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Pennsylvania officials miss out on an opportunity by shutting down Selinsgrove Speedway

Brent Smith Photography

There is no need for four-letter expletives or name calling. Getting emotional serves no purpose in times like this.

Taking such a tact turns people off, and they shut down. Conversation turns to debate and then to an argument, and the original problem never seems to get rectified or morphs into another.

So, I’m not going to cuss out Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf or his office for shutting down Selinsgrove Speedway the last two weekends. But that also doesn’t mean I agree with the decision or that state officials didn’t miss out on an opportunity.

My belief is that Selinsgrove Speedway should have been able to move forward with its planned race night. The reason has nothing to do with desire or Constitutional rights. It’s more about the Snyder County Speedway being used as a test model for the gathering of important information.

When faced with a problem, you need to start the process of finding a solution. It starts with formulating a plan and continues with putting it in motion. Then, you have to execute and evaluate before changes can be made moving forward. It’s a standard equation that is used in everyday life.

Promoters Mike Heffner, Alan Kreitzer, and Steve Inch tried to open in the right way. They asked for permission from the Department of Community and Economic Development and got the ‘OK.’

But that wasn’t enough to the management team. They took it a step further and, in what I thought was a brilliant move, coordinated with the state police to hold the event in a safe manor.

Everything was falling into place for last Saturday’s season opener. That changed when the Governor’s office stepped in and shut down the 410-only show. The office doubled down this week and announced that the postponement date of this Saturday was also going to be a ‘No go.’

It was Lucy holding the football and yanking it away from Charlie Brown. And like the Peanuts character, Selinsgrove landed flat on its back due to a bad decision and lost opportunity for the Pennsylvania brass.

State officials could have overseen the event. No fans were allowed to attend, and social distancing was going to be practiced by teams. So, approximately 200 people were going to be on the grounds with masks and other safety precautions in place.

It would have been the perfect chance to test the management of such an event. The state could have taken notes as to what worked and what didn’t. Those notes could have, in turn, been used for other tracks, sporting events, and/or gatherings when counties are gradually opened for business. Besides, it’s better than opening six to eight things at once and having 1,600 people rolling the dice.

More important for the racing community, Heffner and Co. could have taken the good and bad from the event to the rest of the Pennsylvania tracks with state officials alongside giving advice.

I understand the state’s concern over having more than 25 people together in one place per the yellow phase. Still, officials could have used a form of Contract Tracing initiative in which names and numbers were taken and follow-up calls made to determine any spread of the Coronavirus that might have taken place.

Talking to Heffner, he was all for any regulations or oversight. His main objective was to get Sprint Car racing moving again and if that meant the state looking over his back like a parent overseeing homework, so be it.

Fans, on the other hand, were just thirsting for some sense of normalcy. So, when the governor stepped in and shut Selinsgrove down — twice — race fans went into orbit and showed their displeasure on social media.

I don’t blame them. The decision was much like showing a man wandering in the desert a glass of water and pouring it out at his feet.

But there is a bigger picture here. The state missed out on a huge opportunity to use Selinsgrove Speedway as a guinea pig to gather information that could be used in what looks like a bleak immediate future.

In doing so, they also lost the chance to pass out some good will. And this possible win-win turned into another loss.

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Contact Jeremy Elliott at 1-717-805-0483
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Darla

    May 13, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    Very good article and this was a perfect time to see what worked and what didn’t.

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