Long Island Racing Film To Be Shown At Hamptons Film Festival - 27 East

Arts & Living

Arts & Living / 1329824

Long Island Racing Film To Be Shown At Hamptons Film Festival

icon 2 Photos
Michael Dweck's latest film, "The Last Race," will be shown during the Hamptons Film Festival. COURTESY FRANK PR

Michael Dweck's latest film, "The Last Race," will be shown during the Hamptons Film Festival. COURTESY FRANK PR


Michael Dweck, director of 'The Last Race.' PATRICK MCMULLAN/PATRICKMCMULLAN.COM PATRICK MCMULLAN/PATRICKMCMULLAN.COM Michael Dweck==The 2016 Hamptons Paddle & Party for Pink Benefiting the Breast Cancer Research Foundation==Fairview on Mecox Bay, Southampton, NY==August 6, 2016==© Patrick McMullan==Photo - Patrick McMullan/PMC== == Michael Dweck

author on Oct 1, 2018

The roots of stock car racing in America can be traced to Long Island. Many Southerners would flinch at the very thought of racing beginning on Long Island, but it’s true.In fact, during Long Island racing’s prime, there were at least 40 tracks situated across the island, including a drag strip in Westhampton Beach, and ovals in places like Freeport, Central Islip and Riverhead. Today, only the latter still operates as a raceway, as the rising cost of real estate on Long Island and the inability to turn a profit forced many track owners to shut down operations and sell the properties the tracks were on.

Fine art photographer and director Michael Dweck decided to focus his lenses on the downfall of racing on Long Island in his first feature-length documentary, “The Last Race,” which will be shown during the Hamptons International Film Festival this weekend.

As a race fan and New York native, Mr. Dweck, 61, a part-time Montauk resident, has seen firsthand the closing of numerous tracks across Long Island.

Growing up during the 1960s in Bellmore, a young Mr. Dweck spent many weekend nights at the Freeport Stadium, a speedway where fans could watch their favorite hometown driver race around the fifth-of-a-mile oval track against other drivers for a taste of victory.

“I started going there when I was 4,” Mr. Dweck said, noting that the home he grew up in was located nearby. “That’s all I looked forward to. It was rare that I would miss a race.”

Sometimes he would ride his bike up to the track and try to get in, but would be turned away because he was too young to enter unsupervised.

On nights that he missed going to the races, Mr. Dweck could look outside and see the lights from the track along with the smoke-filled air.

But it was nothing like actually being there.

The roaring engines, the squealing tires and the pungent smell of burned rubber in the air, all added to the racing experience. At times, the victor would come away unscathed, without rubbing or bumping his car into an opponent’s car, but those times were rare—the chances of seeing a fist fight break out between two drivers from making contact on the track were better.

But fighting was a display of the heart and determination the drivers put into their cars and those races.

Scenes like this can be seen in Riverhead on Saturday nights during the summer, and in Mr. Dweck’s film.

“The Last Race” follows racing at Riverhead Speedway and gives viewers an idea of what it is like to be at the track.

In particular, Mr. Dweck focuses on the Blunderbust series, an entry-level form of racing where drivers race in 4,200-pound stock cars.

Mr. Dweck said he chose the series because the drivers have to craft the cars by hand. They can take a 1977 Caprice Classic, rip it apart and weld it back together to meet racing regulation specs.

The drivers put months into the cars.

And the best part: the drivers are allowed to bump into one another and rub fenders.

“It was something that anybody could do … and anybody can afford,” Mr. Dweck said. “This is the last track in the country, that I know of, that is racing these types of cars.”

Mr. Dweck said Riverhead Raceway is the oldest track, and in his film, he wanted to show what it was like to spend a night at the track.

He also focuses on the uncertain future the track faces, as big box stores continue to be constructed around the track and the value of the land continues to go up. The current value of the track and land it sits on, according to Mr. Dweck, is approximately $10 million.

The project started out with Mr. Dweck shooting photos to capture the scene of the racetrack, but after five years, he discovered that film would be necessary. So, between 2012 and 2017, Mr. Dweck went to the track on race nights. He welded DSLR cameras on the inside and outside of the Blunderbust cars.

He also shot from various corners and viewpoints around the track, and captured action in the pits.

Ultimately, he wanted to show what was in his imagination as a child, on those nights that he could not go to the races in Freeport.

“I believe grassroots racing culture is important,” Mr. Dweck said. “It’s a breeding ground for the next generation of racers.

“There’s such a strong racing culture on Long Island.”

The Last Race" will screen on Saturday, October 6, at 3 p.m. at the East Hampton United Artists cinema and on Sunday, October 7, at 3:45 p.m. at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center.


You May Also Like:

The Printmaking Talents Of Robert Dash

The Madoo Conservancy has announced that its forthcoming exhibition, “Robert Dash: Printmaker,” will be open ... 26 Feb 2020 by Staff Writer

Tripoli Gallery Has A New Location

Located in Southampton from 2009 to 2018, Tripoli Gallery is beginning its next phase with ... 25 Feb 2020 by Staff Writer

‘Young Ahmed’ To Be Screened Saturday At Guild Hall

In their film “Young Ahmed,” twin Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne tell the ... by Staff Writer

Black And Sparrow At Songwriters Share

The 6th annual Songwriters Share Concert Series at the Unitarian Universalist Meetinghouse in Bridgehampton continues ... by Staff Writer

Inda Eaton Is Seeking Shelter

Singer-songwriter Inda Eaton is a celebrated storyteller whose music is planted in the tradition of ... by Staff Writer

Juried Art Show Is About Exploring Shades Of Light

“Art reveals the illumination within each of us, always shining through us,” says Richard Demato of the RJD Gallery in Bridgehampton. Demato has chosen “Shades of Light” as the theme of the 11th annual Hamptons Juried Art Show. In this special exhibition, viewers will see the artists’ expression of themselves through their work. Artists are encouraged to enter their artwork and share their message. All entry fees support The Retreat, the only domestic abuse services agency on the East End of Long Island. Entries are judged on both technical quality and strength of composition in supporting the empowerment of domestic ... by Staff Writer

Jake Lear Next Up At The Masonic Temple

Musician Jake Lear takes to the altar of the Wamponamon Masonic Temple on Friday, February ... by Staff Writer

Guild Hall Honors Literary, Visual And Performing Artists

On Tuesday, March 3, from 6 to 10 p.m., Guild Hall will host its 35th ... 24 Feb 2020 by Staff Writer

Exploring The Ways Of Water

Water impacts climate, agriculture, transportation and industry as well as inspires art and music. From ... 23 Feb 2020 by Staff Writer

The Life And Legacy Of Vivian Strong

Monica Bauer’s play “Vivian’s Music, 1969” is inspired by real-life events. These events took place ... by Staff Writer

Welcome to our new website!

To see what’s new, click “Start the Tour” to take a tour.

We welcome your feedback. Please click the
“contact/advertise” link in the menu bar to email us.

Start the Tour
Landscape view not supported