Officials hosting this year’s Vintage Triumph Register have withdrawn a request to use Pilot Mountain State Park for a “hill climbing” event after outcry from environmental groups were reported in the media.
The issue began about a year ago when Shelton Vineyards owners Ed and Charlie Shelton approached park officials for permission to close down the winding 2.5 mile entrance to Pilot Knob to allow members of the Vintage Triumph Register car club to hold the event.
The vineyard will host the Vintage Triumph Register National Convention from Sept. 9 through Sept. 14.
“We spoke with the park superintendent and he assured us that the entire park could be rented for special events,” said Ed Shelton of Shelton Vineyards, the host for the event.
Shelton said ultimately park officials said the park could be rented for around $1,300.
A state law that mandates a maximum speed limits of 25 miles per hour in the park meant he would have to approach legislators in Raleigh to have the law changed.
“We asked the superintendent (of the park) if he had any problem if we talked to some people in Raleigh about he speed limit being raised to 45 miles per hour during the limited time of the … hill climb,” Shelton said. “He did not object to our comments.”
Shelton then approached Rep. Sarah Stevens, who agreed to include a couple of paragraphs in a 50-plus page bill known as the “technical corrections” bill. The language has been included in Senate Bill 38, which is known as the “amend environmental laws” bill.
It was a move that has rankled leaders of the North Carolina Sierra Club, who said it set a dangerous precedent in the state.
“If this legislation passes, it would be a precedent-setting permit that would open the door in all of North Carolina’s state parks and forests for exclusive use of the main attraction by private interests,” said State Director Molly Diggins.
Shelton said once word of the request to change the law for the event made the media, some of which suggested impropriety and back-door politics, he changed his mind about renting the park.
“In the last few days issues have been raised concerning the limited closing of the park and the lmited increase of the speed limit in the park, and also our efforts on behalf of the Triumph group have been questioned,” he said. “Due to the reaction to the information stated above, the Vintage Triump Register has asked us to withdraw the request to use Pilot Mountain Park.”
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-415-4698 or via Twitter @strangereporter.