SAINT JOHNS – Evergreen Raceway Park hosted its inaugural media day on Saturday, showing off some of the improvements that have been made to the facility and showing where others will be made in the future.
For small track racing fans, the former Mountain Speedway will offer a new experience this year.
“One of the biggest improvements that we made was to the kitchen,” said Ron Babula, assistant to general manager Harry Buchman. “The bulk in excess of $20,000 was actually put into that building on the inside to get a better product.”
A tour of the track found new bathroom facilities and the upgraded food prep area. While some of the improvements have been completed, there are still more in the making. The weather has served as a hindrance to the track.
“With the weather, we’ve had a significant amount of delays,” Babula said.
Extensive excavation has also taken place around the property, removing old tires and buildings, making way for new structures.
“I’ve picked up so many more friends and realized the passion that these people have to bring this facility back to life,” Baubla said.
Leading up to Sunday’s opening day, Evergreen had an average of 30 people show up each weekend to donate their time. Companies such as Concord Plastics of West Hazleton donated all the equipment to aid in the cleaning process.
The keys didn’t get handed over to Buchman until March 1, delaying the clean-up process. With the support of the local community, progress has been made quicker than expected.
For Buchman, the acquisition and transformation of the former Mountain Speedway has come from the heart.
“I’m a racer at heart. I really enjoyed it and didn’t want to see the track go away,” Buchman said. “I’m really fond of this place. I raced here when I started racing. I have a true passion for this track and I want to see it survive.”
He also expects a good crowd for opening day.
“I’m hoping for at least a crowd of around 600 people and at least 60-90 cars in the pits,” Buchman said. “If everyone comes who said they were, we’ll fill the place.”
Buchman and Babula both raced at Evergreen at some time during their racing days.
In addition to media day, the track also held its second of two open practices Saturday. Seven divisions will take to the track Sunday for the season opener. Admission is $10 for adults and children 12 and under are free. Grandstands open at noon, with racing beginning at 2 p.m.