AULD: Bloomsburg

Doug Auld
Doug Auld

In an era when real estate prices and zoning regulations create an uphill battle for a would-be promoter with the desire to carve an oval into a flat parcel of land, erect grandstands and lights, and present exciting family entertainment to his or her community, it’s always wonderful to herald a new race track … or, in this case, a returning track.

The Bloomsburg Fairgrounds Raceway in Bloomsburg, Pa., will be reopening, with its first event taking place on Saturday, May 29 of this year when the USAC East Coast Sprint Car Series and the ARDC midgets will both be on the card.

So far, the tentative schedule shows eight events, while the fair board is open to a maximum schedule of 10 to 12 nights of racing each year.

May 29 – USAC East Coast sprints & ARDC midgets
June 20 – USAC National sprints & ULMS late models
July 14 – STSS modifieds & 602 sportsman
July 16 – URC sprints & SpeedSTRs
July 25 – ULMS late models & PASS 305 sprints
Aug. 6 – USAC National midgets & USAC East Coast sprints
Aug. 22 – URC sprints & SpeedSTRs
Oct. 2 – Special sprint car show & ARDC midgets (Bloomsburg Fair)

The track has been added to USAC’s Eastern Storm Pennsylvania swing, with the USAC National Sprint Car Series appearing on June 20 and the ULMS late model series as a support division.

The USAC National Midget Series is on the schedule for Aug. 6 as part of the Eastern Midget Week, with the USAC East Coast sprints also on the card.

The URC sprints will make two appearances (July 16 & Aug. 22) with the popular SpeedSTR division also in action on both nights.

Dates may still be added, and the details of a special sprint car race to take place on the night of Oct. 2 as the highlight of the Bloomsburg Fair have yet to be announced. The ARDC midget series has announced that they have already been booked to run on that night as well.

It is great news, and a welcome reprieve from the usual trend of racing facilities being shuttered.

The facility first presented auto racing on what was then known as the Columbia County Fairgrounds on Oct. 7, 1922, with “Bull” Lumpkin winning the opening night event on the then-half-mile oval. The last race run on the half-mile cinder oval located in the heart of the fairgrounds took place in 1987.

On Jan. 15, a restored Weikert Livestock No. 29 sprinter driven by five-time USAC National Sprint Car Series champion, two-time USAC Silver Crown Series champion, and current USAC Executive Vice President Levi Jones and a midget driven by Bloomsburg native and racer Randy Maustellar turned some laps on the reconfigured oval.

The test session marked the first time in more than 30 years that race cars turned laps on a dirt oval on the fairgrounds.

Jones has been, and continues to be, active in giving guidance to the fairgrounds in the design of the racing surface, as well as helping to layout the facilities in a way that promotes fan safety.

In November, renovation began on the facility. The fair board allocated approximately a million dollars for the project, and in November construction began on the new three-eighths-mile, semi-banked clay oval located inside the horse track.

A stage used for music performances was removed, and the fair board will utilize a temporary stage, which will be brought in when needed for the national acts that appear during the fair.

The rebirth of the track has been in consideration by the fair board for several years now. Among those pushing for the go-ahead has been Bloomsburg Grandstand Superintendent Brian Wawroski, who is, himself, a former racer.

So, fans from near and far will again travel to the small town alongside the Susquehanna River, purchase their tickets and find their place in the covered grandstands to enjoy a night of dirt racing, just as they did so many years ago, when the fairgrounds hosted midget and Big Car races with drivers like Mario Andretti and Bill Holland among the stars vying for the checkers.

It’s also just as fans did when they attended a NASCAR Grand National race on Oct. 3, 1953, won by Herb Thomas on his way to the season championship in his Hudson Hornet.

Welcome back, Bloomsburg!


Advertisement - Article Bottom