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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Race Report 10

Ohio Weekend May 20 – 22, 2011

Friday the weather cleared in the Ohio Valley for a change and I took off to visit the Kil-Kare Raceway in Xenia Ohio. They have a 3/8-mile paved oval that is used for the weekly racing but there is also an inner ¼-mile oval that has a figure eight crossover paved too. Tonight the International Outlaw Figure Eight Series racers would make their annual visit to the track and I could see racing on the figure eight configuration. The big track has concrete walls around the outside and the inside is just marked with a white line as the pavement flattens out and then there is a drop off to the grass infield. The quarter mile has no walls and is inside the big track using the first turn of the large oval. The program would be features only for the 11 figure eight cars, l7 late models, 15 modifieds, 15 sport stocks and 18 compacts. All races except the figure 8 were on the big oval. They have a good scoreboard and good lights although none of them are aimed directly for the inner oval area and the speakers were fine for the many sections of 10 to 12-row bleachers that were partially filled with a good crowd for the Friday night races. I arrived about 6:15PM and ran into Rick Schneider and later saw Randy Lewis. Qualifying got under way about 6:30PM with the races not starting until 8:50PM. The compacts needed three tries to complete the first lap then raced clean through the 20-lap feature non-stop with Jim McElfresh making a last lap pass of Matt Stone to take the win. The modifieds had two yellows in the 30-lap feature as pole sitter Jason Mahaffey held off Ross Kinglehofer for a close win. The figure eight feature was 50 laps with 3 yellows and only 6 cars running at the end. Charlie Hargraves started 5th and was the winner by a lap over Rod Phipps and Chuckie Hargraves. The late models ran 30 laps with Donnie Mahaffey making an outside pass from his 4th place start and then holding off Travis Braden through 5 restarts to get the win. The sport stocks were on their 4th yellow when an electrical fire on one of the poles behind the grandstands resulted in the race being checkered at 17 laps with Mike South JR in the lead from his 4th place start. The racing was done at 11:25PM. Saturday morning it was a short drive over to the Fayette County Fairgrounds in Washington Court House Ohio to see the AARA vintage races. The small field of cars was gathered at the fairgrounds before they towed on to the track for the afternoon racing. The track is an old slightly banked dirt (sand and fine gravel) oval with wooden walls outside and just grass to mark the infield. There were four big trees and a large judge’s stand in the infield that blocks some visibility and there are also posts for the roof of the old covered grandstand of 18 rows that you have to look around. There were some old lights that would not be used today and no announcer was on hand. The warm ups started at 1PM and races started at 1:45PM. They ran two sets of heats before the features for today’s slim field of 3 TQ midgets, 4 midgets, and 4 big cars. They use a water truck that all tracks should have as it puts out a nice fine mist on the complete track with two passes and also had pressure hoses that can shoot out either side for additional watering. The sun and wind dried out the track but a quick watering after each set of races squelched the dust. To me there is nothing prettier than those midgets driving half way up the banked turns and throwing the rooster tail of dirt while those offy engines growl. Mike Doran took the TQ feature from the pole while Jim Witzler started third and ran some very quick laps to capture the midget feature. Ivan Segal was the big car winner from the pole. The racing was over at 3:20PM and I headed over to an evening show. Saturday evening at 6PM I pulled into the Muskingum County Speedway in Zanesville Ohio for a look at the high banked 3/8-mile dirt oval. A good crowd was already gathering in the huge 20-row bleacher stand. The only wall on the high banks is the front straightaway concrete wall and wheel fence as you just run down the banking everywhere else. The inside is marked with some big tires and the lights and speakers seemed fine. Qualifying was about 6:45PM with racing starting at 7:30PM on the dry track that was already dusty. They drew good fields of cars with 23 late models, 26 modifieds, 16 pure stocks, 20 four cylinders and 6 winged wedges for the kids. There were a lot of yellows in the heats and many cars driving over the first turn bank but after a short intermission the features were ready. Shelby Watson continued her winning ways taking the mini wedge feature over Levi Bowen. Donnie Moran took off from the pole in the 25-lap late model feature and kept the top spot through the 3 yellows as he won over Larry Holbrook. Bart Hartman won the 20-lap modified feature over Bobby Kitchens in a race slowed once by a spin. The pure stocks had two yellows in their 20-lap feature as pole sitter Jesse Wisecarver had the field covered and won over Kyle Dickenson. The 15-lap four cylinder feature rounded out the night with only 2 yellows as John Schooler picked up the win with Bradley Gebhart in second. The races were done at 11PM and I drove for an hour before calling it a night. Sunday morning I headed into Pennsylvania to find the BeaveRun Motorsports Complex in Wampum. I arrived at 11AM just as the 5 cars in the open wheel class were set to pull on to the course for a 25 minute race. The course is a 1.53 mile paved road course (12 turns) that features some good elevation changes on the scenic landscape. I found the balcony of the event center to be the best viewing as almost two thirds of the course is visible from here. There was a slight mist falling during half of the race but then it cleared up for the balance of the day. Dominick Vitale was the winner by a big margin after Dave Wollman fell back with overheating after he was closing on the leader. The second 25 minute race was for the EMRA sports cars (10 cars) and the 6 Entropy cars. This field of 16 started at 11:30AM and ran straight through to Noon with only one incident and no yellows needed. Rich Cox and Todd Rogers exchanged the lead over the first few laps but then Cox pulled away to score the win over Rogers and William Hallinan. The remainder of the day was for time trials and driving schools so I toured the grounds and watched some kart practice then consulted the National Speedway Directory for a Sunday night track in the area. I found two Pennsylvania tracks running tonight and headed out to find one. After a short drive I arrived at Sportsman’s Speedway in Elk City at about 4PM and the races were set for 5PM so I took my time getting my lawn chair set on the big grassy hill. This is a perfect natural setting for the 1/3-mile dirt track that sits below the natural hill so that the spectators face east and get the shade of the concession and scoring tower for most of the 28 rows of bench seating on the hillside. They also have some track view parking above the grassy hill full of blankets and lawn chairs. The slightly banked track has tight turns and old Armco walls along the front straightaway and through the third and fourth turns. The infield is kept clear and marked by a dirt berm with some orange traffic cones. They have good speakers off the scoring tower but some very old lights that were never turned on tonight. They did not have warm ups and went directly to heat races right at 5PM. The track got dusty so they watered before the modified heats and again at intermission and this produced dust free features on a very good track. They drew somewhat small fields of 12 micro sprints, 12 mini stocks, 7 pure stocks, 8 outlaw stocks and 13 of the 358 modifieds. The micros had two yellows for stalls and third starter George Hobaugh got around Dave Hawkins on the last restart to claim the win in the 15-lap feature. The pure stocks had 3 yellows with Josh Seippel coming from 5th to win the 15-lap feature over Jace Ferringer. The mini stocks had two yellows and Josh Frantz got around William Bloom to take the win on the final restart of the 15-lap feature. Fourth starter Dave Ferringer won the 15-lap outlaw stock feature that was slowed by 2 yellows. The modifieds had two yellows in the 20-lap finale and it was third starter Kyle Fink who pulled away for the big win over Tom Holden to end the show at 8:40PM and get me on the road early for the long drive home. 

Holiday Weekend May 27 – 30, 2011

Friday night I was looking for a race on my way to Michigan and thought of the Grundy County Speedway in Morris Illinois. This would be on the way and a chance to return to a site where I have been to many midget races over the years but tonight is their regular stock car night and will feature twin 25 lap features for the late models. The weather will again be an issue with rain showing on the western half of Illinois as I drove down the center of the state into some darker clouds. When I arrived it was cool and windy but a nice crowd was gathering looking for some dry land to park on as the rains have left most of the grass parking lot underwater. I found some dry grass along the barns and parked then went in and climbed about half way up the huge bleacher grandstand for a spot right on the finish line. The 1/3-mile slightly banked asphalt oval is showing its age with lots of wrinkles and some rust on the boiler plate wall but the old lights with some supplement from a few newer ones give adequate light and it was needed as the skies were dark. A good field of 26 late models, 14 Mid-American sportsmen, 17 street stocks and 9 pure mini stocks were ready to race. Qualifying started at 6:45 with racing underway at 8PM. Preliminary races went fast with a few sprinkles during the show but not enough to stop the racing. The late models ran a dash and a 10-car qualifier to slim the field to 24 starters for the first 25-lap feature. The fastest 10 cars were inverted with Eddie Hoffman and Boris Jurkovic tied for fast time and sharing the 5th row. Tracy Schuler started from the front and built up a good lead while Hoffman worked a series of inside passes to pick off 7 cars as he came through to second. Hoffman closed on Schuler and passed him on the inside to claim the win in a non-stop race. Hoffman rolled an 11-car invert on the dice for the second twin 25. The Mid-American cars ran their 25-lap feature non-stop with John Ventrello looking like the winner until he pulled out with engine trouble and pole sitter Ron Willems took the win over Ray Brackett. The street stocks also ran a non-stop 25-lap feature with third starter Chris Sanda holding off 7th starter John Senerchia for the victory. The light rain returned during the pace laps for the second twin 25-lap late model feature but after many laps circling the track the rain stopped and the green was thrown. Scott Dunning and BJ Weltmeyer exchanged the lead before a lap 8 tangle between Dunning and Dave Gentile brought out the yellow. Hoffman moved through the field and took the lead on the 12th lap only to see the second yellow displayed and have to restart second. It took Hoffman only two laps to reclaim the lead and he held on through one more yellow to complete the sweep of the features. Jeff Cannon was second. The pure stocks started their 12 lap feature as the rain started again and it got too heavy so the checkered was thrown on the 6th lap with Zach Mitchell the winner at about 10:30PM to end the night. Saturday morning I arrived at the Red Bud MX facility in Buchanan Michigan. The large facility is home to many motocross, ATV and open riding events and has several courses on the hillsides but today the trucks and buggies of the TORC off road series would use a one mile road course to conduct day one of their two day national event. The course featured big elevation changes as the racers would run up and down the big hills in front of the 10-row wooden bleachers and the big hillside seating area. The overcast cool day probably held the crowd down but over 4000 people were still on the grounds to see racing in 9 divisions today. There were a few places that offered a view of the full track but from the bleachers there was a bit of the course that was out of sight but they had a big videotron screen to watch the action on so you could keep up with the whole race. There were some real loud speakers way behind the bleachers but hearing was a little difficult from the stands. The track was very heavy and yesterday’s practice was canceled because of the rain. The races started about an hour behind schedule but by noon the trucks were trying to find enough traction up the big hills to complete their first race. Each race was about 12 or 15 laps and had a competition full course yellow at the half way point to close up the field for the final laps. I did not get good records of the first two classes that ran but Bob Birkholz was the winner from 6th in the 7 truck field of stock trucks. The 1600 light buggy class had 17 entries and Greg Stingle was the winner over Billy Buth. The 1600 buggy class had 13 starters and John Fitzgerald held the upper hand winning over Brad Erickson. The super stock trucks (16) had some trouble with the small jumps and tipped over two trucks during the feature that was won by Brent Smith over Don Demeny. For the pro trucks they made a modification in the course allowing the trucks to use a large jump uphill in the middle of the course or use the option to circle around the jump although that route was slightly longer. Watching for a jumping truck while the two lanes merged was also exciting. The pro light trucks sent 16 starters out with Sam Hubinette starting last. Brad Lovell got the early lead but after the half-way caution it was Hubinette making some quick moves to get past the front runners then holding off the field to score a win in his first race. At this time the rain started in and it rained quite hard for about half an hour making the course so slippery they couldn’t continue racing so the pro 2 trucks and pro 4 trucks will run twice tomorrow and they called it a day with the evening activities being canceled. It was great to see Allan and Nancy Brown at the track on Saturday afternoon and Allan is looking quite fit I might add. Saturday night I headed toward New Paris Indiana for the Saturday night show there but they had to cancel so I drove further to Akron Indiana for a look at the Akron Speedway. This is a kart track and had full pits when I arrived but they had a small shower go through the area and were grading and packing the track. I drove around the town once (not much here) before heading back at which time I heard thunder. There were some big drops then it let loose with a hard shower and they turned the track lights out and the haulers were leaving so I chalked up rainout number 8 for the year and made the long drive home. Sunday noon I heard thunder at home and noticed it was raining. Around 2PM they posted that the midget races at Angell Park were postponed and they were working on Monday as a rain date. I think other Wisconsin tracks may have gotten the Sunday night shows in but I watched the races on TV and chalked up rainout number nine for the season. Monday was a bright day but very humid although the wind did start drying off the pavement by mid morning. The Badger Midgets were rescheduled for an early start at Angell Park in Sun Prairie Wisconsin with qualifying at 5PM. I arrived just after 3PM and found a good field of 21 midgets and 4 of the new micro class. The midgets qualified with New Zealand’s Michael Pickens the fast timer at 14.784 seconds around the fast 1/3-mile clay oval. The track had a soft spot or just some super traction in the second turn and Troy DeCaire lifted both front wheels off the ground before the car twisted and then did several end over end flips ending his night early. He was able to walk away. Jason Dull came out and did the same wheel stand but let off and only slid on his side before bouncing upright. He was able to race the rest of the night. Pennsylvania’s Chad Borgar won the micro heat and later took the feature too over Preston Benisch. Brandon Waelti, Matt Smith and Robbie Ray were the midget heat winners. Mike Hess started from the pole in the 30-lap midget feature and led three laps until Bubba Altig who started 8th got around the outside and took command. Scott Hatton stalled for a yellow after 16 laps but Altig kept the lead although Smith and Pickens had got around Hess. On the 28th lap Smith hit the cushion in the second turn and bounced once then was hit by Hess and flipped for a red flag. Altig got a good restart and pulled away from Pickens who had started 10th. Altig got the win over Pickens, Davey Ray and David Budres from 14th. The races were done by 8PM and we had over two hours of bench racing to complete before the short drive home.

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