SEAFORD — As its 2021 season races into autumn, Middleford Speedway owner Greg Mitchell is hoping for a checkered flag from Sussex County, gaining permission for vehicles with 4-cylinder engines to race at the facility.
Mr. Mitchell has applied to the county’s Planning & Zoning Commission for a conditional use permit for races with Delaware Super Trucks and Delmarva Chargers, both 4-cylinder-type vehicles, on the quarter-mile dirt oval off Coverdale Road, east of Seaford.
The move comes after some nearby residents complained about noise.
“According to them, they said I can only run motorcycles, go-carts … or anything with a motorcycle engine in it,” said Mr. Mitchell, who purchased the property in late 2016. “When I bought the place, I had a neighbor go to Planning & Zoning and complain. That’s what they dug up on it. They contacted me and said I have to get a conditional use. That’s what it’s all about.”
According to Mr. Mitchell, when the Middleford track “closed up in 2012 — it was sold shortly after the end of the racing season — the trucks had run here for three years before closing, and the Delmarva Chargers, which is a front-wheel-drive car, had run here for six years before closing.”
Since the 1970s, the speedway has been a venue for various form of racing, including go-carts and motocross. Mr. Mitchell, who previously ran an auto-salvage business, began leasing the speedway out after purchasing it.
“I leased it out to the motocross people for 2017. We started building (for 4-cylinder vehicles) in spring 2018, and we didn’t get it done until the end of 2019,” he said.
Then came COVID-19.
“We really didn’t get to race until October of last year,” Mr. Mitchell added.
Super Trucks are a popular class among competitors and fans.
“I’ll be honest with you, the trucks are a major part of the racing right now,” he said. “Some nights they are best class here.”
Middleford Speedway has about four or five remaining race weekends, beginning this Saturday. They are scheduled to avoid conflict with events at Georgetown Speedway and Delaware International Speedway in Delmar.
Mr. Mitchell said that, contrary to the rumor mill, there is no danger the speedway will be closing or shut down.
According to a Sept. 13 post on Middleford Speedway’s Facebook page, the facility has obtained a “temporary conditional use permit,” while pursuing full permission for 4-cylinder racing.
Mr. Mitchell said the Super Trucks and the Chargers (which will not be racing for the remainder of the season) have mufflers to tone down the engine noise. Additionally, the track utilizes a decibel reader.
Though he does not yet have a date with Planning & Zoning, Mr. Mitchell is hopeful for conditional use soon.
“It is a vehicle. It makes noise. We’re putting mufflers on them,” he said. “I don’t see why it should be a big deal.”