After years of persistence and struggling with resistance from Onondaga Township residents, a special use permit was granted to operate the Onondaga Dragway on the property located at 4168 Bellevue Road. The permit will allow the owners to test and tune cars and also hold car shows in Onondaga Township.
The approval from the Onondaga Township Board of Trustees came on March 14 during the board’s regular monthly meeting, at which about 40 people were in attendance. The board voted 4-1, with the only “no” vote from Treasurer Cindy Todd. (Todd had not returned our call for comment before publication).
According to Onondaga Township Supervisor Matthew Schindewolf, the Onondaga Planning Commission also voted on the special use permit application and recommended that the board approve it.
“It’s a matter of whether or not the applicant was in compliance with the regulations of the special use permit,” Schindewolf said. “They met the requirements and the planning commission gave the recommendation.”
The Onondaga Dragway closed in 1978. But over the past few years, Dan Pranshka (one of the owners) has poured a lot of money into getting it ready to re-open and vowed to make it happen.
“I’m very happy about how everyone has decided to handle this now,” Pranshka said.
In recent years, the dragway was given a temporary permit to operate, but that was short lived as a permanent special use was voted down by the township board. Legal action then took place with the Ingham County Court system getting involved.
Now, Pranshka and his partner, Ray Comer, have over come the many obstacles and restrictions set by the township and court system in order to qualify for the special use permit.
“There will always be those satisfied with an outcome and those not satisfied,” Schindewolf said. “Over the past few days, I’ve heard from people and they’re pleased the dragstrip will open up and are hoping the best for them.”
The news of the approved special use permit sparked not only an excitement with fans, but also memories.
“My husband’s very first job was at the Onondaga Dragstrip. He still has his shirt with ‘Dan’ scribed on the pocket,” Jeanne Newberry said. ”We can’t wait to bring our ’57 chevy to the strip.”
Pranshka said he is excited about the chance to run the dragway beginning this summer, but is aware that there is a 30-day period in which an appeal can be filed that may delay the re-opening.
Pranska said he is not just planning to race cars, but will also work with youth and local organizations to make this a real part of the community.
Schindewolf said he has been contacted about interest in new automotive-related businesses that could move to Onondaga Township depending on the dragway.