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Evergreen Raceway Track Facts
LOCATION: St Johns, PA.
About The Speedway
Formally known as Evergreen Raceway, New Evergreen Raceway Pocono Mountain Speedway, Mountain Speedway, Sundance Vacations Speedway and then back to Evergreen Raceway, the track most recently reopened it's doors for the 2016 racing season. It was a successful debut and the speedway has quickly become a favorite of race fans throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and beyond.
Racing at Evergreen Raceway normally begins in late April, and is open every weekend thru October. Competing with a rotating schedule throughout each month are the Modifieds, Late Models, Street Stocks, Factory Stocks, Four Cylinders, Strictly Stocks, Junior Four Cylinders and Legends. Extra events, such as Enduros and drifting shows take up other days during the busy months.
Evergreen Raceway continuously strives to make improvements to the facility ground and their operations. Such improvements include security and track cameras, a new office, upgraded concessions and restrooms. Other improvements in recent years include widening of the backstretch, new grandstand seating, paving of the entire pit area and transponder scoring. While many race facilities continue to close their doors, Evergreen Raceway has emerged as one of the premier short tracks in the Northeast United States.
After 60 Years, Evergreen Raceway Still Going Strong*
Since taking over as promoter of Evergreen Raceway in St. Johns, Jason Makarewicz has done an excellent job with upgrades and improvements to the storied 60-plus year old 1/3-mile speedway.
Makarewicz, and co-promoter, Gene Ostrowski are in their second season of conducting weekly races. Makarewicz took over the lease following the demise of the facility halfway through the 2014 season, when it was under different management. Jeff Owler was brought on as the track's competition director during the inaugural season in 2016 and has proven to be one of the speedway's mainstays,
A Little History*
Evergreen Raceway has been a part of the Hazleton area landscape for over fifty years now. C.G. Williams built Evergreen Park in the 1930's. It was basically an amusement park, not unlike many others popular in the area at the time. Kiddie rides, picnic areas and musical shows such as "The Opry" comprised some of the activities that took place in those early years.
Pete Solutko then tried his hand at ownership before he sold out to Frank Mazzo before World War II.
After the war, stock car racing at tracks such as Bone Stadium in Pittston, Dorney Park Speedway in Allentown, Hatfield Speedway in Hatfield, prompted Mazzo to add a speedway to the grounds. Tom Luchi, Sr., and his business, Luchi Construction, helped to create the new raceway.
The track is still in the exact same location and configuration today, as when it was constructed some 50 years ago.
One of the unique features of the track was the large uke tires that lined the backstretch wall and remained there until the 1988 re-opening when much safer Armco barriers where put in place all around the 1/3-mile.
Contraire to what some people may have thought, the track was always asphalt and never dirt. Asphalt was chosen simply because there was no dirt tracks at the time.
The track always drew a strong local following and even had NASCAR sanctioning for some races in the 1950's. The NASCAR sanctioned events where Sportsman races which today is the Busch Grand National Series.
Some of the more prominent drivers in competition during those fledgling days were Wilbur Reese, Marty Acker, John Crawford, Sr., John Kumernitsky, Woody Kaiser, John "Peepers" Yerger and Ed Spencer, Sr.
Hard times fell on the track during the early 1960's and the track went bankrupt and all operations ceased.
An ensuing Sheriff's sale found William Dipple the new owner of Evergreen, but it wasn't until Sam Minitsky and family bought it that things began to return to their perspective state. After 15 years of waiting, racing again returned to Evergreen in 1978.
Charlie Spencer who built the existing buildings and did many other projects to upgrade the grounds leased "New Evergreen Speedway". Friday and Sunday night racing programs were with limited success and promotional differences both on and off the track eventually led to the track closing again in 1982.
Sportsman Modifieds and Late Models were the two weekly racing divisions during the Spencer era. Some of the top names during that era included Tony Siscone, Gus Lewis, Richie Jensen, Pete Comstock and Tony Siscone.
Also during that time emerged two current day NASCAR stars. Tony Hirschman of Northampton cut his eyeteeth while racing at Evergreen. He was a track champion who had gone on to win three NASCAR Nation Modified titles. His son Matt is now a headline there.
Perhaps the most prominent name to come out of the speedway was Berwick native Jimmy Spencer. Many of his early career wins came there. Like Hirschman, Spencer also was a National Modified champion before reaching his current success in Winston Cup.
Current NASCAR stars, including Ryan Truex and Ryan Preece have also competed on the paved track.
After sitting idle for the next six years, the lease was taken over by Evergreen Raceway Inc., made up of Tom Luchi, Sr., and his son Tom Jr., who had raced Late Models throughout the area. Paul Weisel, Jr., northeast distributor of Firestone Tires and a former ARDC and USAC midget driver. Al Bauer, a competitor at Evergreen in the 50's and a car-owner during the Spencer era. Also Janet Kupsho who served as secretary and concessions manager. One year later Buddy Faux took over Bauer's share.
Since then many a rising star has seen action at the track including such notables as Eric Beers, Russ Frantz, Chuck Schartzer, Steve Clark, Mike Rodriguez, Don Wagner to name but a few.
Over the years many drivers have been able to use the track as springboard to higher levels of racing and proof of that comes from Berwick's' Jimmy Spencer and Tony Hirschman of Northampton. Both went on to capture multiple NASCAR Modified titles after spending several years at Evergreen Raceway.
Info compiled By Dino Oberto & Gene Ostrowski