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Lake Amnicon Ice Track

Greetings from Summit, Wisconsin

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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Lake Amnicon Ice Track

Ice oval

Lifetime Track #2,297

 

The EventVideo PlusPhotos

 

 

 

THE EVENT

 

 

My trackchasing hobby takes me all over the world. Each year I will visit 25-30 American states and several foreign countries.  Long ago I moved into the #1 trackchasing position in both the number of different racetracks seen as well as the number of countries where I’ve seen racing.  

 

 

During my media interviews and discussions with friends and fans they often ask, “When did you start trackchasing?”

 

 

Yes, that’s a question I get frequently. I never know how to answer it. I started out as a “racechaser”. I went to the very best tracks where my favorite drivers were racing.

 

 

Somewhere along the line I decided I liked seeing a race at a track for the FIRST time rather than the TENTH time. As I went along I learned I liked the CHASE as much or more than the RACE. By the time I started trackchasing more than racechasing I was hundreds of tracks behind the leading trackchasers most of whom started in their 20s. Here’s a list of the number of tracks I had seen by a certain age:

 

 

Age 5 – 1 track

 

Age 30 – 71 tracks

 

Age 40 – 180 tracks

 

Age 50 – 404 tracks

 

Age 60 – 1,517 tracks

 

Age 68 (today – still a kid) – 2,297 tracks

 

 

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

 

 

 

ON THE WAY TO THE RACES

 

 

FOREWORD

 

 

FRIDAY

 

 

My trackchasing revolves around three things. Those “things” would be racing, touring and logistics. The name of the game today was logistics.

 

 

We were transitioning from a week of touring New York, which had been great fun, into the logistics of trackchasing. We were going ice trackchasing. We needed to get to a track that was melting under warmer than normal temperatures. Yes, the ice-racing season does appear to be getting shorter and shorter every year for whatever reason.

 

 

It looked as if our best bet would be an ice race scheduled for Summit, Wisconsin. With that in mind I developed a travel plan that would get us to that northern Wisconsin spot from New York City in the most cost-effective and efficient manner.

 

I’m open to suggestions on anyone who thinks they can do it cheaper or better. Here’s what our plan looked like for today.

 

 

We left our hotel in downtown Manhattan ‪at 10 a.m. Many of the streets were still snow-covered from yesterday’s nearly 12-inch snowfall. We ordered an Uber car to take us from the hotel to the Bolt Bus Company location on the west side of the city.

 

 

I don’t know if you’ve seen any of the bright red buses with the logo “Bolt for a Buck” running down the highway. This was the second time I’ve used them.

 

 

The Bolt service and pricing structure is fantastic. Today Carol and I took the two-hour ride from New York City down to Philadelphia for just $10 per person. Can you imagine such a low price in cities that are noted for being very expensive?

 

 

The Bolt Bus location in Philadelphia is located on the perimeter of Duquesne University. To get to the airport from the bus stop we took another Uber car.

 

 

The Uber driver was wearing a Snydersville Speedway jacket. We soon discovered that he had raced at local dirt tracks. He was impressed with my trackchasing hobby. I gave him my business card.

 

 

Once at the Philadelphia airport we had a four-hour layover. We started with lunch at “Geno’s Steaks”. Geno’s is famous in downtown Philadelphia for their ‪Philly cheesesteaks. Frankly, Geno’s is not my favorite cheese steak place. Nevertheless locals love it.

 

 

With still three more hours to go before our flight would depart we spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the American Airlines Admirals Club. There they made us fresh avocado dip and chips. Of course cocktails are free as well.

 

 

There is something pretty funny about my trackchasing travel style. The range of service from ultra first class like the Admiral’s Club to pretty much ultra low-class like sleeping overnight in an airport or riding the bus a few hours keeps me grounded!

 

 

I must tell you that I have been eating and drinking to excess over the past couple of weeks of traveling. I figure when I return back to California with Carol I’ll get back to a better exercise and eating plan.

 

 

Our flight from Philadelphia to Minneapolis was delayed by nearly an hour. Nevertheless, we did land at MSP at about ‪9 p.m.

 

 

I couldn’t resist taking Carol up to the second level where I often sleep overnight in this particular airport. She agreed it was off the beaten path and relatively quiet. However, she always encourages me to get a hotel room. Sometimes that doesn’t make financial sense to me.

 

 

It was going to be nearly a ‪three-hour drive from Minneapolis airport up to tomorrow’s ice racing location in Summit (near Superior), Wisconsin. ‪At 9 p.m. we had a choice to make.

 

 

Should we drive up tonight or make the drive in the morning?  I decided the best idea would be to drive up tonight. It’s normally best in life to tackle the tough choices now rather than later.

 

 

At airport I used the airport’s free Wi-Fi to contact ‪Priceline.com. Soon we had a nice hotel in Duluth, Minnesota, which is just across the river and state line from Superior, Wisconsin.

 

 

I saw two benefits to driving northward tonight. First, we could sleep in a little later ‪tomorrow morning. Secondly, if we were already within 30 miles of the ice track tonight we wouldn’t have to worry about any unforeseen delays that might make us miss the race if we drove up ‪tomorrow morning.

 

 

We had hired two Uber cars today. We had ridden a bus for two hours. We had flown on an airplane for three hours. Finally, we drove nearly 3 hours with our rental car to get to tonight’s hotel.

 

 

Can I ask you a simple question? Is it any wonder that my fellow competitors are having a hard time keeping pace?

 

 

Good night from Duluth, Minnesota 

 

 

 

 

SATURDAY

 

 

We woke up this morning in Duluth, Minnesota. Duluth is normally one of the coldest spots in the entire 48-state continental U.S. However, today it wasn’t going to be so bad. Temps would be in the low 30s with no wind at today’s ice races.  Our hotel was decorated in “knotty pine”.  We used to have a lot of knotty pine in the house I grew up in.

 

 

Last night we had elected to make the 2 ½-hour drive from Minneapolis to Northeast Minnesota. That meant we could sleep in a bit, only 8 a.m. really, before heading out to the ice track.

 

 

I had several ice trackchasing opportunities today, Saturday. However, I didn’t have ANY for tomorrow, Sunday. I didn’t care much for that fact.

 

 

However, I have to share an important item about this year’s ice trackchasing. When I wrapped up LAST YEAR’S ice trackchasing I didn’t think there were very many ice tracks to visit in 2017.

 

 

In point of truth I was wrong with that assessment. I have discovered several ice trackchasing opportunities for this year. I’ve been held back by warm weather and the fact that most of my track choices race on Saturday.

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Lake Amnicon Ice Track – Summit, Wisconsin

 

 

 

I had been in contact with the Lake Superior Ice Racing Association about today’s event. This group races on two different lakes. They pretty much decide which lake’s track is in the best shape and race there.

 

 

Back in 2012 I saw track #1,734 sanctioned by this group on the Allouze Bay Ice Track in Superior, Wisconsin. Today Carol and I were seeing the second of the two tracks that LSIRA promotes.

 

 

That visit to Allouze Bay was most noteworthy. Without any pre-planning I ran into trackchaser Ed Esser at this event. We spent the day together.

 

 

Then I invited Ed to join me the next day at the Mission Bay Ice Track in Thunder Bay, Ontario. Ed accepted my invitation and we used my car to drive up north. At the time Ed Esser was the #2 ranked worldwide trackchaser. We had a great dinner and made it up to Canada for Ed’s first ever international trackchasing visit.

 

 

It was a rough weather day in Thunder Bay. It was cold and the winds were howling. How bad was the weather in Thunder Bay that day? It was so rough they canceled the last half of the show.

 

 

Ed and I had shared a room the night before. He had complained at dinner that his arm was causing him a great deal of pain. On the ride back to the states Ed and I talked non-stop. We even were “detained” at the border crossing while they checked out our car. I thought that was great. I wanted Ed to have the full “International experience”. He even got his passport stamped for the first time ever.

 

 

Sadly, some four days later Ed passed way. It was a shock to everyone. Ed was a good guy. R.I.P. Ed.

 

 

Today’s racing was scheduled to begin at 12 noon. Carol and I showed up 50 minutes early. We took the extra time to explore the small town of Summit, home to Lake Amnicon. Frankly, there wasn’t much to see.

 

 

Today spectators could watch the races for free. There were a good 50 cars or more of fans watching the ice competition as the afternoon wore on.

 

 

There was a $5 charge for folks who wanted to enter the pits. It would have been easy for us, in all of our winter clothing, to simply walk into the pit area without paying. However, we don’t roll that way. Since I knew they were charging, not paying would have been dishonest.

 

 

There were about 30 stock cars racing today. That was an excellent car count. The “facility” was a little short on amenities. There were no toilets. There was no announcer. That made fully understanding the program somewhat difficult.

 

 

 

I’m going to guess that all of the cars were in one class.  The highlights of the cars racing today were a hearse and a 1957 Chevy!  The competitors ran a series of three heat races with 9-10 cars in each heat. Then they had another set of three heat races with the cars rearranged somewhat. It was at this point that that we headed for the Amnicon Bar the sponsor of today’s racing.

 

 

At the driver’s meeting the race director encouraged everyone to support their sponsor. He reminded the racers that they wouldn’t be racing without the Amnicon Bar sponsorship. He also told the racers that contact was discouraged. The competitors were told that if someone got hurt racing that could jeopardize the future of the group. He also asked everyone who did go to the Amnicon Bar to thank them for their support of ice racing.

 

 

We had seen all of the cars race twice. Now we were hungry! The Amnicon Bar was less than a half-mile fro the lake.

 

 

Wisconsin seems to have a million small bars and taverns. I don’t have the data to back up this statement but I would think they have more bars per capita than any other state in the country.

 

 

One of the first things we did was tell our server, the only employee we saw in the place that we were here because they sponsored ice racing. That brought a big smile across her face.

 

 

When we can we like to support racing’s sponsors. There is another trackchaser who says he likes to do the same thing. Recently he told everyone he had purchased a hot dog to show his support. Wow, that must have added a whole dollar to the sponsor’s bottom-line. What can I say about that? It’s simple. Can we just get REAL?!

 

 

I love bar food. Carol and I started out with the cinnamon bites. Delicious if you like sugar and cinnamon. I do! Then we followed with the shrimp and fries special, the baked ravioli, a bowl of chili and a garden salad. Of course, we had drinks too. I left our server a healthy tip. Yep. We were supporting the track sponsor’s business like it should be supported.

 

 

We were probably gone from the track about 40 minutes after seeing six heats of racing. When we returned they ran ANOTHER set of three races. Surely THOSE races were the feature races. However, I don’t think they were.

 

 

Why do I think that? None of the cars were loading up. Was there going to be a FOURTH set of races? We didn’t know. There was no one to ask. However, it was now 3:30 p.m. Except for our lunch break we had been on the ice for nearly four hours. We had to get back to California!

 

 

Today had been an excellent weather day. The temperature hovered around 32 degrees. There was little wind. It wasn’t balmy but for ice racing it wasn’t bad.

 

 

The racing had been very good. There were only a few cautions. Carol and I both noted how clean the racing had been.

 

 

From the group’s Facebook page I saw that a new rule had been implemented today. The racers could put studs on their non-power tires. That would help them control the cars without tearing up the track. That was a smart idea!

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

 

 

As we left the ice Carol remarked that today was some of the best ice racing she had seen. She also loved the weather conditions.

 

 

We had time to tour the pits. We had time to have lunch in a real Wisconsin dive bar. We had taken the time to closely examine a nearby ice fishing house. It had been a good day of ice trackchasing.

 

 

It was too bad we didn’t have an available ice race for Sunday. There were several new track opportunities for Carol. However, none of them would have been new for me.

 

 

Carol and I are the “World’s #1 Trackchasing” couple by a margin of more than 100 tracks. However, we don’t go out of the way to start a trip early or make a trip longer just so Carol can get a new track. Our time back home or with other activities is more important to us than adding another track for Carol only.

 

 

I wouldn’t want anyone to misinterpret the above paragraph. I did ask Carol is she would like to stay another day to see another track. She declined. I was pretty sure she would.

 

 

This had been a good trip overall. It was especially nice on the touring front. We had spent five days in New York City seeing all kinds of fun and interesting entertainment choices and museums.

 

 

The trackchasing part of the trip wasn’t as good. I left for this trip last Friday. That meant I was gone from home for nine days. Last weekend I missed a track because only one “countable” competitor showed up. This weekend I missed a track when warm weather and the fact that I’ve already seen so many ice tracks gave me nothing to see on Sunday. Without warm weather and low car counts I would have nine tracks for 2017. As it is I have only five. Oh well, it is what it is.

 

 

About ten hours after we left the Amnicon ice track we were pulling into our driveway at home in San Clemente, California. I find that pretty amazing considering we had to do about four hours of driving and four hours of flying to make that happen.

 

 

I told Carol that in the future we could take the “red-eye” flight leaving Los Angeles as 1 a.m. on Saturday morning, see the races in Northern Wisconsin and then be back in San Clemente by 11:30 p.m. on Saturday night. We would be gone from home for less than 24 hours!

 

 

During our nearly 45 years of marriage I had offered up several brilliant ideas like this to my lovely Carol. Just like lots of those other pearls of wisdom this thought was summarily rejected. Nevertheless, I won’t ever give up.

 

 

Good afternoon from Summit, Wisconsin.

 

 

 

Wisconsin

 

 

The Badger state

This afternoon I saw my 83rd lifetime track in the Badger state, yes the Badger state. I now hold the #3 trackchasing spot in Wisconsin. I’ve seen 83 or more tracks in 8 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

Wisconsin sayings: FIB

 

 

An acronym for some swear words describing those people down south.

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,297

 

 

 

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.

 

Ice racing from Wisconsin and the route we took to get there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Comments

  1. HEY!!!! WHAT’S THIS GOING TO GENO’S WITHOUT CALLING!!!! YOU CAN GO TO ALL THE ICE RACING YOU WANT, BUT THOSE GENO’S CHEESESTEAK MOMENTS ARE PRICELESS. PW

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