The future of auto-racing competition at Lancaster Speedway is in serious jeopardy.
Track owner Gordon Reger said Tuesday he intends to sell the track. If the dual stock car/drag-racing facility is not sold before next season, there might not be a season. Auto racing has been conducted at Lancaster every year since 1959.
Reger, who has owned Lancaster for nearly two decades, said the goal of recent meetings he has conducted has not been to replace outgoing track president Tim Packman but rather to sell the speedway.
"I'm not replacing Tim Packman," Reger told The News. "My company will not be operating the track (Lancaster) next season. I've got too many other business deals going on right now to be focused on the track. If I don't sell it, I don't know what's going to happen with it. I really don't want to be involved in it at this point. If I can't sell it or perhaps get some other arrangement, I'm not going to open the track."
Reger did not elaborate on what other options he may be contemplating. He also stressed that no final decision about boarding up the track for good has been made, and he is keeping his options open.
"I don't want to be negative about it, but it's a distraction for me at this point," Reger said. "I'm just not interested in operating the track. We'll find somebody to take it over or do something I hope, but it's not going to operate any longer under my watch. ... I will keep everyone updated. Right now it's all about trying to sell the track."
Packman, who was hired by Reger in October 2015, announced in July that he was ending his three-year run as Lancaster track president after the 2018 season to pursue other opportunities. Lancaster's 2018 season concluded last week. Packman declined to comment Tuesday.
If Lancaster should close, it would be the second local race track to close in the last year. Little Valley Speedway, located on the Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds, closed during its 2017 campaign, citing dwindling profits and a general loss in local auto racing interest by the community.
Lancaster's potential demise comes at a time when the track has enjoyed a rebound over the last three years under Packman. Attendance and car counts have been on an upswing in both the stock car and drag racing programs.
Packman arrived and brought a new enthusiasm and a solid promotional and business plan to the Gunnville Road facility. Reger did his part during the Packman years, investing in capital improvements to the physical structure of the longtime facility.
A Lancaster closing would be devastating to the area auto-racing scene. For decades, drivers, crews, officials, fans and many others have grown up with and enjoyed the racing there. Along with the core weekly stock car program, many traditional stock car events, such as the prestigious U.S. Open Weekend and other oval track specials, would disappear. The Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Series, which hosted five popular dates in 2018, would suddenly lose those dates.
Lancaster hosts the only sanctioned drag racing strip in the Buffalo and surrounding area. The next closest drag strip is Empire Dragway in Leicester, at least an hour from Buffalo.