Race fans react to Baer Field Speedway closing

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) After more than 50 years in Fort Wayne, Baer Field Speedway is closed.

The promoter of the track announced Wednesday that it will shut its doors immediately. He said it’s mostly due to less attendance and low morale.

Race fans said although they understand the decision, they don’t agree with it.

“It’s an incredible feeling to hear that motor fire up for the first time at the beginning of the year and every time after that, it’s no different,” said Crew Chief Amber Albright.

Racers spent their summers at the track every summer for more than 50 years.

“There always seems to be good hootin’ and hollerin’ and cheering for the drivers,” said Albright.

However, up until recently, it’s been quiet.

Jon Raney took over Baer Field Speedway in late 2012.

He said he worked to modernize and clean up the facility, increase weekly prize money and bring new shows. He said it worked.

However, this year started the downward spiral.

Raney said the biggest obstacle was the racers’ support. He referenced drivers rejecting mufflers, which were enforced to keep the noise down. Then, after installing new safety requirements, he said drivers put down the track on social media.

Wednesday, he announced he will immediately cease operations.

“I was pretty upset. It was very disheartening. I mean, this is what I live for in the summer, this is what we look forward to at the end of each week and when we saw it, we thought it was some sort of a joke at first,” said Alright.

“I got family that races out here, got a lot of friends out here that races, I know they’re pretty heartbroken,” said Roger Gilford who had been coming to the track for about 30 years.

Albright said she abided by Raney’s rules and doesn’t respect the decision.

“I understand why he did it, a lot of backlash with all the rule changes and all the other changes that had been going on within the track, but you gotta listen to your drivers. I just feel there was a really big gap in communication,” said Alright.

It’s unclear at this point what will become of the speedway.

Future events at the speedway have been canceled. Fans said this decision won’t stop them from racing. Although they’re not happy about the drive, they’ll go somewhere else, like Angola or Anderson.

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