West Virginia S.B. 602 Seeks to Limit Nuisance Lawsuits

In another piece of proposed legislation, West Virginia S.B. 602 looks to limit “nuisance lawsuits” against racetracks (such as Summit Point Motorsports Park pictured here) and other sports venues. These lawsuits stem from a variety of reasons, including noise, dust, traffic, and hours of operation.

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“S.B. 602 protects established sports exposition venues from nuisance lawsuits even after a transfer of ownership occurs, which is very important for oval tracks, which change hands often,” said West Virginia Motorsports Committee member and series director for a dirt-racing tour Joseph Rush. “Any venue in operation for one year or more will receive status as established and be protected.”

Rush cited Beckley Motorsports Park, a 3/8-mile dirt oval, as an example of a facility that had legal battles with nearby residents.

“Beckley Motorsports Park has been in operation for more than 60 years,” Rush said. “People moved into the area, and then petitioned the local county commission to put curfews on the track. They were not successful because the grandfather clauses were upheld. S.B. 602 further protects tracks from these types of challenges to their operation.”

The bill also prevents growing cities and towns from annexing land where a speedway or sports facility is located, and then trying to make it conform to its ordinances.

“This part of the bill is important,” said Rush. “When land is annexed, ordinances of that municipality will not apply to the racetrack.”

In addition, S.B. 602 puts more teeth into the waivers signed by participants at sporting events.

“The person involved in the sport has to take some responsibility for the danger they face by participating,” said Laura Bowman, of Summit Point Motorsports Park. “This applies not only to driving and working on race cars, but to all sports — including horseback riding, bridge jumping, and watersports.”

West Virginia S.B. 602 is one of two motorsports-related bills proposed in the Mountain State. The other, West Virginia S.B. 467 provides tax relief for racetracks looking to improve their facilities. (For more on S.B. 467, read “West Virginia S.B. 467: Tax Breaks for Tracks Proposed”.) State senator Mark Maynard, a drag racer himself, sponsored both pieces of legislation.

“Good things for motorsports are going on in West Virginia,” Rush said. “The state could serve as a model for other states across the country.”

To show your support for the bill, click this link, courtesy of the SEMA Action Network (SAN).

Mike Adaskaveg

This year marks the Rock the Curb Director of Photography’s 51st year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg has been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.