Closure Putting Brakes on Police Pursuit Training

Police recruits receive high-speed pursuit training
Police recruits receive high-speed pursuit training
Mike Oakland
Mike Oakland

CAMPBELL INDUSTRIAL PARK (KHNL) -- Time is running out for users of Hawaii Raceway Park.

The raceway plans to host its final event this weekend, and then shut its doors for good.

But it's not just racers who are concerned about losing the park.

It's a place for drivers, who feel the need for speed. "

Over 100 (m.p.h.)," the driver calls out, as he takes this reporter for a spin. "I don't think I've ever gone that fast," the reporter replies.

It's also a place where law enforcement recruits learn how to pursue cars, at highway speeds, safely.

"What's the two Ss that I was stressing this whole week? I want to hear it," the instructor asks a group of state sheriff recruits. "Safe and smooth," the recruits answer. "Without that, they become a hazard just like anybody else," Mike Oakland, Hawaii Motorsports Center President, said. "You need to know what happens under braking from 100 miles an hour, and, you know, down to a corner to turn, and how to avoid other people."

But the fuel is running out for Hawaii Raceway Park.

After trying unsuccessfully to get a larger complex built at Kalaeloa, Oakland says he has no choice but to kill the engine on his 66-acre park this weekend.

"I'm devastated now," he said. "Sitting here and looking at this place from a business perspective, it's one thing. From a personal perspective, my sons have all learned to drive and race out here."

With the closure, sheriff recruits and others will scramble for another place to train.

"Every one of the police department and the sheriffs department people need to come have a place where they can do high-speed pursuit, high-speed training, and learn how to handle a car in these kinds of situations," Oakland said.

Last week, a group of Honolulu city council members introduced a resolution that asks the state to provide matching funds so the city can acquire Hawaii Raceway Park.