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Kodiak Island Raceway

kodiak scnery 1

Greetings from Kodiak, Alaska

 

 

From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

kodiak press box 

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Kodiak Island Raceway – dirt oval

Lifetime Track #2,166

 

The EventVideo PlusVideo LitePhotos

 

 

 

THE EVENT

 

 

 

ON THE WAY TO THE RACES

 

 

alaska flag 2

OFF TO THE LAST FRONTIER!!

 

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

 

Just to clarify.

I get the sense that folks think my trackchasing hobby is nearly exclusively about auto racing. For about the 1,000th time I will deny that observation. However, if “trackchasing” is not mostly about auto racing then what IS it about?

 

 

I will answer my own question. In addition to seeing racing but possibly more important to me are the two things that drive my hobby.

 

 

First.

First, I want to do and see things that I’ve never done before. I want to do and see things that most people have never done before. I want to have a body of work that most people will look at and say, “I’ve done a little bit of that but not very much of that”.

 

 

Second.

Secondly, I want to have the fun of planning the logistical side of things. That’s the how do I get from point A to point B, etc. in the shortest amount of time at a cost that I can afford.

 

 

alaska map 3

This map comes from the good folks at Free World Maps

 

 

The Last Frontier….one more time but with a twist.

This weekend’s trip was going to fit perfectly into category #1 from above. No, this was not my first trip to Alaska. I had previously trackchased there in 1995, 2008, 2009 and 2011. Carol and I have cruised to Alaska and taken vacations there as well.

 

 

However this WOULD be my first time to ever visit Kodiak Island, an island located south of the Alaska “mainland”. Kodiak Island is the second biggest island in the U.S. behind only the island of Hawaii often called appropriately the “Big Island”.

 

 

Kodiak Island is roughly the size of Puerto Rico. However, they differ in many ways. Puerto Rico has a population of around 3.7 million people. Kodiak Island has something like 13,000 people! Yes, that’s a pretty big difference.

 

 

kodiak race poster

Discovered! But was there time?

The Randy Lewis Racing research department discovered that the Kodiak Island Raceway would be having a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader as the last race of the season this weekend. That was fine but I was already committed to adding another California track to my lists on Saturday night. I’m doing my best to first meet and then beat California trackchaser Gary Jacob’s lifetime California trackchasing total. He has seen 149 Golden state tracks and now I am just seven short of that total.

 

 

However, I was wondering if I might be able to see the racing in California on Saturday night and still be able to make it to Kodiak Island for their 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon start. This particular little challenge speaks to my #2 reason (above) for enjoying the trackchasing hobby. A little more travel research told me I COULD make the travel part happen if I was willing to sacrifice my body just a little bit. I’m always up for a sacrifice like that!

 

 

competitive

If you’re “in” this hobby you know how competitive it can be.

Did you know that trackchasing can be a very competitive hobby? Most folks outside of trackchasing don’t know that. However, if you are a trackchasing “insider” you will know the hobby can get very competitive.

 

 

I enjoy comparing my totals with other trackchasers on a state-by-state basis. There are some states that have had very little in the way of visits from trackchasers. One of those states is Alaska. I’ve seen more tracks in a place like Iowa that all of the combined lifetime visits of trackchasers who have come to Alaska.

 

 

My own personal trackchasing total in the “Last Frontier” state is 10. This leads my nearest fellow competitor, whose total is eight, by only two tracks. If I wanted to maintain the lead and expand it I needed to add the last regularly scheduled track in Alaska that I had not seen.

 

 

11 ak

Alaska….#11

What track with that be? I’m talking about the Kodiak Island Raceway. They just started racing this year after a layoff of about seven years. Now would be the time to come to Kodiak Island.

 

 

By the way who is the second place fellow trackchaser that I’m trying to keep at bay in Alaska? It’s none other than “Trackchasing’s First Mother”. That’s right wife Carol has seen 8 tracks in Alaska. She is my nearest “fellow” competitor. I needed to keep her in second place.

 

 

Of course Carol was invited to come along on this trip. She has an open invitation to come with me on any and all trackchasing adventures. However she is a little more sane and much more of a homebody than me. She’ll sit this one out on the banks of the Pacific Ocean in the little sleepy seaside village of San Clemente. 

 

 

If you’re going to ride the elevator go to the top.

I had attempted to contact a few people associated with the Kodiak track in advance of this trip. I wanted to get some details. There was no way I could embark on a long trip to a place like Alaska without asking a few logistical questions.

 

 

A few days ago I got a callback from a woman named Tracy Anderson. Tracy is the president of the Kodiak Island Raceway Association.  We spent a few minutes talking on the phone.

 

 

Now’s the time to pause and reflect. Think about what I’m going to tell you.

Before I tell you what I’m going to tell you I would like you to consider the following.  Up to this point I had seen racing at 2,165 tracks in 70 different countries. The offer I was about to receive from Tracy was above and beyond anything I’ve ever experienced before from any racetrack promoter.

 

 

Kodiac gas prices

Kodiak is a very expensive place.

The cost of rental cars and hotels is very expensive in Alaska. They are even more expensive in a somewhat remote location like Kodiak, Alaska. My initial searches showed an Avis rental car going for $140 a day.

 

 

The least expensive hotel available on kayak.com started at about $170 per night. I didn’t necessarily want to drop $500 or more with a short stay just on cars and hotel rooms.

 

 

My original plan had me coming to Kodiak, staying got about ten hours, and then leaving with the Kodiak Island Raceway added to my lifetime list. I figured it might work like this.

 

 

I could land in Kodiak at 7:30 a.m., watch the 2 p.m. race and be on a flight back home at 5:30 p.m. All of this would happen on Sunday after I had seen a new track in Southern California on Saturday night.

 

 

I would just take a taxi the short distance from the airport back and forth to the track. With that plan I would be in Kodiak for only about ten hours. I didn’t much like that idea but it seemed to make economic sense. Not every good economic idea is an overall good idea however.

 

 

Tracy encouraged me to give Kodiak a little more time.

As Tracy and I talked on the phone about my plan she encouraged me to spend some more time in Kodiak. Her logic made some sense. It became an even better idea when she made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. She told me she had an extra bedroom since her daughter had just gone off to college for the year. She invited me to stay in her house overnight.

 

 

What a generous offer. Then she followed up with another idea. Yes, her daughter was at college. That made her daughter’s car available to me. She would let me have the car to drive all day on Monday for sightseeing purposes. Wow!

 

 

Promoters have been very generous to me.

I’ve had a lot of race promoters treat me very well. They’ve given me souvenir hats, T-shirts, trophies and even a huge bottle of champagne, which sits on a bookshelf in my office at home to this day. When I traveled to the country of Georgia, formerly occupied by Russia, the race promoter set me up with a complimentary hotel for four nights and a driver. However no promoter has ever invited me to stay overnight in their home and then offered to give me a car to drive so I could see the local attractions.

 

 

How many trackchasers or anyone for that matter get this kind of treatment?

Remember when I opened this report by telling you I want to do and see things that I’ve never done before? This trip was really going to push the limits on that idea. Not very many people have been to Alaska. I doubt very many people have ever been invited by folks they have never met to stay at their home and drive their car at no charge. Everything about this trip was exactly what I see my trackchasing hobby as being all about.

 

 

I’ve told you many times that I couldn’t do this trackchasing business, with all of the expenses and travel involved without the help of my sponsors. I’m happy to say that I was able to fly first class all the way up to Anchorage and then onto Kodiak. No, without sponsors this would not be possible.

 

 

 

SO HOW DID THE TRAVEL PLAN GO?

 

lax 3294

This is how it all went down.

Following last night’s trackchasing adventure at the Willow Springs Speedway in Rosamond, California Carol and I rushed down to Los Angeles international Airport. We arrived at LAX at about 10 p.m. Once there she dropped me off and drove away in the Carol Lewis owned and hopefully MFunds sponsored Lexus RX 350 back to San Clemente.

 

 

I would be on at 11:50 p.m. flight to Anchorage, Alaska. Once in Anchorage I would connect to a flight to Kodiak arriving on Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m.

 

kodiak weather forecast 1

I hoped to just beat the rain.

I would be cutting it close on the weather. Rain was expected to come in on Sunday afternoon at about 5 p.m. Time trials were set for noon with racing to begin at 2 p.m. If everything worked out as scheduled and predicted I would be able to see all of the racing before it rained.

 

 

It’s starting to get chilly in Alaska. This is September and the temperatures were topping out of the low 50s. I arrived in Anchorage wearing a lightweight t-shirt, my San Clemente purchased “board” shorts and my ever present deck shoes. I was dressed for San Clemente beach weather but possibly not anything I might face in Alaska.

 

 

My LAX-Anchorage flight landed at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday. The Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport has a brand-new terminal. That’s where Alaska Airlines operates. I got organized and was soon able to enter the Alaska Airlines Board Room when they opened at 5 a.m.

 

 

There I dined on what everyone should have for an early morning breakfast of champions. What was that? Diet Coke and egg whites! They also had a nice fire burning in the fireplace. Believe it or not I’m looking forward to my five-hour layover on the way back simply so I can spend more time in this private airline club.

 

 

I’ve had so many great trackchasing seasons. The year 2015 was one of the best.

As I sat in Anchorage I reflected briefly on my 2015 trackchasing season. I had already seen 113 new tracks in more than 30 states and four Canadian provinces. Now I was going to Alaska. It’s been a great season. Visiting Kodiak was going to be a real highlight. I couldn’t wait to get there.

 

 

 

KODIAK

 

kodiak airport

Itty bitty.

I couldn’t believe how small the Kodiak Benny Benson State Airport was. The entire “terminal” might have been in a building some 60” by 80” feet.

 

 

The airport gets around 80,000 passengers moving through there every year. The only non-stop air service via jets is to and from Anchorage. Alaska Airlines is the only jet carrier.

 

 

When I landed in Kodiak I spent two hours sleeping on some seats in the terminal. With no flights coming in at that time there was no one to bother me. When I woke up I called a local cab company to check on a ride to the racetrack. The cab driver gave me a heads up on a restaurant located within 30 yards of the airport terminal.

 

 

Lunch…near the airport.

That eatery would be Navigator’s Landing. I had to wait a few minutes for them to open at 10:30 a.m. There I enjoyed a delicious Panini roast beef sandwich, chips and some homemade tortilla soup. If you would like to see my Yelp! review click on the link below.

 

navigator's landing

Navigator’s Landing….it’s first ever Yelp! review

 

 

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

kodiak racing 1

Kodiak Island Raceway – Kodiak, Alaska

 

 

Here was the first of many interesting people I would meet today.

Next up was to call the cab company again for a ride to the track. The woman who picked me up was interesting. For the first half of the ride she carried on a personal conversation with a friend. I can’t recall that ever happening before while I road in a cab.

 

 

Then she proceeded to pour her heart out to me about some “undesirables” who were selling drugs in the area. She was doing her part to stop that from happening. What were the details on that? Sorry, I’m sworn to secrecy.

 

 

My cab driver dropped me off in the middle of the pit area. I could sense that as a woman and driving a mini-van cab beyond that she felt out of place in a male-dominated stock car racing pit. I could understand that.

 

 

I didn’t look like I was from around here.

Here I was carrying three pieces of travel luggage. If anybody noticed I suspect they were thinking “That guy’s not from around here”.

 

 

At least I had the good sense to change my “beachwear” travel ensemble to something that more readily resembled “Alaska wear”. That meant blue jeans, some rugged looking hiking shoes and my Zero brand golf rain pullover. Maybe the golf windbreaker wasn’t exactly “Alaskan” but it was the best I could do.

 

 

I wanted to meet president Tracy Anderson.

I was on the look out for Tracy Anderson. I took a few minutes to see which woman looked like she would be in charge of all of this. There were a few likely candidates but when I asked around I was told that Tracy had not arrived yet. One big guy told me when you see the “Big Hummer” pull in that will be Tracy. Wow. This was going to be interesting.

 

kodiak late model

What about the racing?

Today’s racing would include two classes of stock cars. The biggest class with about ten entries was a street stock looking class. There were also four late models in attendance. I would later learn the late models were from the Twin Cities Raceway in Kenai. They had come down for the weekend on the ferry from Homer, Alaska to Kodiak.

 

 

That ferry ride goes about six hours one way. Somewhat incredibly, to me anyway, was the cost of the trip. It’s about $1,000 U.S. to bring a stock car and trailer over on the ferry round-trip. I learned the Kodiak Island Racing Association had raised the money to help the Kenai racers make the trip!

 

radar screen

New tracks don’t stay untouched on my radar screen for long.

This is the first year of auto racing at the Kodiak Island Raceway for about the last 7-8 years. During this time motocross has been the featured attraction here. I don’t see very many stock car/motocross combinations. Today they had two classes of motocross competing when the stock cars were not at the track.

 

 

The oval track itself is a ¼-mile in length. Its dirt surface has its share of rocks. There are no lights. I was told that no car racing track in Alaska has lights. That’s pretty amazing but it does stay light up here a long time. Correspondingly the hours of darkness in the winter are long as well.

 

kodiak front straight

The motocross track features a large dirt hill (for jumps) in the infield area of the dirt oval. That’s fine for the motorcycle riders but not so great for the spectators watching the stock car racing. Much of the backstretch was “off-limits” for spectator viewing because of this obstacle.

 

 

Don’t miss the videos and photos.

I am purposely not going to write much about the racing itself. I will let the photos and videos speak to that subject. The racing was fun and what you might expect from a rural track.

 

 

What a fun and nice group of people.

It was really the people that made this trip so special. I was at the track for 7-8 hours. During that time I had several long conversations with many different people. Most of the Alaskans I met were transplanted from somewhere else. However they all seemed to think of themselves as permanent Alaskans at this point. Everyone I met was very friendly and welcoming.

 

commercial fishing

Fishing!

It seemed as if most everyone was connected to the fishing industry in one fashion or another. I talked to one commercial fisherman who laid some interesting facts on me. During the first 12 days of this month his boat had brought in $250,000 worth of fish. For that my friend received a 13.5% share. Another person told me her boyfriend could fish non-stop for three months and not have to work the other nine months of the year.

 

 

However, there is no free lunch. Commercial fishing is rated as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. They work long hours and are often away from their families for months at a time. If I were staying longer I would have like to have convinced someone to take me “out on the boat” for a day. Frankly, I’m not even sure I could survive on one of those boats for a day!

 

kodiak press box 3

Who is the most important racetrack employee?

I will commonly tell you that the most important track employee from a spectator’s point of view is the track announcer. He/she, when doing their job properly, both informs and entertains the crowd.

 

 

Today’s announcer, Ron Williams, performed well on both of those fronts. I would rate Mr. Williams announcing performance in the top 5% of all announcers I have ever heard.

 

 

Two gallons of 5-hour Energy drink?

I’m not sure what my behavior might be like if I drank two gallons of 5-hour Energy drink. However, if I could guess, it might be something like the persona of Ron Williams’ performance. I later learned that Ron is a personal trainer. He would have to be in good shape to not have a heart attack when he announces the race. You’ll hear him in the background of the racing video. Good job announcing Ron.

 

kodiac hot dogs

No shortage of good food at the concession stand.

The track did a good job with concessions. By Alaska standards, where lots of things are expensive, their prices were low. A can of soda went for just a buck. Some cute little racing themed cupcakes (I had two) were just 50 cents each. Their hot dog, about the size of three hot dogs from anywhere else I might visit, sold for four dollars. They did a very nice job with concessions and the fans seems to appreciate that as eager customers.

 

 

This was special.

I absolutely love seeing things at racetracks or during the touring part of these trips I’ve never seen before. That was the case with today’s press box. The entire press box was elevated about twenty feet off the ground.

 

kodiak press box

However, it was what the press box USED to be that was impressive to me. The press box was a large steel cabin from an old fishing boat. That’s where the announcer and track president, Tracy Anderson operated. Tracy did the scoring and the overall directing of the operation via remote control radios. This was also a great place to stay out of the wind as well.

 

 

Hello Tracy.

Tracy, as one might imagine being the president of the group, was a busy woman today. I briefly introduced myself and let her go about her duties. Later we would have plenty of time to get to know each other.

 

 

Today was the last day of the racing season at the track. There was a special BBQ dinner awaiting the racers at the end of the show.

 

kodiak bbq cooker

There were two large commercial BBQ smokers at the track. Each had been cooking, since about 7 a.m. this morning, two full-sized pigs! I don’t see that every day at a race track.

 

 

This was some good eating.

When the races were finished everyone wandered over to where the food was being served. They had quite a spread. Just as everyone was being fed it began to rain. The rain had come in just as forecasted at about 5-6 p.m.

 

 

However, these Alaskans are hardy folks. A little rain, O.K. a steady fairly hard rain began to fall. By this time I had already had some BBQ pig, delicious halibut, baked beans and a brownie. So far it had been a beautiful racing experience in a faraway place. Little did I know the best was yet to come.

 

 

I was getting wet and had eaten about all I could. Tracy and I had agreed that I could head back to her house whenever I wanted. She needed to stay a bit longer to manage the track’s activities.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

 

tv remote control

Please! Put down the remote control and just imagine for a moment. Imagine that you were in my shoes.

I’m going to tell you a story from this point that might sound a little hard to believe. I don’t know if you are a racer or a racing fan or just someone who stopped by my site because you saw a light on.

 

 

As I tell you how the rest of the day went I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions. Has what was about to happen to me every happened to you? Has it ever happened to any of your friends? If not then it makes the experience worthwhile for me. I want to see and do things I’ve never done before. If most of the people I have ever known or met haven’t done them either then that makes it extra special.

 

kodiak hummer

You can drive the Hummer.

First Tracy told me to drive her Hummer over to the house. She would meet me there later. I had never driven a Hummer before. Who gives a person whom they have just met their Hummer?

 

 

Then Tracy gave me the address to her home. I would find it using my GPS. That seemed easy enough. However, lots of things that look easy don’t turn out to be. This wouldn’t either.

 

 

Recall that Tracy had agreed to let me sleep over at her house and use her car without every having met me. Does that mean I have a pleasant telephone voice? Now after having met me, and hopefully concluding I wasn’t an axe murderer she was following up on her promise.

 

 

It was getting dark now. Tracy’s home was about 15 miles from the track. When I arrived into the neighborhood few of the houses had address numbers where I could see them.

 

 

This was a little different.

I guess lots of folks don’t lock their doors in Alaska. Tracy told me when I got to her house I should walk in the front door. However, I wasn’t absolutely sure WHICH house was hers. I had a couple of clues but I honestly did not know for sure if I was at her house. I’m sure every neighbor in the area thought it was strange to see Tracy’s Hummer driving slowing up and down the street!

 

 

burglar

Finally, with it getting darker and darker I had to make a decision. I went with the house where the kitchen light was on and it didn’t look as if anyone was home. Is that how a burglar decides which house to rob?

 

 

I walked up to the front door and rang the door bell. No answer. What did I have to lose. O.K., I had a lot to lose. Guns are big in Alaska. If I was at the wrong house I could get shot pretty easily for walking right in the front door.

 

 

Nevertheless, that is exactly what I did. When was the last time you walked in the front door of a house like this? Never?

 

two dogs

Just my luck.

As luck would have it two dogs greeted me! Folks who know me well know that I am not a “dog person” and not an “animal person”. As additional luck would have it there was a big dog and a little dog. Luckily, they were friendly. As soon as I opened the door the little dog ran outside. Great! Now I was in the process of losing Tracy’s dog or maybe even the dog of someone I didn’t know.

 

 

Not being a “dog person” I wasn’t sure how I was going to get the dog back inside the house. Finally with a little coaxing and acting as if I had some food that little doggie came back inside the house with me.

 

 

I’m inside…now what?

Now I was INSIDE the house. Maybe being a house burglar wasn’t so difficult after all. I still didn’t know if this was Tracy’s house of not. I tried to call her but realized all I had was the racetrack number that went to message. I had no way to call Tracy to confirm I was in her house.

 

 

family photos

I decided to look at family photos spread around the house. That confirmed that Tracy lived here. Whew! I was planning to take a shower since I had flown overnight and been at the dirt racetrack all day. However, I didn’t know which bedroom was going to be mine for the evening. That being the case I found a sofa and talked to the dogs for the next several minutes. I must admit this was a very strange feeling being in a house under these circumstances.

 

 

Soon Tracy showed up with friends and a plan for the evening.

It wasn’t too long before Tracy showed up with her friend Kelly. Kelly and I had spent time meeting each other at the track. She was a friendly and outgoing person. I loved talking to Kelly. Then a couple of guys in their 30s showed up at the house. I had met so many people today I was having a hard time understanding “which people belonged to who and why”. However, in those situations it’s usually best to just go with the flow.

 

 

We talked for a few minutes and Tracy said, “We’re going out for a beer, do you want to join us”? Folks it was 10 p.m. I had slept on an airplane last night. I had been out in the cool weather, wind and rain for about eight hours at the track. Did I want to go out for a beer at 10 p.m. Hell ya I did! I didn’t come all the way to Alaska to behave like I do in San Clemente.

 

 

tony's bar

Tony’s Bar.

So off we went in two cars. Our first stop was at Tony’s Bar.  Tony’s is the oldest continuous operating bar in Kodiak.  It opened its doors in 1940.  This was a local place that was crowded on a Sunday night. There were folks playing pool and having fun. We bellied up to the bar and started “drinkin”. My drink of choice is a “7 and 7 in a tall glass”. For the uninitiated that’s Seagram’s Seven Whisky and Seven-Up. Most of the other folks were drinking beer.

 

 

johnna twin city

We soon discovered the Kenai based late model drivers were in the bar. The Twin Cities Raceway promoter, “Johna” was there with “her drivers”. I had noticed Johna handling the on the track race director duties together. Most of Kodiak track’s active management was coming from the female gender today.

 

 

I also noticed that many of the folks I met today were of the “high energy” variety. Johna falls into that category and then some! She’s a fun-loving really intense person for her racing and her drivers. I’m sure the guys at the Twin City Raceway up in Kenai have a very hard time getting anything past Johna.

 

 

fun at tony's in kodiak

Soon I was over to the Twin City Raceway part of Tony’s Bar meeting all of today’s drivers. Today’s feature winner in car #71 was Billy Magers (pictured right). Billy is from Indiana. However, he and his wife and two daughters who all made the trip down to Kodiak on the ferry are permanent Alaska residents now. Billy’s brother Jason Magers (#33) and Alex Schwochert (#22) were also part of the group. Another young man (driver of the #19 mini-stock racer) from the Indiana area was part of the fun. I hope I got everyone’s name right. We had a great time talking racing and life in Alaska.

 

 

Wait! Last call and it’s only 1 a.m.?

However, there was a problem with Tony’s Bar on this Sunday night. They were ONLY open until 1 a.m. Now most people might not see this as a big problem. That would include those people, like me, who think staying up until 11 p.m. is living life on the edge. However, tonight’s crew didn’t roll that way.

 

 

If Tony’s was going to close at 1 a.m. then we would just find another place that was open later. Soon the entire crew was marching arm in arm a few blocks over to the B&B Bar. The new place is commonly referred to as the “B”.

 

 

There was no stinking closing time of 1 a.m. on a Sunday night for the “B”. These folks didn’t close until 5 a.m.!! Now that’s what I was looking for.

 

 

seagram's 7

Soon came more “7 and 7s”. All of my drinks were paid for by my friends. Thank you.  We had left our cars at the first bar, Tony’s. I was proud that my group wasn’t going to risk drinking and driving.

 

 

There were a lot of locals in the B&B despite and maybe because of the hour. We continued to talk about racing. My new friends were interested in where I had been in my trackchasing hobby. It was loud in the bar. We talked and talked and we had to talk loudly to be heard.

 

 

It was a little past 3 a.m. when I decided to pack it in for the night. I had flown overnight last night. I was out in a bar until past 3 a.m. tonight. Tomorrow night I would fly overnight on an airplane again. How many people of any age do that?

 

 

Everyone else in the group stayed at the party. Ya, O.K. I was a “lightweight”. A cab was called and soon I was back at Tracy’s house. Without knocking I simply walked into the front door and found my bedroom. It didn’t take long to fall asleep.

 

 

At the beginning I challenged everyone to decide if they or any of their friends live the lifestyle I do. Have you answered that question yet?

 

 

 

MONDAY

 

kodiak sightseeing

Sightseeing.

I wasn’t flying out of Kodiak until 5 p.m. today. I had plenty of time for sightseeing. However with a 3 a.m. arrival to bed last night I didn’t get started until 10 a.m. this morning.

 

 

Tracy had some errands to run so we agreed I would take the Hummer out for a sightseeing run until we would meet up together at two o’clock. Don’t miss the pictures. I wished I had more time to see everything.

 

 

kodiak pillar

Later in the afternoon Tracy took me up to the “Pillar” area of Kodiak. The pillar area includes an antenna farm at the summit of Pillar Mountain and several wind machines. From here there were some fantastic views of all the bays that surround Kodiak.

 

 

kodiak island

Just seven towns.

Did you know that are just seven towns on Kodiak Island? NONE of those towns are accessible by driving from Kodiak the largest town by far on Kodiak Island.

 

 

kodiak tracy randy

Tracy and I wrapped up our visit with a late lunch at Navigator’s Landing. Then we bid our farewells and I headed to the terminal to catch a flight from Kodiak back to Anchorage. The flight back to Anchorage ended up having just two open seats. I got one of those.

 

 

Heading home.

Once back in Anchorage (ANC) I had a five-hour layover until my 11:20 p.m. flight left ANC for Los Angeles. I spent all of that time in the Alaska Airlines Board Room watching movies on my computer and thinking about the trip.

 

 

It’s hard to put this experience in words.

I can’t possibly express properly in words how much fun this short trip to Alaska was. The racing was fine but it was meeting all of the people that was the best. I wish I could tell you even more about that but space doesn’t permit.

 

 

As you might expect I slept soundly on most of the five-hour flight back to Los Angeles. The fine folks at Alaska Airlines had set me up with an exit row seat so I could stretch out and relax on the flight.

 

 

 

TUESDAY

 

 

The Alaska rain had invaded San Clemente.

When I arrived into LAX at about 4:30 a.m. it was pouring down rain. This is mid-September. We NEVER get any rain in September. The rain broke all kinds of records.

 

 

To make it easier on Carol, because I had no car parked at the airport, I would ride a bus and then a train back to San Clemente from LAX. There Carol would pick me up from this grand adventure.

 

 

flyaway union station

The “Flyaway” bus operates every 30 minutes from LAX to Union Station. For eight bucks I could ride this bus. Then for another $6.75 I could ride about 60 miles on the “Metrolink” commuter train. I arrived into San Clemente at 9:33 a.m.

 

 

As I expected Carol was waiting for me with her trusty umbrella and happy to see me. I was one worn out puppy with “stories to tell”.

 

 

Good day!

 

 

gary richrath

P.S. I did receive some bad news when I boarded the flight last night. The headline on my USA Today iPhone app read, “Gary Richrath, REO Speedwagon writer/guitarist dies at 65”.

 

 

I grew up with Gary Richrath in East Peoria, Illinois. He and his family lived on the next block about 200 yards from my house. Gary and I went to school together from kindergarten through the sixth grade in a four-room schoolhouse, Jefferson School.

 

 

Gary would stay overnight at our place during that time often. He was the captain of the school guard patrol and I was lieutenant. Gary was a good athlete although he wasn’t that big. He could clear the left field fence in our softball games on the Jefferson School playground more often than anyone else. I played basketball in the Salvation Army Biddy Basketball program. Gary joined my mother and I for the awards banquet upon my completing five years in the program. I was awarded my first ever metal trophy that sits proudly on my bookshelf to this day. On the way back to the car I remember Gary clutching that trophy as if it were from the Super Bowl. Later I would continue a track in sports while Gary pursued the beginning of his musical career. Below is a story from our hometown newspaper the Peoria Journal Star about Gary Richrath. R.I.P. Gary

 

 

Gary Richrath – 1949-2015 – REO Speedwagon

 

 

 

 

Alaska

 

ALASKA FLAG 

The Last Frontier state

This afternoon I saw my 11th lifetime track in the Last Frontier state, yes the Last Frontier state. I’m holding onto the #1 trackchasing ranking here by three tracks. Who’s in second place? A woman named Carol Lewis. I can’t wait to come back to Alaska and may do that sooner or later. Maybe my friends in Alaska will come up with a new ice racing location or a new figure 8 track or maybe even a new asphalt oval.

 

 

 

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

Alaska sayings: 2.3X the size of Texas

 

 

 

 

QUICK FACTS

 

 

MY CAR

San Clemente, CA – Rosamond, CA – 143 miles

Rosamond, CA

Rosamond, CA – Los Angeles, CA – 86 miles

 

 

AIRPLANE

Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Anchorage, AK (ANC) – 2,344 miles

Anchorage, AK (ANC) – Kodiak, AK (ADQ) – 254 miles

 

 

FRIEND’S CAR

Kodiak, AK – 51 miles

 

 

AIRPLANE

Kodiak, AK (ADQ) – Anchorage, AK (ANC) – 254 miles

Anchorage, AK (ANC) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX) –2,344 miles

 

 

BUS

LAX – Union Station – 19 miles

 

 

TRAIN

Union Station – San Clemente, CA – 61 miles

 

 

Total air miles – 5,196 (4 flights)

Total personal car miles – 229 (1 car)

Total friend’s car miles – 51 (1 car)

Total bus miles – 19 (1 bus)

Total train miles – 61 (1 train)

 

Total miles traveled on this trip – 5,556 miles 

 

 

 

TRACK ADMISSION PRICES:

Willow Springs Speedway – $10

Kodiak Island Raceway – complimentary admission

 

Total racetrack admissions for the trip – $10

 

 

 

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

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,166

 

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

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

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 70

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 4.88

 

 

 

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

 

 

Click on the link below to see the “Video Plus” production from the Kodiak Island Raceway.

 

Click on the link below to see the one-minute “Video Lite” production from the Kodiak Island Raceway.

 

Click on the link below for a photo album from today’s trackchasing day.  Double click on a photo to begin the slide show or watch the photos at your own pace.  Hover over a photo to read the caption.

fun at tony's in kodiak 

Today’s photo album from Kodiak, Alaska and the Kodiak Island Raceway

 

 

 

 


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