Council says no to Friday racing

EBENSBURG – Despite council having now twice refused to change or make exception to a borough noise ordinance to allow racing at the Cambria County Fairgrounds, organizers said they plan to press on to reopen the former Ebensburg Speedway.

Organizers Dan Savino and Ryan Claycomb, both of Altoona, first approached council at last month’s meeting with attorney Gary Jubas, representing the fairgrounds, to propose bringing back “Sunday Thunder” racing.

Savino said racing, which was discontinued more than 15 years ago, left a “sour taste” in residents’ mouths because of the noise and dust cars created, but he said organizers are working with manufacturing groups to design modifications to control noise.

They also will use better clay to eliminate 75 percent of the dust, he said.

“It was bad, and I acknowledge all that,” Savino said, and he would be looking to invest about $100,000 into the tracks to bring them up to standard.

President Doug Tusing told the men last month that Sunday racing was out of the question due to a noise ordinance in the borough, and Monday night the two suffered another setback, with council again refusing to alter the noise ordinance to allow Friday night racing to go past the 10 p.m. curfew.

This was despite Savino’s insistence that racers would have a hard time getting to the tracks after work before 7 or 7:30 p.m. to end before 11:30 p.m.

Friday night is a traditional night for racing, Savino said, and hoped that even if they couldn’t bring back “Sunday Thunder,” they at least wouldn’t have to compete with two other area tracks where Saturday racing already is common, including Marion Center Speedway, Indiana County.

Claycomb said with this year’s closure of Dog Hollow Speedway in Strongstown, Indiana County, 100-plus racers were left “homeless,” himself included, and that the void could be filled by Ebensburg, which is closer for many, and carries the borough’s name recognition.

He said a lot of the racers’ cars were built to Dog Hollow’s specifications, and other nearby racetracks wouldn’t suffice, including Bedford Speedway, and the soon-to-reopen Jennerstown Speedway in Somerset County, which is asphalt.

Tusing and others noted that with seemingly limited support from residents, there isn’t much reason to bend the ordinance for racing.

Rosemary Cramer, who, along with her husband, runs Fairview Bed & Breakfast along North Center Street across from the fairgrounds, said people stay at Fairview because it’s clean and quiet.

During the Cambria County Fair, she said she had to wash their front porch daily because of dust, and the whole house needed three days of power-washing at the event’s end.

Keeping up with cleaning and dealing with noise would kill her business, she said, adding that although she has spoken at the last two meetings, she’s certainly not the only one against bringing back racing.

Savino said he’s offered to help Cramer promote her business during racing’s six-month season, which runs from mid-April through September, but said it’s hard to convince her and others that things will be different.

He estimated that racing could bring upward of 20,000 people during the season, and Claycomb said businesses could see a jump in revenue.

Claycomb said he will be reaching out to racers and residents via a Facebook page called “Let’s Reopen Ebensburg Speedway” to see if there is support for Saturday racing, for which they will submit a permit to council as soon as next month.