SELINSGROVE — Selinsgrove Speedway’s general manager is holding out hope that a pay-per-view only 410 sprint car race which was to have been held this past weekend — but was given the red flag by the state — will be able to take place Saturday.
“There was a lot of excitement surrounding the return to racing,” Steve Inch, general manager, said. “It was a stellar field of cars that was going to be there. The response was overwhelming from the race teams.”
Sammy Swindell, Brian Montieth, Lance Dewease, Lucas Wolfe, Danny Dietrich, and Freddie and Brandon Rahmer were among the drivers signed up to compete.
According to a press release issued by the speedway, planning to host an event without fans in the grandstands started April 24 with an inquiry to Penn Township officials.
Next, the speedway spoke via phone with Pennsylvania State Police at Selinsgrove.
According to the speedway, the police granted approval to host an event as long as permission was also received from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED).
The speedway received DCED approval via email on May 4.
“We had some pretty strict guidelines in place for the race teams to follow, and they were all very receptive to that,” Inch said.
Everyone on premises was to be required to wear a mask, with the team’s transport trucks to be parked at least six feet apart.
“We retrofitted our pit area concession stand with a sneeze field,” Inch said. “We got masks, gloves, hand sanitizer ready so it would be there on speedway property.
“It was very important for us to do this right, to set examples, not only for us but other race tracks,” he continued. “We were full speed ahead getting the facility ready and making sure we had everything prepared to follow all the guidelines.”
Inch said it was a “huge disappointment” to receive a phone call Wednesday evening that the governor’s office had changed its guidelines and the event would not be permitted to be held.
“DCED called us and told us there was a change and that we would not be permitted to have the race,” Inch said. “They also contacted the state police with that order.”
Currently, he said the speedway is waiting to receive notification on whether it will receive a waiver to hold the race this Saturday.
“Ideally, I would like to have an answer by Wednesday evening or Thursday morning at the latest, to get a status report on what’s going to happen,” Inch said. “If we can’t run the race, we would certainly refund the race teams, all their entry fees.”
In addition, anyone who already signed up to view the race on thecushion.com will receive a refund if it isn’t held, Inch said.
He did praise the Pennsylvania State Police and Rep. David Rowe (R-85) for assistance provided throughout the last several weeks.
“The state police were great to work with,” Inch said. “They gave us recommendations and advice on handling the event.
“David was great to work with, made a lot of phone calls to Harrisburg on our behalf,” he continued. “He wants to see us get the track opened safely and responsibly.”
Inch noted that it’s crucial the state make a decision on whether to allow events to be held at the speedway without fans, until fans are permitted.
“For a lot of people in this industry, this is their livelihood,” Inch said. “A lot of people are anxious to get back to racing.
“We want to work hand-in-hand with the local and state authorities to reopen the track in a safe and responsible manner,” he added. “We are hoping for a positive outcome, and resolution that we can reach an agreement with all parties involved so we can get back to racing.”