Mercer Raceway Park (Mercer) began racing almost 50 years ago on land originally established as fairgrounds. The first race was held in 1951 and is now a privately owned facility by Vicki Emig, a former car owner who purchased the track little more than a year ago.
Each Saturday night from April through September, Mercer offers competitive short track racing featuring some of the best drivers in the region. Mercer's weekly "Saturday Night Live" program serves up five divisions including 410-winged Sprint Cars, Big Block Modifieds, Six-Cylinder Modifieds, Sportsman Modifieds, and Stock Cars. Mercer will also host a variety of special events in 2000, such as a visit from ARDC Midgets and the 8th Annual Western PA All Star Sprint Speedweek on June 7. The biggest event, however, will happen when the newly formed USNA Big Block Modifieds take to the track.
Mike Leone, public relations director for Mercer, says the track will be the site of one of Pennsylvania's largest and wealthiest racing events of the year. "This season, we are actually going to have the biggest race in the history of dirt track racing in Pennsylvania when the USNA Big Block Modifieds come July 15 and 16 for a $150,000, 200-lap main event." A tentative format will have qualifying events for the Modifieds on Saturday and a challenge race between the top points cars of USNA against the top drivers of the '90s from western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. The event also serves as the biggest race on the USNA 2000 schedule.
Mercer will also be hosting its "Home Grown Specials" throughout the year. The unsanctioned events are designed to show appreciation for the area's competitors by earmarking 90 percent of the purse monies to go home with local drivers.
Moving ForwardMercer is carefully eyeing the future as the raceway's organizers have been hard at work in furthering the track's success. The raceway recently joined with three other speedways to promote the betterment of motorsports in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Along with Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio; New Castle's Hickory Speedway in New Castle, Pennsylvania; and Tri-City Speedway in Franklin, Pennsylvania, the tracks have announced plans to implement a coordination of division rules and launch a sincere effort to help lower costs for the area's competitors.
"I believe this is one of the best things I have heard in local racing for some time," Emig says. "We have a chance to bring our tracks together and offer our racers the opportunity to run three nights a week without confusion. They have long requested that tracks work together, and we are giving them what they want."
Improvements have not fallen on division rules alone. Once the '99 season ended in September, preparations began to give Mercer a facelift. Scheduled updates included a new catch fence and flag stand, new restroom facilities, and the filling of numerous ditches around the speedway. The track has been reclayed to improve on an already outstanding racing surface, and the new surface will see a myriad of drivers and divisions battle throughout an exciting 2000 season.
Track Facts31/48-mile clayD-shaped ovalSemibanked