The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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Editorials

June 21, 2013

Another one bites the dust | Economy swallows up area race track

JOHNSTOWN — It’s getting harder and harder to be an auto-racing enthusiast in our region.

Dog Hollow Speedway announced this week that it has closed its doors. Owner Jim Michny made the declaration on the track’s website just two weeks after drivers were told that the track would not be closing.

Michny did not return telephone messages left by The Tribune-Democrat’s Cory Isenberg, but his comments on the website said financial problems forced the closing.

“Due to the economy, I understand dirt track racing in rural Pennsylvania is losing its place on the list of things to do,” Michny said on the website. “Unfortunately this season has seen a slow economy met with a decline in attendance and drivers.”

The news was difficult for track announcer Dave Kittey of Latrobe to swallow.

“It made me sad and sick in the stomach when he called to tell me about his decision to close,” Kittey told Isenberg.

We’re sure there are plenty of drivers, pit-crew members and racing fans who feel the same way. It’s getting difficult for them to find a track that is in operation.

Add Dog Hollow to the growing list of tracks that no longer hold weekly racing programs. Others

in that group include those in Ebensburg, Jennerstown, Meyersdale, Windber and the Thunder Valley facility in Somerset County.

It’s disheartening for racing lovers, who once were able to get their fix at tracks all around the area.

For drivers, Dog Hollow’s closing is not just disappointing, but also can be costly.

“I know times are tough, but it’s just really hard to take,” driver Chris Yoder of Ebensburg said. “I just put $4,000 into building a new car this year and the biggest thing is that I have sponsors that paid to be on the car.”

The options for other tracks are few and far between. For Yoder it comes down to tracks in Bedford or Clearfield – or just giving up altogether.

“That’s an hour-and-a-half or two-hour trip, and I’m not sure that I can do that,” he said.

Dog Hollow’s demise shows that the once-vibrant dirt-track scene is seriously sputtering in our area. We’d hate to see it stall out completely.

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