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Giants Despair Hillclimb returns to Luzerne County

Folks tell Newswatch 16 it's not just the course that's challenging the racers, it's the gas prices as well.

LUZERNE COUNTY, Pa. — It's the green light for the annual racing weekend in Laurel Run near Wilkes-Barre.

"We have another running of the Giants Despair Hillclimb, it's been going on since 1906 it's a tradition to the town you know covid kind of put a halt to one year but the last few years we've been back up and running good. We have 94 cars this year so you know it's the price of gas and how the world is today it's a good show out," said Bill Feist, Vice President of Giants Despair Hillclimb Association.

Eli Sharp from Stroudsburg admits that the increase at the pump is on her mind.

"Well, obviously it's an extra burden. I mean, Racing's not cheap at the best of times," said Sharp.

So gas prices are leading her to be selective about the races she attends but Giants Despair was a must. 

"Well we've got people that come from Pittsburgh normally to the races that around here and you know, they haven't to be selected for us. This is a local event. You know, it's only an hour down the road, and three of the other events and nice and local. So we'll do those and then we'll see what next year brings," said Sharp.

Race car drivers tell Newswatch 16 racing fuel is almost three times as expensive as the gasoline everyone else sees at the pump.

"Yeah, it is, but you only live once. So time to splurge, I guess is what you would say," said Butch King, New Hampshire.

That's the philosophy shared by many drivers.

"You know, I used to complain about that. And then a friend of mine said, George, you're going to be dead a long time. So I don't worry about it anymore. He kind of straightened me out on that," said George Bowlend, South Carolina.

Even if some of these drivers are driving hundreds of miles to be here over the course of a few days.

"It is what it is. I mean, you can't change it. You can cry about it, but it ain't gonna change. So, and the wife and I haven't done much this summer so we wanted to go for a ride so we're going for a ride," said King.

"No, we're crazy to do this. So fuel prices just simply not going to affect our craziness," said Bowlend.

"We're going. I don't care what it costs," said Jack Danko, Laurel Run.

Jack Danko of Laurel Run says the road conditions are more of a concern to him than the fuel prices.

"In turn three you go up on the elbow going inside there it bounces the heck out of you. I was thinking about going flat out through there get over and get back in but no way not with those bounces," said Danko.

Those participating in the race, as well as organizers, were both pleased the increase in fuel didn't seem to keep spectators from the event either.

"It's great for the community. All local businesses make out, everybody has to eat somewhere, the hotels get people staying in their hotels. It's a good all around event for everybody," said Feist.

The annual Giants Despair Hillclimb continues Sunday in Laurel Run.

Check out WNEP’s YouTube channel.  

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