Mixed signals coming from Pa. government

A 410 sprint car makes its way around the Selinsgrove Speedway during time trials last season during Pennsylvania Speedweek. Selinsgrove Speedway’s 410 sprint car race scheduled for tonight was cancelled by the state.

Tonight’s scheduled pay-per-view, no-fans sprint car race at Selinsgrove Speedway has been postponed indefinitely as speedway officials await a response from the state government.

Track General Manager Steve Inch said he had not heard back from state officials as of noon Friday, and he had to inform teams who were planning to compete in the 410-model race to allow for travel time.

“We’re going to treat it as a postponement until May 16 to give state representatives more time to work on it this coming week,” Inch said. “See if they can get the governor’s order reversed. They weren’t getting any response back as of noon, and we had to let the teams know the status of the race.”

According to State Rep. David Rowe, the Speedway got written permission from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) on Monday to hold the race, before receiving a call on Wednesday night.

Inch said speedway officials were contacted by the DCED about calling off the race, which was scheduled to be aired on pay-per-view and run with no fans in the stands.

Track officials said State Reps. Rowe and Barb Gleim worked with track officials Thursday and Friday to save the event.

“They were told in the phone call that the DCED changed the guidelines, but when I called the governor’s office on Thursday, I was told no guidelines had been changed,” Rowe said Friday evening. “I’m not really sure where the miscommunication comes in.”

Late in the day on Friday, according to published reports, the governor’s office released a statement that stated race tracks in Pennsylvania are considered entertainment, and they won’t be allowed to open while the counties are in the red or yellow phase of reopening from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rowe’s concern goes beyond the Selinsgrove economy to the stability of the DH&L Fire Company, which receives most of the proceeds from the speedway.

“Not only is the speedway a beloved community staple, but it’s a staple of revenue for DH&L,” Rowe said. “If they aren’t allowed to race ... the fire company is out that revenue.

“I really don’t think the governor’s office intended to bankrupt a small, rural fire company, but that’s what will happen if the speedway can’t race.”

Sports reporter Todd Hummel contributed to this story.

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