After several months of speculation, it was officially announced Friday that Lincoln Speedway near Abbottstown will have new ownership starting with the 2019 racing season.
Co-owner Don Leiby is stepping down after 26 years at Lincoln, while his partner, Alan Kreitzer, will remain a part of the new team. Leiby and Kreitzer, along with Leiby’s late brother, Bob Leiby, took over ownership of the speedway for the 1993 racing season and have been there ever since. Lincoln Speedway has been in continuous operation since July 10, 1953.
Kreitzer will retain a partial ownership of the speedway with three new partners. All of the new principals in the ownership group are familiar to local race fans, and two of them have prior experience in speedway operation.
Current sprint car owners Jerry Parrish, Scott Gobrecht and Michael Heffner will join Kreitzer in Lincoln's ownership group.
Parrish is the only one among the new owners who does not have prior experience operating a speedway. He's best known as the owner of the sprint car driven by seven-time Lincoln champion Brian Montieth. Parrish operates Premier Auto Works, which is located just a stone’s throw from Lincoln in the area known as Cross Keys.
Gobrecht, of course, is a former driver and the brother of the late World of Outlaws racer Kevin Gobrecht. In recent years, Gobrecht has taken over ownership of the Central Pennsylvania Legends Series and BAPS (formerly Susquehanna) Speedway in northern York County. In addition, he owns the sprint car driven by Trey Starks. Gobrecht is a principal in the family-owned Golf Cart Services business located near New Oxford.
Heffner is the owner of the sprint car team that will see Ryan Smith at the wheel this season. The late Greg Hodnett drove for Heffner up until his death this past September after a racing accident at BAPS. Heffner is a partner with Kreitzer and Steve Inch in the operation of Selinsgrove Speedway. He is also a principal in the Internet-based Lelands.com.
The new ownership team has already held a meeting with speedway employees and has indicated that not much will change in the operation of the speedway. Parrish will handle day-to-day operation of the speedway, with Kreitzer serving in an advisory role. Gobrecht will presumably divide his time between Lincoln and BAPS, while Heffner will probably still spend most of his Saturdays at Selinsgrove.
Smith among Hall of Famers: The National Sprint Car Hall of Fame and Museum used the Chili Bowl week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, to make some announcements.
Hall of Fame inductees for 2019 will include drivers Stevie Smith, Jason Johnson, Richard Griffin, and in the deep past category, Bill Endicott.
Smith, of course, is a product of the local racing circuit. He's won more than 200 sprint car features.
Johnson, who was fatally injured last season, also spent some time on the local circuit and is a winner here.
Griffin, a wingless racer from the West Coast, won a race at Lincoln a while back during a visit by one of the West Coast wingless groups.
In the owner/mechanic category, M.A. Brown, who owned the No. 44 car that visited locally on several occasions with Sammy Swindell at the wheel, and C.K. Spurlock, a car owner who founded the Gambler Chassis Company and once employed local racer Dub May as his driver, are the inductees.
Original museum director Tom Schmeh and videographer Greg Stephens are the other inductees. Both have visited the area on numerous occasions.
Schatz earns honors: The Hall of Fame also released the results of the 2018 National Sprint Car Poll and its various awards.
It will come as no surprise that driver Donny Schatz and his Tony Stewart Racing team won top driver and team honors.
Following Schatz in the top five in the poll were Brad Sweet, David Gravel, Daryn Pittman and Arron Reutzel.
Hodnett was ranked sixth and also was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Sport Award.
Seventh through 10th were Tim Shaffer, Hanover’s Logan Schuchart, Carson Macedo, and Lance Dewease. Lucas Wolfe was ranked 14th and Freddie Rahmer was 18th.
Other awards announced included Port Royal promoter Steve O’Neal as Promoter of the Year. Kyle Larson, ranked 15th, was named the Wild Card for exciting sprint car performances.
Texas driver Sam Hafertepe Jr. was ranked at the top of the 360 sprint car poll. Local racers getting rankings included Mark Smith in fourth, URC champion Josh Weller tied for 10th, Davie Franek in 13th and Curt Michael in 18th.
Bell takes Chili Bowl: Rising NASCAR star Christopher Bell, who competed in part of last year’s Pennsylvania Speedweek, won his third consecutive Chili Bowl midget race in Tulsa Saturday.
Bell defeated fellow NASCAR star Kyle Larson for the win. Justin Grant , Brady Bacon and Zach Daum completed the top five.
Atlantic City: The Gambler’s Classic will reel off this weekend in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall.
The three-quarter midgets take center stage, with slingshots and champ karts also competing.
The Gambler’s Classic runs Friday and Saturday evenings.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.