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.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

2012 Race Report 2

Chili Bowl Nationals January 10 – 15, 2012

Monday was time to start the trip to Tulsa Oklahoma to see the 26th annual Chili Bowl Nationals. This year there was not a spec of snow the entire trip down to Oklahoma as evidence of our unusual mild start to winter in the Midwest. Monday night we arrived at Lee’s house in Leavenworth Kansas to meet grandson number two as Wesley was born the last week of December. Tuesday finished the trip to Tulsa and was the first day of the 5-day Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Center where the midgets are the attraction – the only attraction. No club sanctions or co-sanctions as the event is an open race on a date when most areas of our country are not even racing especially not racing midgets. The cars and drivers come from all over – this year 32 different states, Australia, Canada, Finland and New Zealand were represented. The drivers come with different kinds of experience both currently and in the past – there were NASCAR champions, late model and modified champions, winged and non winged sprint car champs, micro champs and of course many midget champions. Mix these with drivers starting out and those who just want to race at The Chili Bowl and you have a formula for a week of fun and excitement. The indoor track is a quarter mile dirt oval with seating for 10,000 plus and pits for over 250 cars all under one roof. The event is sold out months in advance (but you can always get a pit pass). Tuesday night 66 cars raced in 8 heats where points are accumulated and then the top 40 race in four 10-lap qualifiers to earn more points. The balance, (26 cars) were divided into 2 “C” mains where the top 4 finishers earn the last 4 spots in the “B” main. After the qualifiers the points are again tallied and the top 16 earn feature positions with the remainder (24) divided into two “B” mains where they will race for the top 4 spots that will transfer them to the feature. This format will be repeated each of the preliminary nights (Tuesday through Friday) for a different field of cars and drivers. The Tuesday night racing started with a nice wet track (I got mud on my shoes walking up to my seat after warm ups) that was fast and tacky for the heats but that meant wins from the front. Jody Rosenboom winning the 7th heat from the second row was the only non-front row heat winner. Racing got more intense in the “C” mains with Jonathan Beason who did not start for the 6th heat starting last and winning the second “C”. The racing in the qualifiers was hard with Kevin Ramey winning the 4th qualifier from 5th to earn the pole of the feature. Tuesday night is special in that there is also a race of champions and 14 cars were entered to race 20 laps. Sammy Swindell won from the pole over son Kevin Swindell from 5th after a side by side last lap. Jerry Coons JR from 3rd and Beason from 13th won the “B” mains. Kyle Larson started 4th in the 25-lap feature and worked around early leader Ramey then held off Ricky Stenhouse JR from 3rd and Michael Pickens from 7th as these three would move on to the Saturday night “A” main from tonight’s races. Coons worked for a 9th place finish and Beason got up to 12th after transferring from the “B” mains. Wednesday night at 6PM sharp it was time to start all over with the same format as Tuesday which means each position in all the races is important in determining how far forward you will start later this night as well as where you will start Saturday. The track was in great shape again and 67 different cars took to the track tonight. Sammy Swindell showed he has this place figured out as he won the first heat from 6th to be the only heat winner not from the front row. We had the first issue with the air quality inside the building after the last heat. Tyler Reddick was smoking badly when he restarted after flipping (he finished third) and then Ned Fry had a big engine fire at the checkers that required several fire extinguishers and sent more smoke in the air. The ventilating worked well and the air cleared after a few minutes and well before the “C” mains were ready to take to the track. The second “C” main included several good drivers who had bad luck in the heats as Gavin Galbraith won over Gary Taylor, Brad Kuhn and Donnie Ray Crawford as the 4 that would go to the back of the second “B” main later. The four qualifiers saw Swindell and Danny Stratton both take second place in their races from 6th starting spot (they have a 6-car invert in each qualifier) to be the top point earners of the night and therefore start the feature in the front row. Tony Stewart got by Jason Leffler to win the third qualifier and Zach Daum won the 4th qualifier to set the second row of the feature lineup. Jon Stanbrough won the first “B” from 5th and Caleb Armstrong won from the pole in the second “B” that had Kuhn finish second from the back with Taylor also transferring to the “A” after running in the “C”. The feature starting 24 cars on the quarter mile dirt track went green for 21 of the 25 laps before Chris Ennis flipped bringing out the yellow flag. Swindell and Stratton had exchanged the lead for about 5 laps before Swindell pulled away and had 5 lapped cars between himself and Stratton on the restart. Swindell took another win at the Expo Center and Stratton held on to second with Stewart third and Tyler Edwards taking fourth in the “A” feature. Armstrong came through the field to finish 6th and Kuhn worked up to a 9th place finish from the “B” main transfer cars in the back. The races went fast tonight and were done at 9:30PM and that is when we got a big surprise as we found a half inch of snow on our cars and the grass (pavement was still warm enough that it all melted) after the races. Thursday was the third night of preliminary action and a new batch of 66 cars raced in the same format to earn their way to the feature. The track was not as wet to start tonight and the heat races saw a lot more spins and crashes but also that meant not all winners were from the front row as 3 heats were won from a second row starting spot. After the heats J J Yeley had earned the most points (finished second from 9th) but Kevin Swindell (second from 8th), Steve Buckwalter (second from 7th) and Brad Sweet (second from 7th) were right behind.  Tim Crawley won the first “C” then Chris Windom got by Tracy Hines at the end to take the second “C”. Shane Cottle came from 8th to win the fourth qualifier but Sweet finished second from 6th to be high point earner from all preliminary races and earn the pole of the feature. Shane Cockrum won the first “B” from the pole and Matt Sherrell came from the back as a “C” transfer car to take fourth and make the “A” feature. Mario Clauser won the second “B” also from the pole with Hines the big mover to finish third from the “C” transfer spots and move on to the feature too. Yeley started the feature from the front with Sweet but after 6 laps it was Kevin Swindell from 4th who went around Sweet to take command and pull away. Swindell held on through some late race cautions to score another win with Cottle from 6th taking second from Sweet at the end as these 3 moved on to Saturday’s “A” main. Hines was the hard charger with a sixth place finish from the 22nd starting spot. The track was a little dusty and the evening lasted an hour longer than last night as we headed to the pits about 10:30PM. Friday finished out the preliminary nights with another 60 cars taking to the track for 8 heats. Jac Haudenschild won the 6th heat from 4th to be the top point earner in the heats. Kevin Bayer and Levi Roberts also won their heats from third starting spot. Tonight had a few hard flips with Brandon Hahn bringing out a red flag when he flipped the entire length of the backstretch in the 8th heat. They repaired the car and he started the first “C” main only to flip again ending his night. Brad Loyet had started the “C” from the back and won. Rick Eckert won the second “C” over Billy Balog. Ryan Smith, Bud Kaeding, Levi Jones and Bryan Clauson won the qualifier races. Clauson’s win from 6th earned the highest point total and the pole of the feature with Haudenschild outside after finishing third from his 6th place start. The fourth qualifier was red flagged on the 8th lap when Joey Moughan flipped into fencing and was caught in the cables and landed upside down on wall. He was taken to the hospital for evaluation of head injuries. Joey Saldana won the first “B” from the front over Brad Mosen from 7th and Loyet from 13th. Pole sitter Brent Beauchamp won the second “B” over Bayer from 4th, Shane Hollingsworth from 9th and Balog from 14th. Clauson jumped to the lead of the feature with third starter Kruseman right behind when the only yellow appeared on the 6th lap. Kruseman used the outside and went around Clauson on the 9th lap but Clauson kept close to the race leader until he slipped and Levi Jones got around into second. They finished that way with these three cars transferring to the “A” main on Saturday night. Saturday is a day of 20 features with 241 cars racing starting at noon with a 10-lap “K” feature that advances 6 cars to the back of the “J” mains. There are then two “J” mains that advance the top 4 to the back of the two “I” mains and on and on through the alphabet until the two “B” mains send 6 each to join the 12 qualified cars from the preliminary nights in the “A” feature. Most of the features are 10 laps each with 15 laps in the “D” and “C” and 20 in “B” all with the top few positions advancing to the next letter so that in theory any one can make the “A” feature on Saturday night. Tonight’s “A” feature will be extended to 55 laps to honor Donnie Ray Crawford who tragically lost his life in a domestic dispute this morning. Most of the better driver/car combinations had already qualified for the later features so there were not very many drivers that moved through feature after feature like sometimes happens when a good driver has a very bad preliminary night. Matt Johnson from the pole and Mike Spencer from 5th and won the “J” mains. Johnson advanced to the “H” with a 3rd place finish in the “J” but Tanner Berryhill took second in the “J” then moved to 4th in the “I” and 4th in the “H” before ending his night in the “G”. Ryan Beechler took an “I” from the pole and 4th in an “H” before ending the day in a “G”. Matt Westfall won in the “H” came up to third in the “G” but didn’t transfer in the “F”. Alex Schutte took third in an “H”, second in a “G”, fourth in an “F” and ended his day in the “E”. As the track dried out during the afternoon the passing and moving on in features became more difficult too. Dalton Armstrong ran second in an “E, 6th in a “D” but only 16th in a “C”. Some big names were winning preliminaries to show the strength of the field. Johnny Herrera and Chris Windom won the “E” mains and Brad Mosen and David Gravel took the “D” mains. The track was reworked for the evening races and after a break for the opening ceremonies and parade of states Jon Stanbrough and Hunter Schuerenberg captured the “C” mains. Pole sitter Richard VanderWeerd held off third row cars of Caleb Armstrong and Tracy Hines to win the first “B”. Rico Abreu came from 7th to win the second “B” over Casey Shuman and Zach Daum. The “A” feature started with a roll over by Levi Jones then went 14 green laps before the only other yellow for a spin. The Swindell family of Sammy and son Kevin continued domination at the Chili Bowl with Kevin scoring a record setting three wins in a row over a stellar field of drivers. Pole sitter Kevin jumped out to the lead and never looked back. Sammy kept the pressure on Kevin but never got close enough to make a serious pass attempt and Kyle Larson settled in the third spot. Bryan Clauson started 11th and was up to 4th but Danny Stratton took back 4th at the finish with Brad Sweet in 6th. Corey Kruseman was 7th with Jerry Coons JR the best passing performance in 8th after starting 23rd. NASCAR stars Ricky Stenhouse JR and Tony Stewart rounded out the top 10. The building got quite dusty at the end with about 20 cars still running in the very quick feature and it was time to make one last walk through the pits.

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