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Mark R. Scarborough, president of Spectrum Motor Sports Group, said last week the firm will decide by winter whether it will locate a proposed $100 million auto-racing complex in Genesee County, Niagara County or Washington state.

Scarborough said an engineering firm is analyzing three sites in Genesee County, and had looked at three locations in Niagara County. He would not identify any of the sites, although he did say two of the Genesee County sites are north of the Thruway.

He said Spectrum also is interested in a location in Washington, east of the Cascade Mountains. Earlier this year, Scarborough had hinted that the western United States was in the running for the project. He praised superior availability of information and a better business environment in that area, but this was the first time he has mentioned a specific state.

Because of the company's construction timetables, "We have to make a decision by winter," Scarborough said. "Actual construction will take about a year, but permits, zoning and infrastructure are very time-consuming."

Leaders of the industrial development agencies in Niagara and Genesee counties say they haven't heard from Scarborough in months.

"This office hasn't had any contact in two to three months, maybe longer," said John C. Dwyer, director of the Genesee County agency.

The same report came from John R. Simon, executive director of the Niagara County agency.

"If they (Spectrum) have the money to support it, we're willing to help," Simon said. "They have to get back to us and demonstrate their financial wherewithal, and they haven't done that yet."

Dwyer said the Genesee County agency was "just a facilitator, getting him in touch with the right parties. We would not come into the picture until much later."

Neither county has received a formal application from Spectrum for financial assistance.

The company plans to construct a one-mile oval race track, a quarter-mile drag strip and a 3.5-mile road racing course, along with a hotel, garages and other racing technical facilities on about 1,800 acres of preferably wooded land to muffle noise and make the scene more attractive.

Scarborough said Spectrum eventually wants to hold races sanctioned by the major auto racing groups. "With the tracks we'll have, we can run races from any sanctioning body," he said.

Scarborough said his investor group, which he never has identified, remains intact.

He said the Rochester engineering firm of Erdman Anthony has been hired to analyze the suitability of the local sites. He said one primary site will be chosen in Niagara County and one in Genesee County. He declined to say whether either county has the lead.

"You have to put it where it will do the best," Scarborough said, and he added that doing the best financially isn't the only consideration. He said "getting people in and out" was also a key.

Genesee County, with the mainline Thruway running through its heart, would seem to have the edge there.

But "Niagara County has hotels and restaurants that Genesee County doesn't," Scarborough added.

The project originally was proposed for Barre in Orleans County in the summer of 1998, but it fell through.

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