Governor addresses dirt tracks that continue to operate in COVID-19 crisis

Dirt track racing continues in Pennsylvania despite requests from leaders

Update: Tracks cancel events

At a rapid rate, the United States is shutting down. The country follows the lead of overseas countries in locking down areas and entire industries.

We’re at a point where public gatherings are frowned upon by most of America.

The world is in a fight to stop the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). The highly contagious disease has seen a 4% death rate of those infected.

At the same time of the viral spread, dirt track racing season was set to begin. And all across the country, many of these tracks have put up resistance to shutting down due to rabid reactions from their fans.

Fans now have limited entertainment options. NASCAR, F1, MLB, NBA, NHL, PGA and just about the entire sports industry has shut down. Fans are eager to visit the dirt track and fill the void.

Government limits large groups

As local governments issue mandates limiting large groups, typically, the dirt tracks finally cancel the events, in most cases.

Last week, the state of Ohio issued mandates limiting larger groups. Shortly after, tracks like Atomic Speedway announced the cancellation of races.

Atomic Speedway stated, “Hundreds of hours put in during cold wet days for someone who doesn’t know what a dirt track even looks like to tell us we can’t open.”

The speedway added, “Why can’t people make their own choices? I’m sure a hefty fine would be issued if anyone in Ohio disobeys!PA has been racing for a couple weeks with packed stands!”

PA dirt tracks continue as usual

But, closure apparently won’t be the case in the state of Pennsylvania.

Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA) and Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA) both hosted races on Saturday. Additionally, Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA) held an event on Sunday.

With limited options, these tracks filled the stands with 1,000 of race fans.

The car counts at Lincoln Speedway and Port Royal Speedway were down last weekend from the weeks prior. Lincoln saw 24 sprint cars, the three weeks prior averages 30 entries. 33 sprint cars showed up at Port Royal when the previous week had 45.

“It doesn’t really scare me much, or obviously anybody else that’s here, but, I mean, yeah, it’s unfortunate what’s going on, but it’s just great to at least have something going on,” sprint driver Anthony Macri told York Dispatch. “I mean everything else is shut down, so it’s nice to get out of the house and at least do something.”

PA shutdown

Previously, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery country were on a shutdown order. Now, that has been extended throughout the state.

On Monday, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf ordered a statewide shutdown on non-essential businesses to fight the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“This isn’t a decision that I take lightly at all. I’m making it because medical experts believe it is the only way we can prevent our hospitals from being overwhelmed,” Tom Wolf clarified.

“Effective at midnight (Monday night), all non-essential stores are to close in Pennsylvania. All well as bars and restaurants, except for take-out.”

All 600 liquor stores in Pennsylvania are set to close at 9:00pm on Tuesday. Trash collection, grocery stores and medical facilities are to remain open.

“This has to be self-enforced. This is not your government mandating anything. This is your fellow public servants telling you the right why to handle this public health crisis.”

As of Monday, the state of Pennsylvania had 76 cases, adding 13 new ones in a single day. Also, as of Monday, the state has zero fatalities from the virus.

The guidelines in PA are expected to last for two weeks. However, they won’t be enforced…

Mike Marlar works around Scott Bloomquist at Pittsburgh's Pennsylvania Motor Speedway 1801
Mike Marlar works around Scott Bloomquist at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway 1801

Governor Tom Wolf addresses dirt track promoters directly as they continue to operate through shutdown

The promoters have said they will not cancel races unless forced to by the government. Will you force them to cancel?

“No, I’m not going to force them to cancel,” Tom Wolf responded to ABC27.

“This is something that all of us, 12.8 million Pennsylvanians, are in this together. We owe it to them, not to expose them to any symptoms that we might have. To not expose ourselves or our family members.”

“People will be making their decisions on what they do with their lives, all across the Commonwealth. For the next, days, weeks and months.”

“What we should do, is think not of, ‘What should we do?’ in terms of what the law is. What should we do in terms of what we owe our fellow citizens.”

“That’s what I would ask of the folks at the race course.”

David Gravel, Giovanni Scelzi and Anthony Macri at The Dirt Track at Charlotte - World of Outlaws Sprint Cars 0353
David Gravel, Giovanni Scelzi and Anthony Macri at The Dirt Track at Charlotte – World of Outlaws Sprint Cars 0353
White House guidelines limit public gatherings to just 10 people

Earlier in the day, the White House announced new guidelines from the CDC. The highlight of that press conference was a recommendation to limit gatherings to just 10 people.

Furthermore, the President and staff urged people to stay home all-together.

“Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of this virus,” President Trump said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases stated the guidelines will be reevaluated in 15 days.

“Some may look at them and say they’re going to be really inconvenient for people. Some will look and say, well, maybe we’ve gone a little bit too far? They were well thought out,” he said. “I’ll say it over and over again — when you’re dealing with an emerging infectious diseases outbreak, you are always behind where you think you are.”

Meaning, the spread is going to continue. There’s many more people infected who are unaware of it as it takes 4-5 days just to show symptoms in many cases.

Donald Trump suggested the virus outbreak could last until July or August. He made note that just depends on how serious Americans take the guidelines that are issued.

“If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation and we will defeat the virus and we’re going to have a big celebration all together,” Trump said at the White House.

Update: Tracks cancel

As of Tuesday, both Port Royal Speedway and Williams Grove Speedway have canceled events for this weekend.


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Williams Grove Speedway | Lincoln Speedway | Port Royal Speedway | CDC | White House