WEST PORTSMOUTH — Unfortunately for Portsmouth Raceway Park, there was no revving of the engines, no crowd of any kind—and no high speed thrills this past Saturday night.
And, it’s anybody’s guess at this point when racing returns to PRP —the highly-respected dirt track facility along State Route 73 in West Portsmouth.
That’s because, for the past week and remaining in effect until further notice, PRP is closed —due to Scioto County being on a Level 3 Public Health Emergency as a result of the coronavirus threat.
Last Monday, PRP posted that information on its Facebook page, and then followed up with another grim post the next day.
“PRP is saddened to cancel the Boone Coleman Memorial Gator 50 for the 2020 racing season. With the uncertainty of our racing schedule, we feel it is in the best interest of our racers and fans to postpone the Gator 50 until the 2021 racing season. We are currently closed for (Saturday) July 25. We will update each week on Facebook and our website if racing is permitted. PRP is and will be, the Place To Be.”
Those posts followed a July 12 text message from PRP promoter Donna Rayburn to The Portsmouth Daily Times — for a report which appeared in the July 14 edition of the newspaper.
“We will be working with the Scioto County Health Department for a decision on the remainder of our season,” said Rayburn. “Please watch our Facebook page and website —www.portsraceway.com — for updates.”
PRP was originally scheduled to be off on back-to-back Saturdays of July 11 and July 18, but was set to host racing on Saturday night (July 25) with Weaver’s Gas & Oil OVSCA Sprints.
That night’s card was canceled, as is the Lemley Motorsports-Mod Squad Spectacular for this coming Saturday (Aug. 1) night.
The ninth annual Boone Coleman Gator 50 was set for Aug. 8, as now the next night of SCHEDULED racing — per the track’s website — is on Aug. 22.
That is, however, only going to happen if Scioto County is downgraded from its current “Red” status.
The newly-created Ohio Public Health Advisory System — as part of the statewide response to the coronavirus threat — currently has Scioto County listed as a Level 3 Public Emergency, meaning there is “very high exposure and spread” of the virus and for individuals to “limit activities as much as possible.”
During Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s Thursday (July 23) press briefing, he said that Lawrence County had also moved to that present designation — due to the significant rise in cases over the past two weeks.
There are four total levels, with presently 23 counties at a Level 3 with one county —Allen — considered “on watch” for being bumped to the highest and most severe, which is Level 4.
PRP has hosted only two nights of racing all season — its rescheduled opening night on Independence Day and the Dean Knittel Memorial and accompanying undercard on July 10.
The Independence Day slate was PRP’s third full attempt at starting its racing season —with weather and DeWine’s directives denying a start since mid-May.
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 early June, PRP announced that June 27 would serve as its opening night — as all the necessary preparations had been made and details continually posted.
But near noon that Saturday, track personnel made the call to call that night’s card off —as thunderstorms, even some severe, were forecasted for that evening.
The PRP racing season is set to conclude on Oct. 15 thru Oct. 17 — with the 40th annual Dirt Track World Championship.
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