ABBOTTSTOWN, Pa. – A new sprint car season in central Pennsylvania commenced Saturday at Lincoln Speedway, as fans broke the winter hiatus with tailgates, fellowship, and, of course, racing.
Sprint cars may have taken center stage, but the real magic came from within.
Track co-owner Scott Gobrecht and Lincoln Speedway workers overcame the weather and executed numerous undertakings just to deliver Saturday’s Ice Breaker.
To have it all seamlessly come together was just as big as Tim Wagaman’s feel-good win.
“There’s definitely a sense of accomplishment,” Gobrecht said. “I’m fairly new to this game. Three years here and six years at BAPS [Motor Speedway]. It’s like any other business you get into: it’s about the people. And all the people here [at Lincoln] are involved at other tracks. There’s just so much talent and passion. Just to know there’s so many moving things that go on in a day’s time. Garbage cans fill up, concession stands run out of stuff, track equipment breaks, or our patrons may need something … or get stuck in the parking lot.
“At the same time, there’s an incredible race going on,” Gobrecht added. “There’s all these moving parts and pieces. It really speaks to the people.”
Recent storms dumped a good amount of snow across the Abbottstown, Pa., property, muddying grass parking lots and the racing surface. Clearing space just to accommodate fans and prepare a serviceable track was a feat in itself.
One week earlier, the property wasn’t fit for the originally scheduled Ice Breaker, forcing the opener to be tried again Saturday. Drier weather helped complete last-minute efforts, but more precipitation Friday night and into Saturday morning provided another hurdle.
On Friday morning, track co-owner Jerry Parrish called Gobrecht and insisted to move the start time back two hours to 4 p.m.
Whether it went noticed or not, those two hours seemed to make all the difference. The weather cleared and allowed more time for track workers Fred Putney and Brian Jones to prepare the racing surface.
“That was brilliant on Jerry’s part,” Gobrecht said. “It’s not that hard, but when there’s so many things going on, it takes a special group of people to think about that stuff and make it work. Jerry, Alan Kreitzer, Mike Heffner, and everyone did a great job.”
Numerous track improvements were buttoned-up in the final hours, too. On Friday, Lincoln Speedway paved a runway to help widen the pits and provide a path to the scales. Now, there’s an extra seven feet of maneuverability in the pit area.
The track also performed a comprehensive rebuild of turns one and two, replacing the walls and catch fence.
Additional improvements include a restructured website, a new concrete stage off turn four for entertainment purposes, and a new food stand that’s still in the works.
All of these efforts are driven by one thing: continuing to provide a worthwhile experience for the fans.
“We have the best fans in the country,” Gobrecht said. “This is the home court of sprint car racing. Our fans, because they are the best, expect the best. They deserve the best.”