Saturday's Lincoln Speedway program faces 'appropriate enforcement action'
- Sprint car racing returned to central Pennsylvania on Monday.
- Fans were allowed to attend a race at Lincoln Speedway near Abbottstown.
- More events are scheduled for this weekend at multiple venues.
- Lincoln, however, faces "approrpiate enforcement action" if it races Saturday.
For more than two months, central Pennsylvania sprint-car drivers and fans have longed for a chance to return to the regional dirt tracks.
That opportunity finally arrived at Lincoln Speedway this past Monday, when the venue played host to nearly 50 drivers and allowed a limited number of fans to attend.
The program, however, lacked the stamp of approval from the state and one Adams County official is now warning that future programs could face "appropriate enforcement action."
Lincoln is located near Abbottstown in Adams County and is about 15 miles west of York. Adams County moved into the yellow phase of Gov. Tom Wolf’s reopening plan last Friday, but did not have the state OK to hold an event with a group of more than 25 people.
Adams County District Attorney Brian Sinnett said he was aware of the event and it is his understanding that the Pennsylvania State Police have been in communication with the owner/operator of the track and has advised that having fans in attendance violated state orders.
Lincoln Speedway, however, has already announced it will host another sprint racing program this coming Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with a limited crowd.
That event has Sinnett’s attention.
"No citations will be filed for the event that occurred yesterday (Monday)," Sinnett wrote in an email on Tuesday. "However, the State Police, together with this office, will monitor the circumstances should future races occur and appropriate enforcement action will take place."
Lincoln officials could not be reached for comment, but the track did post the following message on its Twitter account (@LincolnSpeedway) this past Tuesday: "From all of us at Lincoln Speedway, THANK YOU to everyone that made yesterday (Monday) a HUGE success! Thank you to all of the drivers & race teams, to all of the fans for attending and to all of the track officials and employees! We look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday!"
Additionally, in a news release on Tuesday, Lincoln officials said they followed governmental guidelines for social distancing during Monday's program. Fans in the grandstands were seated by security and every other row was taped off. Hand sanitizing stations were placed throughout the venue and the infield viewing area was expanded to allow fans to spread out and social distance. Masks were encouraged but not required. In addition, fans were required to sign a waiver verifying they knew the risks they were taking by attending an event during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mastriano speaks: State senator Doug Mastriano represents Adams County and was part of the effort to put the Lincoln event on. He spoke before the Monday race program began about a statement from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, which said the event should not be held.
“On Friday, we got a message from the governor’s office — ‘you better not race,’” Mastriano said to the crowd. “Here we are. If we’re a free people, we need to walk as free people.”
While Gov. Wolf may not have appreciated Mastriano’s message or the track’s defiance of the state’s COVID-19 guidance, the fans in attendance obviously held an opposing view. Racing fan Rich Watts, known as MrAddicted2Dirt on Twitter, spoke for many who expressed their views on social media. Watts was emotional when he heard the engines roar for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic paused the sports world.
“Not gonna lie, I got goosebumps and welled up a bit at the first sound of motors in PA since March 15th,” Watts said in a Twitter post during the event. “The people needed this. Thank you Lincoln Speedway.”
New Freedom driver Robbie Kendall took part in the race, his second event since dirt-racing racing resumed in May. Kendall also appeared in an World of Outlaws event earlier this month in Iowa.
Before the race’s start on Monday, Kendall didn’t expect the Lincoln program to happen after two potential programs at Selinsgrove Speedway were called off earlier in May after failing to get state approval.
“I was actually surprised it went off to be honest,” Kendall said. “I didn’t think it would happen. I figured the cops would come in there and shut it down, but they didn’t even show up, as far as I saw, and it actually shocked me that it went off.”
In addition to Lincoln’s event on Saturday, Selinsgrove Speedway now plans to host a pair of racing programs this coming Friday (featuring the sprint cars) and Saturday (featuring late models). Selinsgrove is located in Snyder County, about 70 miles north of York. Snyder County moves into the green phase this coming Friday.
Baps Motor Speedway, located in northern York County, also has announced it plans to host a show this coming Saturday evening. The BAPS show will feature the super sportsmen, late models, street stocks and extreme stocks. York County, like Adams County, remains in the yellow phase.
All three tracks (Lincoln, Selinsgrove and BAPS) will be open to at least some fans, but fans will be encouraged to employ social distancing, wear masks and abide by other guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. Fans must also sign waivers similar to the ones that Lincoln issued this past Monday.
While he wasn’t pleased with his No. 14 finish in the Lincoln race, Kendall was excited to get back to having fans at the track for races. Kendall plans to take part in the events this coming weekend at Selinsgrove on Friday and at Lincoln on Saturday.
“It was nice to have fans finally back at the race track,” Kendall said. “They give awesome energy for us drivers, so it’s always a pleasure to have that (energy).”
Reach Rob Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org.