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La Porte County Fairgrounds

Greetings from La Porte, Indiana

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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La Porte County Fairgrounds

Dirt figure 8

Lifetime Track #2,347

 

The EventVideo PlusPhotos

 

 

More than 2,300 Lifetime Tracks Visited

THE EVENT

I have had the opportunity to follow my trackchasing hobby all over the world. As this is written I have seen racing in 74 countries. My lifetime track total exceeds 2,300. Each and every year I will trackchase in 25-30 states.

 

 

At track #1,040 I moved into the “World’s #1 Trackchasing” spot. Here’s the funny thing about that. I was perfectly content to remain in about seventh place in the worldwide trackchasing standings. Then I had rotator cuff surgery, which knocked me out of golf for about six months. With no golf and time on my hands I turned up my trackchasing by a notch or two. I discovered I liked MORE trackchasing and LESS golf. It didn’t take all that long to move up to the top of the world trackchasing standings at that point.

 

 

I’m zeroing in on 300 figure 8 tracks. Most of those have come at county fairgrounds. It’s always fun to come to the fair. Tonight’s La Porte County fair was a large one. It was also fun talking to some local folks and meeting the track promoter.

 

 

My hobby is not only about racing. Trackchasing for me centers around three things. The racing part is pretty obvious. However of equal importance is the logistics of trackchasing and the opportunity to see the world.

 

 

I live in Southern California. The vast majority of tracks are located in the Midwest and East. It takes a good deal of logistical planning to get from where I live to where the tracks are. For the past 15 years I have traveled about 175 nights each and every year. Surprisingly to some, more than half of those overnights were not part of trackchasing.

 

 

Then there’s the travel just for the fun of seeing new things. You won’t want to miss my “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions” page or my “Sports Spectating Resume” page on my website at www.randylewis.org. That will give you some understanding on how important seeing the world is with my hobby.

 

 

Today’s adventure was one more of the 2,000 trips that have taken me up, down and around the long and dusty trackchasing trail. If you would like to see where I’ve been and experience those adventures here’s the link:

 

 

Randy’s Complete Track List

 

 

If you’ve got a question, comment or whatever please leave it at the bottom of this report.  It’s very easy to do.  Or you can visit me on Facebook.  Thanks!

 

 

Randy on Facebook

 

 

 

 

FOREWORD

I didn’t get checked into my hotel room last night in Indianapolis until 2 a.m. Today is my last full day of trackchasing in the Midwest. However, the day would not be without its issues.

 

 

I was hoping to see figure 8 racing at the La Porte County Fairgrounds in La Porte, Indiana. However the area weather forecast was calling for heavy rain all day. I can only recall one county fair figure 8 race ever being canceled my wet weather out of nearly 300.

 

 

I called the fairgrounds this morning to see if I could get a confirmation on whether or not the event would be run rain or shine. Of course, whenever you call the general number for a county fair you get a well meaning but often times uninformed volunteer.

 

 

The woman I spoke with, after conferring with her nearby colleague, seemed to think that the event was rain or shine unless they got a lot of rain. What kind of answer is that? It’s an answer coming from a well-meaning but for the most part uninformed source.

 

 

Nevertheless, she was nice enough to give me the contact phone number for the promoter of the International Demo Derby promotional group. I gave that number a call and came up with Dennis Nelson the owner and promoter of the group.

 

 

During the midst of our conversation Dennis recalled that we had talked in the past. That’s always a good thing. It gives me a little bit a street cred.

 

 

Dennis and I talked for an hour! It was fun to hear him recount the challenges of being a promoter in this business. There’s weather and fair boards and competitors and fans and insurance companies and lots of other things. Dennis was a great guy to talk to. I enjoyed it very much.

 

 

The bottom line from our conversation was that tonight’s racing was a “maybe”. From Dennis’ point of view the event would be rain or shine. However he told me he was dependent upon the fair board’s ability to clear the track with their heavy machinery. Whether or not that would happen was an unknown.

 

 

The good thing, if there was a good thing about a potential county fair figure 8 rainout, was that I had stayed overnight at Indianapolis last night.  Tomorrow morning I was flying home from Chicago’s O’Hare airport. The county fair in La Porte, Indiana was only a few miles out of the way on my drive north. It could have been worse, much worse.

 

 

This was a special day in my family.  Did you know that I have a twin sister and brother?  They are 16 years my junior.  Today was their birthday.  Happy birthday Lynn and Mark!!

 

 

I have a goal to achieve 250 aerobic exercise periods in 2017. My aerobic exercise of choice is power walking. I go for an hour and cover a bit more than four miles. I really love this power walking thing.

 

 

Even if I only have a half hour I can cover about 2 miles in that time. This morning I only had about 30 minutes before shower and checkout. The Extended Stay America hotel near the Indianapolis airport is a great location for power walking. I’ll get the other two miles of my four-mile daily power walking goal later in the day.

 

 

I had an interesting trackchasing tourist attraction planned for today. I had reviewed all of the top things to do as noted by TripAdvisor for Indianapolis. I had already done several of them. The one that seemed best for today was a tour of the Lucas Oil Stadium. This is a famous venue. The stadium has been host to the Super Bowl in the past.

 

 

It was also notable that I was down to about $25 in cash. As Carol would say I hadn’t planned my cash outlays properly. Of course, she would be correct. In my defense it was the last day of the trip. I don’t spend much cash. I used credit cards for even the smallest things. However, no one wants to be out of hard currency right?

 

 

When I’m on the road I can use the services of a 7-Eleven ATM without additional bank charges. However, the greater Indianapolis area seems to be devoid of 7-Eleven convenience stores. They are more into Circle K.

 

 

This meant I would have to find an ATM somewhere and pay a few bucks to get some money. It was really my only choice. Dennis, tonight’s promoter told me that the county fair admission was eight dollars and admission to the figure 8 races was another $15. That wouldn’t leave much left over would it?

 

 

Another interesting challenge for the rain plagued Indiana show was that they didn’t have a covered grandstand. I didn’t have an umbrella. I never do.

 

 

They do have a covered grandstand at the fairgrounds but it is used exclusively as an entertainment center for concerts and the like. Nowadays the figure 8 racing is done in the fairground’s “motorsports arena”.  However, I might be counting those chickens before they were hatched. If they rained out I wouldn’t need much cash or an umbrella!

 

 

I truly wish I wasn’t doing the low-carb thing right now. It just happens that Indianapolis is home to “The Tamale Place”. If you like Mexican tamales and who doesn’t and I do, The Tamale Place is the place to eat tamales. Maybe next time on my way up to weight chart I can stop there.

 

 

I am nothing if not a multi-tasker. This drives Carol crazy but then several of my behaviors that she benefits from drive her crazy. Sometimes I like driving her crazy.

 

 

During my power walk I was messaging a European friend regarding a racing schedule in his country. It looks like he’s going to be a great help to me. Stay tuned on that one. I’m working on several international trips right now.

 

 

As you know a major part of my trackchasing hobby is seeing the sights and sounds of the places I visit. I am game for seeing or doing virtually everything.

 

 

Today I would visit the Lucas Oil Stadium in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. The stadium was built in 2008. It’s home to the National Football League former Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts.

 

 

At a senior rate of just seven dollars, with the normal general admission being $10, the 90-minute tour was outstanding. A capable tour guide named Eugene took us all over the venue. The highlights included being able to go into the player’s locker room, as well as the quarterback suite and press box area. However, the true highlight was being able to walk out onto the field.

 

 

This is same stadium and field that hosted the Super Bowl just two years ago. I had no idea that the field’s surface is made up of a unique blend of artificial turf ingredients. The loose stuff even got in my shoes! I highly recommend that if you’re going to be in Indianapolis you take this tour. Just understand that the building will not be air-conditioned during your visit. It gets pretty toasty.

 

 

Our tour guide pointed out the beautiful Indianapolis city view from some of the windows inside the stadium. One of those buildings that we could see was the Indiana State Capitol building. That got me to thinking.

 

 

A couple of weeks ago Carol and I took the Iowa State capitol tour in Des Moines. That was excellent. Then just a couple of days ago I took the New York state capitol tour in Albany. That was good as well. When our football stadium tour finished up I gave the state capitol folks a quick call.

 

 

It was 2:43 p.m. when I made that call. I soon learned that the last tour of the day was going to be at 3 p.m. just 17 minutes later. The lady on the phone recommended that I simply walk the mile or so from the Lucas Oil Stadium to the state capitol. That seemed like a good idea so off I went.

 

 

Had I known what I soon would know I might have made a different decision. We had done a lot of walking inside the stadium. I had already power walked two miles earlier this morning. It would be a mile long walk down to the state capitol and then another mile walk back to the stadium where my car was parked. I probably wouldn’t have worn my deck shoes with no socks had I known all of this! Nevertheless, it was what it was.

 

 

From what I’ve been able to tell so far state capitol tours are plentiful. They don’t charge any admission price. I guess they are just showing you the “People’s house” and charging admission price would be a little tacky.

 

 

So far I would have to classify the Iowa State capitol as the best building of the three I have visited. The interior is like a museum. The Indiana capitol was much more basic and plain although it did have its points of beauty. Their tour lasted just 35 minutes. That was quite a bit shorter than both Iowa and New York. Nevertheless, I had a good time and am glad I did it. Don’t miss the photos.

 

 

It was now about 4 p.m. I was going to gain an hour during my 2 ½-hour drive from Indianapolis up to the race location tonight in La Porte, Indiana. I had plenty of time to scope out a local Mexican eatery.

 

 

Yelp helped me choose the Carniceria Guanajuato, which was pretty much a Mexican grocery store with a deli. They couldn’t make me queso fundido con chorizo so I settled for an al pastor (pork) burrito with guacamole. I would have to classify it as marginal at best. The highlight of my visit here was being able to take a walk through the Mexican grocery store. There I could see all of the Hispanic brands including the Procter & Gamble produced laundry detergent Ariel. Again, don’t miss the photos.

 

 

When I got back to my car after finishing up with the state capitol tour I noticed I had already walked 4.5 miles for the day! Two of those came in my power walk around the hotel area. The rest were on tours of the football stadium, and the state capitol and back. I had already met my daily exercise goal!

 

 

I spent a major part of my drive up to northern Indiana communicating with a new friend who lives in Eastern Europe. His command and understanding of the English language was impressive to me. We covered a lot of ground. I really appreciated being able to spend the time “talking” to him.

 

 

The weather forecast for La Porte, Indiana this morning called for a 90% chance of rain. The green, yellow and a little bit of red radar in the general area pretty much convinced me that it was going to be a very wet evening. They might even cancel the figure 8 racing program.

 

 

However, as I drove north out of Indianapolis I didn’t really see any precipitation to amount to anything. By the time I got to within 10 miles of La Porte, Indiana it look like they hadn’t gotten a drop of rain in some time. I’m a big fan of the weather underground app but the result today was shocking to me.

 

 

Ever since I’ve been using weather radar on my phone I can’t recall such a major deviation from the forecast and what actually happened. In the morning the forecast was calling for a 90% chance of rain with nearly the inch of precipitation for the day.

 

 

Granted the area did get huge rainstorm on Sunday night and a little bit on Monday morning. This amounted to about a third of an inch of rain. I guess that covers the forecasters. It DID rain on Sunday.

 

 

By the way, I am a big believer in weather forecasting. I don’t take it as gospel but I certainly do take it as directional. I’m a little skeptical (O.K., a lot skeptical) of people who are skeptical about everything. I think they get that from people who are constantly telling them they should believe others!

 

 

The skies looked clear and the weather radar was good at that point. I knew I was going to see some county fair figure 8 racing tonight.

 

 

I did pass a sign for the Shadyhill Speedway in Medaryville, Indiana. I went to that track back in 2005 my record-breaking year when I saw 182 tracks. Shadyhill was my 865th lifetime track. The sign seemed to indicate the track was still operating.

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

La Porte County Fairgrounds – La Porte, Indiana

 

 

I’ve met a lot of nice race promoters who treated me well over the years. I remember the Shadyhill promoter as being extra nice. I also remember that he had a particularly severe eye medical condition. I hope that turned out well for him.

 

 

As mentioned toward the end of this trackchasing trip I was experiencing a little bit of a cash problem. I try to use credit cards for every purchase I make even if the price is less than a dollar. I don’t like to use cash because I hate carrying any coins on my person. Some 99.78% of the time or more I will never have a single coin on me.

 

 

I was down to just $20 in the hard U.S. Currency. I had already raided my $60 emergency cash stash that I carry with me in a separate location. When I talked to Dennis Nelson this morning I learned that the fair admission would be eight dollars. On top of that the grandstand admission to the figure 8 races would be an additional $15.

 

 

At about this time I remembered that I carry a green plastic folder in my briefcase. I’ve got key essentials in there like my “need one” and “need two” signs and the like. I also toss in a couple of single dollar bills now and then to cover me for tips etc.

 

 

I checked that green folder. It was with a combination of shock and amazement that I find out that I had $31 in dollar bills there. I was cooking with gas now. I was rich! I had an entire $51 and I was expecting tonight’s admission price to be $23. I would still have almost $30 in cash to my name for “extras”. Who wouldn’t be willing to travel all they way back to California from the Midwest with thirty bucks in their pocket?

 

 

I was pleasantly surprised to see that seniors were admitted to the fair for just five dollars rather than seven (the $8 figure was incorrect) for the general populace. I would still have to pay $15 to enter the motor sports arena to see the figure 8 racing. Spending twenty dollars on a figure 8 junk car race is definitely on the high side. As you know, I have never had the big budgets for trackchasing like the Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers do.

 

 

I grabbed a seat in the top row of the grandstand, which would give me an excellent view of the action tonight. Just two rows in front of me was a broken bleacher board. I’m seeing more and more of those as apparently track operators and county fair operators are getting a little behind on their maintenance programs.

 

 

On the one side of me were a couple of younger women who were here to support their brother. He was racing in the four-cylinder division. After meeting these ladies I now had a person to root for in tonight’s race program.

 

 

On the other side of me were a couple of fellows who lived in the La Porte general area. They were amazed, like most people are, to hear about my “trackchasing story”. They envisioned a nice retirement of their own someday but they weren’t quite there yet.

 

 

The entire demolition derby ring might have been about 70 yards x 50 yards. Of course, I’m guessing on that. The track surface was soupy and muddy. Actually, it was beyond muddy.

 

 

The very first event of the night was a five tractor demolition derby, if you will, for riding lawnmowers. With very muddy conditions there was virtually no chance that anybody was going to be knocked out all that quickly. The announcer told the crowd that the rider with the largest number of hits would be the winner.

 

 

I was happy to see they had started on time. The first event of the night for cars was a demolition derby feature. It seemed odd to me that all of the drivers were wearing black and white striped official shirts. I would later learn that tonight’s officials had taken over the driving duties for this particular demo derby heat. The four-cylinders got a lot of traction in the heavy mud. It was a good demo.

 

 

This morning I had spent an hour talking with promoter Dennis Nelson. What a nice guy to spend that much time with me. He had some interesting points to share. Tonight I met his wife Nikki. She’s part owner of the International Demo Derby organization along with her husband. Nikki is a real ball of fire. Nice people.

 

 

With tonight’s figure 8 racing there would be a separate class for four cylinders and a separate group for six cylinders. The four-cylinder class brought about 20 cars. The six cylinders had a dozen or so.

 

This was definitely “junk car” style figure 8 racing. These groups are designed for the person who just wants to buy a cheap car, paint it up and get out of the track and compete. The racing speeds were exceedingly slow given the fact that the track conditions were so bad.

 

 

With the amount of rain that La Porte had received we were lucky to be seeing any racing whatsoever. It’s the fair board’s responsibility to scrape off the top level of goop generated by last night’s rain. I don’t know if they did their job real well tonight.

 

 

I have discovered that often times the demo derby/figure 8 race promoter is also the announcer. It keeps costs down! That was the case tonight. Dennis did a nice job of describing the action and introducing all of the competitors. You can tell he’s been doing this for a while.

 

 

I spent about two hours in the grandstand talking to new friends on either side of me. I think I have a knack for meeting people in situations like this. It always makes the night go a little faster and it’s more enjoyable to talk to these folks.

 

 

I am particularly interested in their local lifestyle situations. Folks will usually tell me about their occupations and what local life is like wherever I might be visiting. I would say, conservatively speaking, I’ve talk to thousands of people in this manner.

 

 

After the races I took a walk through the fairgrounds. The La Porte County fair is on the larger side. I really couldn’t see the carnival area all that well because it was located off in the distance. However, from the size of the Ferris wheel I knew they had a decent carnival in place.

 

 

I was impressed with the food choices. They seemed to have just about every one of the popular county fair foods tonight. Of course, I’m on a low-carb eating plan right now and have been for about 12 weeks. That means very little sugar for me. What dominates fair food? Sugar!

 

 

I passed on the elephant ears and fried pickles and fried Oreos and milk shakes and all of the other things that would have been a tasty way to enjoy the fair. The one that gave me the most difficulty to bypass was a guy making these huge bagel-like glazed donuts. He was dipping the donuts in a mixture of some form of icing. He offered me a sample. I think he saw how big my eyes were as I walked by his stand. I have a lot of willpower in situations like this at times. I passed on everything.

 

 

I peeked my head in on several of the commercial and agricultural displays. I wish I had a little more time to explore this fair. However, I needed to start heading over toward Chicago.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

 

 

Recall that I paid $39 for a three-day toll pass. I have no idea how much the tolls were for the ground that I covered. I’m pretty sure that I lost money on the deal. Maybe not too much more than about $10 or so, I hope.

 

 

When I get home I’m going to explore the option of getting an EZPass. Even if it costs me some money as a one-time charge it will save me money in the long run. As it is now I have to pay rental car companies about five dollars a day for the privilege. The toll pass also provides a nice convenience for me when I don’t have to actually stop to pay tolls.

 

 

Tonight I got a great deal on an Extended Stay America hotel in Des Plaines, Illinois. I bought the hotel for $42 plus tax. Getting a hotel for that price near O’Hare International Airport is a steal. The hotel was only 3 miles from where I needed to return my rental car. I’d like to stay here again if the price is right.

 

 

 

TUESDAY

I’ve been doing these trips for a long time. Just in the 15 years that I’ve been retired I’ve probably had 30 or 40 of these trackchasing airplane vacations every year. That’s 500-600 trips! I have a procedure in place that works well for me.

 

 

The night before it’s time to return home I fill up the car with gas and empty all the trash. I don’t want to have any delays trying to find a gas station on the morning of my departure.

 

 

When I check out of the hotel on departure day the first thing I’m going to do is return my rental car. That process goes quickly. That are quite a few instances when the plan for me to ride shuttle bus back to the airport.

 

 

Once at the airport I’ll have my boarding pass embedded into my smart phone. When I don’t have that I’ll simply go up to one of the electronic kiosks to get my boarding pass. I probably only check bags on one trip out of 100 or so. I never want to do that if I can avoid it.

 

 

Then I’ll use my TSA pre-check capabilities to clear security. Nowadays I often clear security in less than one or two minutes. Once on the “airside” area of the airline terminal I’ll stop at one of the airline clubs where I hold a private membership. That’s a nice place to relax.

 

 

I’ve been adding a new element to my traveling repertoire lately. As you know I have a goal to exercise aerobically for a minimum of 45 minutes or 4 miles of walking at speed (power walking). My goal is to do that at least 250 times during the year.

 

 

I discovered that sometimes I have to break up that four-mile walk into segments. I may not have a full hour at any one time to do the exercise. Power walking, or walking at a very fast speed in airports is extremely convenient.

 

 

Lots of people are already walking quickly to get from point A to point B in an airport. There are also long stretches inside these terminals. These provide excellent walking opportunities. If I have an extra 20 minutes or so I’ll just start walking at a fast pace. This way I can add another mile or two to my totals. Yesterday, as an example, I covered 6.5 miles while walking in the airport!

 

 

Today, I also used my McDonald’s app to get two steak, egg and cheese sandwiches at McDonald’s for the price of one. The way the McDonald situation is working now is for every $10 of goods received I’m only paying five or six dollars. It’s a great value.

 

 

My nonstop flight from Chicago back to the Los Angeles International Airport was for the most part uneventful. Those are the best kind. However, the woman sitting next to me was a fidget widget. She could not sit still.

 

 

There was going to be a great reward for me when I got home this afternoon. The grandbabies, Astrid and Mitch, are visiting from Texas. They’re in San Clemente for more than a week. That’s going to be fun. I’ll be off the trackchasing trail for the next 10 days enjoying and supporting our family.
Good evening from La Porte, Indiana.

 

 

 

 

Indiana

 

 

The Hoosier state

This evening I saw my 110th lifetime track in the Hoosier state, yes the Hoosier state. I hold the #2 trackchasing spot in Indiana. I’ve seen 110 or more tracks in three separate states.

 

 

 

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

Indiana stuff: It’s Impossible Not To Feel Right At Home In Indiana

 

 

The second you step into Indiana, you’ll be hit with that small-town-vibe-whammy. It may take city folk a little getting used to, but it’s impossible not to love the way everyone looks out for their neighbors, and how Hoosiers actually care when they ask you about your day.

 

 

 

 

 

QUICK FACTS

 

 

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

 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,347

 

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

There are no trackchasers currently within 20 countries of my lifetime total.

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 74

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 4.37

 

 

 

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

 

 

Click on the link below to see the video production from the racing action today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the link below for a photo album from today’s trackchasing day.  You can view the album slide by slide or click on the “slide show” icon for a self-guided tour of today’s trackchasing adventure.

 

 

 

A huge day of Indianapolis touring plus more county fair figure 8 racing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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