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, November 29, 2011

Race Report 23

Basketball November 18 – 20, 2011

Friday I stayed at home after a long week of cleaning at Aunt Mary’s apartment and went to granddaughter Haley’s basketball game. I am done at the apartment and will plan an outing for the Thanksgiving weekend. Saturday Haley had two basketball games so I was busy watching Monona Grove sixth graders learning basketball. Sunday Haley had another game so I finished out a basketball weekend and started planning an east coast trip for the holiday weekend.

Thanksgiving trip November 25 -27, 2011

Wednesday night I took off for the Thanksgiving weekend to see racing at some new tracks for me. Thursday was a day of driving as after some turkey and the trimmings (yes, pumpkin pie too) at Shoney’s I got into Georgia and stopped for some sleep – maybe not enough! As I awoke and hurried into the Flying J for a bathroom stop I locked my keys in the car. The night clerk directed me to the store isle that included tools to unlock a car and I paid $20 and started to read the directions. A young man working here saw me and said he had done this before and would do it for me (I don’t think he stole cars for a living). He tried the straight bar but it did not work so he pried on the door and used the coat hanger look alike and hooked the knob and unlocked the door. So after a short delay of half an hour I was back on the road. Friday I arrived at Carnesville Georgia for a return visit to the Georgia Karting Komplex (I was rained out here just before the champ kart feature in 2008). Today was the middle day of the 3-day 18th Annual Thanksgiving Thunder and would include features in 18 classes of karts including senior champs. The event draws well and today over 480 karts were entered including 26 senior champ lights racing for $1000 to win and 74 pro animals racing for $5000 to win. I arrived at 12:30 PM during the second round of practice. The qualifying started at 2PM and racing finally started at 5PM. Three classes were well over the 30-kart field for the features so those classes had a consi race to fill the last 5 spots. All races were started single file and the features were 15 laps except for the big money animal race contested at 30 laps. The track is a ¼-mile red clay oval that is not too wide and outlined with white chalk lines on the inside as well as the outside. The inside is further marked with orange traffic cones and then a 6 foot wide lane is watered heavily that remains muddy to prevent any short cutting of the turns. The outside is a very wide smooth run off area before some tires are placed before the chain link fencing. For spectators they have a big 9-row wooden bleacher and 3 smaller 5-row aluminum bleachers and several spots in the first turn where you are above the track and can see from your car. The lights were OK and supplemented by a set of temporary lights for the first turn. The speakers were fine if you are close to one and they had an excellent announcer who kept you well informed all day and described the action too. The races started straight up by time but only one of the features was a run away won by the pole sitter. Most features had several lead changes even though the pole sitter won 8 of the 18 features. The junior purple light was the only race with serious accidents twice needing the red as the drivers were checked out in the ambulance but all drivers eventually walked back to the pits. Josh Darnell won the non-stop stock medium from 6th and Daniel Armstrong won the animal medium from sixth also in a race with one yellow. Yellows were not thrown for spins off the course and 12 of the features went all green. Fast timer Mitchell Dowdy led the senior champs before second starter Darren Brown took over. Dowdy and Brown exchanged the lead again before third starter Brad Bracken took command. Dowdy got back in front and took the white flag leading but a slip in the fourth turn allowed Brown to get inside and inch ahead at the finish line to win over Dowdy and Greg Fields who started 10th in the non-stop race. Austin Yarbrough won the junior pro blue from a 15th place start and Tony Gaylord took the non-stop 30-lap finale from 4th to wrap up the night at 10PM. Saturday I headed north for a repeat stop at the Richmond Coliseum where I saw racing in January this year. Tonight was the second race of the winter Arena Racing USA series for the ½ scale stock cars. The Richmond Coliseum is downtown and there is a parking ramp right next door with event parking for $6. There was a very small crowd here tonight to watch 21 cars in the pro class and 4 in the youth division. The track is a high banked 1/10 mile aluminum oval that is set up in sections on the coliseum floor. The aluminum walls were tested several times as the drivers drove hard in the outside lane on the tacky rubber coated surface. I found the soft seats very comfortable and the lights were good but although the speakers were loud they were not clear. Racing got under way at 7PM with the 50-lap A-Main that started 11 cars and transferred the top 8 to the top dog race. Scott Prillaman and Travis Wall were fighting for the lead on the 30th lap when they tangled and collected two more cars for the first yellow. Jordan Wood started 6th and held on through two more yellows to win over Mike Weddell and Cody Carlton. The 50-lap B-Main started 10 cars (all rookies) and the first of 3 yellows was brought out on lap 5 as Michael Solaimni hit the wall and slid on his side ending his night early. The other yellows were for cars that hit the wall hard enough to stop but 3rd starter Austin Jefferson got by pole sitter Dan Thomas and ran clean to the checkers to take the win as this race transferred the first 6 to the top dog race. The youth division ran a 30-lap feature with a yellow on the first lap when Jordan Valdes bicycled into the wall and was eliminated. Pole sitter Savannah Cook led the entire race but was challenged by Tripp Thurston who spun on the last lap trying an inside pass for the lead. Cook held off Macy Causey on the green, white and checkered finish to take the trophy. The 50-lap top dog race started with a red flag as a second lap tangle sent Nathan Thomas on his roof in the second turn. Tommy Jackson JR spun on the 26th lap and on that restart the leaders all tangled with pole sitter Matt Midgett ending up spun out. Weddell pushed through the pack of cars and crossed the line first from his 8th place start but the celebration was short as he did not pass tech inspection and was disqualified. Travis Wall had started 6th and crossed the line second to be declared the winner over Carlton and Midgett. Sunday afternoon was my chance to visit a well known old speedway on the Jersey shore. I was unable to get here for the two day Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium Speedway in Wall New Jersey but this afternoon was the Gobbler hosted by NEETS (North East Enduro Tour Series). A small crowd was spread out in the big 22-row grandstand all along the straightaway of the 1/3-mile asphalt oval. You walk in above the track and walk down the concrete steps to your seats that are nicely painted wood planks. The track is a paper clip shape with long straights and high banked turns with two high Armco outer walls. The inside is marked with a yellow line and the asphalt flattens out and a slight reverse bank asphalt berm keeps the cars from cutting the corners. The infield is mostly paved and kept clear and there were good speakers off the sides of the announcing tower and a nice scoreboard outside the second turn. The lights look OK but were not used today. Four races were on the schedule with small cars (16), big cars (28), trux (none) and ladies (7) listed as the classes. Pete Verwys started 6th in the 150-lap small car enduro that went non-stop and took an early lead then maintained about a half-lap margin over Dan Birdsall to take the win. The big cars also raced 150 laps with 27 of the 28 answering the starting call and again racing non-stop. Vern McLaughlin started 12th and drove hard to the lead but blew a radiator hose exiting the fourth turn around the 110th lap. The Armco took a beating as all the cars slid through the water and bounced off the outside wall not just for that lap but for three laps afterward until the drivers slowed down or drove real low until the water dried. Rob Longo started with a lap penalty after a gas leak while lining up but charged back to the front however he spun twice in this water and gave the lead back to front row starter and early leader Scott Sipe. Sipe maintained a steady pace and never gave the lead up as he won over Longo and Richard Petey from 14th in the Petty blue #43. There was no trux race and only 6 ladies had cars that could run for their 25-lap finale of the afternoon. Shawna Ingraham started 3rd and got to the front but Brittany Tomaino was fastest and quickly caught the leader but tangled and then spun loosing a lap. Tomaino got by Ingraham but never could pull away to make up the lap and Ingraham came away with the final checkers of the day. The racing was done by 3:30PM and I got an early start on my long drive back home.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Race Report 22

Indoor Racing November 5, 2011

Tuesday (11-1-11) was All Saints Day and very mild for this time of the year with a slight breeze and sunshine. Aunt Mary took her last ride from the Ryan Funeral Home on North Sherman Avenue to Resurrection Cemetery on Madison’s west side by coming in Sherman Avenue right by the family homestead and then following the route she walked to work for 25 years. The graveside service was conducted by Monsignor Hughes as the sun glistened off the copper casket during a small intimate ceremony. Tuesday night the weather cooled off quickly as a thunderstorm moved through overnight bringing us back to normal November weather for the rest of the week. Saturday I took a break from the cleaning at Aunt Mary’s apartment to check out the grand opening of a new track in Versailles Ohio called BMI Indoor Speedway. The speedway is on
Main Street
in town and is in a big metal frame building with no support poles to worry about. The track is a high banked 1/10-mile dirt oval with chain link fencing on the outside with a hard rubber or fiberglass type of material bolted to the fencing with steel cables running through the fencing too. This leaves a smooth surface for the karts to hit if they do get into the wall and several did just that. The inside of the track is marked with the inverted metal plates or discs stuck into the track. They have good lights and adequate speakers and ventilation fans along the north wall. The spectator area has three aluminum 5-row bleachers along the straightaway and a 3-row bleacher in the 4th turn. The show today was divided into two sessions with 7 classes racing in each. The 10AM show had no countable class for trackchasing so I chose to arrive at 4:30PM a half-hour before the second session started. The bleachers were already mostly full to watch the evening session of 7 blue plates, 9 clone lights, 10 clone heavies, 11 senior mediums, 4 senior champs and 6 quarter midgets. One junior champ was in the pits but did not run so 6 classes raced in two sets of heats and the features. Practice started at 5PM with racing at 5:30PM and the show was completed by 8:10PM. The Burris #99 won both heats for the senior champs to earn the pole of the feature. He led the entire non-stop 15-lap feature but was disqualified in tech giving the win to Jared Bennett who started from outside the first row. Jeremy Franz came from 4th to finish second with A J Maxson capturing third. Most of the features had several yellows as multi-kart tangles were common as the drivers made aggressive moves all over the track. Jacob Miner made a last lap pass to take the quarter midget feature win. A beautiful new building and some good racing should help the winter go by fast for these Ohio racers. 

Virginia & North Carolina November 11 & 12, 2011

Thursday night I was ready for a break from the cleaning at Aunt Mary’s apartment so I headed out for the weekend. Friday I drove out east with the first stop being at Providence Raceway in Henry Virginia. This is the second year for this kart track in rural Virginia near Martinsville. The track is a 1/5-mile clay oval that sits on the lowest elevation of the property so viewing is good from any side of the track. There is a lot of run off area (most all of it uphill) before any fences and hay bales are placed in front of any posts such as the flag stand and stop lights. Traffic cones and metal plates mark the inside and the infield is clear. The lights are good and the speakers are OK but used only for announcing the next class to grid. They have a tech building and an office as the only permanent buildings as the concessions were out of a trailer and the toilets were port-a-potties. Tonight was a preliminary show for the fall brawl on Saturday and had racing in 6 classes. I arrived just before 6PM for the 7PM start of practice and the track looked wet and smooth on a cool evening. There were two rounds of practice before the heats and then features. The heats started two abreast but the features started in single file. This made for very few cautions in the feature races. The kart counts were not too high with 4 senior champs, 5 junior sportsmen blue, 5 box stocks, 6 junior unrestricted clones, 12 animal medium and 15 animal heavy. Jared Fountain won the senior champ heat and led the entire 20 lap feature from the pole but was disqualified in tech. Brian Hutcherson started in 4th and drove hard to finish second and thus claim the winners prize. Noah Doss took a non stop junior sportsmen race from the front as did Jessica Connell in box stocks. Amber Burchette took the junior unrestricted clones in a race with one yellow. Donnie Nall made some good passes from a third starting spot to win the animal medium race that had one yellow. The animal heavy feature closed out the night and after two yellows (one for the early leader blowing) it was Nall and Jeremy Mullis trading the lead each lap toward the end. Mullis started 5th and held off Nall on the last lap to capture the win in a close hard fought feature that ended at 11:05PM. Saturday I took a short drive south to check out the North Iredell Emergency Training Grounds outside Harmony North Carolina where there was a demo derby scheduled with some figure eight races. I arrived about 1PM for the 2PM start of the event and after paying $8 as I drove onto the grounds I immediately saw Brian’s truck and Guy and Brian talking in the parking area. The figure eight cars were on the track for some solo practice laps. The track was set in a low part of the open field and surrounded with some temporary concrete slabs and some huge logs and then some temporary fencing to keep the crowd well back from the track. There was no seating but most brought lawn chairs and some backed up pick up trucks behind the chairs and watched from their vehicles. The track was slightly below the level of the spectators so visibility was good with the track being marked with two stacks of three tires that were dirt filled. They had good speakers and some generators if lights were needed and there were several tents and trailers of food vendors lined up behind the spectator area. I stood behind Guy and Pam as we waited over an hour for the start of racing. The racing finally started about 3:20PM for a small field of 5 4-cylinder cars and 6 V-8’s. The track had dried out during the wait so there was another delay to water before the second heat. They ran a single 10-lap heat for the small cars and then two heats for the V-8 cars.  Next up was the 25-lap feature for the small cars and that went non-stop with the #4 apparently the winner. I don’t think the announcer (they had a nice speaker system) ever gave any names for this class although he did state some names for the V-8 cars. The heat races were started from a standing start with the cars in one wide line but the feature was started single file. I don’t think the announcer had ever seen one of these events as he was unaware when the race was over and never did give any finishes or explanation of what was going on. After the first feature I thought it was getting late and I should catch up with Guy and Pam at another track so I took off with the V-8 feature lining up and the demos yet to come. Saturday evening my stop was at the Cleveland County Speedway in Lawndale North Carolina. The track is a 4/10-mile high banked red clay oval and tonight was the season finale with racing in 5 classes: pure stocks (9 cars), front wheel drive (11), renegades (14), stock 4 (17) and limited sportsmen (8) plus a figure eight race, long jump and demo to end out the afternoon/evening event. Viewing is from a long concrete step grandstand (very few people) or from cars and lawn chairs along the top of the banking above the straightaway and the first and second turns. I found an open spot in the first turn just two cars down from Guy and Pam as I entered during the renegade feature won by Chris Stowe. Next was the stock 4’s feature that had a couple of spins but Kevin Cooper moved from 8th to claim the checkers over front row starter Tim Bristol. The limited sportsmen eliminated half the field in three yellows as pole sitter John Reynolds won this one. The attention then turned to the figure eight track which is in the unlighted infield of the big oval. It was a good sized graded out figure eight pattern with a small dirt pile inside and outside so you were racing in a rather narrow lane around the pattern with four big tires to mark the intersection and compact the “X” into a small area. Five of the 6 cars entered started the 20-lap figure eight feature and soon disappeared in the dust from the unwatered track. As a few cars dropped out and the powder blew off the track the final two cars running came back into view and Tracy Tapley took the victory over Mike Miller. Two motorcycles and a quad took two passes over a jump on the straightaway infield and Jason Kayler was the winner of the long jump. Four cars came out for the demo and Brandon Pruitt was listed as the winner as the show ended at 7:30PM and I headed west to Wisconsin.