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Future of Grandview Speedway Uncertain
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2022-08-31

            The news that the current season of racing at Grandview Speedway could be the last one blindsided many track participants, according to Burt Shive, a race car owner from Marlborough. This week's announcement by owner Theresa Rogers that she agreed to sell the Washington Township track and grounds also evoked a flood of memories for multiple drivers.

            Kevin Hirthler, who grew up in Green Lane, met his wife there. As a 10-year-old, Lex Shive clearly recalls attending the races with his father, Burt, and his grandfather, a long-time race sponsor. Mark Kratz, a Pennsburg resident, spent most of his life going to the track.  "That's my Saturday night," Kratz said.

            On Tuesday, Rogers, 80, announced that she has accepted a proposal of sale from Copart, Inc. – a global provider of online vehicle auction and remarketing services to automotive resellers, with a facility at 2704 Geryville Pike in Upper Hanover – for the 60-year-old track, located at 43 Passmore Road. Terms of the agreement were not released.

            A news release from spokesperson Jeff Ahlum, received late Tuesday afternoon, did not specify if the track would cease operations when the 60th Anniversary season ends this month. In an email message received Wednesday morning, Ahlum wrote that the decision could not be confirmed until Copart completes its study of the property.

            Rumors of a potential sale swirled following the release of the meeting agenda for Washington Township's Aug. 25 board of supervisors meeting. An item included in the township engineer report included the line "Grandview Speedway, Copart Auction Zoning."

            Copart has filed a zoning application with the township on the 35.05-acre parcel, according to municipal manager Rich Sichler. He said the applicant has not requested a variance.

            Berks County property records list the property's total assessed value at $761,900. Municipal officials estimated approximately $35,000 in revenue from the track during the current year, according to Sichler.

            Rogers never listed the track for sale. An email sent from Copart to Speedway officials looking for property to purchase sparked a conversation about the one-third-of-a-mile, high-banked track. The transaction won't proceed unless the company gains certain approvals from Washington Township officials, said the news release from Ahlum.

            The track owner informed employees of her decision during a face-to-face meeting prior to the start of racing on Aug. 27. Rogers said she owed them an update before making the news public, according to the news release.

            "This is a disappointing outcome," said Burt Shive, who has financed a ride for his son Lex since 2013. "I know the Rogers family loves racing. They are wonderful people. If you get an offer that's too good to refuse, then good for you."

            Rogers made the decision to sell the track – founded by father-in-law Forrest Rogers in 1963 – after numerous discussions with her family, many of whom are involved with the operation of the facility. They told her to do what is best for her, according to the statement.

            "I want everyone to know that this decision was solely and entirely mine," Theresa Rogers said. "My late husband Bruce and I had discussions prior to his passing about this situation, and I thought long and hard about what Bruce had told me. He said, 'you can do what you want after I go, it is totally up to you.'"

             Hirthler, who has missed only two seasons of racing at Grandview since 1996, said he understands Theresa Rogers' priorities. He claims turning a profit is far more challenging than it was 20 or 30 years ago.

            "I know what it's like to run a business," said Hirthler, who lives in Boyertown and co-owns and operates Green Lane William Penn, Inc., a full service automotive shop at 100 Gravel Pike in Green Lane.

            According to Lex Shore, 100 percent of Grandview's drivers consider the sale a done deal. Burt Shive claims at least five teams have made their entire racing inventories available for sale.

            Kratz said he's not ready to retire from racing if Grandview closes at the end of the season. He hasn't ruled out competing at the Bridgeport or New Egypt speedways in New Jersey.

            Hirthler said, with his son starting in the Sportsman Division, he isn't sure if he would race every week. However, if the sale goes through, he's keeping all his options open.  "If the track were to be sold, I would look at everything," Hirthler said.

            Lex Shive, a 2010 graduate of Upper Perkiomen, says he and his father are not prepared to get out of racing. He suspects that next year, they could end up competing at tracks within a two-hour radius.

            "I think you'll see a lot of other drivers do the same thing," Lex Shive said.


 

 

 

 

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