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 11

Minnesota Trip June 3 - 5, 2011

Friday the plan was to leave early to get to some new Saturday Minnesota tracks for me. I consulted the National Speedway Directory and looked for tracks in Central Minnesota that run on Friday night and came upon Princeton Speedway in Princeton Minnesota and they were even having a special appearance by the Upper Midwest Sprint Series. There were 15 sprints ready to race in addition to the regular program of 16 modifieds, 20 Midwest modifieds, 14 super stocks, 18 street stocks, 9 hornets and 13 mod fours. The track is a high banked quarter mile clay oval and was very wet when I arrived at 5:30PM. They started packing the track with several trucks at 6PM and were ready for sprint warm ups at 6:45. Racing got started at 7:05 with no other class getting hot laps. There is a big grandstand of 27 rows in the middle with 15-row sections on the ends. The track has concrete walls on the straightaway but the turns just have grass run off areas down the banking to some cement and tire barriers. The track has excellent lights but you do face the setting sun in the grandstands. Racing was going well until the sprints took to the track that was still very tacky with a heavy cushion. Jared Goerges bicycled at the start of the first heat and went over the banking into the wall. The third heat had Andy Jones getting pushed high and bouncing off the track and rolling two or three times down the banking. The hornets ran a feature only with Sam Tabor coming from 6th to win the race that was slowed by only one yellow. The mod four feature had only one yellow too as Kyle Thell used the outside to pass from his 9th place start and steal the win from Brandon Kellen. The Midwest modifieds had 6 yellows in their 20-lap feature. Justin Oestreich started 5th and captured the win over Jason Hall from 7th.  The street stocks needed 4 yellows as pole sitter Ryan Kostreba held off Cory Rosen from 8th. The sprints had two early reds as Tony Norem spun collecting Brandon Allen who rolled over once then Goerges hit an inside tire and flipped for the second red. Jerry Richert JR started third and got by early leader Brad Barickman after just 6 laps of the 20-lap feature. Richert held the lead and took the Billy Anderson Memorial Trophy over Chris Graf and Barickman. The super stocks had only one yellow and 5th starter Dan Gullikson made a move on the restart to gain the lead and then held off Mike Loomis for the win. The modifieds ran the last feature with Dave Cain coming from 5th in a race slowed by 3 yellows to claim the win over J B Stortz. The races were done at 11:20PM and I headed north. Saturday morning I pulled into Brainerd International Raceway at 7AM to take a look at the Chump Car World Series that would start today at 9AM for a 7 hour race dubbed the “Brain-Nerd 7”. The $10 admission also included access to the drag strip where the bracket races were going on all day too. There were 22 cars on hand to tackle the 2.5-mile asphalt road course today. The track is very flat and has 10 turns. There is a crossover auto and pedestrian bridge that leads to the “infield” of the road course and being the highest point on the property offers a view of about 80 percent of the track. Several small bleachers set up around the track offer good views of a particular turn and maybe a quarter of the entire track. I drove around the “infield” section of the course but there were some roads that were closed due to water over the road. I also noticed a bumper crop of the state bird as the mosquitoes were very hungry. There was no announcer but I was early enough to attend the driver’s meeting and found out the 7-hour race would start at 9AM in random order as after the cars took to the track they picked a number to throw the green at to start the scoring. They posted the standings after two hours and then updated them each hour in the paddock. The speed doctors team was the early leader and kept the top spot until the 5th hour when the chump races and chump faces team took over. By the 5 hour mark 7 cars were out with various mechanical problems but the only contact I saw was a three wide attempt at the 90 degree turn that bent the fenders on two cars as all three continued. There were a few excursions off the pavement through the grass but all continued on. The chump races and chump faces team completed 203 laps and won by two laps over the Speed Doctors and the Shake N Bake team. Saturday night my stop would be the Arlington Raceway at the Sibley County Fairgrounds in Arlington Minnesota. I had seen racing here but I don’t remember there being any figure eight races so when I saw tonight had figure eight listed for the only time this year I made this the focal point of my trip. The main track is a semi-banked half-mile black dirt oval that is wide and has no walls. There is a concrete wall well off of the racing track all around the facility but there is sufficient run off area that I would doubt it ever gets hit by a car. Warm ups were already under way when I arrived at 6PM and a big crowd was filling the old 16-row covered grandstand and the bleacher sections too. The lights are very old and are just barely adequate while the speakers were good when the announcer stayed in the booth not when he went on track. The car counts were 18 IMCA modifieds, 11 IMCA stocks, 15 IMCA sport compacts, 12 IMCA hobby stocks, 13 outlaw hobby stocks, 8 IMCA sportmods, and 9 IMCA sprints. They also had a 1/10-mile inner oval that was slightly banked and ran flat go-karts as the first part of the show. They ran the kart heats before I got here and then ran 3 features for the karts at 6:30PM on the small track. They then put about 10 tires on the big track and formed turns with 3 tires each and a narrow crossover area as they set up a temporary figure eight track that ran from the fourth turn all the way to the start finish line. They split the 9 cars into two heats for the figure eight races that started at 7PM. Then they moved the tires to the infield and immediately went to oval races on the big track. The heats went fast with few cautions and then they brought out the tires and ran the figure eight feature with Joe Voss coming from 6th to win the 10-lap race that was stopped by one red when a car lost the drive shaft. There was no delay as they moved the tires back and went to features on the half mile with the sport compacts running a non-stop 10 laps as the 9th starter Nate Coopman tracked down early leader Alan Lahr for the win. The IMCA hobbies went 12 laps with a lost wheel the cause of a caution and Chris Isaacson came from 10th to win over Rod Manthey from 6th. The outlaw hobbies raced 15 laps non-stop as 4th starter Charlie Oestreich got the win over Tony Winters. The sportmods had one yellow in their 12-lap feature and 4th starter Scott Clobes was the winner over Adam Voss. The sprints ran 15 laps and Bill Johnson started 6th and passed Brandon Allen on the last lap to take the close win of another non-stop race. The stocks also ran caution free and 9th starter Matt Speckman scored a close win over Dan Mackenthun. The modifieds concluded the fast features with only one yellow as pole sitter Brandon Beckendorf held off 14th starter Jeff Coon to take the final checkers at 10:20PM. Sunday I went further west as I saw that the track in Doyon North Dakota had reopened and I had missed seeing races here years ago so I made a trip out here early this year a priority. I arrived just about at the 5PM starting time and found several hundred people here for the races. The $20 admission was higher than what several in line expected but they had the NOSA sprints on the schedule today. There were several sections of bleachers that had 9 rows of wooden backed seats but I opted for the top of the 16-row bleacher that seemed to have more leg room. The track is a high banked quarter mile dirt track with Armco fence along the front straightaway and the rest of the track has the dirt embankment to run down before any fences that are way back. Tires mark the inside and they have good speakers and good lights but with the early start lights were not needed tonight. It was an overcast day and that made the well watered track stay very tacky even in the wind. The pits were dusty but the wind was from our back. The track seemed somewhat narrow but the cars got around good. The car counts were not too good with a good field of 24 sprints but only 6 street stocks and 3 Midwest modifieds. Warm ups started at 5PM followed by the heats and then the features. Kohlan Fedyk, Wade Nygaard, and Shane Roemeling won sprint heats from the front and Chris Ranten won the 4th heat from the fourth starting spot. Jim Gehringer started third and won the non-stop street stock 15-lap feature. Shawn Nostdahl spun on the first lap of the 15-lap modified feature but restarted from the pole and won the all green race. By the time the sprints lined up the 22 cars that started the feature the track had dried out and was getting rubber laid down and some dust was flying. There were 6 yellows in the first 3 laps for spins or cars that went off the banking then they ran 5 good laps. Donnie Schatz was the cause of the 4th yellow when he drove wide to pass and went off the backstretch and restarted in 21st. Schatz then figured the middle was the place to pass and made quick progress up through the field. Two cars tangled on the 8th lap and they messed the track up when they pushed a couple of the tires in further allowing the freight train of inside groove users to spray the track with dry marbles from the infield and spoil the middle and top of the track. Schatz still got around the cars on the outside but looked like he ran out of time when leader Casey Mack got through the lapped traffic on the inside and Schatz lost ground. However a yellow for a spin into the wall by Zach Wilde allowed Schatz one more chance with two laps left in the 25-lap feature. Schatz got around the outside and led the 24th lap but drifted high and Mack got the lead out of turn two and moved up the track to take Schatz’ line away. Mack scored the close win over Schatz with 10th started Nick Shirek taking third. The races were done at 7:45PM and I got an early start home.

Beaver Dam Wisconsin June 11, 2011

Friday I sat down to review what the week could have been. I had planned for a long trip somewhere to get to a new state for my trackchasing. Plan “A” was for a western trip that would add Utah to my states that I have seen racing in and plan “B” was a New England trip that could have added as many as 4 states to my totals. However, as luck would have it Aunt Mary fell last Sunday and was in the hospital until I took her to a nursing home on Friday. That meant I would just go to a local race Friday night so I came home and checked the computer to see what this wet weather was doing to the schedules. Madison, Oshkosh and Plover had all canceled before 3PM but Columbus 151 Speedway was still running. I called the track after 7PM but got no answer and should have assumed that meant no races but I wasn’t that smart. I drove the 20 miles up to Columbus and found the gates locked and drove back home through some very light mist and fog and recorded my 10th rainout of the year. Saturday my choices for local racing included Jefferson and Beaver Dam. I found Jefferson had races both Tuesday and Wednesday next week so I decided to visit Beaver Dam Raceway where I was a regular last year when the midgets were part of the show. I arrived right at starting time of 6:30PM and found a new ticket procedure as the track has two ticket booths on the entry road as there is a new pricing of $15 per carload. I got in for the $10 individual price but did notice some overfilled cars in line! The crowd did not seem any bigger than last year but was decent for a cool evening. The track is the same as before with a 1/3-mile high banked dirt oval with concrete walls and some tires to mark the inside. They had some rain during the week and it appears they may have tried to plant some new infield grass and that area had standing water to greet anyone pulling or spinning off the track and there were many that had to be pulled out by the wrecker throughout the night. Car counts were good with 33 modifieds, 20 Grand National late models, 10 sportmods, 12 street stocks and 14 legends. The track was dry slick and racing started with the 4 modified heats that turned into a crash fest and it took over an hour to run 4 races. The track uses a point invert for starting lineups and that does usually provide good racing. The Grand Nationals were the first of the 20-lap features and after 6 yellows in the first 10 laps the pink flag was thrown. The pink means that the next yellow will end the race but somehow the drivers managed to race 10 laps clean and the race was ended with the traditional checkered flag at the full distance. Kenny Richards won over a closing Jeff Steenbergen and Roger Lee all three of which started in the 4th and 5th rows. The street stocks ran the only race without a caution as Brandon Reidner won from the pole with 5th starter Jeff Jungwirth crossing in second place. The legends had 3 yellows as Joe Johnson came from 9th to win over Brandon Schmitt from 5th.  The sportmods had 4 yellows and the last one flew after the white flag had been displayed so the yellow and checkers came out ending the race with 4th starter Zeke Bishofberger enjoying a lead over Matt Bedker. The modifieds finished out the races with only 2 yellows in the feature. Don Scheffler started 7th and raced in the outside groove to claim the win over Dave Schoenberger from 8th and Jeremy Christians from 13th. The races were done at 10:20PM and I was on my way home. Sunday was a birthday party for granddaughter Haley and I did not make an attempt to get to a race Sunday night.

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