WEST PORTSMOUTH — With the 2020 Portsmouth Raceway Park racing season within earshot, track personnel — with an eye on the sky and an ear to the airwaves — is rapidly readying for its official opening night.
That date is in fact set for Saturday, June 27 — just one week away.
Last Wednesday night, during PRP’s weekly live Facebook discussion, 15-year PRP promoter Donna Rayburn provided an update — and announced that fans will be permitted into the facility, which is located along State Route 73 in West Portsmouth.
This past week, the track’s admission prices — as well as its revamped schedule — were announced on its Facebook page, as only the $30 pit pass is established for ALL age groups.
The cost is $15 for general admission for ages 13 and older, $5 for ages seven thru 12, and children under six are admitted for free.
The complete racing program will include Late Models, Modifieds, Limited Late Models and Sport Mods —plus the Ohio Valley Roofers Legend Car Series.
However, strict social distancing requirements must be followed, as Ohio’s dirt race tracks are one of several facilities recently declared ready to reopen —part of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s statewide response to the coronavirus threat.
The guidelines at PRP include groups of only 10 people or less, and those groups must sit six-feet away from other groups.
Spectators are asked to remain in their groups, and are encouraged — but not required — to wear masks.
Individuals must stand six-feet apart in the concession-stand line, hand sanitizer will be randomly placed throughout the facility, and race teams are encouraged to park six-feet apart and are limited to no more than 10 people at a time in their pit area.
The original opening night was scheduled for Saturday, May 9 — but because of ferocious thunderstorms on April 8 and with DeWine’s “Stay-At-Home” order still in place, that date suddenly became jeopardized.
In a report which appeared in the April 11 edition of The Portsmouth Daily Times, Rayburn re-stated the importance of following Facebook and the PRP’s page for “updates on anything”, as a complete 2020 schedule of events is listed on the PRP’s website (www.portsraceway.com).
Since mid-May, PRP has been hosting live discussions on Facebook — which take place on Wednesday nights at 7 p.m.
Of course, that June 27 date is subject to change — due to the potential of any random rainfall AND any possible change in the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) federal guidelines.
Gates will open at 4 p.m., followed by a driver’s meeting at 6 p.m., hot laps at 6:30 p.m. and official racing action under way at 7:30 p.m.
Late Models will pay $2,000 to win — along with $800 for Modifieds, $500 for Limited Late Models and $400 for Sport Mods.
Following opening night, PRP has announced that the Independence 50 Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will go on as scheduled for Saturday, July 4 —and that the Dean Knittel Memorial has been rescheduled for Friday, July 10.
For the Independence 50, Late Models will pay $12,000 to win — along with $800 for Modifieds and $500 for Limited Late Models.
For the Dean Knittel Memorial, the Ollie’s All-Star Circuit of Champions and Ohio Sprintcar Speedweek pays $15,554 to win — with Late Models paying $3,000 to win plus a $554 bonus, courtesy of Dean Knittel & Son Auto Repair.
The Charlie Schwartz Classic, which had been scheduled for Friday (June 19), has been postponed until next year — per PRP’s Facebook post late Wednesday night.
“The Swartz family felt it was best to wait until 2021 to reschedule the Charlie Swartz Classic. Also, Portsmouth Raceway Park is always closed after their Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series event, which is July 4, and when the Dean Knittel Memorial was rescheduled for July 10 it created a scheduling conflict for the Swartz family and PRP to have the Charlie Swartz Classic the night before the Knittel.”
There will be no racing at PRP on Saturdays of July 11 and July 18.
But as of now, there will be racing exactly one week away — come next Saturday night.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved