As the home of “Motor City,” to say the state of Michigan is filled with gearheads is certainly not an understatement. With 26 historically documented dragstrips once filling the region, Onondaga Dragway, located dead-center in lower Michigan, is one of only seven still in existence in the state.
The management for the Onondaga strip is now relying on an effort with a GoFundMe page to defray their continuing legal expenses before becoming yet another statistic in the Michigan drag racing annals.
Once operational from the 1960s up until 1978, Onondaga Dragway was to be resurrected by track managers Ray Comer and Daniel Pranshka. This undertaking required the financial and physical effort of converting the old track from farmland back into a new racing surface, tower, grandstands, and all related structures and equipment.
Onondaga Dragway began a protracted legal battle from an attempt by a handful of people to stop the racing. This was despite being allowed to reopen via a special use permit in 2013. Subsequently, this resulted in another four-year court battle that ended in 2017 with the Ingham County Circuit Court ruling in favor of the track.
The track has operated within a list of conditions regulated by the Onondaga Township. The requirements include very limited operation during the daytime hours on Fridays and Saturdays to sunset. Meeting these limitations, “The Township Board determined that the benefits from operation of the track to the Township as a whole outweigh potential annoyance to nearby residents,” was stated in court documents.
But the legal battle is not behind them. The small group of plaintiffs is now down to one, Mark Cooper, who has begun an appeal in court to stop the track once again. This appeal document is interesting reading, citing the long history related to the track’s legal battles.
“The families depleted their savings to build basically a new track from the ground up,” says Marcie Hanks Seavolt. “This is also combined with the legal expenses that we thought were behind us.”
Cooper is so intent on shuttering Onondaga Dragway that he has been identified as a violator of the “unclean hands doctrine.” This results from three major court violations, including witness intimidation before a court hearing.
With the expenses of the track construction and the previous legal battles up to this point, they are in need of financial help to fight in court for their right to race once again.
“We have started a GoFundMe effort to help offset these legal costs,” explains Seavolt. “We want what is right and fair for this community and for the racers. People in the area are speaking out in support of the track, far more than even might be against it. There is no reason that this track should be shut down. None.”
Racing enthusiasts from coast to coast should pay attention to yet another track trying to serve many racing enthusiasts despite an attack in court by one unscrupulous individual.