Police shut down Atco Dragway car show over crowd size
WATERFORD — Entry into a car show at the Atco Dragway was shut down by police on Sunday but the owner of the track says the advance ticket sales were under the capacity allowed under Gov. Phil Murphy's executive order.
Jackson Road in the Atco section of Waterford was blocked between Route 73 and Atsion Road in Shamong for several hours. The road was reopened at 7 p.m.
Dragway owner Len Capone told New Jersey 101.5 that the regular capacity in the grandstands is 10,000. The executive order allows 30% capacity for outdoor venues, giving the dragway a 3,000 seat capacity. Capone said 2,500 tickets had been sold online for the event.
"At about 10 o'clock in the morning the police came in. They were directing the traffic from what we were doing. At 10:30 they shut us down. They got a call from the Prosecutor's Office, somebody got the State Police involved somehow and they said after flying the state trooper's helicopter over us a couple times said we were over our capacity, which we weren't because we have to count everyone that comes in and we had 1,114," Capone said.
He was on the phone with police but the order remained to block the road and not allow anyone onto the property.
"At one point we thought we were going to have to shut the whole place down but it never came down to that," Capone said.
There were two other events at the dragway, which could have contributed to the crowd size: a motorcycle points day and a Test 'n Tune day, which had sold tickets at the gate.
Blocking the road resulted in traffic problems around the track, including Route 73. Many who were not allowed into the track decided to tailgate in the parking lots of surrounding businesses, according to 6 ABC Action News.
Capone said that the track has had other events this year and held the same car show last April.
State Police referred a question about the event to Waterford police. The department and the Camden County Prosecutor's Office did not immediately return messages on Monday morning.
Elite Tuner, the promoter of the car show, said on their Facebook page that all spectator tickets not checked in will automatically be refunded through TheFoat.com. All car show registrations not checked in will receive rainchecks for a future event.
Raceway Park in Englishtown held their Spring Swap Meet and Auto Show over the weekend without a problem, Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden told New Jersey 101.5.