Adams County DA now says Lincoln Speedway won't face criminal enforcement

  • Lincoln Speedway won't face criminal enforcement for holding races with fans.
  • The Adams County district attorney revealed his decision Tuesday.
  • Lincoln and other central Pa. tracks have more races planned for this weekend.
Brian Sinnett

Lincoln Speedway officials can now hold their own victory lane celebration.

The speedway played host to racing events the past two weekends, despite orders from Gov. Tom Wolf's administration to cancel those programs. The track also received a warning last week from Adams County District Attorney Brian Sinnett that enforcement action could take place if future races were held.

Tuesday, however, Sinnett reversed course when he said that Lincoln Speedway would not face any charges or fines for holding races open to limited fans. Sinnett made the decision despite the fact that the Abbottstown-area track is still in the yellow phase of Wolf’s COVID-19 reopening plan, which doesn’t allow events with more than 25 people.

“After review and consultation with the Pennsylvania State Police, I have determined that criminal enforcement of the Governor’s order is not warranted under these circumstances,” Sinnett said in an email Tuesday.

Sinnett did not elaborate further on his decision and attempts to elicit more reaction from the DA were not immediately successful.

A drone shot of Lincoln Speedway shows the fans in the stands and on the track during a sprint car event on May 25.

Lincoln held its first race since the COVID-19 pandemic started on Monday, May 25, with nearly 50 drivers and allowed limited fans to attend. Spectators were seated in every other row, the infield area was expanded and those in attendance were required to sign a waiver verifying that they were aware of the risks of attending the event during the COVID-19 pandemic. Masks were encouraged but not required. 

Lincoln raced that day despite the following statement from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development issued to the The York Dispatch on Sunday, May 24:

"Lincoln Speedway should not host this event on Monday (May 25). Per the governor’s phased reopening plan, for counties like Adams that are in the yellow phase, groups of more than 25 are prohibited, as is entertainment, as well as professional sports without an approved plan from the Department of Health. DCED was not informed of their plans, and is not an enforcement agency. Therefore, the agency will not have a presence at the race if it resumes. Local law enforcement would have jurisdiction over enforcement."

During that May 25 race, Lincoln announced it would host another event on Saturday, May 30. Last week, Sinnett said that he would not take any action against the track for the May 25 event, but would monitor future races being held.

Saturday's Lincoln Speedway program faces 'appropriate enforcement action'

"No citations will be filed for the event that occurred yesterday (May 25)," Sinnett wrote in an email on May 26. "However, the State Police, together with this office, will monitor the circumstances should future races occur and appropriate enforcement action will take place."

Although Sinnett warned that the track could face charges or fines, Lincoln held the race on May 30 without incident, with limited fans and the same precautionary measures. Lincoln has since announced it will hold another racing program featuring the 410 and 358 sprints on Saturday, June 6.

Two fans pose with a sign that describes the race at Lincoln Speedway on May 25 as "The people's grand re-opening of Adams County, Pa."

More races scheduled: In addition to Lincoln, other central Pennsylvania tracks are continuing to hold races.

Selinsgrove Speedway, which is located in Snyder County and entered the green phase of Wolf’s reopening plan this past Friday, held races this past Saturday and Sunday, May 30 and May 31.

BAPS Motor Speedway, located in northern York County, held a program featuring the super sportsmen, late models, street stocks and extreme stocks this past Saturday, May 30, as well.

BAPS plans to host a 410 sprint program this Thursday, June 4, and a show featuring the modifieds, late models and legends on Saturday, June 6. Selinsgrove will hold a 410 sprint race on Friday, June 5, and a 360 sprint show on Saturday, June 6.

York County District Attorney Dave Sunday did not respond to requests about BAPS’ ability to continue to hold races with limited fans while in the yellow phase of the recovery program. 

Sunday, however, had previously said that his office would not prosecute alleged violations against nonessential businesses that open early during the pandemic.

All three venues (Lincoln, Selinsgrove and BAPS) will continue to allow limited spectators and require COVID-19 waivers from those in attendance this coming weekend.

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