Land Commission

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 13, 2012

Racetrack, repair shop approved by commission

By Billy Davis

Owners of a dirt racetrack on Lake Susie Road won approval from Panola County’s land commission Monday to open for business.

Husband and wife Tommy and Susan Camp won the special exception permit to operate the track, where half-ton pickups will race side by side in a timed event.

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Tommy Camp said the racetrack, known as the “Lake Susie Dirt Track,” will allow local racers to enjoy their hobby closer to home.

The track will also bring racers from surrounding counties, too. Mr. Camp said as many as 2,000 racers and spectators could attend during a weekend once word spreads about the new dirt track.

“I race and I would love to have this in the county and not go other places,” said Jimmy Carlini, who spoke during a public hearing.

The land commission considers noise and traffic problems when it weighs permit requests, but the Camps said their track is located away from homes and churches in an isolated are of the county.

Lake Susie Road, a dead-end road, is located south of Waldrup Road southwest of Batesville.

An adjacent property owner, who came to voice support, told commissioners the racetrack is surrounded only by agricultural fields.

The racetrack owners included a sketch of the property that shows the 300-foot drag racing track, fencing and guardrails, and restrooms and concession stand.

The racetrack was inspected by Michael Purdy, who oversees code enforcement for Panola County.

“I walked the entire track today,” Purdy, holding up the sketch, told the land commission. “Everything on here is there.”

Danny Walker, who chairs the land commission, told Tommy Camp he was concerned that Lake Susie Road is too narrow for automobiles to pass.

“I was a little uncomfortable with the road,” he said.

The road could be improved with shoulder work, said Supervisor Cole Flint, whose District 5 includes the racetrack.

“If you get approved, when will you hold your first race?” asked permit clerk Diane Stewart.  

“This coming weekend,” Tommy Camp replied.

The land commission voted unanimously to allow the racetrack to operate from April to October and hold two weekend races per month. The vote also forbids alcohol sales at the track.

Camp said beer will not be sold but spectators will be allowed to bring their own.

In other rulings by the land commission:

•   The land commission approved an auto repair garage at 4827 Eureka Road.

Business owner James Taylor was cautioned to keep no more than six automobiles outside the garage, which is located on family land behind several mobile homes.

At one point Taylor suggested parking automobiles in nearby yards — an idea that commissioners said was not allowed.

Walker, the chairman, said he was worried the property around the garage would become a “bone yard” of disabled automobiles.

“I’m not fixin’ to drag cars in there to make it a bone yard,” Taylor replied.

Hours for the business were set at Monday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

•   The land commission approved a cabinet shop and sales room for co-owner Terry Smith and other family members.

The cabinet shop is located behind Auto Corral, which is also family-owned. The car dealership and cabinet business are located east of Batesville along Highway 6.

The commission gave the cabinet shop generous business hours, from 6 a.m. to midnight, after Smith explained that some employees arrive as early as 6 a.m. and some work as late as midnight.

Hours for the shop’s retail business were set from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.