OSCEOLA, Ind. (AP) — A northern Indiana drag strip has closed its gates after more than six decades of playing host to drag races.
The Osceola Dragway announced Friday in a Facebook post that it will not be opening for the 2021 season and that "after 63 years, our gates will be permanently closed."
Track officials wrote that the decision to close the site "was not an easy one" but said the coronavirus pandemic had impacted ongoing efforts that began in 2016 to sell the property, which is located a few miles west of Elkhart.
The International Hot Rod Association-sanctioned track had opened for a pandemic-shortened season in 2020, The Elkhart Truth reported.
Ryan Gortney, a longtime racer at the track, said in a statement that he was "devastated and in disbelief" by the dragway's closure.
The track was founded in 1957 and features a quarter-mile (.4-kilometer) drag strip through the center of the 170-acre (69-hectare) property, with adjacent bleachers.
Plans were announced in late 2019 to expand and transform the dragway under new ownership into the Hoosier Motorsports and Business Park, which would have boasted a test track, additional bleachers and office space.
But those plans were complicated by the pandemic and a lawsuit filed against St. Joseph County over the county's decision to rezone the land in order to allow the proposed expansion.