Sue Pontius

Sue Pontius

By the sister of Sue Pontius

I know Sue can’t remember when she has ever seen her first race at the Port Royal Speedway, since her Mom always went on a regular basis before her untimely death in 1956. One of her favorite statements she makes when asked when she first started going to the races is, “I’ve been going since before I was born!”

The Port Royal Speedway is her home track where she grew up. Her father was track maintenance man for some twenty years at the facility. She knew what it was to pick stones off the track and run the water truck even when she couldn’t see over the steering wheel. Her brother was the late Butch Renninger who ran Semi-Lates, now known as the Late Model Division at the speedway, then he later went to Enduro racing for fun.

Since 1962, Sue has only missed about a dozen races at the Port Royal Speedway. Her husband thought it was quite funny when she read the weekly paper to learn she forgot about a mid-week race that happened without her. He told her, “See, they can race without you!” She started to be involed with the speedway back in 1962 when she was asked by the late past speedway president Charles Goodman and Robert Kauffman (Keith Kauffman’s late father) to help set-up and decorate for the racing banquets.

During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, she filled in for writing articles for the Port Royal Speedway program. Near the end of the 1970’s, she formed a committee and organized the Port Royal Speedway Hall of Fame in the Floral Hall on the Juniata County Fairgrounds. Due to security issues, the Hall of Fame had to close permanently and the collection was send down to the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing to be preserved.

In 1981, Sue was asked to serve on the Williams Grove Old Timers Board of Directors when the Latimore Valley Fairgrounds was picked as the site for the home of what we now know as the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing. Sue served on the board from 1981 through 1989.

In the fall of 1989, Sue decided to go back to college to earn her Associated Degree in Nursing to become a registered nurse. She graduated in May of 1992 from Harrisburg Area Community College. Just after two years in the nursing field, she was awarded the 1995 Lifeflight Award, an award equal to being named “Nurse of the Year” at the Polyclinic Hospital located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

In the early 1990’s, this is when Sue started to go out and do marketing for the Port Royal Speedway for then president Steve O’Neal. Race sponsors, billboards, and going to the racing trade shows in the winter months became a must. The second year at Motorsports, Port Royal Speedway’s display won first place! It featured a butter sculpture of Joe Hartz #88 then driver Lance Dewease.

History was in the making, the fall of 1997, Sue overheard someone in a grocery store talking about how good it will be when the Port Royal Speedway gets closed down. The discussion mentioned how the old wooden grandstand is really becoming a safety issue and the cost to replace it would be more than the Juniata County Agricultural Society would be able to bear.

Sue went home very upset and told her husband about it. She discussed it with her husband and the beginning of a two-year research project began for Sue. Her research on the computer lead her to Representative Dan Clark’s office to ask for help. As of October 1, 1999 Sue submitted her official grant proposal for funding for a new grandstand for the Juniata County Agricultural Society. On May 17, 2000, Sue received a fax from Representative Clark’s office informing her that the Juniata County Agricultural Society would be the recipient of an $800,000 grand from the Community Revitalization line in the Department of Community and Economic Development. The brand new all-aluminum 3200 seat grandstand was first opened to the public on May 26, 2001.

It’s hard to believe that was five years ago already. It’s hard to believe Sue is dreaming again. She has been currently working on having a special race in August 2007. Just as she was worried about the safety issue with the old wooden grandstand, she’s worried about the expenses of 410 sprint racing here in Pennsylvania.

Sue lives on a dairy farm some thirteen miles from the Port Royal Speedway with her husband, Marvin. She is the mother of two sons, Jason and Brandon. She works for the Department of Public Welfare in the Bureau of Managed Care as a registered nurse. She’s a member of the St. John’s Lutheran Church of Liverpool, PA. She serves on the Juniata County Agricultural Society Board of Directors since 2003. She is a member of the Perry Valley Grange from which she just received her twenty-five year member pin. She loves to cook and especially know for making homemade soups and homemade pies.

Congratulations, Sue, for your induction into the York County Racing Club Hall of Fame.