Local auto racing is done for the season and news has moved off track.
First, there are changes at Port Royal Speedway. The Juniata County Agricultural Society met and re-organized the board of directors and officers over the last few days.
Don Clark has been named president, replacing Tom Little. Scott Arnold was named first vice president, replacing Bill Ritzman. Sue Pontius continues as second vice president. Perry Shellenberger was elected treasurer, replacing Tim Foltz, who will stay on as Shellenberger's assistant. Beth Alleman returns as secretary with Marian Marks assisting. Fair delegate is Joanne Heckart. Bill Ritzman will become the alternate delegate. What does that mean to the operation of Port Royal Speedway?
The reorganized board is determining if it will continue to run the race track under the current management plan or lease the track to private individuals. Two prospective parties met with board members this week and laid out their plans, but no decisions were made. Members will meet again Tuesday night to attempt to decide what course to take.
My gut feeling is the group will likely stay the course because it provides the best option to make money for the organization. The Agriculture Society is facing a deficit that will have to be resolved. The new group, led by Clark, appears ready to tackle the task and I think they will.
The point I want to make is that this situation is not at all Tom Little's fault. Little did a good job over the years of keeping the company in the black and debts went down each year until the last two seasons. There are a lot of reasons for that - including the main bridge into town being closed most of the last two racing seasons, and poor economic times for everyone. There are other reasons as well and I feel sure that the new power structure will tackle those issues.
As for track operations, the group may put another person in charge as race director. I'll keep you up to date as more information is available.
Keith Kauffman has a new ride for 2011. Kauffman will drive the Heckman Tree Farms No. 8h at Port Royal and in other select events. Kauffman and John Trone apparently split on good terms, but Trone is not sure what his plans are for next year. His trailer, which is owned by Kinard Trucking, went back this week. It is likely to go to Dick Leach, who was part of the Trone and Doug Esh operation.
Greg Hodnett is the SpeedDawg Central Pa. points champion after last Saturday's race at Susquehanna Speedway Park.
Here are some opening dates for 2011. Williams Grove gets under way March 18 with 410 and 358 sprint cars. The York Dirt Trackin' show will be held at the York fairgrounds Jan. 14-16.
Selinsgrove Speedway holds its annual awards banquet tonight. Pat Cannon will be crowned as 358 sprint car champion.
Tyler Walker is back racing. Walker went to Australia and won't be back in the U.S. until February. Apparently he will miss the Florida Winternationals.
Did you happen to notice Steve Kinser raced in and won the 360 sprint car race held last weekend in Las Cruces, New Mexico? Tony Stewart attempted to run the same show and flipped out of the ballpark.
Hodnett and the Jim and Sandy Kline-owned race team was crowned champions at last week's Williams Grove Speedway banquet. It was Hodnett's first Grove title, but it was the Kline's third. This group is a class act and I'm happy for them. I always enjoy interviewing them.
Don't forget Port Royal Speedway's flea market is today. Gates opened at 7 a.m. and admission is free. The day is a good opportunity to visit with drivers in an informal setting.
The Zemco Racing Team will stay intact with Stevie Smith the driver for next year. John and Pee Wee Zemaitis are some of the best car owners in the business and always field a competitive race car. The team struggled some this year, but I'm sure they will rebound. Tires have been one of the main issues.
The final Sprint Cup race of the season is tomorrow at Homestead. ESPN has TV coverage starting at noon. Denny Hamlin is the defending race champion. Jimmie Johnson clinched his fourth championship at Homestead last year after finishing in fifth position. Hamlin holds a 15-point lead over Johnson in the points battle.
In other news, Chevrolet is returning to Indy Car racing next year in cooperation with Roger Penske and Illmor Engineering. Penske is a part owner of Illmor. Already Robby Gordon has announced that he will run the Indy 500. Fiat may also follow suit and come back with Dodge or Ferrari.
Until next week, please drive safely!
Craig Rutherford writes about motorsports for The Sentinel. He is associated with Port Royal Speedway.