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, February 28, 2012

2012 Race Report 8

North to More Ice Racing February 25 & 26, 2012

Friday I was ready to start the weekend so after the granddaughter’s basketball game it was time to jump in the car and head north to Lake Superior. This week I was complaining to my manager Mr. Erdmann to find more new tracks or his retainer would be cut in half again. He suggested that I look back to some of the old associations that have websites. “But I have already seen racing on those lakes” I said. “They may have moved” Jack countered. So it was as I looked at the Hardwater Ice-Racing Association site in Minnesota they had moved to a new lake! (Good thing I still employ Jack.) The issue was that this week they scheduled a road trip to Garrison where I have already been. (Post race note: I heard the ice was bad so they raced in Merrifield Minnesota after all.) While searching for a Minnesota race I came across a new ice racing organization: Superior Ice Racing Association. This group started this year and had only run 3 races so far this season. Thanks to the hard work and good organizational skills of Darin Meierotto the club seems to be off and running on Saturday noon on Allouez Bay in Superior Wisconsin. Saturday morning about 11:30AM as I drove onto Superior I spotted the big new sign out for the Superior Ice racing Association.  I followed the directional signs out on Allouez Bay where several cars were already on the ice. There were signs up marking the pits and spectator parking but as I pulled into the front row another clown pulled right up behind me instead of taking an open parking spot. I looked and saw Randy Lewis behind the camera in the rental car so I tagged along behind Randy for the afternoon. He had been in contact with Darin and I got the low down on the new Club. The track was a half-mile oval on the ice with orange cones and old tires marking the inside and outside of the track. They drew 11 rear wheel drive cars for the races today and run with studded tires on the front only. The cars were divided into two 7-lap heats by the luck of the draw and then went through a series of 10 heats total with the field arranged by draws and points earned in earlier heats. The 11th race of the day was the feature for all 11 cars and started the top point earners in the front. All races were started three abreast. The track had some light snow from the week so there was good traction for the first races but the track got slicker as they threw the snow off during the heats. The 15-lap feature went non-stop with front row starters Meierotto and Rick Przybylski exchanging the lead a couple of times as they lapped some of the slower cars with Meierotto taking the close win. After the races Randy offered me a ride out of the Country if I wanted so off I went. Sunday morning I was the passenger as Randy Lewis took me on my first racing adventure into Canada. We were up early and started driving as a bad winter storm was approaching the arrowhead of Minnesota and being intensified by strong easterly winds off Lake Superior. The swells and white caps were huge as the open water slammed the shoreline and we drove north into the intensifying snowfall. We crossed the boarder quickly and arrived in Thunder Bay Ontario just before noon as the drivers meeting was being completed after some practice sessions. Visibility was a great issue for the drivers and spectators. The locals explained that this is Lake Superior but because it is protected by a large breakwater and only a small opening goes out to the lake and the water is not too deep it has frozen well in spite of the mild winter. The races are very well organized and the spectators have a long viewing area many feet above the lake surface where they can watch from their cars or use some picnic tables for seating. They have an announcer and you can listen on your car radio. There is a concession stand on the spectator hill too. Randy had been in contact with some club members and we were one of the two cars allowed on the ice for the #38 team as monitored by the Harbor Patrol who control the area. The course had to be rebuilt ( moved slightly) from last week as the ice was too rough but it was a road course outlined with snow banks and marked with some orange cones and orange flags. At the driver’s meeting it was decided that visibility was too poor so they would start the races single file today. There were two front-wheel drive classes racing with rubber to ice (12 cars) and studded (10 cars) appearing today. The program would normally be three heats and a feature for each class but they wanted to cut out some heats and try and finish before the weather got worse. Glen Brown won the non-stop rubber division race from the pole with Brook Mado taking second from 4th. The Shawn Allen/ Jon Nelson car took the studded race from the pole with second starter Don Hupe finishing second in a race with three cautions and another driver’s meeting was called. They decided visibility was too poor for safe racing and ended the day at this point. Randy had a plane to catch in Minneapolis so we needed to leave quickly but all exiting of the ice was delayed when one of the trailers taking a race car up the ramp got stuck and slid back and jackknifed. We got back on the road after a slight delay and then encountered another delay of about half an hour when the U.S. Boarder Patrol said all rental cars were being inspected so we could take a seat in the station while they checked us out. The roads were snow covered and slippery back to Duluth but then the heavy snow ended.

Monday, February 20, 2012

2012 Race Report 7

More Wisconsin Ice Racing February 18 & 19, 2012

Saturday I was off to check on Park Lake in Pardeeville but the warm weather had caused cancellation of the races again for this year. I then drove over to the south side of Fox Lake off Wedges Bay where they raced last week behind the Boat House. It was a warm and sunny day but there were 7 front wheel drive and 13 rear wheel drive cars on the ice for today’s races. (16 of these cars would also run in the open class.) The track was the same from last week with only one light snow during the entire week so the only change was they added a few tires along the inside to better mark the turns. However the outside walls where there was plowed snow last week were pretty much hard ice this week. After some dragging with the special ice digger that the club has made the track was roughed up a little and ready for some races. They had two heats in RWD and two open heats with one FWD heat before a short intermission to set the feature lineups. Dan Roedl was running fast slamming against the outside berm in the final heat when the right rear axle broke and he needed to be pulled to the pits. He had a spare at home and sent someone to get it as we had our intermission entertainment watching Dan with help from other crews take apart the rear end and remove the piece of broken axle and install the new one in time for the feature races. During this time they did some track maintenance as some water was coming up some holes along the outside “wall”. They plowed snow from beyond the track onto the wet area thus putting the hole outside the track but making the track a bit narrower. The RWD feature was first and Roedl with few points from the heat started 4th. The yellow flew on the 5th lap for another car losing the wheel and axle on the track as the rough ice was taking its toll. There was one more yellow for a stall as Roedl held the lead and got a good jump on the restarts. There was some 4 wide racing through the turns as they raced to chase down the leader but Roedl won with Jeff Rechek and John Schantz finishing right behind. Rechek took over the wheel of the yellow 88 for the FWD feature and took the win in a non-stop race. David Hillman took off from the front of the open feature and had a big lead when the only yellow appeared with just a couple of laps left in the race. Hillman kept the top spot on the restart and took the checkers to end the racing for the day. The water was also coming up a hole in the ice in the pit area and some cars had to move as the ice started to sink but with the weight off that spot the water retracted through the hole and the ice was floating again. Sunday I headed for another visit to Hustisford Wisconsin for the ice races on Lake Sinissippi. The ice was in good shape with a little slush on top in a few places and a good field of 19 rear wheel drive cars, 5 front wheel drive cars, 20 entries in the open class and a modified with studded tires all ready for some exhibition laps. The program here is for a first set of heats by draw then a second set of heats with the front runners together and the slower cars together. After the 10 heats they set up semis and features to finish the day on the ice. (With only 5 FWD they ran two heats and a feature with all in each race.) Carey Leemon dominated the FWD class and won all three races. Scotty Tiedt came from 7th to take the RWD semi and John Schantz came from 4th to win the feature over Jeremy Klewer. In the open feature Schantz started 7th and quickly moved to the front using the outside and held off Travis Ottesen from 10th for the win with Leemon bringing the FWD car home in third from 9th.  There were some spins but no one stalled on the track so that the whole day ran without any restarts. The races were over by 3PM and the ice held up well on a bright sunny day that was so warm I watched from the pits without even putting on my gloves.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2012 Race Report 6

Wisconsin Ice Racing February 11 & 12, 2012

Saturday I was off to hunt down some ice races. The Southern Wisconsin weather has been mild and ice racing has been called off at the last minute several times during the first six weeks of what should be the ice racing season here in Wisconsin. This week the zero degree weather should have helped the ice thickness considerably. My first trip was to Pardeeville where they were supposed to have a race last year but the ice was too thin and they have the city permission to try again this year. Today was to have been the event but the birds had kept the water open at the ramp where they wanted to enter the lake so they will try again next week. I headed east to Fox Lake where there was no one around the Fish N Fun where the races were in the past. I later found out the ice is thin on the north side of the lake so they are racing on Wedges Bay off the Boat House on the south side of the lake. Saturday’s races were already underway as I arrived about 1PM and I found out the program has been changed from the two separate shows of last year to three classes: Front wheel drive (7 cars), Rear wheel drive (18 cars) and Open class (20 entries). All the cars in the open class also raced in one of the other classes today so there were actually 25 race cars at the meet. The track is about 1/3-mile ice oval and the plowed snow (not much this year) forms a small bank to mark the inside and outside of the track. They also have some old Christmas trees along the inside to help mark the turns. They ran two sets of heats then the three feature races. The day was bright and sunny but very windy and cold but the ice was good and thick and during intermission they drilled some holes and brought up some water to make some slush and better traction for the features. Tim Sheppard started from the front row of the FWD feature and won the race that was slowed by one yellow for a stalled car. The RWD feature had 17 starters and 4 yellows as the non-studded cars went to the very outside of the course looking for grip along the snow bank that forms the “outside wall”. John Schantz started 16th and used the “cushion” to find the fast way around the oval and take the win over Jeff Rechek with Lisa Leckman coming in third. The open feature started 19 cars and only had one yellow for a stall to wrap up the day with Sheppard starting 8th and holding off the big power plants for another win. Sunday it was a short drive over to Hustisford Wisconsin for a visit to the Lake Sinissippi ice races that start about 11AM on the lake made just above the dam on the Rock River. They have been doing work on the dam and apparently drawing down the lake and with this movement and mild weather the ice was not forming well enough to race on. In fact today for their first race of the year there was open water just a half mile down from Karen’s Lone Pine Tap where the racers meet to start and end the day on the lake. The track was set up to the west of where they usually run more toward the island as apparently the ice was still thin just in front of the Tap. I parked on shore where I could see the track and watched from my car as the heats were already started. They run two sets of heats and then semis and features for the 3 classes of: front wheel drive (6 cars), rear wheel drive cars (22 cars) and the open class (about 20 cars). The track was marked with big orange cones and plastic barrels and was very wide with the cars going very wide into the fresh snow outside the backstretch looking for traction. Travis Ottesen scored a big win in the RWD semi and John Schantz taking the feature from 8th starting spot. The number 90 started 3rd and won the FWD feature of just 3 cars. He then came from 8th to claim the open semi. Jesse Kanas won the open class feature from last (9th) over Ottesen and Schantz to wrap up caution free feature racing just before 4PM on a sunny and pleasant afternoon.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

2012 Race Report 5

Eastern Trip February 4 & 5, 2012

Thursday night I left home before the predicted fog set in and drove through Chicago before stopping. Friday morning there was still some limited visibility but no heavy fog as I headed east and eventually ran into sunny weather by the time I got to Ohio. I have wanted to see races in Atlantic City for many years but this year the weather was clear and roads were dry so it seemed like a perfect year to make the trip. Then Bruce and Pat Eckel offered me a bed for Saturday night and a ride with them from Easton Pennsylvania to Atlantic City New Jersey and that cemented the deal. I drove through most of Pennsylvania Friday night and pulled into the Eckel’s driveway at noon on Saturday. Saturday afternoon I rode along with the Eckels to Atlantic City New Jersey for a visit to Boardwalk Hall, no not to see the Miss America pageant or basketball but rather races on the concrete floor of the auditorium. Some steady light rain made walking outside uncomfortable but after a quick dinner we settled into the comfortable seats of the Hall for the 7PM start of racing for 4 classes of cars tonight. The track is about 1/10-mile concrete oval with Jersey barriers outside and few big tractor tires to mark the inside of the turns and some Coke syrup to make the track good and sticky. I was very pleased with the many good side by side battles on the track tonight with lots of passing in every class. We chose seats in the fourth turn (opposite the stage area) where the view was very good except when a car would go out to the wall right below us which was not very often. Racing started with 4 heats for the TQ midgets (55 cars) transferring the top 4 finishers of each heat to the feature. Jon Gambuti, Pat Bealer, Erick Rudolph and Stewart Friesen won the heats and then joined the top 4 from Friday’s preliminary feature to draw for the first 8 positions in tonight’s 40-lap feature. The next race was the micro feature with 24 cars going 20 laps and front row starters Matt Janisch and Lou Cicconi going side by side most of the way. There were 6 yellows and Janisch tangled with a lapped car putting him to the rear but Erick Rudolph took up the chase of Cicconi and on the last lap snuck by the leader taking the trophy. Ryan Greth and Billy Pauch won the two TQ semis with the top 2 finishers transferring to the feature. Next up was a 25-lap feature for the 24 slingshots and this turned out to be another good race but with some aggressive driving sending several front runners to the back. There were 4 early yellows then 3 more on each try to complete the last lap. Simon Egan came from 6th on the last restart and captured the lead in the last few yards of the race in a photo finish over Matt Carman who started the race in 14th position. The 25-lap champ kart feature was next with 27 starters and 7 yellows before Chris Daley who started 14th took home the checkers with Justin Bonsignore second. The 40-lap TQ feature rounded out the night with 26 starters going for the big prize. Friesen and Rudolph started from the front and waged a torrid battle with several restarts (there were 10 yellows) getting the two side by side again and again. Rudolph got by and pulled away but a Friesen spin gave Ryan Smith a chance to try for the lead. Rudolph held off Smith and Gambuti at the end and we were on our way home before 11PM. Sunday I was on the road early for a drive north to see some ice racing that Guy Smith had alerted me to. This would be my first adventure to see some eastern ice racing as I left Pennsylvania and headed to the Adirondack region of New York to watch the AMEC (Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club) race on Caroga Lake. I saw no snow and little if any ice on any body of water as I drove north until less than half an hour from Caroga Lake when I was climbing in elevation and now there was snow in the woods and on the roadsides. I arrived at noon and found some spectator cars along the lakeshore road where they could see the races but elected to drive down the access ramp onto the lake and park close to the course. The course is a road course on the ice of about one mile in length and outlined with many orange cones. There appears to be a stop and go penalty for hitting the cones during a race. The races were timed events of 20 minutes each and moved quickly today to get everyone (except me) home for the Super Bowl. The event drew a decent field of cars with 21 racing in the first group of street legal cars that were divided into two classes: SL (2 wheel drive) 13 cars and SL4 (4 wheel drive) 8 cars. These cars ran on studless Bridgestone Blizzak winter tires and raced in three heats of 20 minutes each. Michael Waterhouse won the SL first heat and ran second in the next two races while Jon Bronk and Ivan Hinkle picked up wins. Alan Bellavance won all 3 races for the SL4 class. The second group to race ran Menard studded tires and had 4 classes racing. There was one (SLM) stock sportsmen, 9 (MM) modified stocks, 3 (SMC) heavily modified closed wheel cars and 6 (SMO) exotic tube frame super modifieds. They ran two 20-minute heats and a 20-minute feature. The super modifieds were very creative with wings and sail panels some with a sprint car body and some home made super modifieds. They were very fast and threw up a fine ice mist that the wind carried over the pits. Dave Burnham won the first SMO heat and Matt DeLorenzo was leading the second but dropped out giving the win to Dan Schultz with DeLorenzo coming back to win the finale. Joe Lyons won the MM class with fourth in the feature after Pat Stringer had won the first heat and come from 7th to win the second heat. Ed Tucker took the SMC class win. The races were done before 3PM and I was off on the long trip home all done on dry highways again.