East Coast Trip January 21 &22, 2011
Thursday I made a last minute decision to take a trip after I heard the high here was only to be 7 degrees and I would only get one new ice track if I stayed at home. So the lure of two indoor tracks and my desire to see if I was recovered enough to make a long weekend in the van was enough to get me scrambling at noon and within an hour I was on the road. There was a fast moving storm in the Ohio valley and I was just behind the snow so that I was on wet or snowy roads in Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky but it was getting late and the traffic was light. Friday morning the weather was cold but clearing as I headed through Tennessee and into the Carolinas. Tonight’s stop was in Florence South Carolina at the Florence Civic Center where the monster truck show would also include some racing. The Civic Center was a nice building with a fairly small concrete floor that was set up with the five monster trucks pitting along one side and two rows of 5 junked cars set up in the middle of the arena. The thrill show program called for flat track motorcycle racing and legend car racing between the monster trucks and motorcycle aerial tricks. A good crowd filled about one third of the seats and the trucks made some runs across the cars with one truck breaking the rear steering and needing some repair work. The oval track was set up easily with the 10 junked cars forming the infield of the track along with 4 orange traffic cones to help mark the turns. The cycles raced next with 28 cycles in 5 classes as they ran 6 heats on the very slippery concrete floor. After intermission the two motorcycle stuntmen did their jumping off a ramp in the middle and the flat track cycles ran their oval features before the monster trucks finished out the night with their freestyle runs. There was no sign of any legend cars and no explanation of what may have happened to their advertised appearance so I had no new track and no countable race chasing event for tonight! Saturday I drove north and took time to drive along the Outer Banks of North Carolina with a stop at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills. The weather was cold and windy (it is always windy at Kill Devil Hill that is why the Wright’s chose this location) but what a surprise when I crossed the southern bridges to find a snow storm in progress and the bridges were snow covered and slippery. Five miles north and I was out of the snow squall. I proceeded to drive north to the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond Virginia for stop to see the Arena Racing scheduled for 7PM tonight. Again a nice modern Coliseum this one in downtown Richmond and the lower level was nearly filled with an enthusiastic crowd for the mini cup cars that race on a banked 1/10-mile aluminum track that is set up on the arena floor. The track is surrounded with aluminum walls and has plastic barriers inside on the straightaways. A section of the track must be unlatched and rolled back to allow cars into the infield and onto the racing surface. At 7PM they had a high school choir sing the National Anthem and all 22 mini cup cars were already in the infield of the track. They started racing immediately with the “A” feature of 50 laps for fastest 8 cars with 6 transferring to the Top Dog race. Josh Ayer from third won the first race that had only one yellow flag. The second race was the 50-lap “B” feature for the second fastest group and another 4 would transfer to the Top Dog race. Charlie Green won this one that went 48 laps before the only yellow appeared. Jason Styron came from 4th and won the 50-lap “C” feature that also had one yellow and transferred 4 more to the Top Dog race. There was a break here to remove the cars to the pit area and bring in the 9 mini cup cars in the rookie class for their two 30 lap races. Cullen Roberts won the first non-stop race from the pole and Macy Causey took the second race from 3rd. Again the track was opened and the rookies went to the pits with the 14 cars for the Top Dog 50-lap feature brought into the arena. The blocking and pushing became more intense in this finale as 5 yellows flew in the middle portion of the race as Scott Prillaman started third and won over Derek Miller from 5th and Jordan Wood from 7th. The races were done before 9:30PM in an efficient and entertaining manner and the spectators were invited to the track after the races just as they were before the racing started.
Ice Racing January 29 & 30, 2011
Saturday was a chance to stay in Wisconsin for an ice race and get a new track too. Jack Erdmann heard an announcement on the radio promoting the Gresham Lions Club Winter Carnival and they said it would include some ice races. After some checking he found that the group that usually races in Tilleda at Lake Speed would today be racing at the Gresham Lions Club Winter Carnival on Upper Red Lake. Saturday I was on the road early for the drive up north and arrived at Upper Red Lake about noon for the 1PM start of racing. The festival had broom hockey and some timed drag runs for snowmobiles and quads going on when I arrived and some ice racers were taking practice laps on the quarter mile oval that was plowed out. There were snow walls surrounding the inside and outside of the oval and a plowed pit area as well as some plowed viewing areas around the 3rd and 4th turns and on the backstretch. You could see pretty well from your car but the walls were high due to the deep snow. The oval races drew 5 front wheel drive studded cars, 18 rear wheel drive (non-studded) cars and 16 front wheel drive non studded cars in addition to 8 ATV’s that ran studded and non-stud classes. The show also drew three Track Chasers as Dale O’Brien joined Jack and I as racing got underway on time with 6 heats for the cars and they all went 8 non-stop laps. After the ATV heats and a short intermission the 15-lap features started. Brice Huntington started the studded FWD class in 5th and used the outside line to pass the entire field and claim the win over Tony Everard in a non-stop race. The rear wheel drive feature started all 18 cars and was stopped after a first turn spin for a complete restart. There were 4 laps in the books when Dale Wetor spun and collected Austin Olson head on and that required Olson to be towed off. After this second stoppage they raced until lap 12 when Kyle Lemke spun and was stuck but had the driver door facing traffic and the final slow down occurred. The top point cars were started to the rear and Chucky Forstner started 16th and came through traffic to score the win over Les Slater from 15th, Tony Wudstrack from 13th and Mel Westphal from 14th. The FRD cars started all 16 in their feature and it was Tom Brandt coming through the field from 13th to take the win. B J Giese finished second from 12th and Dusty Grall started 11th and took third place at the finish to wrap up a very entertaining auto racing program. The ATV feature rounded out the day and I was on my way by 4PM. Sunday I noticed the International Ice Racing Association had moved their races to Madison Lake in Madison Lake Minnesota so I drove over to Minnesota after an overnight stop at the webmaster’s house to check on the grandchildren. I arrived about 10:30AM at Madison Lake and found some cars on the track practicing. The track is a road course of about a mile that has 8 turns and long straight-aways. There was good snow depth so there was high snow banks plowed along the course. They drew 12 cars today for two sprint races (10 laps) and the enduro (90 minutes). The Cody and Chad Reinhofer car took off from the pole and won the first sprint race that started at 11AM. After a short break the second sprint race started with the same starting order as the first but Reinhofer dropped out after 6 laps and Mark Utecht scored the win. The racers took a lunch break and got ready for the enduro that would start at 1:30PM and run for an hour and a half. Only 9 cars started the enduro and Utecht who started 4th was soon in command and running steady laps out front. After 90 minutes the Utecht/ Luehman/ Steen car had completed 61 laps and took the win with a 2 lap lead over Brent Carlson/David Steen. Seven of the cars were still running at the end and with the exception of some flat tires and a few runs into the snow banks it was a pretty smooth race. I headed out immediately and got home by 8PM to wrap up the long day.