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Trace Lake Ice Track

Greetings from Grey Eagle, Minnesota

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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Trace Lake

Ice road course

 Lifetime Track #2,409

 

 

The EventVideo PlusPhotos

 

 

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 77 countries.  My lifetime track total is just over 2,400.  Long ago I wrapped up seeing racing in every American state.

 

 

Some twelve years ago I moved into the “World’s #1 Trackchasing” spot.  Of course, that’s if that title is awarded to the person who has seen the most lifetime tracks.  Frankly, I don’t think it should be.   Maybe “Most Prolific Trackchaser” is a better description for that category.

 

 

The World’s #1 Trackchaser title should be bestowed on the person who has seen the most racing in the most countries.  That’s what the “world” is made up of isn’t it?  Countries!

 

 

It’s ice racing season again! Ice racing has a short season. Almost all ice races happen in January and February only in the U.S. Sometimes, with the warmer weather we’ve been having, ice racing NEVER starts. However, Minnesota has been having a very cold winter this year. They have plenty of ice.  Let the ice racing begin!

 

 

By the way my hobby is not only about racing.  Yes, that is one part of it.  However, of equal importance are the logistics of trackchasing (getting from point A to B to C, etc.) and the opportunity to see the world.

 

 

I live in Southern California.  The vast majority of tracks in the U.S. 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.  A typical weekend trip within the U.S. will cover more than 5,000 air and driving miles.  I do about forty of those trips each year.  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.

 

 

A big part of trackchasing for me is simply 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.  Search around on my site.  Use the drop-down menus.  They will take you all over the world!  My site will give you some understanding on how important seeing the world and just “seeing stuff” is with my trackchasing 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

 

 

Sunday, January 7, 2018.

I got out of the PPL Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania at 11 p.m. last night. I had seen the TQ midgets main event take the checkered flag after 40 laps of hard indoor racing.

 

 

My parking garage was within 100 yards of the northwest entrance of the PPL Center. I could exit from this position, but I had not been allowed to enter in that corner of the building. That made my walk out in the 4° temperatures much easier after the races than it did before the races.

 

 

My plan was simple. I like simple plans. However simple plans must at times be adjusted to the point where they are no longer sample. I guess they call that life.

 

 

I would make the rather simple 2 ½-hour drive down to the Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI).  With a stop for fuel and the like I expected to pull into the airport sometime around 2 a.m. I had a 7 a.m. flight to catch out of Baltimore. I figured if all went well I could return my rental car and ride the shuttle bus over to the landside part of the terminal.  Once there I would try to sleep for two or three hours before clearing security.

 

 

About 40 miles north of the airport I pulled into a service area for a personal needs break. When I got back to my car I figured it might be a good idea to check the status of my flight. Of course, I was flying standby. The flight looked like it had plenty of seats about 24 hours ago. Now it didn’t look so good. I might not make the flight! 

 

 

I certainly didn’t want to drive halfway through the night, sleep out a tile floor and then not get on the one and only flight going from Baltimore, Maryland to Minneapolis, Minnesota. No, I didn’t want to do that.

 

 

A successful life is all about having options. When you run out of options you essentially die. One of the keys to a successful life is about discovering and understanding the options when your fellow competitors in life think there are none. Folks, I’m dropping pearls of wisdom on the ground. All you have to do is bend over and pick them up.

 

 

The Baltimore/Washington International Airport is part of a triangle of airports which includes the Dulles International airport and the Ronald Reagan National Airport. Those three airports have to be a triangle of airports because as everyone knows three points make a triangle.

 

 

What if I could fly out of either Dulles or Reagan airport.?  First, I checked Dulles. No dice. The flight they had going to Minneapolis was overbooked.

 

 

What about the Ronald Reagan National airport? I love the interior of that airport. It’s the most beautiful retro design of any airport I have ever visited.

 

 

I was more than happy to see the flight out of Reagan National had several seats. It looked as if I would make that flight easily. It was now after 2 a.m. The flight left at about 8 a.m. That combination of numbers would make it difficult for the plane to lose those seats. I was now headed to the Ronald Reagan National Airport!  That’s how quickly things can change in my hobby of trackchasing.

 

 

Just to confirm what I already believed I called the National Car Rental Company. Would there be any additional charge for me to drop the car at Reagan airport after I had picked it up at the Baltimore airport?  Yes, I had contractually promised that I would return the car to Baltimore. But contracts can be altered when it doesn’t hurt either party right? No, there would no additional charge to get the car back to Reagan airport.

 

 

There are a few airport combinations where you can pick up a rental car up at one airport and drop it at another airport without being charged exorbitant one-way drop off fees. Some of those combinations include San Francisco/ Oakland, DFW/ Dallas Love, Chicago O’Hare/Chicago Midway and sometimes nearly the entire state of Florida. The only group of three airports that do this, that I know of, are Baltimore, Washington Dulles and Washington National.

 

 

Was I lucky that I stopped at 2 o’clock in the morning for a highway personal needs a break and thought to check my computer to see if the Baltimore flight was filling up? Was I lucky that I had the technological capability to surf the Internet on my MacBook Pro using my iPhone as a modem in the service area parking lot? Was I lucky that I even knew that I had the option of returning a Baltimore origination rental car to one of the other two Washington airports? I guess you can answer that question in your own mind. I’m going to go with the idea of experience and education saved my ice racing bacon at 2 o’clock in the morning in a lonely, frigid east coast highway service area.

 

 

I had the O.K. from the National Car Rental Company.  There would be no additional charge to change my return location.  I had the good news the flight departing Washington National to Minneapolis would have a seat for me. With all of these important ingredients in my trackchasing portfolio off I went to the Ronald Reagan National Airport. This would add about 50 miles to my drive. After I had taken the time to do all the computer work, my arrival time at the Washington National was now going to be about 3:30 a.m.

 

 

There are about fifty airports that I’ve flown into 1,000 times or more. You can do the math on that one. I know my way around airports.  The Reagan National airport has two American Airlines Admirals Clubs. My airline club membership includes admittance to all American Airlines clubs around the world.

 

 

There was one problem I needed to be overcome. The three major terminals at the National airport all require their own individual security entrance. It’s not like Chicago or Atlanta where you can walk from one terminal to another without ever leaving security.

 

 

It just turned out that the two Admiral’s Clubs are located in terminals C and D.  My flight was leaving from terminal B. I would really like to tell you how I got into terminal C when my flight was leaving from terminal B and each terminal requires its own security entrance. I would like to tell you but I cannot. There’s only so much information I can provide in these reports. The answer surrounding this circumstance will not be shared because of national security.

 

 

I didn’t know for sure what time the Admiral’s Club began admitting their members this morning.  The TSA agent told me it might be 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.  By the time I returned my rental car and got over to the terminal it was about 3:50 a.m. The TSA security detail didn’t open until 4 a.m. It was then that I discovered the Admiral’s Club opened at 4:30 a.m. I cooled my jets for a few minutes and was the second member to enter the club this morning.

 

 

When I got into the airline club I found a very quiet upscale “club” atmosphere. I’ve had these club memberships since I was in my mid 20s. They also provide complementary food and drink.

 

 

I grabbed a little granola cereal with fruit, some O.J. and later on a bagel slathered with peanut butter and jelly. Oh yeah, I had some oatmeal too. I was in the club for about 2 1/2 hours and sleeping for probably two of those hours. Today I was going to have to grab sleep when and where I could get it today.

 

 

I must tell you about one of the club’s employees.  She looked to be one of the people who came around and cleaned up the tables.  Of course, the club has TVs.  This employee, at 4:30 a.m. in the morning comes in and turns the TV to a news channel that I don’t care for. Fair enough. Not everyone sees the world the same way.

 

 

This was the problem. She turned the sound up on the TV behind the bar to a decibel level that I could hear from one hundred yards away. It was 4:30 a.m. There weren’t many people in the club, maybe ten or so. I’m going to guess that half of those members don’t care for that news station. I’m going to guess that 100% of the members didn’t care for the sound level of the TV. I took the initiative to have this clueless woman lower the sound. What a friggin’ idiot!!

 

 

The two-hour and 12-minuite flight from Washington National over to Minneapolis was uneventful. Those plane rides are the best kind. I had an aisle seat. But it was in the last row. Those seats don’t recline. I slept most of the flight. This meant I’d had 3-4 hours of sleep since departing Allentown, Pennsylvania last night.

 

 

Today I would be trackchasing in Grey Eagle, Minnesota. Grey Eagle is a couple of hours northwest of the “cities”. I will be seeing the inaugural ice race put on by the Central Minnesota Ice Racing (CMIR) group. I’ve got a great contact with CMIR in Derek Hedburg (above). Derek keeps me posted on Minnesota ice racing.  Thank you, Derek.

 

 

When I landed at MSP my first stop was the men’s room. I needed to occupy one of the handicap stalls. Why in the world what I want to do that?

 

 

I needed to switch into my “ice racing gear”. Today that included adding some long underwear and my big size 14 ice racing clodhoppers. I bought those at an incredibly low price at an REI store. They slip on and off and they’re much more convenient than my tie ice racing boots. Anybody in the market for some size 13–14 ice racing boots that tie? One owner, lightly used. 

 

 

I first went ice racing all the way back in 2001. Will White and Guy Smith had asked me to join them on an ice racing trip. I was an up-and-coming Southern California trackchaser. At the time, I had 467 tracks on my lifetime list.

 

 

I don’t think either of these individuals would have predicted seventeen years later my lifetime total would exceed 2,400 tracks. If they did they might not have invited me to come along on the ice racing adventure!

 

 

Coming into the season 2018 season I have now seen ice racing at 81 locations. Those ice tracks have been located in 16 states, provinces and countries. My ice racing exploits have taking me to such faraway places as Andorra, Finland and Russia! No trackchaser matches my ice racing production despite the fact that I live in a location where the temperature ranges from 67-77° all year long.

 

 

No, there is no ice racing in San Clemente, California. However, there is in upper Minnesota and upper Wisconsin. From personal experience, I can tell you that the coldest weather in the continental United States and possibly the entire United States is located in those parts in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

 

 

Over the past few years, with the possibility of global warming existing, ice racers have been far short of much-needed ice. Some ice racing groups in New York didn’t have a single event last year. Ice racing is a very “iffy” endeavor. The ice racing season runs from the beginning of January until the end of February in most locations. That’s about eight or nine weekends. Often ice racing groups will have half or more of those dates canceled because of lack of ice.

 

 

Insurance has become a big problem for ice racers. One ice racing group in Michigan could barely afford to race because of the cost of insurance. They had only about ten racers.  When the cost of insurance was spread over that small number of competitors it was a financial struggle. This year a New York ice racing group has canceled their entire season because of the cost of insurance!

 

 

Lack of ice has not been a problem for Minnesota this year. I had been tracking the weather for Grey Eagle for three-four weeks. From early December, there were overnight lows that were often well below zero as much as 15-20° below zero. Highs had been about 0-5° and sometimes less. That’s COLD!

 

 

 

If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “How does this guy see all of these race tracks”?  It takes a little dedication and passion to do this. I’ve been doing it for quite a long time now with good results. I still enjoy the activity. I guess when I don’t I won’t do it anymore.

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Trace Lake Ice Track – Grey Eagle, Minnesota

 

I pulled the National Car Rental Racing Nissan Altima onto the ice of Trace Lake in Grey Eagle, Minnesota at nearly 1 p.m.  Have you ever driven your car, or a rental car, way out onto a frozen lake?  The first time I did I was a little apprehensive.  However, now that I’ve done it about 80 times I don’t give it a second thought.

 

 

I was here to see the inaugural event sanctioned by Central Minnesota Ice Racing. My buddy Derek Hedburg heads up the group.  I first met Derek, driving the black #64 at a K.I.R. ice race.  He’s a good guy.

 

 

I guess I’m on a roll of trackchasing good fortune. Last week in Australia three of the six tracks that I visited were affected by rain but none were canceled out right before I saw several races. Today I probably came within 15-20 minutes of missing the entire show.

 

 

I guess if you are able to drive 20 minutes over to Trace Lake and you almost or you do miss the show that’s not a big deal.  You’ll come back next week.

 

 

On the other hand, at 11 p.m. last night I was in downtown Allentown, Pennsylvania.  Allentown is 1,239 miles from the center of Trace Lake.  It’s nearly a 20-hour drive.  The Trace Lake racing was beginning just 14 hours after the last feature event at Allentown.

 

 

It would have been a big deal if I had shown up a few minutes late today.  During the 14-hour “inter-race” period I had driven 3 ½ hours from Allentown to Washington, D.C.  I had flown more than two hours from Washington to Minneapolis.  Then I had driven two hours from MSP to Trace Lake.  That doesn’t even count the dropping off and picking up of rental cars, the clearing of airport security and the waiting for planes to take off.  Yes, I had a busy 14 hours.  Is it no wonder that I am the only one doing this at this level?

 

 
The Central Minnesota Ice Racing group is brand new. Today they were expecting to race cars, UTVs, motorcycles and quads. Going into the event I wasn’t even aware that anything beyond just cars was on today’s racing agenda.

 

 

Grey Eagle, Minnesota is a town of just 348 people.  I figured I would roll into town, find Trace Lake and be in business.  I did find Grey Eagle with no problem.  I just didn’t find where they were racing on the lake for about 15-20 minutes.  I wasn’t worried.  I thought I was ahead of schedule.  I was not.

 

 

When I finally did pull onto Trace Lake I saw a huge turnout of race trailers and racing machines.  Bingo!  No Bingo! I didn’t see any ice racing cars! What I was looking at was a huge snowmobiling event being held at an ice oval track.  You probably know that trackchasing expressly forbids snowmobile racing.  Why?  Maybe it has something to do with the idea that Pennsylvania doesn’t have any snowmobile racing?  I don’t know.  I’m just guessing.

 

 

However, just over on the east side of the lake, a couple hundred yards away from the snowmobilers, there was another ice track. I could see it was a road course. I could also see several UTV racers sitting by their trailers. That’s where I needed to be.

 

 

What I saw was minorly concerning. There was only one race car in the paddock! That was Derek’s stock car. Just as I pulled into the paddock a race with three quads was getting set to take the green flag. While I got organized they ran a 10-lap heat race.

 

 

Of course, with only one ice racing stock car there is no trackchasing countable situation that can come out of that.  Additionally, trackchasing rules do not allow us to count racing provided by motorcycles or quads.

 

 

That left only the UTV machines as the prize in this cracker jack box. I would come to learn they had already completed one ten-lap heat race. It was probably less than 15 minutes after I arrived that the six UTVs were on the starting line for their second and final race of the day.

 

 
I had driven 3 1/2 hours from Allentown, Pennsylvania to the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. I had flown more than two hours from Washington to Minneapolis. I then drove another two hours from Minneapolis to Grey Eagle, Minnesota. I had slept overnight for a couple of hours in an airline club. Then I came within 15 minutes of not being able to count the Trace Lake ice track. That was close to a disaster!  Nevertheless, it was NOT a disaster!

 

 

I can’t believe that at virtually every new track I visit I see something or something happens that I can’t recall ever happening before in the previous 2,400+ racetracks I’ve seen. Not only did that happen once today it happened twice!

 

 

First, I cannot recall ever seeing an ice track where UTVs were the primary and only countable trackchasing class. I’ve seen more than 70 tracks where UTVs were the primary class but never on ice.

 

 

Secondly, in all of my years of trackchasing I don’t ever remember seeing a heated flag stand.  I’m sure I have not. Derek Hedburg, the organizer of the Central Minnesota Ice Racing group had constructed the special starting stand because his dad, Tom, is the starter.  Being the flagman at an ice track is probably the coldest job in all of motorsports. They even let me give a test drive!

 

 

The flag stand was a metal slanted ladder/stairway. It stood about six feet tall. They had placed a propane heater element underneath the steps.  Then the entire thing was wrapped in insolated blankets. When the flagman takes his position, he can reach for the flags knowing that the heat from the propane heater is keeping him toasty warm. Nevertheless, on a really, cold and windy day and Minnesota gets more than most you’ll be warmer is you’re back in the bar in front of the fireplace.  The heated flag stand is a very clever and creative idea.

 

 

 

Today the high temperature reached about 33°. I’m going to have to ask the Hedburgs how the heated flag stand works when the temperature dips below zero!

 

 

Today, there was one and only race, that I saw, that counted toward trackchasing.  That was the 10-lap UTV race. Six competitors drove over a one-mile or so road course.  Of course, the track was flat because water seeks its own level.

 

 

The UTVs raced with heavily studded tires. This allowed them to get a phenomenal grip on the ice. It was hard to believe how fast these light weight machines could go on an ice surface with the specially made studded tires.

 

 

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching the snowmobilers compete in their races on the nearby oval ice track. I really haven’t seen much in the way of snowmobile racing. Given the choice I would rather see you UTVs race on ice rather than snowmobiles. But then again if I saw more snowmobile racing I might feel differently.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

I was off the ice this afternoon at a reasonable hour. I had to hustle back to the Minneapolis – St. Paul International airport. There were still a couple flights I can make on this Sunday night. Yes, the flights were overbooked but sometimes people don’t show up. That’s what I was counting on.  Some didn’t.  I got on the plane!

 

 

Great seeing Derek and Tom Hedburg.  I wish them and the racers that make up Central Minnesota Ice Racing all the best.

 

 

Good afternoon from Trace Lake in Grey Eagle, Minnesota.

 

 

Randy Lewis – 77 countries – 2,409 tracks.

 

 

 

 

 

Minnesota

 

 

The Gopher state

This afternoon I saw racing at my 86th lifetime track in the Gopher state, yes, the Gopher state.  I’ve seen racing at 86 or more tracks in seven states.  I hold the #1 trackchasing rank in Minnesota. I’ll take that.

 

 

 

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

Minnesota sayings:  Hot dish.

 

 

A delicious food consisting of leftovers, tater tots and cheese. Not to be confused with casserole.

 

 

 

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 – 2,409

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

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

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 77

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 4.14

 

 

 

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.

 

 

What’s it like in those small little Minnesota towns in the middle of winter?  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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