MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Hundreds came together at Williams Grove Speedway in Cumberland County Friday night, not just to enjoy the race, but to help a good cause.
It’s been a week since a driver was killed in a crash on the track; now fans, staff, and the other drivers are making sure his family knows he’s not forgotten.
The roar of the race has been part of Harold Kocher’s family for decades.
“We raced here in the ’50s and ’60s,” Kocher, sitting the Williams Grove stands, said between cars whizzing past with a deafening rumble.
In 1978, Lebanon native Dick “Toby” Tobias died on a New Jersey racetrack. Harold had raced with Tobias and knew what getting behind the wheel meant to him.
“That’s the way it is with most of the drivers,” he said. “They do it because they love the sport.”
Last Friday, the sport lost another passionate driver: Jim Campbell, Jr. His car hit a wall during warm-up laps at the Cumberland County speedway.
Campbell died on the track. He was 45.
“They’re going to be thinking about him for a long time,” Kocher said of the other drivers.
Friday — the first race since the crash — came a massive show of support. Proceeds from the 50-50 raffle tickets will go to the driver’s family.
“The racing community, it’s second to none,” said Kevin Maloy, PR director for the track. “It’s one big, giant family.”
The United Racing Club, here last week, donated their rain-check refunds, and fans were invited to do the same.
“It’s certainly an unusual thing,” Maloy said. “At least in my time involved in racing, I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Drivers banded together to collect donations, which was matched by the track, from the crowd at intermission — a rare break in the constant roar.
Everything here is loud, except a few seconds before the official start of the race. Fans rose in their seats for a moment of silence to remember Campbell.
The stands were quiet, until the national anthem started booming from the loudspeakers.
“The fans, you know, they might like a driver, they might not like another driver, they cheer them, they boo them,” Kocher said. “But when something like this happens, it’s like one big family coming together.”
At the end of the night, the total donated to the Campbell family came to 19,098.82.