Saxton: No better entertainment than a night at the races

So the weekend is approaching and you are trying to come up with something to do that will be enjoyable for the family. Maybe you can come up with something new, something different and something that is exciting.

May I suggest a night at the local short track speedway?

Recently a reader asked if he should head out to the auto races. He had heard about them and he had read this column a couple of times. I gave him some good reasons and that made me think. Why not share those thoughts with our readers?

Back in 1955, it seems a long time ago, I talked my stepfather into driving me to the Reading Fairgrounds to see a stock car race. My stepfather was not really into sports of any kind but I worked out some kind of deal that had me doing some yard work in return for him driving me from Bristol to Reading.

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My cousin was an ardent racing fan and had been telling me about the races. There were several tracks that we could go to but I had heard so much about the exciting racing at Reading that was where we headed. I was so happy to get there and see all the excitement. I saw one of the great racers of that time, Freddy Adam, flip as high as a light post in the first turn. He was not injured but that excitement made we want to go again, and again. This was great action for a 13-year-old to enjoy.

I have been involved ever since in a variety of capacities including announcer.

But let’s get back to why you should go. There are so many tracks in the area including Grandview Speedway in Bechtelsville, Bridgeport (N.J.) Speedway, Big Diamond Raceway near Pottsville, Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton, Action Track USA in Kutztown, Shellhammers Speedway in Shoemakersville and the list goes on. Not long ago I read in the National Speedway Directory a listing of more than 1,000 tracks around the nation, that there were more than 50 tracks operating in the Keystone State and just across the border in New Jersey there are 9 racing facilities.

There are so many different types of racing.

Try a few of them, pick out your favorite, get some opinions from others. You will come across sprints, modifieds, late models, midgets and more.

What is great for families heading out to the weekly short track is that the cost to attend is very reasonable. Most tracks charge less for a ticket than you would pay for parking at many sporting events. At most tracks kids under 12 are admitted free for regular events. The price of admission will increase for special events but those prices do not get out of control. Only minor league baseball has admission prices that compare to weekly auto racing events.

And just about every area speedway that I am aware of offers free parking.

All the tracks offer a great view of on track action. I am not aware of any tracks that have obstructed views so you and the family get to see all the action and there is plenty of action to see.

And most tracks will allow you to bring your own food and refreshments. If you don’t want to do that tracks offer a variety of concessions at reasonable prices. And souvenirs, t-shirts and hats plus more, are all reasonably priced.

A program book will come in handy so that you can keep tabs of what is going on and allows you to keep track of the lineups that the usually well informed announcer will be providing. And most announcers do a good job of keeping you current on what is happening so that you have a good understanding of what you are watching.

When the action is over you can head to the pit area to visit with the drivers, see the race cars up close, take photographs, collect autographs and perhaps purchase a souvenir item from a driver that has caught your attention, stood out from the others.

Put it all together and it makes for an entertaining fun night, an exciting night, for all the family.

And think about this. Much of the excitement you see at the local weekly tracks will most likely be more exciting than what you see produced by the big league racers on television. Now don’t get me wrong NASCAR and IndyCar do produce some exciting events but the local short tracks offered the excitement at a much cheaper price.

All the area tracks have websites where you can find the latest information, the schedule of events and other helpful facts that just may help you make a decision to go or not go.

Hey, if the family does not want to go find a friend and make the trip out to the local speedway. You just might run into some people you know. And when you do it, let me know what you thought of it all at esaxton144@aol.com.

And if you would like a suggestion for seeing a great night of auto racing, try this. On July 20 and 21st the nationally famous World of Outlaw sprint cars will be in action at Williams Grove Speedway in Mechanicsburg. Pick either night to attend but you assured that both nights will give you the opportunity to see some great racing with the Outlaws going up against the Pennsylvania Posse. It would be well worth the trip to Central Pennsylvania.

Williams Grove has a long history of presenting great Sprint car racing.

Or you can head on over to Grandview Speedway on Friday, July 20th. Action starts at 6 p.m. This will be the first Friday night show of Outlaw Enduros (Big and Small cars) and Blast from the Past Vintage Modifieds. Also included will be a Mechanix race, Junkyard Car race, Super Mod 4x4 Trucks and Vintage Midgets. Pit admission is $30 while adults satisfied to sit in the grandstands can see it all for just $10 with kids under 12 admitted free and there is free parking on the speedway grounds

And the next night the T.P. Trailers Modifieds, Late Models, Sportsman and Vintage racers are in action in Hatfield Meats Night starting at 7:30 p.m.