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Drag strip promoter eyeing new project

As the promoter/operator of the Twin Branch Drag Strip waits with everyone else for the access road leading up to the facility to be opened to the general public and actual events there can finally begin, he’s also been using the time to develop additional plans for the mountaintop venue located near Myrtle.

During this month’s regular Mingo County Redevelopment Authority meeting, Pete Scalzo approached the board with a plan to add an all-terrain vehicle, utility terrain vehicle/side by side, and motorcycle dirt track location at the drag strip facility as well.

Scalzo said the plan is to create an event venue that will provide local and national competitions for ATV, UTV and motorcycle enthusiasts, which he explained would include a mud pit, a sand drag strip, a flat track and an obstacle course.

“Even if everything went well and we were able to open the track in 60 days, and we know if the bond release was done today we’d have 60 days more to wait, the drag strip for this season is going to be killed,” he said. “But I believe this is a tremendous opportunity we can take advantage of right away with all the interest there is in ATVs, especially with the (Hatfield McCoy)Trail System.”

MCRA Executive Director Leasha Johnson said Chris Atkins, who is the director of West Virginia Operations for Booth Energy, has assured her of Booth’s commitment to complete the incremental bond release application so that the road can be used by the public after a 60-day waiting period mandated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the drag strip and any additional attractions can become operational.

“Chris has assured me that everyone at Booth Energy is wanting to see this project to fruition and that they’re going to do what they need to do to get us to that point, but right now they’re strapped for resources — probably both financially and I would think, humanly,” she said.

Photo taken from 'Dragzine'

Johnson said a 99-acre tract of adjacent property which Booth Energy originally said the company would donate to the MCRA but now wants to lease, along with a road maintenance agreement finalized with the other current major co-owner of the road property, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), represents the hesitancy on Booth Energy’s part to complete the incremental bond release application.

Johnson said the tract of additional property is instrumental in both the completion of the drag strip pit as well as Scalzo’s planned development of the ATV, UTV, and motorcycle track facilities.

She said the MCRA’s attorney is currently working with the company’s attorney to get a lease agreement arranged as quickly as possible so that it can be incorporated into the overall track facility complex.

Following the completion of Scalzo’s proposal for the addendum tracks which, if agreed upon, the MCRA would be required to help with funding to develop, the board agreed it would consider the proposal once he has prepared an estimated cost of completing the project’s proposed development expense.

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