Many sponsors have returned, including Todd Weikert and the Weikert family. Weikert’s father, Bob, was the Hall of Fame owner of the Weikert’s Livestock No. 29 sprint car.
Drivers and fans rave about the track surface. Stimely leads the track crew in providing a wide and smooth racing surface every week.
The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series and AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car Series are mainstays on the schedule.
Every offseason, more improvements are made. This year, a new tunnel was installed under the first turn, new restrooms and concessions stands were installed in the infield, the frontstretch was widened by 10 feet and a new victory lane was constructed. New pit bleachers were erected, as well, and a new pit area restroom was also constructed.
Hometown sprint car driver Dylan Cisney has watched the transformation from the start.
“It’s hard to put into words the improvements over the last 10 years,” Cisney said. “I’m lucky to be close with the track crew and have got to help with a few different projects over the years. The hard work they put in on a volunteer basis is impressive. Most people would never have believed you 10 years ago if you told them that Port Royal would be one of the top tracks in the country. I’m very proud to call it my home track and I can’t wait to see where the next 10 years takes it.”
Nearly every week, O’Neal has something special for the fans, especially the kids, including bus rides around the track. He brought back camera and autograph nights and has nights where hot dogs are $1 or general admission is $5. He also supports the local chapter of the American Cancer Society with a Race to Cure Cancer Night.
He’s been named Promoter of the Year four straight years by the National Sprint Car Poll.
In 2017, Port Royal hosted the 50th annual Tuscarora 50 for the sprint cars. Dewease earned $50,000 for winning the race. It was the largest purse, biggest crowd and highest car count (66) in track history.
O’Neal has added to that amount annually with this year’s Tuscarora 50 scheduled to pay $53,000 to win.
Late models have become a major part of the show at Port Royal. The speedway has a $50,000-to-win race for the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series scheduled Aug. 27-29.
Many other high-paying races dot the schedule for the late models. The division has a strong regular following, plus many of the top regional drivers make frequent stops now.
O’Neal has developed a feeder system with 305 sprint cars and limited late models helping support the top two divisions.
Logan Wagner is the two-time and defending 410 sprint car champion. He is a previous 305 title winner. Jeff Miller won the 305 championship two years ago and won three races in the 410 class last year. Both divisions get close to 40 cars per race.
The same thing has happened with the stock cars as several of the limited late model drivers have moved up to the super late model division.
Port Royal’s Labor Day Classic has become successful again, allowing for it to remain on the schedule.
The success of the speedway has allowed O’Neal to give back and be aggressive with his schedule — such as 410s and USAC sprint cars on the same night. It also allows him to host high-paying races for the track’s regular divisions.
Port Royal has broken away from the typical central Pa. handicapping system and changes up the format from time to time.
“When you sit back and look at it, it’s pretty amazing what’s been done here,” O’Neal said. “Sometimes, I sit back and think, ‘Wow, we came this far,’ and we don’t plan on stopping.”
Over the winter, the Juniata Co. Ag Society lost its president, Don Clark, who worked closely with O’Neal over the past decade to help bring the track back from the brink.
“We want to dedicate the entire 2020 racing season to Don Clark,” O’Neal said.
Two races into the season, Port Royal Speedway — like most tracks — suspended its season because of the COVID-19 pandemic and as of May 1, the racing season at the facility remained in a holding pattern.