HERMON – The wait for local stock car racers is about to come to an end as Speedway 95 will join Oxford Plains Speedway in a return to racing in the next ten days.
The Speedway 95 bleachers are still sitting empty beyond a track that hasn’t held a race since 2019; but in less than ten days the flag will drop on the 2020 season, without fans watching on. “It’s going to be a little tough, I don’t quite understand it, I mean we’re outdoors and got seating for three thousand people, you’d think we’d be able to have at least ten percent but so be it, we’re just glad to be up and running,” said Speedway 95 owner Del Merritt.
Drivers and their crew will be the first to return to Speedway 95 as it kicks off the summer with a final practice day on June 27 before the first Wacky Wednesday racing night on July 1. Merritt said Saturday he is working to install hand sanitizing stations, and institute social distancing measures by spacing out pit stalls and asking drivers and crew to enter at one time. “Hopefully, drivers will respect that distancing and go by it, we’re looking forward to getting going,” said Merritt.
Some would say a lack of fans takes the soul out of the track. A race with no crowd also guts the Speedway bottom line. Merritt says ticket sales cover the overhead costs to run the track, and help fund the purse for races. That loss, coupled with an unsure situation with the track’s sponsors, will make the early season operations difficult. “I didn’t know, [considering] we’ve lost two-fifths of the season, rather they’d be willing to pay for the three-fifths moving forward, I’ll have to talk to my sponsors,” said Merritt.
Passionate Speedway fans voiced their displeasure with the closed races when the announcement was made Friday evening on social media, but Merritt said he won’t defy state restrictions on crowd sizes and open his grandstand. “I’d like to have said to hell with the whole thing and just opened it up and see what they’d have done but…I don’t want to cause anyone to get sick,” said Merritt.