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 15, 2011

Race Report 15

Nebraska Trip July 28-31, 2011

Thursday was the first of 4 midget shows on the plains but the weather was questionable and I got a late start so I gave up on trying for Solomon Valley Raceway in Beloit Kansas and instead made a stop at the Saline County Fair in Crete Nebraska.  The fair is at Tuxedo Park and racing tonight would be sanctioned by Nebraska Figure8N which drew 22 stock and 27 open class cars. I arrived after 6PM and people were already taking seats in the 10-row aluminum stands and the many small 5-row stands that were around two sides of the long rectangular racing area. The only walls are big dirt piles that surround the racing area. The track was formed by placing two tractor tires very far apart and filling them with dirt. Later after some of the races the dirt was getting rough and they moved the tires further apart so they could run on some smooth areas. The stands were packed and lawn chairs were on the grass in front and people were standing along side by the 7:30PM starting time. I picked a spot in the shade and the terrace that the stands were on allowed for good viewing even over the big dirt piles that surrounded the track. They had good lighting and excellent speakers. The first race had a red flag to reprimand a driver for a deliberate hit but after that the races went non-stop with the only delays to grade and repack the track after the open cars dug it up during their races. They ran 3 stock heats and 4 open heats taking the top two to the feature then came back with 7 semis taking the winner only to the feature. The 15-lap stock feature saw Terry Tritt come from 3rd to win over Mike Wize in the non-stop event. The Open cars ran 20 laps and all 12 finished the non-stop race with no incidents at the “X” and front row starter Chris Schweitzer the winner over Tyler Osmera from 8th.  The races were done by 10:20PM and I headed out for some sleep. (I later learned that the Kansas midget race was rained out before the features.) Friday night I was at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction Nebraska for the first night of the Cornhusker Midget Challenge and after morning rain and afternoon clouds the skies cleared for the evening. There were 14 modifieds and 33 midgets for tonight’s races on the high banked 3/8-mile dirt oval. The track has a concrete wall on the outside with a big dirt berm around the inside and has excellent lighting and excellent speakers for the huge aluminum grandstand. C J Johnson, Jerry Coons JR, Steve Buckwalter and Brad Kuhn won the midget heats with Johnson winning from 6th to capture the pole for the feature using the passing point system. The third heat eliminated Scott Hatton for the week when Julee Jamison spin and Hatton turned to miss her car and rolled up the 4th turn banking and into the wall destroying the chassis on the Houston Solution machine. Another car did hit Jamison and she turned over too. The yellow appeared in the semi for a lost wheel then on the restart again a car lost a wheel and as the pack scrambled Kellen Conover was hit and sent into a series of rolls down the straightaway and into the wall severely damaging his car. There were no driver injuries in the flips. The modifieds ran a 20-lap feature with only 2 yellows. Front row starter Mark Leiting held off Robert Wilson as the two swapped paint in the 4th turn and then finished side by side in a good race. Austin Brown took off from the front in the 25-lap midget feature and had a big lead when the first of 4 yellows appeared on the 4th lap. Kuhn started 8th and took over the lead after the second yellow with Brown still running strong. Coons and Brad Loyet were battling for 5th when the yellow closed up the field on the 18th lap. The top 4 finishers would get the front spots in the Saturday night feature and what looked like feature seeds for Mario Clouser and Don Droud JR changed when the yellow flew on the 25th lap for a spin. On the restart Kuhn pulled away to take the win but Loyet drove to the outside and moved to second with Brown holding onto third and Coons stealing 4th at the finish. Saturday I was back to Junction Motor Speedway for the big money night of the Cornhusker Midget Nationals. Tonight 34 midgets were on hand with 19 late models and 14 B-Mods as the support classes on the high banked 3/8-mile dirt oval. The big prize tonight would be the $10,000 to win the midget feature and the top 4 finishers from last night will draw for the first four starting positions tonight. Racing started with heats for all classes and the midget semi. Bryan Clauson, Cody Brewer, Kyle Larson and Jake Blackhurst won the midget heats with Caleb Armstrong capturing the semi. The second heat produced the only flip of the night as Tyler Thomas bounced a couple of times and then rolled twice as the yellow came out for a stalled car. Thomas was uninjured and came back for the semi where he earned a feature start with his 5th place finish. The B-Mods ran a 20-lap feature with 5 yellows as Anthony Roth took off from the pole and was never caught. Jeremy Leiting got around Kevin Betzen for a second place finish. The late models ran a 25-lap feature that was stopped on the 7th lap when Tyler Auten hit the first turn wall hard and climbed the concrete and rode the fence but came back to the speedway dirt where he needed a double wrecker tow to remove the car. Matt Buller started 8th and was in third when he spun to bring out a yellow on the 9th lap. There were two more yellows as pole sitter Justin Brandt ran in front but 9th starter Les Siebert made the move around Brandt and took the win. Brad Kuhn drew the pole to start the 35-lap midget feature and pulled out to a big lead over Jerry Coons JR. Thomas had a flat on the 10th lap to bring out a yellow. Kuhn ran strong along the cushion and led another 11 laps before a stall brought out the second yellow. Coons made several passing attempts after the restart but even a couple of slide jobs fell short and slowly Kuhn pulled ahead as the front runners had the cushion pushed back to within inches of the concrete wall. Kuhn took the big prize with Coons second, Clauson in third and Larson finishing fourth. Sunday night was another midget show to wrap up the swing before the Belleville Midget Nationals next weekend. Tonight the stop was at the U S 36 Raceway in Osborn Missouri, a slightly smaller high banked 3/8-mile dirt oval. Racing tonight were 22 midgets, 20 sport mods and 17 A-modifieds. A big crowd was already gathered on the big concrete step grandstand along the straightaway hillside on another hot evening. Bryan Clauson, Brad Loyet and Brad Kuhn won the midget heats and Caleb Armstrong took another semi. The sport mods had only 2 yellows in their feature as Vernon Claxton took the win from the third starting spot. Jacob Ebert came from 6th to finish second with pole sitter Brandon Williams hanging on for third at the finish. The A-mods ran a close race with a good 3-car battle for the runner up spot until the leader Steven Glenn tangled with a lapped car and spun off the banking with two laps left in the race. Dennis Elliott took command on the restart and won over P J Conger. Kyle Larson shot out from the pole to lead the early laps of the 30-lap midget feature then took off again after a yellow for a spin on the 6th lap. Larson held a comfortable lead on the 16th lap when Nick Knepper was launched off another’s tire and sent into a high series of end over end flips off the third turn banking and down into the dark beyond the track. Knepper walked back up the embankment to the track and the car was removed to the pits with serious damage to both ends. Larson took up where he left off and was leading when a spin brought out the yellow with 5 laps left. Again Larson raced to the top of the banking and ran strong against the cushion to claim a birthday win over Jerry Coons JR while Zach Daum got around Kuhn for third at the checkers.

Midget Nationals August 5 -8, 2011

Friday I was back to the Belleville High Banks in Belleville Kansas for the Midget Nationals. This is an annual stop and there is only one class racing tonight – the midgets. The area had received a morning rain and there were mud holes to dodge when walking but this made a very fast track. All 25 cars took time on the high banked half-mile dirt circle and Mario Clouser came away with a track record of 17.497 seconds. The drivers earn points for qualifying and heat race finishes that set the feature lineup. Brad Loyet (from 6th), Darren Hagen (from the pole), Kyle Larson (from 6th) and Jerry Coons JR (from 4th) won the very fast heats. Larson sped away from the pole to lead the 25-lap feature but was slowed by two early yellows as Coons moved to second place from 7th. Larson was fast and pulled away while Coons had mechanical trouble and dropped out as the yellow appeared for a stall on the 13th lap. Brad Kuhn took over second place but Larson maintained a good lead after the restart. Bryan Clauson moved from his 10th starting spot to challenge Kuhn and the yellow came out for another stopped car with 5 laps left to race. Larson held on to a good lead and won over Kuhn, Clauson and Loyet. That puts Larson and Kuhn to the Saturday night dash with Loyet and Clouser who were the top point earners outside of the top two finishers. Saturday we were back to the Belleville High Banks for the finals of the Midget Nationals. The track is a half-mile high-banked black dirt circle with no real straightaway. There is a double high Armco wall around the outside of the track and the inside is a reverse bank with some walls set way inside. The pits are in the infield where there is also a banked 1/5-mile dirt oval that ran cruisers on Thursday but was not used Friday or Saturday. Again the only class racing was the midgets and with one car missing from Friday’s field there were 24 cars to race tonight. A bigger crowd had assembled tonight but still only about 2/3 of what was usually a sellout in the big 17-row bleacher sections and the old stone covered grandstand. With 4 cars already qualified for the dash they held 3 heats to start the night with Dalton Armstrong (from 5th), Jerry Coons JR (from 3rd) and Josh Pelkey (from 3rd) the winners. Then points accumulated from tonight’s heats were added to the points from Friday and the 4 highest drivers were added to the dash. They drew for the 8 starting spots and Kyle Larson and Mario Clouser drew the last row. The dash ran 6 quick laps and Bobby East from the front row and Bryan Clauson from 3rd crossed the finish line side by side with the transponders reading East the winner. Clauson was second and Caleb Armstrong third with Larson up to 4th.  The finish of the dash set the first 4 rows of the 40-lap feature. The first attempted start had a spin then Clauson jumped from the front row and took the lead with Larson right behind. These two pulled away from the field until the race slowed with a stall on the 7th lap. On the restart Clauson was again able to pull away with Larson several car lengths back in second. As the leaders started to work through lapped traffic Larson was able to close the gap and try some passes. Larson finally got by on the 34th lap as Clauson rode in the cushion exiting the 4th turn. A stall on the 36th lap brought out the yellow with only 5 cars on the lead lap as Coons, Kuhn and East were the only others with a chance at the big prize. Larson pulled away but Coons got by Clauson and with the white flag waiving it looked like this was the ending. However 7th running C J Johnson had an axle break and he became a member of the elite  “over the wall club” at the High Banks as he rode the first turn wall and then tumbled several times down the banking in the dark grass as he headed toward the fair barns. Johnson was checked over and sent back to the pits uninjured. With a one lap dash to end the race Larson got another good jump and won with Coons holding on to second but an engine problem took out Clauson so Kuhn was third and East fourth with Clauson in 5th as he coasted across and completed 39 laps then pulled in the infield and no yellow was needed. Sunday on the way home after a stop at Lee’s new residence in Leavenworth Kansas I stopped at the famed Knoxville Raceway in Knoxville Iowa for a night of USAC non-winged sprint car racing. The track is a half-mile black dirt oval with huge Armco fencing on the outside and a big dirt berm for the inside wall. The pits are in the infield and they have bright Musco lighting and good speakers for the huge grandstands and suites. The stands were filling as I arrived at 6:30PM and a good crowd was in place for the 7:45PM qualifying. Brady Bacon topped the 31 USAC Sprints with a time of 18.639 in the time trials. There were also 25 of the winged 305 sprints on hand and Tasker Phillips was fast timer in their group qualifying sessions. The winged cars ran 3 heats and a feature. Bacon (from 6th), Levi Jones (from 3rd), Keith Bloom JR (from 4th) and Dustin Morgan (from 2nd) won the heats for USAC. The first two heats had red flags as Daron Clayton caught the cushion and rode out a series of flips in the first heat and Robert Ballou bicycled and recovered but came down against the wall and rolled twice in the second heat. Hunter Schuerenberg who almost became a flip victim in his heat recovered nicely and then won the semi. Pole sitter Chad Huston won the 12-lap winged feature over Jamie Ball and Casey Friedrichsen in an event that was slowed by only two yellows. The 26-lap USAC feature was stopped on the second lap when Dave Darland caught by the cushion in the first turn and hit the wall and flipped.  All the flips tonight were without injury. Jon Stanbrough led 7 laps before Bud Kaeding who started on the front row took over and was leading on the 12th lap when he hit the heavy cushion and spun for the only yellow of the race. Bacon started 6th and used the top of the track to work to the front and grab the lead. Chris Windom was using the bottom and catching the leader but some lapped cars in the final few laps slowed his progress. Still on the last lap Windom was only a car length behind Bacon as the pair exited the 4th turn and took the checkers with Bacon a winner over Windom, Jerry Coons JR, Stanbrough and Bryon Clauson (from 19th). Congratulations to Brady Bacon for a clean sweep at Knoxville with the fast time, heat and feature wins.

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