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LOCAL SPEEDWAYS REACT TO TRAGEDIES DIFFERENTLY

On a weekend when everyone was far more preoccupied with honoring the American flag rather then cheering for checkered ones, some area speedways went ahead and threw the green flag while others postponed racing activity for a week.

Even as Steve Lewis stood in victory lane Saturday night following his win in the Raceway Speed & Performance NAPA DIRT Pro-Stock King of The Hill 100 at Ransomville Speedway, his thoughts were very much on the tragic events that unfolded in this country this past week.

Lewis' car had a large paper replica of the American flag taped to its roof. He talked about it just after he held off Pat McCoy and Joe Stefanski in a thrilling last-lap dash to the checkered flag.

"We put it on before the race to pay tribute to the victims of the tragic events," said Lewis. "It's a terrible thing. There's obviously no way to make up for it or know exactly how the survivors and families are feeling. The flag is on the car as a tribute to them. I was glad I could win with it on the car."

Ransomville and Lancaster Motorsports Park held their scheduled weekly racing programs, while Holland Speedway postponed its NASCAR All-Division Season Championships and rescheduled it for Saturday.

According to Ransomville public relations director Tana Robinson, after much thought the track decided to go on as scheduled with the two-days of racing.

"We called DIRT (Weedsport-based group that sanctions Ransomville's racing), as well as other speedways such as Lancaster," Robinson said. "I finally called Congressman John LaFalce's office for guidance. All of these parties urged us not to cancel. John's office told us that they wanted Niagara County-based businesses to get back to work, and our racetrack is a Niagara County-based business. We're not trying to be insensitive to anyone. In fact we carried out a ceremony here that honored our country, remembered the victims and helped all of us to cope with what has happened."

Robinson stressed that special activities at the track this past weekend were carried out to remember those suffering from the tragedy, to build hope and possibly help with the healing. In a ceremony held Friday, an ordained minister spoke to the crowd. Drivers and crews walked out and lined the backstretch to remember those in need. Then the Lee Greenwood song, "God Bless the USA," was played.

"We received several compliments about the way we did our tribute and remembrance ceremony," said Ransomville co-promoter Jamie Friesen.

Each race night of the season at Ransomville a 5 0/5 0 draw is held by the FOAR Score Fan Club, with half the money raised going to a ticket holder and the remainder going into the drivers' season points fund. The drivers' portion of the draw was given to the American Red Cross this weekend. Donations for were collected as well.

Lancaster also deliberated before deciding to throw the green flag this weekend. It did cancel the amateur drag racing program Tuesday, the day of the terrorists' strikes. That will run this Tuesday.

"It's difficult, very difficult, to deal with what's happened as well as thinking about racing this weekend," Lancaster operations manager Jennifer Fidanza said. "We talked to other tracks. We talked to IHRA, which sanctions our drag racing. We hope by doing some things here to help the cause that we can contribute to this nation's effort."

Lancaster ran three races this weekend: drag racing events Friday and Sunday and a stock car program Saturday. The track's management is donating $1 from every admission ticket from each event to the American Red Cross. Lancaster donated the drivers' half of the FOAR Score 5 0/5 0 raffle from Saturday's races to the Red Cross. Ceremonies of remembrance also took place.

Holland decided to take a different approach to the situation.

"We feel the most appropriate action we can take is to set aside our activities so that we all may join together as a nation and together express our sorrow and grief," Holland General Manager Tim Bennett said.

Fans who attend the rescheduled Holland event at 4:30 p.m. Saturday are asked to bring an American flag. Holland also will have donation locations set up around the speedway grounds so fans can make a donation to the American Red Cross.

Freedom Raceway ran its season-closing race card Friday. Wyoming County International Speedway continued with its two days of racing. Merrittville Speedway canceled Saturday's race card.

Winners from Saturday's action at Lancaster included: Wayne Turnbull (TQ Midgets), Jim Ling (Strictly Stock), Jarrod Brown (Street Stock) and Ron Nurmi (Late Model).

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