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
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 Georgia and Midgett. Sunday afternoon was my chance to visit a well known old speedway on the Carlton 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.