Dave Blaney becomes race-track owner; buys hometown track with local group; plans major improvements and two World of Outlaws dates at historic Sharon (Pa) Speedway HARTFORD, OHIO– After years of considering the possibility, Dave Blaney...
Dave Blaney becomes race-track owner; buys hometown track with local group; plans major improvements and two World of Outlaws dates at historic Sharon (Pa) Speedway
HARTFORD, OHIO– After years of considering the possibility, Dave Blaney has become the owner of historic Sharon (PA) 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 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 (CSRA) open-cockpit dirt cars, original owners Homer McCracken and 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, e-modifieds, street stocks) on it’s half-mile dirt surface every Friday night between late April and Labor Day.
The Blaneys, who head the group that bought the track, have begun work on a wide-range of improvements to the track, including a change in track length (to 3/8-mile) and width (90’) as well as an 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. And for the first time ever, the track’s four divisions 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, driver of the #77 Jasper Engines Ford in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series and owner of the #10 DB Racing World of Outlaws sprint car team for which his younger brother Dale has driven for the past two seasons.
"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 whom are die-hard racing fans to whom weekly racing is a ritual.
"NASCAR doesn’t reach this area with a major race so we hope to bring in several of the guys I race with each week to help make a few of the weekends a little bigger for the fans. Most of them started on tracks just like Sharon. It where I started racing (1981) and Dale started and my dad just finished his 43rd season. My Uncle Bob won two Late Model championships in the 1960s. There’s a great history here and my dad has seen a lot of it. I don’t think he’s ready to quit racing yet but having him involved on the operation side will be a big benefit."
Rusty Wallace is among a long list of drivers who have competed at Sharon Speedway, including Tom Sneva—who won his first USAC sprint-car race during a 12-year period (1969-1981) when the track featured an asphalt surface. In 1954, the track also featured NASCAR competition, including a major 200-lap race in which Lee Petty beat Buck Baker and Herb Thomas to the checkered flag.