Navigation 

Cedar Lake Speedway Arena

Cedar Lake Arena Speedway

Cedar Lake Arena Speedway

Greetings from New Richmond, Wisconsin

From the travels and adventures of the “World’s #1 Trackchaser”

Cedar Lake Speedway Arena

Track #1,831

 

HighlightsThe PlanThe TripThe ExperienceAttractionsRace ReviewVideosPhotosQuick Facts

THE KEYS TO THE TRIP

 

 

How does a 99% plus success rate sound with airplanes and weather?……………more in “The Plan”.

 

 

The real excitement today was not the destination but the journey……………..more in “The Trip”.

 

 

They say you can’t go home………..details in “Attractions”.

 

 

 

K.I.S.S.

I try to keep things simple in life.  That’s not always easy to do but I try.  You’ve heard me say it over and over again.  For trackchasing to be successful for me, I need a race date, good weather and a way to get there.

 

Usually finding the race date isn’t so difficult.  The internet is a wonderful thing that Al Gore is said to have invented.  The research staff at Randy Lewis Racing knows how to do its job when it comes to finding race dates at tracks I have never visited.


Goodbye winter.

My official “winter” season wrapped up this afternoon.  It’s funny.  Living in San Clemente, California I can’t tell winter from summer.  Nevertheless,  I made six trips during this winter time and ended up seeing 18 news tracks.  That’s an average of three tracks per trip.  Considering that during the winter tracks rarely race on any day other than Saturday and Sunday my results are fantastic.  If you check out the results of other trackchasers during “winter” you’re likely going to see an average of just one track per trip.  With my higher level of production I can go “out on the trail” one third as often as my fellow competitors and still see the same number of tracks.

 

No rainouts today.

I didn’t have much concern about the weather today.  The race was indoors!  I guess it could have snowed me out to the point where I couldn’t reach today’s arena but it didn’t.  It’s the middle of March and Wisconsin still has more than a foot of snow on the ground.  I love Wisconsinites but I don’t know how they can live in their winter climate.

Getting there would take some doing.

The most difficult aspect of trackchasing for me is finding a way to get to the track.  My “average” travel distance to any track I visit in the U.S. is between 1,500 and 2,000 miles.  That’s not exactly next-door is it?

 

During this winter season I decided to trackchase over 16 days.  Every day I planned to trackchase was successful.  That’s been true, from a weather point of view, since June 3, 2011.  That was my last weathered out trackchasing effort.


How does a 99% plus success rate sound?

We’re closing in on our seventh year of airline sponsorships.  During that time we’ve flown on nearly 1,200 flights.  Every one of those flights was on a “standby” basis.  You would think that from time to time we would simply not be able to get a seat right.  Actually, we’ve missed our “same day” destination just four times in nearly seven years.  I can’t believe our success rate.  I will tell you this.  I’ll bet I THOUGHT we wouldn’t make it some 300-400 times!

 

Today was one of those days.  I had actually given up on trackchasing in Wisconsin.  I was starting to plan for an early return to California.  I’ll tell you more about it in “The Trip”.

 

 

It’s all about the “counting” and don’t let anyone tell you it isn’t.

I woke up this morning in Houston, Texas.  I spent the afternoon in northern Wisconsin.  I went to bed at home in San Clemente, California.  This is what today looked like.

 

It was a shame that I could stay in a beautiful Marriott hotel but only get to sleep in my room (on the second night) for about three hours.  My hobby is about getting from point A to point B.  If I can’t do that then I can’t achieve the “counting” aspect of the hobby.  Ask any trackchaser, the “counting” part of trackchasing is really what the hobby is all about.  Some of the “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers” might deny that statement but then they would only be misleading themselves…and others of course.

I would need to sleep ‘quick’.

After last night’s racing in Paige, Texas I got back to the hotel at about midnight.  I still had some 40 minutes of Egoscue exercises to complete.  I also had to find out how in the world I was going to get to Northern Wisconsin tomorrow morning.

 

We are now in the middle of the “spring break” flying season.  I’ve done this long enough now to get a good feel for how strongly flights will be booked throughout the year.  Spring break is possibly the longest and toughest “season” for flying standby.  Colleges seem to go on spring break about midway between Christmas and graduation.  Younger students have their spring break closer to the beginning or end of Easter.  The entire “spring break” season lasts about six weeks.

One of the worst days ever?

For today’s travel I could never recall seeing a single day so fully booked EVERYWHERE except on the Minneapolis-Los Angeles route.  If I could GET to Minneapolis then getting back to LAX on Sunday night would be a breeze.  By the way, during my first six trips of 2013, I’ve flown into or out of Minneapolis on five of them.  I guess I like the airport!

 

Today I needed to move from Houston to Minneapolis.  I also had to land by no later than 1 p.m. and that was pushing it.  There were three non-stop flights that would work.  However, each of those was overbooked.


You just can’t imagine the logistical challenges my hobby creates.

I looked at more than 25 different connecting cities.  In order to make that plan work I would need a very early morning flight from Houston to the connecting city.  Then I would need a short layover from that connecting city to Minneapolis.  That was just the schedule part of it.  I would also need to get a seat on TWO planes rather than one with the non-stop plan.

 

From the time I left home on Friday night I would estimate I spent 3-4 hours just trying to figure out the puzzle of how I could make it to today’s racing event.  From Saturday morning through Saturday evening I was amazed at how many last minute seats became occupied by travelers booking at the last minute.

 

When it was all said and done I went to be at 2 a.m. Central time.  My alarm came at 5 a.m. Central time (3 a.m. San Clemente time).  The time in San Clemente is relevant because that’s the time zone where I’ll end my day ….hopefully.

Three chances for success.

After all that investigation I had just three flights that would work.  There was a 7:25 a.m. non-stop flight on Delta from IAH-MSP.  My main backup was a 8:43 am. flight to Omaha, Nebraska.  From there I would connect on a different airline to Minneapolis.  The drawback to this plan was that I would miss the first 90 minutes of scheduled racing.  My third and final choice was another non-stop to Minneapolis at 7:45 a.m. but it looked to be hopelessly overbooked.

 

I showed up for option #1 the Delta non-stop from Houston to the Twin Cities.  I could track my “chances” on my computer as people checked in.  Based upon the number of people who had purchased a ticket and checked in, the airline knew how many seats remained open.

I was going to make it!

These numbers change about as often as I hit the “refresh” button on my laptop or cellphone.  First there were 15 seats and I was #12 on the standby list.  That looked good.  Then a few more people were added to the standby list and I got bumped down some.  It didn’t look like I would make it.  I was just two seats short of making the flight.  The plane’s door was closing in just one minute.  The gate agent read the names of five people.  They had purchased their tickets and checked in.  However, they just hadn’t shown up yet.  If they didn’t show up in sixty seconds their seats would be “given away” to standby passengers like me.  I was going to make it!  Then I looked down the long hallway of the George Bush Intercontinental Airport Terminal A.  There were five little people at the end of the terminal.  However, they were getting bigger.  Yes, they were running.  The clock was ticking.  They were running.  They were getting bigger.  Finally, they made it.  The last five seats on this plane were given to those passengers who had purchased a ticket.  Then, as is always the case, the seventeen standby passengers who did not make the flight “scattered like the wind” including me.

I didn’t make it but I still had some (fading) options.

I had another option.  If that didn’t work I would begin looking for a way to get back to Los Angeles without seeing any racing today.  My flight option to Omaha in about an hour was leaving from terminal B.  Just for kicks I thought I would cruise by the gate where the well overbooked non-stop flight was leaving for Minneapolis in just 18 minutes.  I only decided to head that direction because it was on the way to the Omaha gate.

 

Much to my surprise they were entertaining the idea of getting a few standbys on the flight.  Although I had listed for this flight I had not checked in.  If you don’t check in you don’t get on.  I ended up checking in just ten minutes before the scheduled departure.  Gate agents don’t care for that.  I waited.

One seat; two standbys.

Then word came.  There was one seat open and two of us standing by.  The other standby passenger was a pilot.  He volunteered, “Give me the jump seat and let that fellow (pointing toward me) have a seat”.  What a nice gesture.  When there are not enough seats for standby passengers pilots have the option of “jump seating”.  That means they grab a seat in the cockpit with the two pilots who will fly the plane.  The “jump seat” is not nearly as comfortable as a regular airline seat but pilots will often take that seat so a “regular” standby passenger can get on the plane.

 

Folks, now you know how serious “having a way to get there” really is with my trackchasing hobby.  Standing by for flights is really a wonderful way to travel.  Given the choice, unless I had the money those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers” have, I’d rather fly standby that have the limitations and expense of flying on a paid ticket.  I really would.

AFTER THE RACES…..

Long delays are the downfall of short track racing.

Today’s racing was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.  However, they did not getting going until 1:20 p.m.  Can’t folks in short track racing understand that “if you’re not early you’re late?”.  At the end of the day twenty minutes might be the difference between making a cross country flight or not.

 

I wanted to make a 7:20 p.m. flight in the evening to Los Angeles.  I was about an hour from the Minneapolis airport.  I figured if the races were finished by 5 p.m. I would make it.  Don’t you think that three classes of racing with nine scheduled heats, a “B” main and three “A” features could get things done in four hours?  Wrong!

 

The track started twenty minutes late.  They reworked the track twice taking well over an hour to make those changes.  Finally, during the midget “A” main feature there was a major wreck on lap one.  That took the better part of an hour to clear.  When they raced it was very good.  They just had too much down time when they weren’t racing.  Toward the end the crowd was getting restless.  Most of those folks just had to drive an hour or less towards home.  Even if I were on time I still wouldn’t pull into my driveway until 2-3 a.m. Wisconsin time.

 

Luckily, the last 25 laps or so of the main event ran non-stop.  That took about six minutes.  This allowed me to catch a 7:20 p.m. flight and not a 9:20 p.m. flight that would have gotten me home at 5 a.m. Wisconsin time.

I was at the mercy of inefficient short track racing.  That’s why I have developed systems to combat that.

 

I did have some efficiencies on my side.  First, I had a great parking spot located just outside the front door of the arena.  Even though I arrived after most of the crowd I used the “there’s always room for one more” parking theory.  This seems to work best when I’m driving someone else’s car.

 

Then on the way back to the airport I used Google Maps to help navigate me over and through Wisconsin’s robust county road system.  Speeding at different points didn’t hurt either.

 

Once at the airport I had the rental car agent email me my receipt.  This way I didn’t have to wait around.  Then I used son Jim’s memory techniques to memorize my confirmation code.  This made using the airline’s check-in kiosk go a little quicker.  Finally, I skated through security with the TSA Pre-Check program.  This put me in a much shorter line and allowed me to clear the airport screening process in about 30 seconds.

 

All of these systems got me on a flight home two hours earlier than if I didn’t use them.  These systems have been analyzed and improved over years with all the flying I do.  Although any system can be improved things work very smoothly at this point.

 

 

Just watchin’ people.

Most of today’s crowd was male.  Many had facial hair.  Does that mean that Wisconsin women don’t like winter indoor racing or men with beards?

 

During breaks many people in the crowd went into the lobby to watch the Las Vegas NASCAR Sprint Cup race on TV.   I wonder how many were Matt Kenseth fans?  I doubt Matt Kenseth could have raced as well as Dick Trickle during each of their primes.

 

The crowd was on the smallish side.  Did the $30 U.S. general admission price have anything to do with that or a region wide scarcity of DVRs?

 

After one of my most unhealthy lunches of the year (see below) I elected to go with a fruit smoothie served at the track.  I was in the midst of several bearded men from Wisconsin and Minnesota wearing gear from the hinterlands.  That made the fact that my drink was served with an “umbrella” all the more embarrassing.  Nevertheless, because you deserved to see it, I took a picture of the umbrella in my drink.  With these rough looking folks looking on at a guy in a UCLA sweatshirt taking a picture of his fruity smoothie I say “#$#% ‘em.  O.K. I didn’t REALLY say that because I wanted to stay and watch the feature event injury free.  By the way, since I have stopped playing golf my language has been cleaned up considerably. 

 

 

White Castle – Somewhere in Minnesota

They say you can’t ‘go home’.

When I was a boy we took one vacation each summer.  It was only a one-day event.  We didn’t even stay overnight away from home.  Nevertheless, I always looked forward to the trip.  We would drive three hours to Chicago, watch the Cubs play in the afternoon and then drive home that night.  For a youngster from East Peoria, going to the “big city” was something to be wide-eyed about.

 

On the way home my grandfather and I always stopped at a White Castle restaurant.  I loved those little burgers as a once a year treat.  Since them I’ve eaten at White Castle in just about every market where they have a store.  When we lived in New York city I used to drive my big red Cadillac Sedan de Ville in areas of the city where I was the only white guy driving a Caddy (there were lots of OTHER Caddies) just to get some White Castle burgers.

 

They say you can’t “go home”.  Maybe that is right.  Today as I rushed from the airport to the racetrack I saw a billboard for a White Castle.  With the less than good food that many short tracks sell I’ve learned to eat before I get to the track.  White Castle it would be.

 

Like many traditional fast food restaurants White Castle has expanded their menu.  Since I had not eaten breakfast I figured I was eating “breakfast and lunch”.  Maybe it is that kind of thinking that has be just a pound or two above my playing weight.

 

When I was done my White Castle bill was $14.10.  Yikes!  I don’t have that kind of money for dining at White Castle.  What did I order?

 

First, I selected the “Shrimp Nibblers” (overpriced and over fried at $5.69 U.S.).  Another new item that needed to be tried was the also over fried sweet potato fries.  I couldn’t stop at White Castle without trying a burger (Single bacon cheeseburger – $1.49; Not nearly as good as McDonald’s value menu double cheeseburger).  I hadn’t had a milkshake is a while.  I wanted a vanilla shake but WC only sells chocolate.  Then I would need a bottle of water for after the races.  One more thing….I had purchased a Diet Mountain Dew at the airport as I headed to get my rental car.  Total cost for my lunch:  About $17 U.S.

 

Honestly, NONE of the food was very good.  Sadly, that comes from a boy with a strong White Castle history.  Maybe you can’t come home.  Maybe when you think you’re near home you should drive on past.

 

 

CEDAR LAKE SPEEDWAY ARENA – NEW RICHMOND, WISCONSIN

 

 

 

Pretty nice indoor track amenities.

 

Today was an interesting event.  The racing was indoors!  I suspect I’ve seen 40-50 indoor racing events.  I haven’t counted lately.  Today’s racing was some of the best indoor racing I’ve watched.  The best indoor racing I’ve ever seen happens every January at the “Chili Bowl” Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  I’ve been over there three times.  Today’s racing had some elements of the Chili Bowl.

 

First, they were racing non-winged midgets, one of my favorite classes.  They also had winged micro-sprints and legends on the card.  As mentioned nine heats and four feature events were scheduled.

 

The track was a 1/6-mile (estimated) higher banked dirt oval.  The entire track is inside a building.  A good set of aluminum grandstands gives everyone a great view of the track.  They also had a quality announcing team that could be heard well throughout the building.  Air quality is bad at many indoor tracks and especially so at the Chili Bowl.  However, until the last race of the day, I didn’t notice the car fumes at all.  That’s unusual.  It was 25 degrees outside and maybe only 35-45 degrees inside.  That made having my stocking cap and gloves a good idea.  By luck I discovered a huge “heat lamp” that ran the length of the front straight.  That was a very good thing today.

The track’s lobby was a treasure of benefits.

 

When I entered the building I was greeted with a somewhat stiff $30 general admission ticket fee.  At least I could finance my ticket by charging it on my Visa card.  Inside the “lobby” was lots of good stuff.

 

First, they had several large flat screen TVs broadcasting the NASCAR Sprint Cup race from Las Vegas.  It looks as if a lot of these short track fans are NASCAR fans.  Surprising to some, you don’t have to be one or the other.

 

I did notice that 80% or more of the people attending were male.  I guess the ladies have access to the Weather channel.  There was an event t-shirt for $20 U.S.  I don’t buy these anymore since I have all the t-shirts I’ll ever need.  There was also a concession stand selling everything a racetrack normally sells including cheese curds!  At intermission I opted for an orange mango smoothie, which was delicious although it added to the cold.

I wanted to make an airplane;  Would the track be able to deliver?

I was hoping to get out of the races by 5 p.m.  If I did I felt reasonably certain I could make a 7:20 p.m. flight from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.  The plan began to be thwarted when they started twenty minutes late.  This was made all the more ironic when the track’s phone message stressed how racing would begin at 1 p.m. SHARP.  However, I do feel the track truly believed they would start on time.  Every Monday morning I truly believe I will lose 1.5 pounds during the week.

 

There wasn’t a whole lot of passing in the heats but the racing was still good.  It seemed as if the midgets hugged the inside lane.  One young woman, from North Dakota, was impressive in winning her heat against some of the toughest competition the Badger Midget Racing Association could provide.

Short-term gain; long-term pain?

The drawback to today’s show were two long delays to “re-work” the track and a long stoppage for a first lap wreck in the midget “A” main.  The racing program was finished today at about 5:30 p.m. some 4 ½ hours after the scheduled start.  That’s about an hour and a half too long for a three-class event with not all that many cars.

 

Nevertheless, the track re-working did make the feature racing better.  Don’t miss the videos from today’s show.  You’ll see some excellent close racing from all divisions.  Other than the longer than necessary delays and stoppages I thought the racing was above average.

 

I see the Cedar Lake Speedway Arena is going to begin regular weekly Saturday afternoon racing.  That will be a trackchaser’s dream.

 

 

STATE COMPARISONS

Wisconsin

 

 

The Badger State

 

This afternoon I saw my 76th lifetime track in the Badger state, yes the Badger state.  I still have nearly twenty tracks left to see in Wisconsin.  This includes several kart tracks, some ice racing venues and a couple of regularly scheduled weekly shows.  I will likely return to the Dairy state in 2013.

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

Randy Lewis

World’s #1 Trackchaser

Peoria Old Timers Racing Club (P.O.R.C.) Hall of Fame Member

 

Wisconsin sayings:  Out drinking your state since 1848.

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRAVEL DETAILS

AIRPLANE

 

Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Houston, TX (IAH) – 1,382 miles

 

 

RENTAL CAR #1

 

George Bush Intercontinental Airport – trip begins

Austin, TX

Elm Mott, TX

Paige, TX

George Bush Intercontinental Airport – 543 miles

 

 

AIRPLANE

 

Houston, TX (IAH) – Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – 1,070 miles

 

 

RENTAL CAR #2

 

Minneapolis-St. Paul Intercontinental Airport – trip begins

New Richmond, WI

Minneapolis-St. Paul Intercontinental – 104 miles

 

 

AIRPLANE

 

Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – 1,535 miles

 

 

 

Total air miles – 3,987 (3 flights)

Total rental car miles – 647 (2 cars)

 

Total miles traveled on this trip – 4,634 miles 

 

 

 

 

TRACK ADMISSION PRICES:

 

Circuit of the Americas – No charge

I-35 Kartway – No charge

Cotton Bowl Speedway – $10 ($2 senior discount)

Cedar Lake Speedway Arena – $30

 

 

Total racetrack admissions for the trip – $40

 

 

 

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS 

 

 

The three most important trackchasing comparisons to me are:

 

Total lifetime tracks seen

Total “trackchasing countries” seen

Lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

 

Total Lifetime Tracks

There are no trackchasers currently within 300 tracks of my lifetime total.  Don’t blame me.

 

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,831

 

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

There are no trackchasers currently within 10 countries of my lifetime total.

 

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 64

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

1.  Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 5.10

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all folks!  Official end of the RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Report

 

 


Leave a Reply