By Dino Oberto

(LEHIGHTON 12-11-11) Mahoning Valley Speedway is under new management. In an agreement finalized on Saturday, December 10 held at the track, 66-year old Floyd Santee of Slatington has signed on as the new lease holder, taking over the track from Doug and Gena Hoffman who had been in control of the Lehighton paved quarter mile oval since 2005.

Doug Hoffman, who is one of the most successful dirt Modified drivers of this era, assumed responsibility of the track prior to the start of the ’05 season. He and his wife had made it known at the start of this season that they would not be returning to promote, thus a number of names began to emerge as possible new track operators.

Santee, the successful business owner of Floyd’s Used Clothing and Household Items and Floyd’s Old Toys of Slatington, was able to put together the funds necessary for a lease agreement with land owner, Charles Abershinsky of Delaware, and becomes the successor to run the 60-year old race track.

“It’s something I always wanted to do. I knew the lease was coming up so decided I wanted to make a try at it. I have been involved in one way or another in racing since 1962 and this opportunity came up to take over the track so I’m going to give it my best shot,” said Santee.

Santee and his family have been affiliated with eastern Pennsylvania short track racing for the past 50 years, primarily on pavement.

He started as a driver and turned his first competitive laps at age 17 in the Hobby class at the defunct Dorney Park Speedway in Allentown in a 1949 Chevy he purchased for $15.00.

In 1971 he switched to Late Models which he also raced at Dorney as well as Mahoning and Mountain Speedways. He ran on dirt at Grandview, Mok-A-Tek and Nazareth. Santee raced Modifieds and Street Stocks for a time also.

By the late 1980s Santee turned to the role of car owner with his son, Floyd ‘Chip’ Santee III as his wheelsman. Chip was a respectable Late Model driver but his real success came when his dad put him in a Modified. He is a two time (2002-2007) Mahoning Modified track champion and his 25 career wins with the class ranks him fifth all-time.

A younger son, Adam Santee plus his grandson Austin Santee as well as his nephew Joe Roberts, are all regulars of Mahoning’s current Street Stock class. There is a long list of other family members affiliated in racing.

Although he has been around the sport for over a half-century, this will be his first foray in promoting.

“I really like the speedway. Of all the tracks I have been too I like Mahoning the best as far as watching a race. You always see good passing. It’s a small and exciting track,” said Santee.

“There’s a lot we have to do. I would like to sometime soon set up a meeting with everyone, drivers and teams, and answer any questions that they may have. I would like to do that now and not on race day so we’ll be ready to roll without many glitches.

“As of right now I also plan to keep everyone on board. The track has always had a great support staff of workers.”

Santee takes the reigns of a successful operation from the Hoffman’s who worked tirelessly to make Mahoning Valley a premier short track which has gained nationwide attention under their direction.

“It’s going to be good for the racers and I’m sure he’ll (Santee) give everyone a fair shake,” said Doug Hoffman.

“As far as this goes, it’s a chapter in my life that is closed and now it’s time to move on. It’s time to do something different and the timing is just right.”

Under their management the Hoffman’s have gotten yearly raves for their continued effort to maintain a fair and level playing field for the racers while providing fans with some of the most exciting and close competition anywhere. The Modified 100 Poker Series became their signature event and has been dubbed as one of the most unique promotions in short track racing.

“We didn’t hurt the place. We increased the Modifieds in what is paid to win. We had cut out the entry fee for a regular show. We made it free for kids in the grandstands. We made it an affordable place for the average Saturday night fan to come out and watch racing,” said Hoffman.

“The guys who race there make it exciting. Between dirt and asphalt it’s two different worlds but Mahoning Valley Speedway has some of the best races that I’ve ever seen. I’ve built some great relationships with some pretty cool guys there.”

Santee has already begun putting the wheels in motion of preparing a schedule. All five regular track classes, Modifieds, Late Models, Street Stocks, Dirt Mods and Pro4 Late Models will remain in place.

“At the present time we will run all five of the regular weekly classes. There will be added shows from a few traveling organizations. I have had some calls already from the folks with the TQ Midgets and the (XCEL) 600cc Modifieds and I know we’ll be talking with a few others,” said Santee.

“I would like to still do the Poker Series. There has always been a great response from that. There are a few other things as we’d like to do with our Modifieds.”

Plans are being set for a mid-April opener preceded by test and tune days in late March, early April. The track’s website, which had been offline the past week, will be back up and running shortly.

As for Hoffman he did not indicate what his future plans are.

“I don’t know what that’s going to be because I never really planned on being a race car driver and I did that for a long time. I never planned on being a race track promoter and I did that for a while. I’m completely satisfied, I’m comfortable and I’m at a good place in my life. I don’t know what’s coming next but who knows.”