Mahoning Valley Speedway racers where back on track for first time in two months
For the first time since state and federal regulations put a halt to all motorsports activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, racers participated in an official practice session at Lehighton’s Mahoning Valley Speedway.
It was March 14 when the track first opened for the 2020 season but immediately afterwards Mahoning Valley, just like all other speedways, where forced to cease operations due the outbreak.
With Carbon County going into the yellow phase of Governor Tom Wolf’s re-opening plan, the speedway was able to hold Saturday’s practice under the recommended guidelines.
Nearly 50 cars took advantage of a sun-splashed afternoon which went off smoothly. All regular track classes where nicely represented as well as several others from various touring groups.
Although the main spectator grandstands where closed to the general public, the sounds and sights of race cars for those allowed in the pits was a welcoming scene.
“We’re very pleased of the turnout today and the chance to get racecars back on track,” said speedway owner Jack Carlino.
“The support we got during the shutdown has been very encouraging to us and we are looking forward to getting back to the business of racing and today showed that.”
And for many it was a time capsule of sorts when for the first time in 13 years five-time Modified track champion Rod Snyder Jr., took his first laps in his much ballyhooed return to action at the paved ¼-mile oval. Snyder didn’t miss a beat either with both quick and efficient laps each time out.
Lou Strohl debuted a tribute No. 85 in honor of his late grandfather, Marvin Bartholomew who will be among the honorees in the Mahoning Valley Speedway Hall of Fame Series (MVSHoFS).
Reigning Modified track champ Bobby Jones, Austin Kochenash. BJ Wambold and newcomer Sean Verwys all laid down respectable laps as well.
The Sportsman Modifieds are showing great promise this season which was evident by the sharp looking mounts and fast times by those of Louie Horvath, Paul French and Brian Rygielski. Many more are expected once the season begins in earnest.
The Late Models saw some returning and new faces giving the indication of a very positive outlook for the long standing class.
Not surprising was the always competitive Street Stocks and those on hand revealed some great looking mounts while flashing some highly spirited runs to indicate that once again the class will be full of excitement.
The Pro 4 division had light numbers but those who did take in the practice proved very creditable.
Not surprising was the contingent of Hobby Stocks and Rookie Hobby Stocks which were in full force. All signs are leading to a season high of expectations, especially from the Rookie class where many novices looked to gain valuable track time in the newly conceived division aimed at nurturing young talent.
The speedway will be back in action next Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7 from noon to 4:00 pm with the resumption of Test and Tune.
With the MVSHoFS and the season opener being race #1 of the unique five event series, drivers from the Modified, Street Stock and Hobby Stock classes, whom will be comprising the Series, will use the Test and Tune days to assure one select driver from each of the aforementioned classes a guaranteed pick for the feature redraw.
Across all three Test and Tune days the overall fastest car will be awarded the ‘pick spot’ for Opening Night redraw and have the bonus of not having to run in heats.
On the March 14 Test and Tune it was Jones, Brandon Christman and Jesse Bollinger setting the fast times in the Modifieds, Street Stocks and Hobby Stocks respectively.
The speedway has plans to start the season by mid-June.
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