Racers, crews and fans flocked to Jennerstown Speedway for practice Saturday afternoon to get their first look at the track in anticipation of Opening Night.
"This is truly a humbling experience," Jennerstown Speedway Co-General Manger Bill Hribar said. "We are two-times ahead of where we were last year. The teams that make the commitment see the rewards. A lot of teams are still working on their cars but the teams that were ready we here."
Steve Long, who drives the No. 27 Street Stock model car, is eager for the upcoming season.
"I am excited about how many cars are here and how many people are excited about this," Long, who began his career at Jennerstown 10 years ago, said. "It is like it used to be back in the 90s when I first started going to race tracks. People are happy to be here and to have a place to go Saturday night. This is like family. Everyone in this group here all helps each other. There is a bunch of these little groups all over Jennerstown. It is like going camping with your buddies, except you have race cars."
Long added: "I'm new to the Street Stock. I built a new car over the winter. My goal for this season is to continue working on the car and get it right before we even try to get a win. It is going to be a while."
With some of the largest crowds taking in racing action last year at Jennerstown, Hribar is hoping for more of the same this season.
"We consider ourselves the second largest city in Somerset County on Saturday nights," Hribar said. "We are expecting record-breaking crowds this year. With better car talent, you will see an increase in fan base."
Hribar added: "We are trying to make Jennerstown great again. We feel that we are the best kept secret in the Laurel Highlands. We want people that were racing fans in the past to come back out again and get hooked."
The season kicks off Saturday night with five divisions hitting the tracks. Gates open at 4 p.m. with racing beginning at 6 p.m.