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Devil’s Lake Speedway

plentywood mt

Greetings from Plentywood, Montana and later

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crary nd

Crary, North Dakota

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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sheridan county fairgrounds

Sheridan County Fairgrounds – dirt road course

Track #1,994

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devils lake speedway sign

Devil’s Lake Speedway – dirt oval

Track #1,994

The EventVideosPhotos

 

THE EVENT

 

Editor’s note: On Saturday, July 26, 2014 my trackchasing day included visits to tracks in first Montana and then North Dakota.  Today was a day/night trackchasing double.  This Trackchaser Report will cover the entirety of this two-track trip.

 

 

ON THE WAY TO THE RACES

19 dk

19 days on the road and I’m as fresh as a daisy as my mother used to say.

I woke up this morning at home in Greybull, Wyoming. I went to bed just inside the Canadian border (50 meters from the border agent checkpoint) in Boissepain, Canada. This was day #19 of my 42-day mega trackchasing trip.

 

 

Lots of moving parts.

Today would be a transition day in my 42-day trackchasing trip. I would head north into Montana up by the Canadian border. Carol would end up heading south to Denver, Colorado. I will next see here again in Boston, Massachusetts.

 

I was looking at a 500-mile plus drive up to Plentywood, Montana. Two different sources told me the race start time could be 12 noon or 1 p.m.

 

The 12 noon starting time would be better for my trackchasing plans later in the evening. A 1 p.m. start time would be better for my early morning wake up call. I didn’t want to arrive at 1 o’clock for a race that started at noon. That being the case I set my alarm for 4 a.m.

 

powell wyoming log cabin interior

The devil truly was in the details.

Our beautiful little cabin in Greybull, Wyoming had a bathroom. However, they say the “devil is in the details”. Our bathroom wasn’t located in the cabin but a 45-second walk away. When nature called at 3:30 a.m. I answered. Since I was already up I decided to get an early start. I left in the dark at 3:30 a.m. Carol and her sister Patty were still sleeping soundly.

 

The temperature in Wyoming for the past two days had flirted and sometimes surpassed 100°. Where I was going in Montana the temperature was expected to top out at 72°. It would get no warmer than that until I returned to the Midwest next Monday night.  I had budgeted three 12-minute power naps for my long drive this morning. Now that Andy Sivi has retired and Ed Esser passed I’m the only leading trackchaser who does all of his own driving AND drives the furthest!

 

 

How were the girls doing their trip?

Carol and Patty would start their day a bit later. They had plans to see an old friend in their hometown of Dayton, Wyoming. From there they would make the seven-hour drive down to Denver. I had made reservations for them at an upscale Marriott hotel there. On Sunday they would visit their mother who lives in an assisted living care arrangement in Denver. Following that mini family reunion Carol would fly back to Los Angeles. After a few days back in San Clemente Carol will once again rejoin me on the trackchasing trail for some epic adventures.

 

With an early morning departure of 3:30 a.m. I was on the road well before anyone else. In fact it was a full 30 minutes before I encountered another car on the highway.

 

 

I didn’t want to run into anyone who was just ending their day while I was starting mine.

I’m not that wild about leaving so early in the morning. The reason I feel that way might surprise you. Here’s why leaving early concerns me. At 3:30 a.m. I was just STARTING my day. However, some crazies are just ENDING their day at 3:30 a.m. I’m talking blood alcohol levels here!

 

sunrise in montana

So where’s the next gas station?

I had been on the road for a few minutes when I noticed I had 150 miles of fuel left. In these parts that’s not much.  The sun was just beginning to peek over the Eastern horizon.

 

I am famous for driving every tank of fuel down until the orange low-fuel light glows. At that point I will at least begin to consider stopping for gas. However in the far west gas stations can be 50 miles or more apart.

 

While it was still fairly dark I passed through a small town. This little burg had one gas station connected to a store. In the dark I noticed the convenience store was closed. Nevertheless I gave the gas pumps a try. They were working. Soon I had a full tank that I expected would get me into Plentywood, Montana with just a gallon or two to spare.

 

Nearly 3 hours after I departed it was time for my first 12-minute power nap. I always awake surprisingly refreshed after one of those short siestas.

 

 

You just never know what you are going to see on the long and dusty trackchasing trail.

I needed to keep moving to stay on my early morning schedule. I was dictating a few notes into my iPhone to keep myself occupied. On these types of trips, especially in the dark, I’m always concerned about deer running out in front of my car.

 

You just never know when something is going to jump in front of my car while I’m barreling down the highway at 75 MPH. There is certainly a lot of wildlife in the Far West. Little did I know that I would soon be slamming on the brakes as hard as I could to avoid seriously damaging the National Car Rental Racing Hyundai Sonata.

 

black bear

You’ve got to be kidding me!

What did I see next? A huge black bar! That’s right. A huge black bear came galloping on all fours across the grass median separating the four-lane interstate highway. It continued to run directly in front of my speeding vehicle. I stomped on the brakes. Everything in the car’s interior went flying from the seat to the floor.  That never does my laptop any good!

 

I missed the six-foot black bear by a few feet as he scampered up the grassy hillside to my right. It was reminiscent of a moose running out of front of us while Carol was driving on one of our trips to Alaska. This bear experience definitely got my heart racing. There was no time for a photo op.

 

 

Cool. Windy.

The weather is dramatically different up in Montana today compared with the past few days of heat. It’s only 72° with gusts of wind at 30-40 MPH. I’m suspecting that wearing my trademark cargo shorts may make this an uncomfortable afternoon.

 

I was able to make phone contact with the Sheridan County Fairgrounds in Plentywood, Montana during my drive. Today’s racing would be at 1 p.m. That was good in one way. It would allow me to make a series of power naps amounting to nearly one hour longer than originally planned.

 

 

Just one of the things that makes trackchasing fun.

It was about this time that I remembered that North Dakota, site of tonight’s trackchasing plan, was located in the central time zone. That meant I would lose an hour driving from Montana (Mountain time zone) to North Dakota (Central time zone). The later afternoon start time and upcoming time change amounted to a two hour penalty if I was going to make the race in North Dakota tonight. It’s just this kind of “matrix” that makes this hobby so much fun.

 

 

I do this for new experiences.

I ran across something I had never heard of before in Culbertson, Montana. I’m talking about a McDonald’s. Of course everyone knows about McDonald’s. However I doubt you’ve ever seen what I saw at today’s McDonald’s in Culbertson.

 

mcdonalds logo

There was a sign telling me that their McDonald’s opens at 10:30 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m.! Have you ever heard of such a thing at a free-standing Mickey Ds? The signs were prominently displayed. I asked my order taker what was up.   She whispered to me “It’s supposedly a labor shortage”, she smiled at me. This was definitely a first. What was my server really trying to tell me?

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Sheridan County Fairgrounds – Plentywood, Montana

 

montana bump n run racers

Today it was all about 1980s Detroit style iron.

In less than an hour from my McDonald’s pit stop I was pulling into the Sheridan County Fairgrounds in Plentywood, Montana. This small town is located just 10-15 miles south of the Canadian border. It was a cool 70° windy day. The winds blew at 30-40 MPH constantly. Luckily the wind was at our backs. This prevented the race track dust from coming our way.

 

I did a quick survey of the pit area. There appeared to be about 15 1980s Detroit big iron style stock cars. I’ve been to a few Montana “bump n run” shows. I still have a few locations where this group races to visit. The competition today looked like what I’ve seen in the past.

 

I paid my $10, which appears to be a standard admission price nowadays, and walked into the grandstand area. From there I could see the pit area and just about everything the track had to offer. I grabbed a seat in the top row of the six row grandstand.

 

pano sheridan county fairgrounds 

So what was I dealing with today?

I surveyed the situation. What were we dealing with today? The cars would be racing on a dirt road course. I’m going to guess it was about three quarters of a mile in distance. It was one of the most unusually shaped dirt tracks I have ever seen. I’ve got to give the Montana bump and run group some credit for coming up with creative racetracks for their old time stock cars.

 

 

These folks are not easy to keep track of.

I do think the group needs to have a better social media presence. They don’t have a working website and their Facebook page leaves a lot to be desired. They’re not very good about announcing upcoming events.

 

When I bought my ticket I was given a one page program. The program listed well over 100 Montana bump and run drivers. That seemed unusual since only 15 were in the pits today.

 

 

No intermission; just a ‘re-fueling’ period.

There were two classes of racers today. The stock division brought 8 cars. They raced two heats for each racer. The Modifieds had seven cars and ran two heats as well. Following an intermission for “refueling” according to the announcer the features took to the track.

 

montana bump n run car getting air

Much of the track was a long way from the grandstand seating area. There was a small jump at the start/finish line. The cars actually became airborne getting “air” of 4 feet or so. The wind was a significant annoyance. I attempted to take video with my iPhone. The wind almost blew my gadget out of my hand.

 

 

Maybe a day/night trackchasing double?

Today’s track at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds was going to be the first half of what I hoped would be a day/night trackchasing double. When it was time to leave I checked my GPS and found that I had a 5-hour drive over to North Dakota. I would lose an hour in time zone changes as well. I wouldn’t get to the Devil’s Lake Speedway until about 8 p.m. They were scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

I didn’t feel like dealing with weather.

As long as the weather held, and it was iffy, I would still be able to see the heart of the evening program. Off I went primarily on two lane roads before catching up to Route 2 a four-lane divided highway. I’ll tell you more about how the Devil’s Lake Speedway experience was in my next report.

 

 

ON THE WAY TO THE RACES IN NORTH DAKOTA

 

devils lake speedway granstands

This was not my first trip here.

Tonight was not my first visit to the Devil’s Lake Speedway. I went there a few years ago and was rained out. Tonight I was nearly rained out as well.

 

 

The weather wasn’t going to do me in was it?

The weather radar look like a polka dot shirt. There were big green blotches of rain everywhere. I would drove through one rain area and then reached a dry spot continuously. This pattern kept reoccurring for 100 miles.

 

North dakota blue skies

I was amazed that one minute I was seeing the most beautiful blue skies with white puffy clouds. Then the next minute I was seeing such dark clouds I was almost afraid (but not really) to keep driving.

 

north dakota black skies

Don’t miss the photos. You will see exactly what I was seeing. There were two “rainbows” along the way. The first was for North Dakotans in the form of in ground oil wells! Yep. The oil boom is big in North Dakota. There was a rainbow in the sky for me too. I took that as a good omen.

 

When I arrived at the front gate of the Devil’s Lake Speedway I noticed the dirt and gravel road was damp but not soaked. It had rained but seemingly not all that much.

 

 

I would not be deterred by the admission price.

I was surprised to see the normal admission price of this track is $15. I guess that’s the oil money talking. I was even more surprised to see that tonight, with a late model special headlining, the ticket price was $20 USD. Did that make a difference? Not really. I had just driven five hours from Montana to come here. I certainly wasn’t going to turn around and leave based upon an inflated ticket price.

 

I had called the track a couple of times to confirm they were racing and not rained out. Considering this was my second trip to Devil’s Lake I paid the price gladly. I was just happy there were going to race given the weather conditions.

 

 

Dang.  This was July.  Dang.  This was cold.

During the past couple of nights in Wyoming temperature at race time was nearly 100°. Tonight the temperature was in the high 60s but with a 30-40 MPH wind it seemed much colder. I ended up wearing three layers plus my Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim blanket and long pants. You know it had to be chilly for me to switch to long pants.

 

devils lake chili dog

Before I sat down I the stands I grabbed a good-looking chili dog. I smothered it in mustard, as I am wont to do, and grabbed a seat in the stands. I was cold. Nevertheless, some folks in the stands were wearing sleeveless t-shirts. I think there are very few Americans who should wear sleeveless t-shirts. Unfortunately, many people who do don’t know they shouldn’t.

 

There was a good crowd on hand in the well worn wooden grandstand. The paint was peeling off the seat backs…but at least there were seat backs. We were far enough north that the Canadian flag flew next to the American flag.

 

devils lake track view

It’s important to make hay while the sun shines.  The sun doesn’t shine all that much up here.

The schedule at Devil’s Lake is most unusual compared to just about every oval track I visit. During their season (May-September) they race on Fridays AND Saturdays on just about every weekend. That is unusual. I guess they figure with their uncertain weather they should try for as many race dates as they can.

 

I can’t over emphasize the point enough. The weather changes on a dime up here. Check out the photos of the racetrack when I arrived. Then check out the sky as the evening wore on. It got dark and it got windy. The fans had their hoods up now!

 

 

Some decent modified racing.

The modified racing was the best. They had a good field. There were also hornet-type classes and pickup trucks racing. Street stocks were on the card as well. The late models weren’t much in my opinion.

 

boss w salesman

My North Dakota sales rep could count on seeing me once a year.

Nevertheless, it isn’t all that easy to see a track in North Dakota. I first came where for World of Outlaws sprint car racing back in 1981. I returned for the same show in 1982. I usually only worked in North Dakota once a year. Somehow my once a year work visit seemed to coincide with the World of Outlaws date in Fargo. Go figure.

 

 

After the races……..

 

 

This had been a long day.  I wanted a safe place to sleep.

This had been and was going to be a long day. I had started in Greybull, Wyoming at 3:30 a.m. My afternoon race stop was in Plentywood, Montana. Then tonight’s racing took me to Crary, North Dakota. My final resting place would be in Boissevain, Manitoba, Canada.

 

In case you’re counting that’s 926 miles of driving. My Google Maps program told me the driving time, without stops, was 14 hours and 43 minutes.

 

The last leg of my incredible journey took me from North Dakota across the border in Boissevain, Manitoba. That was a simple 134-mile drive or a bit more than two hours drive time.

 

Canadian border

Once I crossed the border how much further do you think I drove? If you guessed about 50 YARDS you would be correct. As soon as I crossed the border I pulled over and slept in my car until morning.  Why here?  I asked the Canadian border agent where the best place to nap for a few hours might be.  He motioned to a spot nearby and told me he would keep an eye on me!

 

 

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

Do you ever wonder why the Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers come up short in comparison to my trackchasing totals each year? Re-read the above. I can do it. They can’t. As Sergeant Joe Friday used to say on Dragnet, “Just the facts ma’am”.

 

 

montana map 4

Montana

The Treasure state

Tonight I saw my 13th lifetime track in the Treasure state, yes the Treasure state. I hold a comfortable six track lead over my nearest fellow competitor. Six tracks in a state like Montana is a lot.

 

 

north dakota map 39

North Dakota

The Peace Garden state

Tonight I saw my 13th lifetime track in the Peace Garden state, yes the Peace Garden state.

 

 

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 

Montana sayings: Never squat with your spurs on (who would have thought?)

North Dakota sayings: You must be lost

 

 

 

QUICK FACTS

AIRPLANE

Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Chicago, IL (ORD) – 1,745 miles

 

RENTAL CAR #1

O’Hare (Chicago) International Airport – trip begins

Charlotte, MI

Cortland, OH

Davisburg, MI

Davisburg, MI

Mechanicsburg, IL

Harlan, IA

Primghar, IA

Knoxville, IA

Bucyrus, OH

O’Hare (Chicago) International Airport – trip ends – 3,516 miles

 

RENTAL CAR #2

O’Hare International Airport – trip begins

Carlyle, IL

St. Louis International Airport – trip ends – 412 miles

 

RENTAL CAR #3

St. Louis International Airport – trip begins

Hastings, MI

Greenfield, IA

Atchison, KS

David City, NE

Dighton, KS

Malvern, IA

Eldon, MO

St. Louis International Airport – trip ends – 2,760 miles

Editor’s note: The above did involve three different rental car contracts. However, I did it all with the SAME car. When I pulled in for the final time to the St. Louis airport the car was huffing and puffing. In 15 days I had driven it 6,688 miles.

 

RENTAL CAR #4

Denver International Airport – trip begins

Powell, WY

Plentywood, MT

Crary, ND

 

 

 

TRACK ADMISSION PRICES:

Eaton County Fairgrounds – $10

Trumbull County Fairgrounds – $4

Oakland County Fairgrounds – oval – $10 ($10 to park!)

Oakland County Fairgrounds – figure 8 – $10 ($10 to park….again!)

Ealyville Speedway – Complimentary pit pass

Shelby County Speedway – $5

Primghar Raceway – $5

Knoxville Raceway – Complimentary admission

Crawford County Fairgrounds $10 ($5 fair; $5 grandstand)

Clinton County Fairgrounds – $10

Barry County Expo – $13 ($3 fair; $10 grandstand)

Adair County Fair – $6

Atchison County Raceway – $12

Butler County Fairgrounds – $10

Lane County Fairgrounds – $10

Mills County Fairgrounds – $10

Miller County Fairgrounds – $10

Parker County Fairgrounds (Night #1) – Complimentary admission

Parker County Fairgrounds (Night #2) – Complimentary admission

Sheridan County Fairgrounds – $10

Devi’s Bowl Speedway – $20

 

 

 

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 400 tracks of my lifetime total. Don’t blame me.

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,995

 

 

world map 490

Total Trackchasing Countries

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

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 68

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 4.96

 

 

 

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

Montana Bump N Run racing from the Sheridan County Fairgrounds in Plentywood, Montana

 

See the racing action from North Dakota and the Devil’s Lake Speedway


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