SHARON SPEEDWAY Blaneys buy track, plan major renovations
The NASCAR driver and his father head a group that made the purchase.
HARTFORD -- After years of considering the possibility, Dave Blaney has become the owner of Sharon Speedway, the hometown track for the racing family and one of the oldest continuously running weekly racetracks in the United States.
Blaney purchased the track, which began competition in 1929, with his father, Lou, still a regular competitor at the facility, and a group of local investors last month.
Built as a home for the Central State Racing Association's open-cockpit dirt cars, original owners Homer McCraken and Bill Pourbaugh began promoting midget, roadsters and the Ohio Speedway Association stock cars after World War II.
Most recently, Sharon Speedway has hosted four divisions: sprint cars, dirt modifieds, 3-modifieds and street stocks on its half-mile dirt surface every Friday night between late April and Labor Day.
Work in progress: The Blaneys, who head the group that bought the track, have begin work on a wide range of improvements to the track, including a change in length to 3/8 mile and width to 90 feet as well as upgraded racing surface, plus a new 5,000-seat grandstand/concourse on the facility's backstretch.
In addition to the existing 3,500-seat covered grandstand built in 1953, the new backstretch grandstand will give the expanded Sharon Speedway a capacity of 8,500.
The track's four divisions, for the first time ever, will compete on Saturday night from late spring through the traditional Sharon Nationals over Labor Day weekend with the exception of two World of Outlaws dates -- May 31 and July 31, the first time sprint-car racing's premier series would visit the 72-year old track.
"Buying Sharon Speedway is something our family has looked at for a long time and I'm as excited about what we have planned there as anything I've been involved with in racing for a long time," said Blaney.
"Everything fell into place with the right partners at the right time and we decided to make the changes necessary to place Sharon Speedway alongside the best weekly racing facilities in the country.
"Within a one-hour drive of the track, we have the Cleveland and Pittsburgh metro areas and over 3 million people, many of who are die-hard racing fans to whom weekly racing is a ritual."