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Sandy Downs Arena

Greetings from Idaho Falls, Idaho

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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Sandy Downs Arena

Dirt oval

Lifetime Track #2,353

 

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.

 

 

When someone goes to a horse racing track they normally go to see horse racing. That was not the case with my visit to Sandy Downs Arena tonight. I was coming here to see winged outlaw karts race. Thanks to my secret Idaho racing contacts I was tuned into this first ever “one off” event. Thanks guys!

 

 

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

 

 

THURSDAY

 

 

This trip is started out as a small trackchasing adventure. It looks like it will turn into a much larger trackchasing effort than expected. Carol was originally scheduled to accompany me on this trip. However, when a later trip turned into a much bigger production we agreed that that would be the best one for us to join up on.

 

 

I had only returned from a six-day trip to the Midwest and then the east on Monday. Less than 72 hours later I was headed to LAX in the Carol Lewis owned and MFunds sponsored Lexus RX 350.

 

 

Do you know what the “California trackchasing penalty” is? It’s the simple fact that because I live in Southern California and most of the racetracks are located in the Midwest and the east I pay a penalty. The penalty is the increased travel time and effort it takes to get from one corner of the country to the Middle West and east coast.

 

 

I gladly pay this penalty. It’s the “penalty” for living in what might be arguably the best place in the world. I don’t know another area on the entire planet that has a climate as good as ours. If you can afford it and manage the congestion then it truly is paradise. I can afford it. I’ve been retired for 15 years. I don’t have a problem with the congestion because I can travel when others cannot. Why is there congestion? Because people want to live here!

 

 

I could never drive from Southern California to the race locations east of the Mississippi. I must fly. I love flying. I’ve been on an airplane virtually every week since I was 23 years old. That’s saying something since I didn’t get on my first airplane until I was 21!

 

 

It a normal practice of mine to leave the day before I plan to trackchase. I must get myself “positioned” into a more easterly location and be ready trackchase on day two of these kinds of trips.

 

 

For this trip I would take a late night flight from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. I would be arriving into Mormonville at about 10 p.m. I did this very same trip two weeks ago.

 

 

On that earlier trip I used Priceline.com to get a night at the Roadway Inn near the airport for a fee of $60 plus taxes. However, tonight would be different.

 

 

Something was going on in Salt Lake City. I wasn’t sure what it was but it must have been big.

 

 

I checked Priceline and all of the prices for hotels were in the high $100s or more. I checked my go to Kayak.com travel website. That same Rodeway Inn that I got for $60 two weeks ago was now priced at $199. A Super 8 Motel in Salt Lake City was $249 plus tax for the night. Wow!

 

 

This changed my plan. I would now be sleeping overnight in the airport! I checked www.sleepinginairports.net for the best location to catch a few hours of rest in the airport.

 

 

More than 99% of the seats in the Salt Lake City airport come with armrests. I guess that’s a good idea if you’re sitting in the chair but not so much if you want to sleep over three or four of those chairs.

 

 

However, “sleeping in airports” came through for me as they always do. Right near gate B13 I found a series of airline chairs that were padded with no armrests. Perfecto. I would sleep there and my hotel bill would be more than reasonable.

 

 

The PA announcements were minimal where I was staying. As always the airline crew came through to vacuum and polish the floors. I said hello to one gentleman and before I knew it we had started up a conversation.  I postponed the movie I was watching and spend some time getting to know this guy.

 

 

He was a young man whose grandfather had come to America as an illegal Mexican alien. Now my new friend was a naturalized U.S. citizen based upon his birth in the country.

 

 

We talked about all manner of things including politics, occupations, social issues and the like. My friend soon realized that he needed to get back to work. He asked me, “Are you still going to be up at 12:30?

 

 

Secretly, I hoped I wouldn’t be but I suspected that I might be. I asked him what the significance of 12:30 a.m. was. He told me that was his break time and said, “You’re a cool dude. I’d like to talk to you some more”. If someone one-third your age calls you a “cool dude” I guess you have to stay up until 12:30 a.m.

 

 

As promised my cleaning buddy came back at 12:30 a.m. His break would last for 15 minutes. We talked about more of the topics that we covered during our first conversation. All of a sudden he looked at his watch and said, “Oh shit, I’m 10 minutes past the end of my break”. We fisted and he was off to clean more terminals!

 

 

At that point I got everything organized for a night’s rest across three or four padded flat airline seats. I have a security cable that locks my computer and my computer bag and rolling bag to the seats. I brought a blanket and a pillow and found another blanket and pillow nearby. With my eyeshades I was most comfortable. The bathroom was just down the hall. I slept until 6 a.m. That’s when the morning passengers were coming in for their first flight of the day. I think I’ll just invest the $200 I saved on a hotel in a broadly diversified stock mutual fund.

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY

 

 

I will be trackchasing in Idaho Falls, Idaho today. The winged outlaw karts will be racing at a horseracing track! I’ll tell you more about that a little bit later.

 

 

A couple of weeks ago I was trackchasing in Pocatello, Idaho. I made friends with a couple of the winged kart drivers. They told me about a special first time, and one time only race being held at Sandy Downs Arena in Idaho Falls. Of course I had never heard of “Sandy Downs”. The race was on a Friday night. It sounded most interesting.

 

 

I wouldn’t necessarily want to travel all the way out to Idaho for one racetrack. However when I could tie it into a “nearby” Saturday afternoon race in Montana and then another Sunday afternoon race in Alberta a trip was born.

 

 

I really wanted to rent a car in Salt Lake City and drop it in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. However, no rental car companies would let you do that. After trying one million different alternatives I came up with a plan to pick the car up in Salt Lake City and drop it in Seattle, Washington. When that becomes the best way to do things you know you truly HAVE considered one million options. I would have the car for three days. I would drive it nearly 2,000 miles during that time.

 

 

Since I would be dropping the car in Seattle I would be in the hometown of one of my sponsorship airlines. How could I not grab one of their Monday flights back to the Midwest or east to extend this trip I little bit more? In point of fact I could but declined that opportunity. Again, more information on that a little bit later.

 

 

About the earliest I can drop off the car on Monday in Seattle would be 1 p.m. or so. That meant that if I wanted to save a day’s worth of rental car expense that I couldn’t pick up my car in Salt Lake today until 1 p.m. today. That would work just fine because Idaho Falls was just three hours up the road.

 

 

Any idea what a one-way rental from Salt Lake City to Seattle would cost for three days? If you said $300 you would be right on the mark. Of course the National Car Rental Company is one of my trackchasing sponsors. They have been for a long time. I would pay only 10% of what the normal rental car consumer would pay for this contract.

 

 

So here I was at the airport at 6 a.m. I couldn’t pick up my rental car for seven more hours. What was I to do? I have some ideas.

 

 

First of all, I would head over to McDonald’s. There I would use my McDonald’s app to get two breakfast sandwiches for the price of one. I would also talk them out of a couple of large cups of ice. Why did I need ice?

 

 

I needed to keep some prescription medication refrigerated. Over a span of seven days I have to take four pills every other day. I don’t have an illness. Why would I be taking pills like this?

 

 

I can’t give you all the details. I can tell you this. These pills are highly recommended for where I will be trackchasing in the very very near future. You’ll hear all about it. Just keep reading these reports.

 

 

Since I’m going to be in a car driving 2,000 miles over the next three days getting power walks of four miles or greater every day is going to be virtually impossible. That being the case I will take advantage of my free time this morning in the Salt Lake City airport.

 

 

SLC is a fantastic airport for walking. The walking distance from the end of terminal E to the end of terminal A, after walking down the entire length of terminals B, C and D is 1.4 miles. It would be easy to get my four miles in at the airport. With my international travel coming up and all the flight time etc. it’s going to be difficult to maintain my exercise schedule. I need to get these 4-mile intervals in whenever and wherever I can.

 

 

It was now time to pick up my rental car. I would need a good car. I was planning on driving two thousand miles during the next three days. This stage in the trip was critically important for my enjoyment of the rest of the trip.

 

 

I’m a big fan of the National Car Rental Company. They have sponsored my trackchasing hobby for many many years. However, I would have to classify the National Car rental location in the Salt Lake City airport as the worst of any of the major cities I frequent.

 

 

They are a franchise operation. The franchise is owned by a GM dealership. This means they only have Chevrolet cars to rent. I’m not a big fan of GM or Chevy.

 

 

I was going to have a one-way rental today. I’m picking up the car in Salt Lake City and dropping it in Seattle. Why am I doing that? Because this franchise won’t allow me to pick the car up in Salt Lake and drop it in Canada. That would be much more convenient for me but it’s not going to happen.

 

 

This franchise also has some draconian policies from my point of you. They actually own all of their cars at the Salt Lake location. That means I can’t pick up one of their cars and drop it at another location. With a corporate national location I can pick up a car of my own choosing and drop it wherever I want.

 

 

Today I was being told that I could only rent a car that had come into their operation from somewhere else. That would be a car that they didn’t own and therefore didn’t care that I picked it up in Salt Lake and left it somewhere else.

 

 

There was no use arguing with the woman in charge. It wasn’t going to change anything. This would severely limit the choice of cars for me. Nevertheless, I did get a Hyundai Sonata with just 1,000 miles on its odometer. That would be a nice choice for this long trip.

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Sandy Downs Arena – Idaho Falls, Idaho

 

 

 

I was soon leaving Salt Lake City, Utah and headed for Idaho Falls, Idaho. Just two weeks ago I had been trackchasing in Pocatello, Idaho. When I met some of the winged kart drivers there they told me about tonight’s race at the Sandy Downs Arena in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

 

 

Sandy Downs is a horseracing track. It has been in existence for more than 50 years. In 2016 they held six horseracing events. However, the entire operation is in need of some tender loving care.

 

 

According to a story in the local paper, “Sandy Downs has leaned on other events since horse racing started to wane, including concerts, rodeos, monster truck rallies and beer festivals.” It will be interesting to see if the place gets more of an investment or not. In the meantime I would benefit from Sandy Downs’ desire to have more activity.

 

 

The winged outlaw kart racing this evening would be part of the 17th annual POW/MIA awareness rally and motorcycle rodeo. I’m pretty sure this was the first time they’ve ever held this event at Shady Downs.

 

 

The purpose of the POW/MIA awareness rally is most noble. They “strive to ensure the fullest possible accounting of our unreturned veterans”. Their motto is “Never forget”.

 

 

I would think the biggest motorcycle rally in the United States is the Sturgis rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. I went there a couple of years ago. If you were in anyway interested in something of this sort you certainly wouldn’t want to miss “Sturgis”.

 

 

Of course tonight’s motorcycle rally was on a much smaller scale. Nevertheless, many of the bikers were dressed in their “colors”. There was a fairly extensive security wanding process at the entrance gate. A large fellow wearing motorcycle attire in front of me was turned back because of the contraband he was carrying. On the end other hand I showed up with “board shorts” and a simple black T-shirt. I didn’t pose much visual harm.

 

 

The admission fee for the two-day weekend activity at Sandy Downs was $15 U.S. However, when I went to buy my ticket the woman asked me if I was a veteran. I told her that I had served in the U.S. Marines from 1971 through 1977. I didn’t need any documentation. She just took my word for it. Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where no one lied and everyone could be taken on his or her word?

 

 

I was early as I almost always am. That gave me plenty of time to look around at the exhibits and concessions. Since I’m still doing my low-carb thing I passed on many of the choices that I would have made not that long ago.

 

 

There’s going to be a lot of entertainment this weekend. There were sign-ups at the command post for the bike rodeo, bike drags, loudest pipes, as well as tattoos and an arm wrestling contest. The bands October Rage and Royal Bliss were performing. Tomorrow there will be a bikini bike car wash, some tribute ceremonies with everything being capped off with the motorcycle drags and rodeo. I would be long gone by then but it sounded like a fun couple of days.

 

 

Tonight’s racing machines were billed as the “extreme outlaw karts”. To the less promotionally minded observer they might be called winged outlaw karts. They’re fun to watch. Idaho is a very big state for this type of racing.

 

 

Sandy Downs has been a pari-mutuel betting horse racing facility. Tonight a small temporary dirt oval had been constructed in front of the main grandstand. The track was banked just a bit in the turns.

 

 

The class I had come to see brought six winged outlaw karts. I think one was a “250” and the rest were 500cc powered carts. There was also one junior kart at the track as well as two winged midgets. These last two classes did not compete in official races.

 

 

The program began with one of the POW/MIA officials giving a heartfelt tribute. He was memorializing a veteran whose remains had just been returned from Vietnam in the past week. I’ve got to say this group certainly stands for a good cause.

 

 

Now it was time for the racing to begin. The outlaw karts came out for a 15-lap heat race. The track was dry and slick and not very dusty. The drivers had a difficult time getting traction. There were a number of spins and yellow flags.

 

 

Although the midgets had come out to help pack the track and the one junior had run some exhibition laps this was a one-class racing program. At intermission a water truck came out. They added a little moisture to the racing service. That helped things.

 

 

The 20-lap feature race for the extreme outlaw karts was a much better event than the heat race. There was quite a bit of side-by-side close racing with just the six cars on such a small track. The program wrapped up at about 8:30 p.m.

 

 

I have John Hershberger to thank for giving me the initial heads up on this most unusual event. As far as I can tell there’s never been any auto racing at the Sandy Downs Arena.

 

 

If you were to go back and look at my track list over the past 15 years I have seen more “inaugural” racing events than any other trackchaser by a large number. I credit that to people like John and the Randy Lewis Racing research department. I have people from all over the world helping me find these tracks.

 

 

Jared Pyne was also a valuable resource for tonight’s racing as well. He’s the person who actually built the temporary track at Sandy Downs.

 

 

Tonight Jared replaced John Hershberger in the winged outlaw kart #9. John has been on the mend of late. The number nine car with John aboard was the winner when I saw them race in Pocatello. Jared brought the car home in first for tonight’s feature. Thanks to John and Jared for all their help.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

 

 

I made a quick McDonald’s stop, primarily to get some ice to keep my prescription medication “refrigerated”. I was heading in the direction of Lewiston, Montana.

 

 

It was going to be a six-hour drive from Idaho Falls up to Lewiston, Montana. It was already 9 p.m. I wouldn’t drive straight through.  However, I could make good time.  The speed limit was 80 M.P.H.

 

 

I did drive about 3 ½-hours up to Bozeman, Montana. There I found an Interstate 90 rest area where I would sleep for the night. Bozeman is not all that far from Yellowstone park.

 

 

This is the height of the tourist season at Yellowstone. The cheapest price on a Motel 6 in the area was $150 plus tax. Since I could only be in a motel for about eight or nine hours spending nearly $200 for a Motel 6 did not fit my agenda. After five hours of sleep in the highway rest area, with comfortable overnight temperatures, my overnight resting place had worked out just fine.

 

 

 

Good evening from Idaho Falls, Idaho.

 

 

 

Idaho

 

 

The Gem state

This evening I saw my 18th lifetime track in the Gem state, yes the Gem state. I hold the #1 trackchasing spot in Idaho as I do in 24 total states. I’ve seen 18 or more tracks in 29 separate states. No trackchaser comes close to matching that stat.

 

 

 

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

Idaho stuff: Vandals

 

 

What it means everywhere else: Those criminy hooligans who graffiti up the town and eat their pudding before they eat their meat. 

 

What it means in Idaho: The other team in Idaho worthy of Idaho love, the University of Idaho’s Vandals.

 

 

 

 

 

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 – 2,353

 

 

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 rare opportunity to see a “first ever” track in the beautiful Far West

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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