Speedway Info Mountain Speedway is a 1/3 mile asphalt oval
located in the beautiful mountains of northeast Pennsylvania. The
speedway hosts exciting stock car racing every weekend from April to
October, making it one of NEPA's premier entertainment attractions.
Formally known as Evergreen Raceway and
then Mountain Speedway, Mountain Speedway opened
it's doors in the year 2000 to a highly successful debut season. The Speedway
has quickly become a favorite of race fans throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania
Racing at Sundance Vactions Speedway begins in early April, and is open
every weekend thru October. Competing during a typical weekly event are the
Asphalt Modifieds, Late Models, Street Stocks, and the entry level Factory
Stock, INEX Legends and 4 Cyl. FWD
Divisions. A host of special events also help fill the jam packed schedule, with
frequent visits from the Mini Cups and many others.
Mountain Speedway has undergone significant improvements since
the 2000 season, including widening of the backstretch, new grandstand seating,
paving of the entire pit area, improved concessions, transponder scoring, foam
safety walls, and much more. While many race facilities continue to close their
doors, Mountain Speedway has emerged as one of the premier short tracks in the
Northeast United States.
After 50 Years, Mountain Speedway Still Going Strong*
Since taking over as promoter of
Mountain Speedway in St. Johns,
Joe Callavini has done an excellent job with upgrades and improvements to the
storied 50-plus year old 1/3-mile speedway.
The owner and operator of D & B Towing in Humboldt, Callavini,
now in his third season of conducting weekly races, took over promoting the
track after the ill-fated attempt by New Yorker Ron Hills nearly closed the
track for good at the start of the 1999 season. After just four events of that
year, the track sat dormant with it's future hanging in the balance of courtroom
But, by the following year, race cars where again making laps
thanks to the perseverance of Callavini along with a workforce of dedicated
drivers and fans who put forth the effort to keep racing alive at the St. Johns
It was by no means an easy task, especially in terms of the
legal battles that Callavini had to endure. But his determination paid off and
today he has successfully brought the track back to glory.
A Little History*
Mountain Speedway 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
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.
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 and Don Wagner to name but a few.
A New Era: Joe Callavini Brings Speedway Back To Prominence*
wasn't all that long ago that Mountain Speedway seemed doomed to become a
dormant facility. The 50-plus year asphalt track situated in scenic St. Johns
was very close to becoming inactive not soon after the start of the 1999 season.
year started out under the outlook of a new promotional era when New Yorker Ron
Hills made an ill-fated attempt to run the track. As it turned out the only
thing Hills was running was himself away from bill collectors and racers looking
to be paid. His money supply, or lack of, had run dry in a hurry and the track
was forced to cease operations within a month after getting started.
looked bleak from that point, however, enter 64-year old Joe Callavini, a local
Hazleton area businessman who had a strong liking for the track and could not
see fit to let the place fall.
a mutual relationship with the owner of the property Callavini was able to
strike up a deal to run the track and by October of that same year he was the
1999 some fella took the track over for about four weeks and he wound up going
out of business if you want to call it that. All of the racers had nowhere to
race at that point. I was friends with the owner of the land and I contacted him
and he told me if I wanted it I could have it. There were several other people
who wanted it but we were friends so we made a deal," said Callavini who owns
and operates D & B Towing of Humboldt.
Callavini immediately went to work on desperately needed renovations. Since then
what he's been able to do has been nothing short of noteworthy. The track has
taken on a remarkable facelift and has come up to the standards by which many
leading short tracks around the nation are measured by. The first thing Callavini and company did was to tear down the hill-side seating
and install stadium style bleachers which where placed as close as possible to
the front stretch giving fans a whole new viewing perspective.
The view from the
bleachers is as close to the action as possible
the whole pit area has been paved. New guard railing replaced the war-torn old
ones and a long list of other amenities had been dealt with. The general
appearance of the grounds is very appealing.
Computer technology is also playing a big roll. A high-tech scoring system was
brought in to help with timing and scoring. With the use of computerized
transponders every car is now monitored accurately after running each lap. A
modern scoring/announcing and V.I.P. tower sits just above the start/finish line
now, as well.
we got the go-ahead to come in we started renovating the place. We did a lot of
work trying to get it to what it is now and even more than what it is," noted
hard work has been worth it. He's always been a fan of the track and is doing a
high-quality job in making it prosper.
good little track. There are a lot of people who like coming here. It's
something we're trying to make for everyone to have a place to go around here,"
enjoy racing. My son Barry raced here for several years before we took it over.
We like racing and we want to see the track be a success. The drivers who race
here are all good people and very supportive of the track. This is very family
oriented. These people love to race and we love to have them here. So we need to
make it as nice as we can for them and the whole community as well."
Callavini also touched on how the track plays into the local economy. Not quite
like the scale that nearby Pocono Raceway does for a Sprint Cup event but much
in the same manner only smaller. "We know that when we have guests coming from all over they support this whole
area. You'll see them at local restaurants, gas stations and hotels. It brings
revenue into the area. We also pay an amusement tax to Butler Township every
month. We do a lot to support the Butler Township Ambulance and Fire squad too.
Race fans gather for an
autograph and camera session
want to make the track appealing to everyone in the area and there is a lot more
we hope to do as things go on."
work has been paying off. Not only is there a strong local base that competes
but also regionally racers from all over Pennsylvania as well as New York, New
Jersey and Connecticut make the haul to the 1/3-mile oval.
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 the Mountain, then known as Evergreen
track is getting the reputation of being one of the best tracks around for short
track racing and we're proud of that. We feel we're very fair to the drivers and
our officials do an excellent job of regulating the rules.
not just racing here. We're also providing the area with entertainment. The more
we work at this, the bigger we're going to get. The support of our fans means
support for the whole area. People come here to watch the races and see their
favorite cars win and do well and that's what it's all about."
Twelve Years and Counting...
Entering its 12th season of competition,
Mountain Speedway has teamed up with Sundance Vacations and renamed
the track to Sundance Vacations Speedway. The combined effort for the next
seasons was established not only for the benefit of two business owners, but also
for to help benefit the racers themselves through multiple contingency programs.
The track name switched back to Mountain Speedway for the 2011 season.