Last weekend, three local dirt tracks were among only five speedways across the nation to host racing events.
Some may question the judgment of officials at Lincoln, Williams Grove and Port Royal speedways, but the local tracks were living up to long-standing historical precedents in this area.
Through several crisis situations in the past, local speedways have persevered to give local folks something to take their minds off their troubles during tough times.
It dates back all the way to World War II. When the United States entered that global conflict in late 1941, rumors persisted that auto racing would be banned. While many race tracks across the nation closed their gates, tracks in the area remained open until an actual racing ban was set in place.
Williams Grove Speedway, which raced this past Sunday, was one of the last tracks in the nation to host a race as the war advanced in 1942. Williams Grove hosted two races that year. The first on May 3 and the second and last a week later on May 10. Ted Horn won the first and Bill Holland captured the second.
Williams Grove also hosted the first race following the conclusion of World War II. Horn also won that one held on Sept. 30, 1945.
When Hurricane Agnes ravaged the area in 1972, again local race tracks kept going in the face of adversity. In fact, Lincoln Speedway, which raced on Saturday, actually raced the weekend the storm abated and never missed a weekend of racing. The race at Lincoln that weekend was held one day late, on Sunday afternoon, June 25. Kenny Weld won that race.
There were tracks that didn’t race during the Agnes disaster, and in fact some missed several weeks of racing after they were left under the storm waters. Still racing did continue.
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At the end of that decade, the local tracks again weathered a disaster when the meltdown happened at Three Mile Island. Again, the racing went on without interruption.
So, the local tracks continuing to race is nothing new in troubling times.
Fans, drivers happy to see racing: I personally witnessed a number of people taking the time last weekend to stop at the track offices and thank the management for holding the races.
A number of traveling racers also ventured into the area and thanked management for racing. Most every driver who won a race last weekend thanked the crowds for coming out, and the race tracks for letting the competition to continue.
For many in the sport, auto racing is their livelihood, and if no tracks raced they would be left with no income. For many others, it's just a chance to escape the constant strain of yet another crisis.
Will racing continue?: Of course, with Gov. Tom Wolf's edict on Monday shuttering all nonessential businesses in the state for two weeks starting at midnight Tuesday, there was an assumption that there wouldn't be any dirt-track racing action for a while. After all, it would seem that auto racing isn't exactly essential.
When later questioned on the issue, however, Wolf seemed to backtrack and said he would not force tracks to cancel. He did say he'd like the tracks to think of the greater good of public health, rather than of a law mandating them to close.
The 2020 local dirt-track season was set to swing into full action this coming weekend.
In addition, this Wednesday’s planned general membership meeting of the York County Racing Club has been canceled.
Notes from last weekend: The area has yet to see a repeat 410 sprint winner this year.
Lincoln has raced four times with four winners. Port Royal has raced twice and its two winners were different from Lincoln’s winners. Then the Williams Grove winner was yet another driver.
So far, Danny Dietrich, Dylan Cisney, Brandon Rahmer and Alan Krimes have won at Lincoln. Cory Eliason and Lance Dewease have won at the Port. And Carson Macedo won at the Grove.
There is only one driver who has finished in the top 10 in every race it was possible to attend. (Last Saturday it was not possible to race at Lincoln and Port Royal). The thing is, that driver hasn’t won a race yet this year. Freddie Rahmer has all top-10 finishes, but not a victory. He has finishes of second, third, fourth, sixth, sixth and seventh.
On a related note, Freddie and his brother, Brandon Rahmer, have finished in back-to -back positions in every race run at Lincoln this year. While Brandon has only raced at Lincoln, he has all top-10 finishes in the races he has run this year.
Carson Macedo’s win at Williams Grove was his first ever there, but not his first in the area. Macedo won an All Star race at Lincoln two years ago. He also won several races in Australia this past winter.
Like Cory Eliason, who won the opener at Port Royal, Macedo is a California native. So the area’s winners this year consist of five Pennsylvania boys and two California natives.
You can add in that the Legends series winner at Lincoln Saturday came from North Carolina to race last weekend. Joe Ryan Osborne is a top runner in asphalt Legends competition near his Mooresville home. His visit to Lincoln last week was only his second time racing on dirt.
Bryan Householder writes about dirt-track racing for The York Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com.
CHAMPION RACING OIL
CENTRAL PENNSYLVANIA SPRINT CAR SERIES
Presented by Hoseheads.com
(Wins in parenthesis)
1. Danny Dietrich (1) 175
2. Freddie Rahmer 147
3. Brandon Rahmer (1) 118
4. Lance Dewease (1) 105
5. Alan Krimes (1) 80
6. Brent Marks 74
7. Logan Wagner 65
8. Brian Montieth 64
9. Brock Zearfoss 63
10. Dylan Cisney (1) 62