Club officials aren’t even sure the track could be insured—and without insurance, “we wouldn’t be able to race,” says Bailey. “Hopefully, the solution can be found without going through the track property, disrupting residents of (neighboring) Fillmore Village and also risking the safety of students at Renaissance Academy. If we have to move or are shut down, we currently have nowhere to go.”
The club has dealt with similar issues in the past, stirring intermittent debate over whether such a track is a detriment or a benefit to the community. It’s one of about 70 tracks around the country—essentially Little Leagues for auto sports. The oldest continuously running dirt quarter midget track east of the Mississippi is the Hulman Mini Speedway, operated by the Terre Haute (Ind.) Quarter Midget Association since 1958. Out West, they pioneered the manufacturing of quarter midget cars, which are collectibles today. California’s Capitol Quarter Midget Association nurtured NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon. Regionally, there are seven tracks within a 50-mile radius of Phoenixville.
Begun in 1955, the Montgomery County club originated in Collegeville before bouncing between various sites. One, a junkyard, was abandoned when the cars kept picking up broken glass. The original Phoenixville track was located just behind deSanno Field, home to the town’s Babe Ruth League. For years, Wednesday evenings were particularly popular at the venue because fans could watch both baseball and racing. After developers broke ground on a senior housing development on the property, the club moved to its current home outside Phoenixville in 2004.
These days, some drivers are third-generation racers. Club secretary Michele Pinder has been involved for nearly 30 years. Her uncle and cousin raced, and she has a daughter who started at 9. Her other daughter, Cassi, began racing at age 5, traveling as far as Knoxville, Tenn., to compete.
Reis equates the excitement of race day to an emotional rollercoaster. “Your heart is in it because your kid’s racing, but it’s not just your kid,” he says. “If someone gets a flat tire, 50 people go help get that car back on the track. That’s what it’s about.”
And the trophies are nice, but so is seeing his son smile. “He wants to show everyone his race cars,” says Reis. “He can’t get enough of that.”