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.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Race Report 16

More Fairs August 11 –14, 2011

Thursday I was back in Michigan for a stop at the Branch County 4-H Fair in Coldwater. This is a good size fair where I had seen figure eight races in the past but tonight was a 4 in 1 promotion by Unique Motorsports. Thanks to some heavy traffic around Chicago I arrived at 6:45PM for the 7:30PM start and the stands were nearly full. By starting time they were asking people to squeeze together as the 20 rows of bench seating and the three 10-row bleachers behind them were nearly full. There was also some grass area for lawn chairs. The track was in a very long area surrounded by concrete barriers and they had put big tires two high near each end and piled a big dirt ridge about 4 feet high down the middle and made one small jump on the straightaway. The tires were covered with dirt and then dirt put all around them to keep them in place and also providing a “ramp” for some who would want to cut the corner and roll over in an attempt to collect the $50 offered for the first and last roll over. They had some small lights and the speakers were off poles on the other side of the track which made hearing difficult. They drew light fields of 6 big cars, 13 compact cars, 3 lawnmowers and 8 demo cars. Racing started with one big car heat and then 3 small car heats and 3 small car semis. Matt Avery got the $50 for first roll in the first semi when he rolled ¾ times on the 4th lap. There was another roll in the same race too. Chris Crimley used his demo car for the big car off road feature win over Cameron Smith who had won the heat. Jack Fistler ran in the first two spots for the entire 13-laps of the small car off road feature in capturing another trophy. The race was stopped twice for rolls both by Kevin Hall (one on the last lap) as he captured the $50 for the last roll. They demoed the 3 lawnmowers between races and ended the night with the demo for cars. Friday I ventured further east for a stop at the Champaign County Fair in Urbana Ohio. I arrived before 5PM for the 7:30PM start of grandstand entertainment put on by Back to Back Promotions and found people waiting in line to buy tickets. I walked the fair and had some very good food from three of the local vendors then returned to the grandstand to see people already seated but no lines. The grandstand is a very big covered concrete and stone structure of 24 rows with individual chair seats and they have several sets of 5-row bleachers below the raised grandstand. There was also some room for lawn chairs and there was infield seating in bleachers and several flatbeds that had chairs on them. The track for tonight was constructed in the infield of the old half-mile horse track where they had a rectangular area surrounded by Jersey barriers with good lights. The crowd had filled most all of the seats and could hear the speakers fairly well. The clay in the arena was well watered for the show that started with a youth lawnmower demo for 7 machines. Two concrete slabs were placed toward the ends of the arena and 5 cars came out for the figure eight race. The 16-lap feature went non-stop with some spins but no big crashes as Kevin Stiltner took the win over Drew Schneider. The racing was done by 8PM and the concrete slabs removed as the demo portion of the program got into full swing. Eleven adult mowers had a demo before the 15 big cars were divided into two heats for demos. They had a demo for 4 trucks and Cody Johnson won the demo for 8 small cars that included one of the figure eight racers. I went back for more fair food during the break for repairing the demo cars for their semi and then watched the demo feature for 12 cars from the ground level. Josh Henry won the demo that was stopped once for a tip over. The grandstand action was over at 9:45PM and I made another pass of the food booths for some $1 chicken strips that were huge. Saturday I took my time heading back to Wilmot Wisconsin for some midget racing. As I approached Chicago the radio was giving storm warnings for the northern Chicago suburbs so I stopped at a rest area and waited to watch the weather. The clouds were very dark and the wind was getting strong. I called Wilmot and got a recording that races were canceled due to heavy rain. I immediately headed east to try and out run the storm. The winds were strong but no rain as I watched the storm on my tail the whole way to Jackson Michigan. I parked at the Jackson County Fair in Jackson Michigan as the PA was broadcasting the announcement that the area was under a severe storm warning for the next hour. I walked under the concrete grandstand for shelter and found Rick Schneider and Roger Ferrell hiding out there too. After a half hour of strong wind, hail and heavy rain the temperature dropped 25 degrees but the lightning lessened and the rain tapered off and we headed into the big old covered grandstand for the USA promoted enduro derby. They drew 30 small cars for racing and 12 big cars for the demo. Fortunately the temporary track was set up with cement blocks around the perimeter right on the surface of the horse track which was sandy and drained very well. They set up concrete barriers down the middle of half the rectangular area left some space and then placed 4 of the big concrete pieces together in a square near the other end so that the racers had to circle around and crossover to come back the other side of the barriers thus this configuration becomes a figure eight. They had a small jump on one side and called it an enduro or bump and run but as has been my experience with USA they are all figure eights. USA is very good about running even in the rain and started about on time just after 7PM. There were good lights and the sound system was fine after they moved Sonny from the infield to the first row of the grandstand with his microphone. The races went pretty fast with 5 12-lap heats sending the first two finishers to the feature and the others to their trailers. The 10 cars starting the 20-lap feature were good and the feature went quickly with one red flag for a disqualification for a driver’s door hit. David Lowell started 5th and raced hard with 2 other cars before gaining a half lap advantage and then stayed clear of the pushing and spins and took the win. Sunday night I was back to Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie Wisconsin for the BMARA show which drew 23 midgets and 10 micros to race tonight. The storm front that went through yesterday cooled down the temperature and left some mud in the infield and as I walked across the track I noticed it was somewhat soft too. The 1/3 mile clay track was very wet and dug up during practice but the push trucks rolled it before qualifying. Jerry Coons JR came out 10th and turned a very fast lap of 14.520 seconds for fast time in the midgets. Tonight was a special 6-lap dash for the six fastest Badger member’s that qualified tonight in the annual tribute to Dave Schulenburg. Daniel Robinson started outside the front row and held off Brad Kuhn by inches as the two finished side by side for the trophy and $500. Jake Reif won the micro heat and Hunter Imhoff tipped on his side at the conclusion of the heat but raced the rest of the night. Bubba Altig won the first midget heat from 4th using an outside groove above the rough center of the track where the cushion was forming. Robbie Ray got around Courtney Erfurth to lead the second heat then a yellow flew as David Budres and Cody Weisensel tangled. Weisensel was pushed off to restart and as he checked out the steering and accelerated to the third turn the car never turned and shot at full speed into the concrete wall careening along the wall in a nasty series of flips. Weisensel was helped out of the car and walked to the ambulance but was transferred to University Hospital in Madison for evaluation. After the delay Ray won the heat over Robinson and Erfurth. Brad Kuhn won the third heat from 6th over Zach Daum. Robbie Resch took the micro dash and then came back to capture the15-lap feature from 6th over pole sitter Cody Ledger. The micro feature was stopped on the 11th lap when Preston Benish hit the wall and tipped over. The 30-lap midget feature started 22 cars and was slowed on the third lap when Ledger (who was doing double duty) spun. On the restart Eric Johnson got sideways and flipped collecting 6 cars in the third turn. After the restart Altig returned to his high groove in the loose cushion where it was still smooth but a long way around the dirt oval. Coons came from 9th and soon found the same high groove and slowly caught Altig until the caution appeared with 8 laps left. Altig and Coons resumed their battle on the outside with Kuhn and Davey Ray right behind. Coons tried a low side pass with two laps left but hit the rough middle section of track and lost a couple of car lengths and had to settle for second at the checkers. Following Altig and Coons were Kuhn, Ray and Kody Swanson as the checkers flew at about 9:45PM to close out a busy weekend of rain and racing for me.

Blind Racing and More August 17 – 21, 2011

Wednesday night I took a short trip to Jefferson Speedway in Jefferson Wisconsin where the Lions Club was presenting their special event. The track is a paved 1/3-mile oval that has banking in two turns and a flat track in the other two turns and produces some very good racing. The facility is very clean with paved walkways and 16 row bleachers on the straightaway. There is also hillside seating in the first turn but that was closed tonight as there was only a small crowd. The lights and speakers are very good and the program was started at 7PM with the race cars giving kids rides around the track. The Lions Clubs have raced for many years but their home track at Lake Geneva was closed a few years ago so they have had to travel to other tracks to have their events. The car counts were down from what they used to be with 6 sportsmen, 7 challenger, 8 little cars, 5 misfits and 4 BOLD cars. The local small car classes also raced features only tonight with 9 bandits, 6 4-cyl. Internationals and 5 road warriors. Jeremy Tess won the first race of the night from the back which was a make up 15-lap feature for the sportsmen class that had only one yellow. They ran some dashes and a couple of heats and moved into feature racing. The bandits ran on the inner track (1/4-mile paved) and ran 7 laps counter clockwise then stopped and ran the final 8 laps clockwise. Kyle Stark started 8th and won the only race on the small track. The International feature went non-stop with Devon Dixon taking the win from 6th. Bill Sweeney won the non-stop road warrior (six cylinder front wheel drive cars) feature from 3rd. The BOLD race was up next and is a very interesting event. The Lions support some eye banks and offer Blind Outdoor Leisure Development (BOLD) racing for the blind. The drivers of the 4 cars tonight are blind but the front seat passenger is sighted and shouts directions to the blind driver as they race for two laps. The Lions Club features were up next with the little stocks going 20 laps non-stop and Greg Choyce coming from 6th to take the win. The features are inverted by qualifying times and all the others were 15 laps long. Mike Robertson won the challenger feature from the front in a close non-stop race with Al Bassett. The misfits are a combination of cars that include rear engine outlaw rascals and mini modifieds (one with a wing). Vern Brown started last and worked over half the race to pass Jason Dull for the win. The sportsmen with some very nice late model cars wrapped up the night with their feature and again Jeremy Tess came from 6th to beat Chris Klein across the finish line. The racing was done at 9:45PM on a nice evening. Friday I headed out for another festival visit and after some lengthy delays getting through Chicago I arrived at the Monroeville Community Park in Monroeville Indiana at 7PM just in time for the start of the grandstand entertainment at the Monroeville Harvest Festival. The entertainment arena had a big area that could hold tractor pulls and tonight was set up for a tuff truck course. There were some small grandstands on the west side of the arena but the nice big 15-row stands were set facing the sun on the other side. They had good lights and good speakers for the big crowd here tonight. The tuff trucks were the first event and the course included many jumps and a small mud bog along with some tree timbers that they had to drive across. Ten vehicles (trucks, jeeps and a buggy) tried the course one at a time in timed runs to determine a winner. Then the “pit area” was cleared of the jumps and logs and leveled off by several bobcats and the surface watered for the races and demo. The race area was a rectangle surrounded by concrete block walls with dirt behind to keep them in place. The figure eight track was formed by bringing in two big tractor tires and then putting a 55-gallon drum full of concrete in the tire to keep it in place. The first race was a 3-lap race for 4 cars that was the blind man figure eight. The drivers were blindfolded and a passenger shouted instructions to the driver to navigate the course. Scott Zizelman won this race. Charles Bickford started in front and kept a steady pace to win the 15-lap small car figure race that was next. They drew 14 big cars for the figure eight races so they ran three heats with the top two transferring to the feature. The 6-car feature went non-stop for 15 laps with some of the faster cars getting spun and two getting stuck together. Ben Averesch was not the fastest but was steady and kept completing laps while others were having trouble and Averesch was the first to complete 15-laps and captured the win. They removed the tires and held a blind man demo (3 cars) and then ended the night with a small car demo. Saturday I drove to Ohio to find Martinville Raceway in Attica Ohio to see the Young Gun Series for champ karts. On the north side of Attica is a road leading back to a camping area and the Martinville Raceway sits at the woods edge within shouting distance of Attica Raceway Park. In fact at the drivers meeting at Martinville you couldn’t hear when a heat race started up at Attica Raceway. I arrived a couple of hours prior to the 7PM start and they were packing in the semi banked 1/10-mile clay oval. The track was wide with lots of run off area before the fencing that had tires placed in front of it. The inside was marked with a loose dirt berm and tires and the lights were off a big pole in the infield. The speakers were used for announcements only. They had two small 5-row bleachers for spectators and then 4 more sections of seats for the pit area off the third turn. The program for the Young Gun Series would be two sets of heats and then a feature for the 3 classes: Junior Sportsmen (9 karts), Junior Champs (10 karts) and Senior Champs (12 karts). There were also 27 flat karts in 4 classes with 15 in 360 clone racing for the big $500 tonight.
Tyler Street
won both of his heats and then started the feature from the pole keeping the lead through three caution periods to win the junior sportsmen class. The senior champ feature had only one yellow as pole sitter Chad Orth held on for a close win over Josh Hanselman. Jaden Edwards won the junior champ feature from 5th in a race with two cautions. It was already about 10PM and I was listening to the Attica Raceway noise and figured they were running their 4th feature so I headed back down state road 4 past Attica. It is only a few miles south of Attica where state road 4 goes through Carrothers Ohio and there is a sign for Lil’ Indy Kart Racing. I saw this on the way to the Martinville Raceway this afternoon and stopped as there was a pit full of trailers. The nice young lady at the gate explained they run kids classes in the afternoon and run every other Saturday night for adult classes. I did not go in but heard the karts racing. It was now only 10:10PM and the lights were still on at Lil’ Indy so I pulled in for a look at the track. The track is a flat 1/10-mile clay oval with tires to mark the inside and lots of run-off area around the outside before corn fields and the fencing along the straightaway (pit area) and the fourth turn (spectator area). There was a small 7-row bleacher for the spectator area and good lights off the infield pole. A check of the lineup board showed 7 classes racing with 38 karts listed and 12 of the 360 clones the most in a class. There were 3 features left and I noticed a winged champ kart at the end of the pits. The last feature was for the open champs and started 6 karts in the feature. There were two regular senior champs and 4 karts with the wings. John Weaver started on the pole with a non-winged champ kart and led the entire non-stop race for the win but it was a close one. Mike Ernsberger started outside the first row and was glued to the rear bumper of Weaver and tried several passes with the finish seeing Ernsberger on the inside alongside Weaver but a few feet short of the win. I was very happy with my unexpected extra track for the night and headed back down State Route 4 to get a couple of hours of driving in yet tonight. Sunday I was back to Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie Wisconsin for a combined USAC and Badger show of midgets on the 1/3-mile clay oval. This was the weekend of the Annual Corn Festival so tonight’s feature was named the Cornfest 30 and drew 28 midgets and 7 of the 600cc micros. The day was cloudy but the skies cleared and it was sunny and windy but cooled off quickly after sunset. The track was not watered enough and after a dusty hot lap session saw several cars brush the concrete wall as there was no cushion at all I thought we were in for a miserable evening. To top it off the wind had all the dust blowing in the spectator’s faces. They qualified the cars with only 6 cars below the 16 second mark and the second car out, Jerry Coons JR with fast time of 15.391. (That is a full second off what we are used to here.) With the biggest crowd on hand in three years it was not a good idea to have lousy racing that few could even see so they took an hour break to dig up the track and brought the water truck back out for a heavy watering. It took a while to pack and the heat race for the micros was slow on the slimy track but there was no dust. They gave the first midget heat a few fast laps before they started racing and we had a smooth fast wide track that the cars could gat a hold of (even saw a couple of wheelies). The first heats were fast on the bottom but the track widened out and a cushion built up on the outside and soon there was three wide racing. Kyle Larson (from 5th), Brad Kuhn (from 6th), Darren Hagen (from 3rd) and Bryan Clauson (from 6th) won the midget heats. The top 4 from each heat transferred to the feature then the rest of the cars ran a 12-lap semi won by Tracy Hines. Robbie Resch won the early heat and the dash for the micros. Resch then started 5th in the micro feature and got hung up behind two cars on the first lap then had to slow when he got in the cushion a lap later. Chad Bogar pulled out to the micro lead and the race was cut to 7 laps as they were now hurrying to beat the 10PM curfew. As the white flag flew Resch dove inside of Bogar in the first turn and never let off completing the pass and stealing another victory. The midget 30-lap feature started 22 cars but was stopped on the first lap when Bubba Altig and David Budres both flipped without injury in the first turn. Caleb Armstrong led from the first row but Clauson started fourth and took over on the 3rd lap. Coons started 6th and had to battle Larson for second but soon got by and chased Clauson until the yellow came out for a stall on the 21st lap. Armstrong spun after the restart and then Mario Clouser spun into the tacky inside on the straightaway and rolled twice. After a quick check of the car Clouser restarted at the back on the 24th lap. The race went green and Clauson pulled out to a good lead that all but disappeared on the last lap when he drove into the cushion exiting the second turn. Clauson won over Coons but Larson did the same error on the last lap and Kuhn took third at the finish line.

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