After show is canceled, Selinsgrove Speedway issues statement disputing state 'narrative'
- The "Posse Unleashed" program at Selinsgrove Speedway wasn't held Saturday, May 9.
- The event was canceled by order of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.
- Selinsgrove Speedway is hoping to hold the same program on Saturday, May 16.
Selinsgrove Speedway isn't giving up on its attempt to hold a dirt-track racing show in May.
The Snyder County track planned to hold a 410 sprint-car show on Saturday night, May 9, without any fans. That was one day after Snyder County was moved to the yellow phase of the COVID-19 mitigation plan by the state of Pennsylvania.
It was scheduled to be the first central Pennsylvania auto racing program since March. Selinsgrove Speedway is located about 70 miles north of York. The show was billed as the "Posse Unleashed."
That planned program, however, was later scuttled by an order from the office of Gov. Tom Wolf. The speedway, however, has rescheduled that same program for Saturday, May 16.
Track response: The track then responded to Wolf's decision with a news release late Saturday night that said, in part:
"The speedway does stand in opposition to a public narrative put forward on May 8 by state officials that denies the fact that the oval ever received approval from the state to originally conduct the exciting event on May 9."
The news release went on to describe a timeline for the approval of the May 9 event. In the news release, the track said it received approval by Penn Township officials in Snyder County, State Police, Troop F, based in Selinsgrove, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and state representatives — provided best health and safety practices were employed.
Track officials then said on Wednesday, May 6, a phone call from the DCED informed the speedway that the Saturday, May 9, event could not take place because a section in the DCED FAQ section about disallowed events under the COVID-19 pandemic program had been changed to include “racetracks.” The section was “updated” and “revised” at 4:45 p.m., May 6, 2020, according to the news release.
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"(The updates) clearly indicate that a change was dictated to the DCED by another government entity," the news release asserts.
"It is without question that Selinsgrove Speedway email exchanges between, and conversations with government officials granted the track permission to proceed with the scheduled May 9 event. Of this fact, the track has no doubt nor was there ever any indication that it should have any doubt until the Wednesday afternoon phone call."
Pennsylvania State Representative David Rowe, a Republican serving Snyder and Union counties, reportedly supported that assertion during an interview with a local television station on May 8.
Track officials emphasized that it was not their intention to disparage local or state government officials.
"We would never consider impugning the integrity of those officials who worked with us in this effort," the release said.
Program now set for May 16: The “Posse Unleashed” program is now slated to take place 7 p.m. Saturday, May 16. The special 410 sprint program is set to be carried live on thecushion.com for a pay-per-view price of $24.95. The track said it would be the same program as scheduled for May 9, indicating that no fans will be allowed to attend.
The other dirt tracks in central Pennsylvania, such as Lincoln, Williams Grove, Trailway, BAPS, Grandview and Path Valley, are located in a part of the state that is still under the red phase of the recovery process. None of those tracks have raced since March.
Even if Selinsgrove had received state approval for the Saturday, May 9, program, it is not completely certain the race could've been held, given the brutal weather conditions in Selinsgrove that night. The temperatures dipped down into the high 20s with high winds.
The forecast for this coming Saturday, May 16, looks more promising, with a high that day expected in the mid-70s, with a low in the 50s.
Reach Steve Heiser at email@example.com.