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Dirt track racing documentary by Penn State students to premiere in Lock Haven

several dirt track race cars
Penn State
The Penn State student film "Dirt Circus," focused on dirt track racing at the Clinton County Speedway in Mill Hall, will premiere Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023 in Lock Haven.

Penn State students and faculty premiere a new sports documentary at the Roxy Theatre in Lock Haven on Tuesday. “Dirt Circus” centers on competitors at the Clinton County Speedway, a dirt racing track in Mill Hall, Pennsylvania.

John Affleck is the director of the John Curley Center for Sports Journalism at Penn State, which produced the film. He said he’s also the one who initially thought to make a film on dirt track racing, scouting a few tracks before settling on Clinton County’s.

“At a time when it feels like people are really divided into cultural groups, I think it’s good to take a look at a subculture and just see what the attraction is,” Affleck said.

The film, which runs just under 17 minutes, was shot entirely by students, he said. From start to finish, it took about a year.

Matthew Gelhard is one of the handful of students who worked on the documentary. Although he said he had little prior experience with film before he began, he said he will attend Tuesday’s premiere “with pride.”

The senior said he grew to enjoy the sport and appreciate the local culture on display at the track each Friday.

“For us to be there, and [the] more they invited us in, we were sort of part of the family,” he said. “For six, seven, eights weeks, we were part of the racing team, part of what Clinton County is.”

The event will run for about an hour with time after the film for questions. Profits generated from the premiere will benefit local fire and EMS services.

James Engel is a WPSU news intern and senior at Penn State.