News & Media

RPM co-owner reviving talk of New York City track

June 11, 2011, Joe Menzer,

LONG POND, Pa. -- Andrew Murstein made the roughly two-hour drive from New York City to Pocono Raceway for this Sunday's 5-Hour Energy 500 without complaint.

But he is trying to revive interest in having NASCAR build a track so some day he can watch a race live without having to venture far from the heart of America's largest city. Murstein, who along with investor Douglas Bergeron purchased more than a 50-percent interest in Richard Petty Motorsports last November, said Saturday that he believes he could help such a venture succeed where previously similar efforts have failed.

"[Pocono will] still draw, I don't know, 70,000 or 80,000 fans without [public transportation] -- but you put a track near public transportation in New York City, and you'll draw over 150,000."


Asked how important Sunday's race that Pocono hosts is to the New York market, Murstein replied: "It's pretty important. Obviously it's the track that's closest to New York City. One of the things I'm talking to people back in New York City about -- in the really early stages -- is putting a track one day in New York City.

"Therefore, the people follow this to find out how well it does and how the fans turn out. I hope one day there is a track in New York City, because between that and Pocono, it would be great for the sport."

Murstein, who is founder, president, board member and largest shareholder of Medallion Financial Corp., said he has opened preliminary discussions about the possibility with NASCAR as well as current and former New York state government officials.

"I called NASCAR and said, 'Do you have any interest in looking at something for New York City?' And they said, 'Eventually.' But it's not at the top of their list," Murstein said.

"I just wanted to get the ball started rolling in motion there. So I spoke to the [New York] governor's father, Mario Cuomo, who is on our board, and I just asked him for his personal view. He said he thinks it would be great for New York state, and if there is any way for him to help, to just let him know."

Murstein said he also asked Cuomo, who served as New York's governor himself from 1983 through 1994, why previous efforts by NASCAR to build a race track in the New York City area failed. Previous efforts were tied mostly to attempting to develop a 440-acre industrial park land tract in Staten Island.

"I said, 'What happened last time it got turned down?' And he said, basically, that was then and this is now," Murstein said. "The last time it got turned down, it was a much different economy -- not only in New York, but in the U.S., than it is today. So jobs are an issue today, and development is an issue, so I know if NASCAR ever asked New York to take another look at it, they'd be interested."

Murstein insisted he would like to take an active role in helping make it happen.

"I would just like to try to facilitate it for the sport," he said. "I think it would be great for the sport. I would love to be able to invest in it -- but I don't know if that would be of any interest to them. They probably would want to do it on their own. But if they wanted a local partner, I would certainly be interested."

Murstein admitted his efforts remain in the very early, exploratory stages.

"It's really been nothing more than one or two phone calls with the folks at NASCAR, and one or two phone calls with some of the governor's advisors," he said. "I've been pushing it a little bit more and looking at sites. There are a lot of good potential sites, like Aqueduct Raceway [horse-racing track]. That might be a good option for them.

"Staten Island I never liked. That was their choice last time. And they had a lot of opposition there, so I don't think they should revisit it. But there are plenty of other sites they could look at."

Asked why he likes the Aqueduct Raceway in Queens as a potential site for a new race track, Murstein added: "The state needs money, so they would be receptive to it. I think it may even be zoned already for motorsports. You'd have good public transportation in and out, which is important.

"Pocono is a terrific track, but obviously there is no mass public transport here. They'll still draw, I don't know, 70,000 or 80,000 fans without it -- but you put a track near public transportation in New York City, and you'll draw over 150,000."