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.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Race Report 17

Iowa weekend August 26 – 28, 2011

Friday after a week of preparation for the Stoughton Area Youth Center Golf Outing the event was completed and I was looking to relax at a race. Cleanup was done by 7PM so I had time for a short drive up to Columbus 151 Speedway in Columbus Wisconsin where they again started racing on time at 8PM. The track is a very slightly banked quarter mile paved oval with concrete walls on the outside and just the drop off to the grass infield to mark the inside. The preferred line is around the bottom but a fast car can make passes around the outside and two wide racing is very common. The crowd was a little light as high school football has started and the Green Bay Packers were playing tonight too. Seating is on the grass hillsides with benches set across posts all up the hill. There are a few bleachers way down the hill next to the track well below your sight lines and two sections of bleachers behind the hillside benches too. They drew car counts of 16 late models, 12 street stocks, 14 hobby stocks, 21 bandits, 8 back up cars and 8 misfits. Following a couple of dashes, heats for all cars and a semi for the bandits they took a very short intermission and moved into the features. The misfits are a mixture of rascal outlaw (rear engine) and mini-mods and Vern Brown captured the feature from the pole over Jason Dull in a non-stop run. The bandits had a second lap spin then completed their 18-lap feature with David Schmidt coming from 5th to win over Bob Kohn. The hobby stocks ran 25 laps non-stop as Andy Raley came from 7th to score a close win over Dustin Ward from 9th and Steven Sauer from 11th. The street stocks had two yellows during their 25-lap feature but pole sitter Jason Clapper held off 10th starter Phil Denikas. Nick Wendt spun into the wall on the second lap for the only yellow in the 35-lap late model feature. Pole sitter Al Weishoff made no mistakes and held on for a win over Ron Bishofberger and Jerry Eckhardt. The Wild and Crazy back up race closes out the night and 8 cars took to the track for 8 laps in reverse gear. Matt Wachuta kept it straight and held off Ryan Oetzel from 6th to take the final checkered flag of the night at about 10:20PM. I made a quick exit for home to unload my car of all the golf outing supplies and replace them with my sleeping bag to be ready for more travels. Saturday I took a drive to west central Iowa for a look at the Carroll County Fairgrounds in Coon Rapids and the last figure eight race of their season. I arrived at 6PM for the 7PM start of racing and found some people already in the big 25-row aluminum grandstand. The small pits were overflowing with 29 rear wheel drive cars and 51 of the front wheel drive variety. The track is a nearly flat 1/8-mile dirt oval that is surrounded by Armco walls. The figure eight shape is made by having a tire stack toward both ends of the long oval and those tires are held in place for good by having a telephone pole sunk down through them. The big grandstands and some bright lights offer a good view of the track and they have good speakers. The races appear to be very popular with the stands nearly full by the 7PM start of the stand alone racing event. The track was well watered and they started out with a bonus as there were makeup features from the last event that got rained out and those were run first. Charlie Asbury won the FWD from the pole and Brian Brauckman won the RWD class from the 7th starting position. Then they started the 11 heats for tonight’s program followed by second chance heats and a consi before the “B” and “A” mains. The races are kept short but only one or two advance so each one is meaningful. There was some hard driving on the rough turns that produced five rolls during the preliminary races in the FWD division but no accidents at the “X”. Nick Dammon won the FWD feature from the second row over Andrew Hugeback from 8th. A red flag stopped the RWD feature when Brian Rickers lost a wheel and rolled on the third lap. Brian Brauckman started from the pole and was passed a couple of times but he regained the top spot and won another feature to claim the point championship. Racing was done by 10:30PM which I thought was very good considering the number of race run tonight. Sunday some severe weather followed me back across Iowa but the rain stopped before I got near Dubuque so I stopped for another look at the Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway. I parked next to Reta and Bob Litton and they filled me in on Iowa racing as I have not been out this way much this summer. The track is a high banked wide 3/8-mile dirt oval with concrete walls around the outside and Armco inside fencing. They have some pits in the infield for any rigs that are not enclosed trailers and the rest pit outside the second turn. They have a huge seating area with 32 rows of aluminum seats on concrete steps under the roof of the main grandstand. There are also 25 rows of hillside benches on either side of the grandstand and some bleachers behind the hillside seats in the first turn. They have a good scoreboard and good lights but you are set back quite far from the track. After a few minutes wait for the ambulance warm ups were completed and racing started with two heats for the 14 sport mods. During the second heat the light rain got harder and the caution flag was displayed. They called out all cars to pack the track back in and then it rained again this time too much to continue. The races were canceled for my 12th rainout of the year but I got an early start home.

Labor Day Weekend September 2 – 5, 2011

Friday I started the long weekend with a trip to LaSalle Illinois and a stop at LaSalle Speedway a ¼-mile high-banked dirt oval. The track has concrete walls on the outside and some big tires to mark the inside of the track. They have good lights and the speakers were loud but too far apart for some areas. The track was well watered and being packed when I arrived at 6PM. The long 25-row wooden seat grandstand was quite full by 7:30PM for the races tonight featuring the USAC midgets (16 cars) with support classes of 9 super UMP late models, 13 street stocks and 7 hornets. The track was very fast and smooth to start and Zach Daum turned the fastest lap in midget qualifying with a time of 13.230 seconds. The late models and street stocks also qualified. Scott Hatton and Kyle Larson won the midget heats from outside front row starts as the track was fast with a tacky groove in the middle of the banking. They rolled the track very smooth and the hornets went non-stop in a 15-lap feature won by Jon Provenzano from the front row. The midget feature started with a 4 car spin on the second lap and that was a sign of what was about to transpire. Kody Swanson led 2 laps and then Brad Kuhn took over and led throughout was an unbelievable number of 15 caution flags. Some were slide jobs on the now slick track that went bad with every one that felt wronged by any driving mistake retaliating and spinning out the offender. This was the real “boys have at it” night as cars were very expertly spun a couple of laps after any contact to even the score. At one time during the 30-lap feature they did run 10 laps of consecutive green flag laps but most of the race was one or two laps and another caution. Jerry Coons JR slid by Bryan Clauson for second but never could keep up with Kuhn on the restarts so Kuhn took the victory over Coons, Clauson and Tracy Hines. The late models ran better with only 2 cautions in a 25-lap feature won by Ryan Dunbar from the pole. The street stocks finished out the night with a 20-lap feature that had 2 cautions as Mike Hughes won from a 3rd place start. Saturday morning about 4AM some heavy storms came through Wisconsin and hit Sun Prairie. About 11AM I was thinking I would check to see what comments were written on the internet about last night’s spin fest and see what the speculation for car count for tonight was all about. I saw a comment that they just posted the cancellation of the Pepsi Nationals at Angell Park on the website as they had rain this morning and more was predicted for Saturday afternoon. I immediately checked for other races I could still make. I went into a hurry up frenzy and took a shower, got dressed, filled the cooler, got gas in the car, cut the one rose bloom that was open and delivered it to Aunt Mary in the nursing home. I was now ready to try and make a bonsai run to one of the northern most counties of Wisconsin. The Ashland County Fair listed dirt dash on the fair schedule for 4PM. I knew I could not get there by that time but I could see what was still going on after 5PM. The odometer read 288 miles when I saw the entry to the Ashland County Fair in Marengo Wisconsin. There were some very dark clouds to the east and I saw that there was standing water in the parking lot as I headed to the gate. My feet were wet and shoes covered in mud before I even got into the fair. After paying the $5 senior admission to the fair the grandstand events were no additional charge. I walked in the old 13-row covered wooden grandstand and found a good crowd watching two full sized bulldozers pushing the mud off the track. The track is a 12-turn dirt road course that has 5 foot dirt piles lining the course to keep the cars on the track however the heavy downpour has turned the track to a course better suited to boats. By 6PM they were ready to restart the first heat race that was stopped by the cloudburst. The track was still very wet but I was glad they were racing at all. The speakers were very good but the lights were not very good. They drew their largest field of cars for this years show with 46 front wheel drive cars divided into 26 amateurs and 20 pros. They ran three series of heat races (four in each class), that is a total of 24 heats that concluded at 9:15PM. The races were short (3 laps) but with cars stuck in the mud and on the walls it took longer than usual. There was only one roll and in that heat Scott Pittsley was tipped back over and went on to win that heat. After the heats they totaled the points earned and started the top 8 point earners in each of the 5-lap features. The amateur feature went non-stop with pole sitter Justin Puff keeping in front the whole distance and winning over Dave Anderson. The pro feature was stopped on the first lap and restarted after Archie Henderson rolled on his top. Dustin Engen started 6th and drove his way through to the front to take the win over Pittsley to conclude a long day. Sunday I drove down to the Keokuk County Expo Raceway in Sigourney Iowa. This is a banked dirt figure eight track surrounded by Armco fencing. The spectators have the south hillside for use where they have 8 rows of hillside wooden benches and a couple of 5-row aluminum bleachers behind. There is also lots of area for lawn chairs or blankets and even some shade trees. The track is wide with the figure eight made by the Armco walls around the light post at each end and then 6 big tires spaced out around the inside Armco to make a large “infield” area at each end. They have some good new lights and good speakers. The races were scheduled for 1PM but the sign at the roadside said 3PM for today and that is when they started the warm ups. They drew a good sized crowd and car counts were 23 stocks, 16 pro stocks, 11 open class, 5 trucks and 5 cruisers. I had been here for the figure eight before but today the program would include a race for the cruiser class that run around the track in an oval pattern not crossing over at the “X”. It appears that several more Iowa tracks are doing oval racing at their figure eight events so this may have me back in Iowa for some more races soon. The racing started with heat races for the 3 main classes. Next was the 8-lap figure eight race for the trucks that was stopped on the 5th lap when Brian Sterling hit an inside tire marker and rolled on his roof. Ken Kruger started on the pole and won the truck race. The two-man cruisers ran their race next with Aaron and Craig Reese taking the win in a non-stop event. The “C” main for the stocks and semis for stocks and pros were after a short intermission and watering of the track. The 15-lap stock feature started 10 cars and Joe Roller had the lead when he blew a rear tire and then the red came out two laps later when the wheel came off in the first turn sending Roller into the air but not rolling just as another car got stuck on the Armco in the third turn. Aaron Osweiler won the semi and started in the back of the feature was now leading but he too blew a rear tire just as the race stopped. There were 5 cars to restart but with one over heating and another pulling off to the pits and the car on wall towed off only Osweiler and Justin Bringman lined up for restart with 3 laps left. Osweiler had a full lap lead on Bringman but would have to run 3 laps on the rim however it was a moot point when the green waived and the clutch or transmission failed for Bringman and Osweiler got the checkered. I wanted to get to Dubuque and use my rain check from last week so I left at this point with two features left and then the championship point features for the top 10 in points for the three main classes. I arrived at the Dubuque Fairgrounds Speedway at 8:45PM and the hobby stock feature was on the track. I took a different vantage point tonight as I sat in the 4th turn but I was too high and had the outside of the 4th turn blocked from view. As nice of a track as this is you have visibility problems from most of the seats as too high of a wall and buildings offer obstructions. The scoring tower is quite large in the infield too and they pit in the infield although do not allow enclosed haulers down there. The lights need improvement and in fact they are having a special event to raise money for the lights this month. The sport compacts were next on the high banked 3/8-mile dirt track with Pat Quinn coming from 5th to win a race slowed twice by cautions. The modifieds started 23 cars and had lots of trouble completing laps with 8 cautions and one red flag in the 20-lap feature. John Campbell brought out the red when he turned over in the part of the 4th turn I couldn’t see. The 9th starter J D Auringer held the lead on the final couple of restarts but many time champ Ron Barker started 11th and was right on Auringer’s tail over the last few laps. The final yellow flew after the white was given the leaders so Auringer got the win over Barker and Matt Gansen. The stock cars started 20 cars for a 15-lap feature and after 3 yellows it was 10th starter Wayne Hora in victory lane with Terry Ritmer from 8th finishing second. The late models closed out the night with a 40-lap feature for 24 cars. Front row starter Ron Klein spun collecting several other cars on the first lap and there were two more yellows before they raced 3 laps. There were three more yellows before the red flag on lap 35 when three cars tangled and Andy Nezworski was upside down in the third turn. Joel Callahan started 5th and had a big lead erased then had to withstand two more restarts as cars spun on the attempted restarts. Callahan switched from the middle of the track to run the last 5 laps along the outside wall and keep his momentum while holding off Danny Shelliam and Jimmy Brokus. Callahan was in victory circle and I was headed back to the car about 11PM to wind up another long day. Monday for the Labor Day holiday I thought some of the local track would hold events but apparently not as I found no tracks close to home running on the holiday so I took a day to rest and recap the weekend and plan for some September new track visits.

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