On The Road Again !!

Welcome to the blog site of 6 time super-fan Ed Esser. The question people ask me isn't when is the next race, it's when is the next time I'll be home. Over 68,000 miles were logged on the '04 Dodge Caravan in 2011 in search of over 130 auto races. My blog site helps race fans know where and when to go to some of the best auto races around the country. I've got schedules for series all around the U.S.and results from the tracks and races I've attended. I'll tell you where I've been, where I'm heading and as always what races and tracks are worth going back to. See you at the races!!!

2011 In Review

"The 6 time super-fan winner went to 120 tracks this year in 26 different states. The '04 Caravan logged over 68,000 miles in search of 130 races. Over $1,750.00 was spent on race admissions and 78"new" tracks were visited this year in search of great auto racing. To say Ed Esser is a dedicated fan is an understatement, he's a Super-Fan!"

Now first overall in the USA trackchaser standings, Ed has over 1,423 tracks that he has visited. Check out the reviews and schedules of where he has been and where he is heading.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Race Report 04

Florida Speedweeks February 14 – 19, 2011

Monday was Valentines Day and after a late lunch at Planet Hollywood it was time to make a return visit to the New Smyrna Speedway for a look at more late model and modified racing. The day was sunny and warm but the night cools off quickly. The breeze was from our back and having it ten degrees warmer tonight made it seem much more comfortable. Again racing started on time at 7:30PM with a 25 lap feature for the 15 tour modifieds and Chuck Hossfeld held the lead from the front to the first yellow at the 22nd lap. Hossfeld then held off Ted Christopher on the restart and won a close race. The 25-lap crate late model race was next with 23 cars going 14 laps before the first of 4 yellows. Andrew Gresel started 5th and out dueled Mark Latulippe in the front but the results do not show his name so I assume he was disqualified in tech for some reason and Latulippe got the win over Zach Germain from 7th. The ACT late models ran their 100-lap feature next with two quick yellows then 6 more spread out in the race that featured many side by side laps as the front runners from last night were started in the 9th row of tonight’s feature. Spencer MacPherson and Mike Bruno led early then Jonathan Urlin took over. Brian Hoar started 13th and took over the lead after a lap 77 restart and held off Mark Lamberton from 14th in a very good race at the front. Urlin came across third and Wayne Helliwell from 15th was fourth. Joey Polewarczyk was fifth from 18th and earned the point title for the two nights over Lamberton. The 6 SK modifieds ran a 15-lap feature with one yellow and Earl Paules won from 4th. The night concluded with the 14 Florida modifieds going 25 laps with one yellow and 8th starter Tank Tucker picked up another win. Jerry Symons started 7th and finished second with Tim Moore in third. Tuesday afternoon was sunny and warm and a perfect day to visit the Auburndale Speedway in the afternoon for the start of their 5 days of legend and Bandolero racing. The track is a banked quarter mile paved oval with concrete walls on the outside and no markings on the inside just the drop off from pavement to the grass. There are big grandstands but for this week they only had pit admissions for sale so few if any people were in the main grandstand most just sat in the pit bleachers. There were 2 classes of Bandoleros (8 Bandits and 11 outlaws) and 4 classes of legends (9 semi pros, 19 young lions, 27 masters and 14 pro) racing in heats and features today. After a late start and a lengthy oil cleanup in the heats they took an hour intermission before starting the features at 4PM. The Bandoleros ran 21laps of their 25-lap feature before early leader Banks Johnson spun slowing the field then a crash on the restart eliminated 2 of the 8 cars and there was one more yellow before Jalen Parker took the win. The semi-pros ran their 25-lap feature non-stop with three leaders during the race but Matt Kurzejewski got back around Will Cunningham and Alex Pacheco to take the win. It was getting late so in order to get to Volusia Speedway we left at this point and headed north. Volusia Speedway in Barberville Florida holds a series of Winter Nationals on the half-mile dirt oval and tonight would be UMP late models (74 cars) and UMP modifieds (44 cars) in racing action. Group qualifying for the late models was underway when we arrived and the modifieds would line up by points. The program consisted of 6 heats, 3 semis and a 30-lap feature for late models and 3 25-lap features for the modifieds. The track is a wide half-mile dirt oval with Armco around the outside and concrete inside walls. They have improved the grandstands in the last few years and have several nice aluminum stands with just a few of the old wooden ones at the ends. Lights and speakers are very good. The races got underway with the six late model heats that start straight up and transfer the top 3 finishers to the feature. Jonathan Davenport, Don O’Neal, Jimmy Owens, Jimmy Mars, Brady Short and Ken Robinson were the winners of the fast 8-lap heats. Tyler Reddick, Jason Feger and Jack Sullivan took the three semis that transferred only two each to the feature. You really have to have a good showing to get to the feature race each night. The modifieds ran their three 25-lap features between the late model races and each race was lined up by points earned during the prior week. Austin Dillon took off from the front and pulled away from Clint Bowyer on each of the 3 restarts. Dillon took the win over Bowyer and Peyton Taylor. In the second modified feature Kenny Schrader took off from the pole and held off Kenny Wallace for the entire way again slowed by three yellows. The final modified feature saw pole sitter Ty Dillon battle with Richie Tosh for most of the race with the fourth and final yellow coming out when Tosh lost a drive shaft. Dillon won over Michael Long and Bob Broking. The late model feature had Owens and Mars starting in front and it was Jimmy Mars that took command and built up a big lead after the 6th lap yellow. Mars saw the lead disappear as John Blankenship stopped on the track on the 27th lap. Mars got the jump on Short for the 3-lap shootout but O’Neal went to the top and shot around Short. O’Neal tried to get outside of Mars but Mars pinched him off on the backstretch. On the last lap O’Neal got a fast run on the outside of the first turn and got by Mars for the win with Short crossing third and Josh Richards from 14th taking fourth. Wednesday was a return visit to Volusia Speedway for a program of UMP late models (74 cars) just like yesterday but tonight the second class would be the DIRT Big Block Modifieds (31 cars) from the northeast. Both classes qualified in group sessions (Don O’Neal set a late model track record at 15.813) then Brett Hearn, Stewart Friesen and Matt Sheppard took the modified heats from the pole. Billy Decker took the semi. The feature had 6 yellows but they raced hard in the final green period for 8 laps. Hearn pulled away on each restart but Friesen was fast in the closing laps. Friesen drove hard in the first turn of the last lap and slid up in front of Hearn then pulled away in the last turns for another win. Hearn was second with Danny Johnson, Sheppard and Tim Fuller rounding out the top five. Mike Marlar, Jason Feger, Jimmy Mars, Steve Francis, Scott Bloomquist and Josh Richards won the late model heats from the front. Clint Smith, Jack Sullivan and Billy Moyer took the 3 semis. The 30-lap late model feature went non-stop with Feger an early leader but Mars from 3rd got his car running in the middle of the track and got around lapped cars easily as he took the lead on the 16th lap and went on to claim the trophy. Feger, Bloomquist, Richards and Jonathan Davenport followed Mars at the checkers. Thursday was another sunny and warm day in Florida and we headed up to see Ocala Speedway on the western side of the state for a USAC sprint (29 cars) show with 18 modifieds as a support class. The track is a “D” shaped dirt track with concrete walls around it and some big tires to mark the inside. They have upgraded the seating with a nice 18-row aluminum grandstand and kept a couple of the old wooden bleachers for both sides of the newer grandstand. The lights and speakers were good. The USAC Sprints qualified with Hunter Schuerenberg taking fast time with a lap of 14.801seconds around the 3/8-mile track. The modifieds ran two heats before their 20-lap feature then there were 4 sprint heats transferring 4 to the feature. The first heat got off to a slow start when Justin Grant hit the concrete wall hard coming off the sharp 4th turn and bounced high in the air taking 3 or 4 end over end flips in front of the good sized crowd. Chris Windom, Tracy Hines, Jerry Coons JR and Shane Cottle won the heats. Casey Riggs took the semi that transferred another 6 cars including Grant who had repaired in time to start. The modified feature had 8 yellows in the 20 laps as cars that spun just stopped but when they got to racing it was Jeff Mathews from 5th who got to the front and held off Garret Stewart from 11th to take the win. Jon Stanbrough took off from the front of the sprint feature that was stopped by a lap 5 red when Cottle and Riggs tangled with Riggs rolling once. Riggs was able to restart and Stanbrough continued to be the leader. The first 6 cars in the starting order are the six fastest inverted and they continued to race close. Bryan Clauson and Levi Jones were in contention but Damion Gardner started 5th and made some passes getting to second. Gardner caught Stanbrough and tried to sneak underneath him for several laps but was unable to complete the pass. On the last lap Gardner went to the outside and drove hard into the third turn and was able to get around Stanbrough coming through the last turn. Clauson, Jones and Bud Kaeding completed the top 5. Friday was another nice day and after we went to New Smyrna for an old timer’s car show and reunion it was back to Ocala for another night of USAC Sprints (29) and modifieds (18). Levi Jones was fast qualifier for the sprints with a 15.211 second lap around the 3/8-mile clay “D” shaped track. Casey Riggs, Chris Windom and Jon Stanbrough won heats from the front then Scotty Weir took the fourth heat from 6th.  Damion Gardner won the semi. The modifieds ran two heats and then a 20-lap feature with Devin Dixon and Jeff Mathews on the front row and battling for the win. Dixon led until the white flag in a non-stop run but Mathews tried an inside pass and Dixon spun with both being sent to the rear for the restart. There was another spin and one more restart for Mike Spatola who was now in the lead and he beat Kyle Bronson to the checkers. The sprints ran a non-stop 30-lap feature with third starter Blake Fitzpatrick looking very fast and leading Bryan Clauson (from 5th) through traffic until the 23rd lap. Clauson got under Fitzpatrick and led the last laps to score the win over Fitzpatrick, Weir, Gardner and Hunter Schuerenberg. This would end my Florida week and I bid the Eckel’s goodbye and after a quick walk through the pits I headed north. Saturday I was back in South Carolina for another stop this time at Wheel Krazy Kartway in Johnsonville. The track is a slightly banked 1/5-mile red clay oval with two high tires in front of the wire fencing that surrounds the track. A white line marks the inside and there are a few tires to keep you from cutting inside. The track is very smooth and they have a few speakers and a good announcer during the entire day but only one small set of bleachers in the first turn.  I arrived at 2PM after qualifying had begun for the large field of karts. I counted 452 entries in 20 classes. There were 69 karts in the pro clone class that would race for $6000 to win in a special 50-lap feature. After the qualifying and a slight delay in getting all the lights to work the features began at 7PM with the 15-lap senior champ lite race. All races were started single file with fast qualifier first and lapped karts were asked to exit the speedway. There was a multi kart tangle on the first start for the senior champs then they ran all green with pole sitter Mitchell Dowdy winning over Cameron Reese and Michael Nale. Most of the races ran without any yellows and were run from the front but with the late hour they moved the big race up from last in the running order. Jamie Knopf won the animal medium (36 karts) and Stephanie Pitts won $2000 in the animal heavy class (41 karts) in a non stop feature. The pro clone money race started 31 karts with Pitts the early leader but she slid in some loose dirt after another kart spun and gave up the lead for a few laps. Pitts worked back to first as the race was red flagged for a 5 minute break to refuel. At this point her engine was leaking oil and she did not start the last 25-lap segment. There was only one yellow in the race and Justin McDonald came from 4th to take the win as only 12 karts completed the race. The 15th class to race today was the Senior Champ Heavy and there were 21 karts to start this feature. Again Mitchell Dowdy had fast time and led the entire race but this time they had 5 yellows in the first 5 laps and were threatened with the 15-minute time limit if they could not get to racing. They completed the last 10 laps with Dowdy the winner over Donnie Nall and Eric Griffin. Stephanie Pitts had her night turn worse as she was slowing down in the stock heavy feature and got run over by one of the passing karts and was being attended to in the ambulance as I left with three features still remaining at 11:30PM. It was a good week with excellent weather and I was heading north.

Ice Racing February 26 & 27, 2011

Thursday night I was all set for a trip to Memphis Tennessee and a look at some indoor racing at a convention center on Friday night and some kart racing in Alabama for Saturday. A quick check of the center’s website showed no racing and after some searching for the promoter’s site I saw that the racing for this weekend was removed there too. So, scrap the plan to head south and spend big gas money I will just stay home and watch some ice races. I searched the internet for information on the planned race at Pardeeville Wisconsin for Saturday and found that the races were canceled for this year as the dam has left uncertain flow and with the thaw of last week the ice thickness was uneven. Saturday morning I was up early for a 9AM basketball game that granddaughter Haley was playing in and that was followed by an 11AM game. At noon I headed up highway 73 to see what was going on at Fox Lake. Upon arrival at Fox Lake there was no sign of racing today so I turned around and went back to Haley’s 3PM game and retired for the night shortly thereafter. Sunday morning I was up early and headed north. My first stop would be my webmaster’s house for a visit including some play time with granddaughter Emma and grandson A J. After lunch I was headed up to Lake Chetek in Chetek Wisconsin where Sunday noon is race time on the ice oval there. I arrived during the first round of heat races and found a good sized crowd all around the track and some spectators on shore and even in Red’s eating and drinking establishment. I drove out on the ice and found a parking spot in the first turn where I could see the entire track from my car. The track is about a quarter mile oval plowed out with snow banks for walls inside and outside and some sticks with red streamers to help see the outside bank. The also had a large pit area cleared and then they plowed out some parking areas about 30 feet back from the track all around the oval. There was an ice shanty for the scorers and a nice tower for the flagman at the starting line and there was a food concession trailer. I checked the pit board for lineups and found good car counts with 21 rear wheel drive cars, 3 front wheel drive cars, 7 powder puff cars and 10 studded entries. Additional entertainment would be provided by the departure of the 7 small planes with skis that had flown in this morning and left during the features. It would be a full day of racing with a few delays when several cars became stuck in the large snow banks around the track. The studded feature went non-stop with a win for the Davis #440 from the front. The front wheel drive feature also went non-stop with the Hamilton X-29 a winner from the pole. The rear wheel drive feature was a good race with a 3-car tangle on the first lap and then two of the stronger runners putting their cars in the snow for three early yellows before some good racing. By the half way point there were cars that started from the 7th and 8th rows battling for the lead. C J Lindner started 15th and came home with another feature winner sticker for his vehicle. Tiffany took the second X-29 car from the rear and won the powder puff feature that had only one red flag. There was another race starting but it was 5PM and I headed back at this point glad that my second trip to Chetek yielded me a new track.

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