The 1/3-mile asphalt facility which will now be known as Evergreen Raceway Park has been a part of Northeast Pennsylvania since the 1950s, but the new management hopes to bring competitor involvement and car counts to a familiar level starting in 2014. The track operated as Mountain Speedway for the last several years, but prior to that was even known as “Evergreen” on multiple occasions since it came to life.
New Track Manager Harry Buchman officially gained the lease to the track on March 1st, but he and his team have been working to get the word out about Evergreen Raceway Park for months leading up to that date. Buchman as well as Vice President Ron Babula Jr. have been among those seen at events, such as January’s Motorsports 2014 Show outside Philadelphia and the Northeast Pennsylvania Race Car Show at Laurel Mall in Hazleton. Buchman has been on the phone day and night promoting and talking to interested parties including potential competitors and fans.
“Right now we’re advertising and hiring people, and it’s going very well,” said Buchman. “Tires will be arriving at the end of the week for our drivers, and in a week and a half we hope to start renting out the track for testing.”
Both Buchman and Babula have a long history in the area when it comes to motorsports. Buchman has competed in Tour Modifieds and Babula has driven and fielded a Sport Modified, most recently for Jimmy Zacharias at Shangri-La II Motor Speedway last year. They have admitted it has been a slight adjustment moving into a management role.
“Before this I was just a driver and didn’t know about the fan concerns,” Babula said.
Despite this, they have been heavily involved with listening to those concerns and what needs to be done to increase anyone’s enjoyment factor when coming to the track on race day. Improvements such as remodeled bathrooms and kitchen, and a new scoring tower with a new transponder system will be seen in 2014. While it has proven to be a lot of work to do, they are stressing mostly promotion of their events in order to increase fan awareness of the facility.
“When talking to my lawyers to finalize this deal, they asked ‘hasn’t Evergreen been closed for years?’ They didn’t even know it was in operation,” Babula remarked.
Since the beginning of March, management has even reached out to the community to volunteer with cleanup efforts each Saturday. There is still a long way to go, but they are confident the track will be race ready for the first open practice on Saturday, April 19. Buchman has been leading the effort to get numerous tasks completed within a little amount of time when there has been a break from the unusually cold and snowy weather the region has been through.
“We’ve had anywhere from thirty people come to help out over the weekends. I really appreciate it,” thanked Buchman. “We have a lot of good people, a lot of good friends, and a lot of good racers that care about and want us to succeed.”
While he admits that everyone can’t be pleased, Buchman is mainly optimistic about the outlook for the year, and has intentions of transitioning Evergreen into an all around entertainment facility. Initial plans are to have a concert series every other Friday night for fans to come out and enjoy, and also some projects to support the community such as a track walk for organizations like the local cancer treatment center.
Babula is so excited that he wants to compete at the site he is now invested in.
“I want to run a few times. I love racing at the place. As long as everyone’s okay with it, I’ll run for no points or purse money,” Babula noted.
Payouts and rules were released far in advance as well as a season schedule, which will see its first race day on Sunday, April 27 with a seven division program. Local divisions will be Tour Modifieds, Street Stocks, Late Models, Factory Stocks, Four Cylinders, Sport Modifieds, Dirt Modifieds, and INEX Legends. Special events will include Enduro races and the Super Cup Stock Car Series as well as a few appearances by the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience. A Poker Series for Tour Modifieds will award a $1,000 bonus to the driver with the best poker hand based on their finishes after the five race schedule.
Hopes are high for one of the most fan and competitor engaging seasons in Evergreen Raceway Park’s long history.