The 2018 area racing season will go down in history as a trying, sometimes tragic, campaign.
Fatal accidents involving two drivers with strong local ties put a tremendous damper on the racing activities around the area.
Jason Johnson lost his life in a World of Outlaws crash during the summer months. Johnson’s crash happened far from our area, and it had been years since he was a local regular, but the accident still hit hard in these parts.
Johnson did spend a season racing here and often returned to the area. His Outlaw team still had some local sponsorship and his wife, Bobbie, is a local woman.
Then, in early fall, the accident at BAPS Motor Speedway that claimed the life of Spring Grove's Greg Hodnett really put a pall on the local racing season.
Hodnett spent nearly 20 years racing on the local circuit after relocating here from Memphis, Tennessee. Like Johnson, Hodnett’s wife, Sherry, is from the area.
Nature wouldn't cooperate: The local racing season had already been suffering before those tragedies continued the downward spiral. For some reason, the forces of nature just didn’t have much good for local racing this year. From start to finish, the local racing season was plagued by weather-related issues.
The season-opening Icebreaker 30 at Lincoln Speedway was rained out and the season started a week late. Port Royal Speedway saw its marquee Tuscarora 50 rained out on its scheduled date and then added it as part of the World of Outlaws' season-ending show. The event in late October was rained out again on the first two days, ran on the Sunday rain date, and saw rain fall again before even half the crowd was able to leave the fairgrounds.
In between, there was plenty of other rain playing havoc with the entire racing season.
Lincoln suffered nine weather-related postponements or cancellations, including a record seven in a row. The track also had several programs where rain forced a postponement midway through a program.
Williams Grove Speedway was in much the same boat. The Mechanicsburg area track had 12 weather-related postponements or cancellations, including three World of Outlaws shows. The Grove also had another postponement midway through a program as well.
While Port Royal managed to get in a number its programs during iffy weather, the Juniata County track still suffered eight weather-related postponements or cancellations, and of course that included several of its big events.
BAPS had a bigger schedule, with several multi-race weekends, but still lost 11 shows this year as well. Trailway Speedway lost five shows.
What this doesn’t take into account is the times when bad weather didn’t cause a postponement or cancellation, but still limited the crowds and the drivers on iffy weather nights.
Then there's the other side of the coin. When the weather did want to cooperate, it did so almost too well. The Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek is a good example. There were no weather-related issues during Speedweek, unless one wants to consider the excessive heat at the beginning of the week. For the first time in history, Speedweek went 10 straight nights without a postponement or cancellation.
EMMR Open House: The Eastern Museum of Motor Racing will host a holiday open house this weekend.
The EMMR is located on the restored Latimore Valley Fairgrounds just off Route 15 between Dillsburg and York Springs.
The open house will be held on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to all the great displays in the museum itself, there are activities planned for both days, including Drag Racing Saturday.
Sunday, retired sprint car star Keith Kauffman will be on hand for a round-table discussion, along with his wife Kathy.
It should be two great days.
YCRC Christmas party: The York County Racing Club will host its annual Christmas party on Sunday starting at noon.
The event is held at the club hall in Zions View. Dinner starts at noon, with the club providing the main course. Each family is asked to bring along a covered dish.
Following dinner there will be entertainment and then the guy in the red suit will arrive. Parents are reminded to bring along a gift for Santa to give their children.
YCRC banquet: The annual York County Racing Club Hall of Fame Banquet is fast approaching.
The banquet, which honors racing heroes from around the area, is set for Saturday Jan. 5, at Wyndham Garden York.
After a long search for a guest speaker, it appears Erin Crocker Evernham will fill the role this year. Crocker is a former sprint car driver who is now on the media side of things. She is also married to former NASCAR crew chief turned owner Ray Evernham.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.