Popular Baytown raceway could be in jeopardy

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by Andrew Horansky / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on September 19, 2013 at 10:16 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 19 at 11:29 PM

BAYTOWN, Texas -- At the Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, the owners are still coming to terms with their newest neighbor.

A year and a half ago, a company called HPP Materials moved in and amassed a big pile of crushed concrete on the land adjacent to the track.

Officials at the track complained the pile caused dust to blow over, which in turn made their racing surface dangerous.

“It’s akin to running into an ice slick,” General Manager Seth Angel said. “You have no control.”

Angel said it was so bad this summer that the National Hot Rod Association, the agency that sanctions their races, threatened to pull out if the problem persisted.

“If they do that then we’ll simply go out of business,” Angel said. “That’s really what’s at stake here.”

Over at HPP, however, they see it differently. General Manager Mark Briggs said the track’s owners also run a concrete business which is similar to his.

He said their problem is not about dust and claims they are trying to edge him out.

“Competition is rough,” Briggs said. “We’re going to be in the market about $12 a ton for final product. They’re in the market today at about $16. So that’s what it’s all about.”

On Thursday night the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality held a public hearing. HPP wants a permit so it can soon start crushing the concrete on its site.

Many people in the crowd of hundreds expressed strong opposition.

For nearly three decades, the track has provided a major economic boost. Even the smallest threat to its future in Baytown can be seen as a major blow.

Officials with the TCEQ say they will rule on whether to grant the permit in the next 3-6 months.

Officials with the track say they have not canceled or rescheduled any races yet.

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