“THE LAST RACE”

Find out how one community on Long Island is trying to hold on to its past while staving off developers. To learn more, click here. 

Aired on November 6, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

RIVERHEAD RAISEWAY IS A RARE PLACE.

FOR DECADES, IT'S HOSTED SHOWDOWNS OF LOCAL RESIDENTS WHO BRING THEIR STOCK CARS TO BATTLE ON A QUARTER MILE TRACK, WITH PASSION SPILLING OUT OF THE COCKPITS EVEN AFTER THE RACE IS DONE.

ONCE UPON A TIME, THERE WERE OVER 40 TRACKS ON LONG ISLAND, WHERE STOCK CAR GLADIATORS COULD VIE FOR GLORY.

BUT RIVERHEAD IS THE LAST ONE STANDING, AND IT TOO IS STRUGGLING TO HOLD ON AS REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT THREATENS ITS SURVIVAL.

OUR NEXT GUEST CAPTURES THE RACETRACK COMMUNITY'S FIGHT TO SAVE THE RACEWAY AND ITS CULTURE IN THE NEW DOCUMENTARY 'THE LAST RACE.' HERE'S A LOOK.

WITH ALL THE TRACKS, 99% ARE DEF DEFUNCT, GONE.

THIS PIECE OF PROPERTY IS WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

BUSINESS IS GOING TO SQUEEZE THEM OUT.

IF YOU'RE SAYING, I'M TRYING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION.

JUST A QUESTION OF TIME.

THEIR KIDS ALLOW US TO DEVELOP THE PROPERTY.

WHEN RIVERHEAD GOES, THAT WILL BE THE END OF RACING ON LONG ISLAND.

MICHAEL, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

A FASCINATING FILM.

NOW, HOW DID THIS FILM EMERGE OUT OF YOUR HEAD?

ARE YOU PART OF THIS, WERE YOU EVER PART OF THIS COMMUNITY, THIS --

I WANTED TO BE A RAISE DRIVER WHEN I WAS YOUNG.

I WAS RAISED IN A TOWN NEXT DOOR TO A RACETRACK.

AND THAT'S WHERE I WOULD GO WITH MY BROTHER AND PARENTS EVERY TUESDAY AND SATURDAY FROM WHEN I WAS 3 YEARS OLD UNTIL I WENT TO COLLEGE AT 18.

THIS IS A PLACE THAT, TO ME, WAS WHERE MY HEROES WERE.

OF COURSE, I ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A RACE DRIVER.

AND THEN TRACK WAS CLOSED AND REPLACED BY A COSTCO, AND EVENTUALLY ALL THE TRACKS WERE CLOSED AND THERE WAS ONLY ONE LEFT.

THAT'S WHY I DECIDED TO MEMORIALIZE THIS RACETRACK.

FIRST WITH PHOTOGRAPHY, WHERE I SPENT FIVE YEARS MAKING THAT TRACK MY STUDIO.

AND FIVE MORE YEARS AFTER THAT, WORKING ON A FILM.

I REALIZED --

THE FIRST FILM?

YEAH, I THOUGHT IT WAS EASY.

OH WHO ARE THESE HEROES, THESE MEN WHO PARTICIPATE IN THIS KIND OF -- IN THIS RACE, IN THIS KIND OF SUBCULTURE, AND THE PEOPLE AROUND THEM?

WHO ARE THEY?

THESE ARE WORKING CLASS PEOPLE.

THESE ARE MECHANICS, AND TOW TRUCK OPERATORS THAT WORK REALLY DIFFICULT JOBS DURING THE WEEK.

BUT AT NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT, THEY WORK ON RACECARS.

THEY GET HOME FROM WORK AND WORK ON THESE CARS, EVEN IF THERE'S NO RACING.

IN THE WINTER THEY WORK EVERY SINGLE NIGHT, AS WELL, FOR THEIR CHANCE TO COME TO THE RACETRACK ON A SATURDAY NIGHT AT 6:00 TO RACE IN FRONT OF 2, 000 FANS THAT WEAR THEIR T-SHIRTS, WITH THE HOPE OF WINNING A TROPHY AND HAVING SOME DIGNITY.

YOU NOT ONLY CAPTURE THESE GUY'S PASSION FOR THE RACE, THEY'RE REALLY SKILLED PEOPLE.

THEY ARE.

THEY'RE HM LIKE PHYSICISTS.

BESIDES BEING SKILLED MECHANICS AND CRAFTSMAN WITH THEIR HANDS, THEY ARE -- WHEN THEY GET ON A RACETRACK, THEY'RE RACING AT OVER 100 MILES PER HOUR ON A QUARTER MILE TRACK WITH 30 CARS.

AND YOU'RE ALLOWED TO MAKE FULL CONTACT, SORT OF.

SO THEY'RE SMART.

YOU KNOW, EVERYBODY WANTS MEANING IN THEIR LIFE, EVERYBODY WANTS TO FEEL LIKE THEY HAVE A VALUE.

WHEN YOU'RE AT A RACETRACK AND SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS, PEOPLE SAY, YOU ARE MY HERO.

THAT MEANS A LOT TO EVERYBODY, NOT JUST THESE GUYS.

WE TALK ABOUT THESE PEOPLE BEING DIGNIFIED.

TWO OF THE MOST INSPIRING CHARACTERS ARE THE RACETRACK OWNERS, JIM AND BARBARA.

THEY'RE IN THEIR 80s, THEY MOVE AROUND IN WALKERS.

THEY KIND OF LOSE MONEY.

IT'S A LOSING BUSINESS?

CORRECT.

YET THEY SIT ON LANDS THAT'S WORTH MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, AND THEY REFUSE -- THEY TRY TO KEEP SOLDIERING ON.

THEY WANT TO KEEP IT OPEN.

WHY?

WELL, IT'S INTERESTING.

I FOLLOWED THEIR LIVES FOR THREE YEARS.

YOU SEE BARBARA AND JIM COMING FROM MANHATTAN ON FRIDAY NIGHT, 87-YEAR-OLD COUPLE, SLEEPING AT A HOLIDAY INN, WAKE UP AND CHANGING INTO THEIR NASCAR UNIFORMS AND THEY'RE PART OF THE GROUP.

BARBARA SAYS IN THE FILM, MOST OF MY FRIENDS THAT ARE RETIRED THINK OF WHERE THEY'RE GOING TO DINNER.

WE HAVE A LIFE.

WE'RE HOLDING ON TO YOUTH.

THE SHOPPING MALLS ARE ENCROACHING.

THERE'S TWO WALMARTS IN THAT DOWN, THEY STRIPPED ALL THE FARMLAND AND FORESTS ARE GONE.

NOW THAT LAST PIECE OF LAND IS WORTH $10 MILLION.

DEVELOPERS COME AND THEY SAY NO.

THIS COMMUNITY IS IMPORTANT.

WE FEEL RESPONSIBLE TO THE TOWN AND WE'RE KEEPING IT OPEN.

WHAT HAPPENS TO THIS CULTURE IF IT CLOSES?

IT'S NOT ONLY RACETRACKS.

THIS IS THE LAST REMAINING RACETRACK IN THE COUNTRY THAT RACES REAL STOCK CARS FROM THE '70s.

SO WHAT DO WE DO WITH PEOPLE THAT ARE BORED?

WHAT ABOUT PEOPLE THAT HACK DIGNITY IN THEIR LIVES?

THAT'S A BIG QUESTION.

THAT'S ONE OF THE REASONS I WANT TO DO THIS FILM IS I WANT TO KEEP COMMUNITIES STABLES.

A LOCAL COFFEE SHOP, A BAKER, A SHOEMAKER.

YOU WANT VIBRANT COMMUNITIES.

MICHAEL, IT'S A FASCINATING FILM.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.

'THE LAST RACE' WILL BE IN THEATERS STARTING NOVEMBER 16th.

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