ST.CROIX, USVI – Virgin Islanders can look forward to fall drag racing on St. Croix, according to the Caribbean Drag Racing Association’s testimony before the Committee on Youth, Sports, Parks & Recreation on Tuesday.
Committee Chairman Samuel Carrión said the opening cannot come soon enough as the community remains in desperate need of positive activities for the Territory’s youth.
“Engaging our young people in something that interests them is critical in keeping them focused and on the right path,” Senator Carrion said. “It also exposes them to so many new career opportunities.”
Senator Carrión was one of the sponsors of Act 8449, which provided more than $675,000 for the completion of the racetrack on St. Croix’s south shore.
“I must thank my colleagues in the 34th Legislature that supported this legislation, the members of the 33rd Legislature for getting the project off the ground, the Administration, the Caribbean Drag Racing Association, and all those in the community that worked collectively to bring drag racing back to the island of St. Croix,” Senator Carrión said. “This has truly been a project that almost everyone is willing to support given its recreational, social, and economic benefits.” Caribbean Drag Racing Association Vice President Larry Jones testified that the racetrack would be open on September 1, 2022, and that the first major race day is expected to be Labor Day weekend. Jones said the Association is also discussing holding stereo and other car competitions before races, building a storage unit to store racecars for off-island competitors and creating concession stands to help generate revenue for the facility.
Senator Carrión was much less impressed with the updates provided in terms of Virgin Islands horseracing.
“These projects are not moving ahead as fast as we need them to, and I will be calling all parties back to testify before my Committee on June 27. At that time, I expect progress reports and timelines for at least opening a portion of the tracks where horses can be trained and properly exercised,” Senator Carrión said. “Further, I find it wholly unacceptable that no representative or testimony whatsoever was provided by Southland Gaming given all that has transpired.”
Southland Gaming’s lawsuit against the Virgin Islands Government is often cited as the primary reason for the delay in repairing the Territory’s racetracks, which were severely damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. As a result of the ongoing legal dispute, Southland was granted the opportunity to renovate the Clinton E. Phipps Racetrack on St. Thomas and VIGL has continuously stated they have the capacity to build the Randall “Doc” James Racetrack on St. Croix. Unfortunately, horse owners on St. Thomas and St. Croix report that work on both the tracks remains at a standstill.
“I am very disappointed by the apparent lack of progress and the lack of participation from some of the critical parties,” Senator Carrión said. “I expected better and the Territory’s horse owners and horseracing enthusiasts deserve better.” Senators attending Tuesday’s hearing included: Dwayne M. DeGraff, Carla Joseph, Javan E. James, Franklin D. Johnson Marvin A. Blyden, Kenneth L. Gittens, Novelle E. Francis, Kurt A. Vialet, Alma Francis – Heyliger, and Steven E. Payne