YORK, Pa. — It's hard to believe and hard to put into words what racing meant to Central Pa in 2020. Memorial Day marked the return to racing, one year later for area tracks. It was the first sport back people could have a sense of normalcy with everything going on with the current COVID-19 pandemic. With hopes of the ease of restrictions, right around the corner. There are still plenty of aftereffects.
Racing came to a halt in March of 2020. Tracks sat empty. Everything sat empty and after nearly two months of not racing at the beginning of the pandemic, Selinsgrove took the proper steps to get the okay to race from Governor Wolf's office. Then, to have that slip right through their fingers.
I year later, “we’re doing better," said Mike Heffner, Selinsgrove Speedway promoter. "We’re still not back to normal.”
Like a lot of businesses, Selinsgrove lost 30 percent in revenue because of the pandemic. But that’s not just a loss to the race track, t’s a hit the local fire department, EMS, fair board and vendors also had to endure. They are still feeling that hit, today.
“We’ve already noticed this year. Even though our attendance, we’re allowed more people. Our attendance is down and I can directly correlate that to the restrictions put on us by the pandemic. People have developed new habits," said Heffner.
Representative David Rowe says the revenue hit on businesses could have been avoided at the time if Governor Wolf consulted with the general assembly.
“The speedway provides critical funding for our local first responders," said Representative Rowe. "Anybody in rural Pennsylvania will tell you, fire companies have to be very creative with their revenue sources and how they raise money and this is one of those creative methods that the DHNL fire company uses to provide funding for themselves, so they are able, to not only, provide those lifesaving services, but also without being a burden on the tax payers.”
After Selinsgrove promotors fought for weeks, Lincoln Speedway was the first to get things rolling, once again in 2020, on Memorial Day.
“It was important for us to get up and racing again," said Scott Gobrecht, Lincoln Speedway co-owner. These facilities are big. A lot of up keep. A lot of people. We have sponsors and marketing partners that we made agreements with and we had to give a return on our investments. So, it was important that we opened back up. But, it had to be done when it was safe and it had to be done when it was right and when we did come out Memorial Day. I’ll never forget the lines we had. I never forget the excitement in the pits. The energy in the grandstands, you know, it’s just so cool to see our area come together.”
In 2020, racing was the first sport back both locally and nationally.
Eldora Dream: One drivers dream of racing at Eldora could come true with the help from you.
Brandon Little of Carlisle is one of eight drivers trying to win the Dirt Late Model Dream. It's an opportunity to race at Eldora. The track didn't have any races last year. Eldora is making up that race plus running this years race. Brandon lost his dad earlier this year and it was always his dad’s dream to race the big ones.
"It would be a huge honor. There isn't a bigger event for late models in the country. That is the biggest race. Being able to take dad's stuff there. Get his car on the biggest stage in the country and giving it a shot. It's what he would definitely want as his ultimate goal," said Brandon.
But he needs your help! Anyone has until May 31st at midnight to vote for Brandon.
You can vote for Brandon here.