Could Houston's favorite motorsports venue be "done in" by dust? Or is that claim merely a smokescreen?
At Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, some say the race track is under siege, thanks to dust in the wind.
"Y'know, we're going 180 miles an hour plus, on the track in my class," said race car driver Shannon "Elvis" Brinkley. "And there's some concerns that I have about dust being on the track and traction problems that could occur."
Royal Purple Raceway general manager Seth Angel says the dust is blowing in from a huge pile of concrete debris on an adjacent property where a concrete recycling company is setting up shop. And he worries that has imperiled the track's standing with the National Hot Rod Association.
"The NHRA sanction to us is everything," Angel said. "And without the NHRA sanction we will simply go out of business."
"Dust has never crossed the property line, and won't," countered Mark Briggs, general manager of HPP Materials, which owns the recycling business.
Briggs says he has an employee whose only job is to water the rubble and keep the dust down.
And he tells us the real issue here isn't "dust." It's "dollars."
You see, the Royal Purple Raceway owners also operate a competing concrete crushing company called Century Crushed Materials, just down the road. Briggs says Seth Angel is using a dust complaint to sandbag a business rival.
"They've had a, pretty much a family monopoly here in this region for many, many years," said Briggs. "They charge about 16 dollars a ton and we'll be in the market at 12."
Seth Angel acknowledges the family business, but denies that it has anything to do with the dust-up.
"This is quite simply the furthest from the truth," said Angel.
For now, neither side is giving an inch. They'll square off once more on September 19th at a public hearing, as HPP Materials seeks an air permit to commence crushing.