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Why Trackchasing

057-Randy-in-Reno-in-jacket-largeWhy do I enjoy trackchasing?
I enjoy trackchasing for many different reasons.  Depending upon the day you talk to me one reason might rank higher than another.  Overall, every one of the items I’ve listed below contributes to my enjoyment of the hobby.  That’s right, every one of them.

 

 

 

 

Don’t you ever get tired of the travel? 

I am frequently asked why I like trackchasing.  Folks say, “Don’t you ever get tired of all that travel?”  In the past I’ve had a difficult time answering that question so that “civilians” might understand my passion.  I recently came across an article in USA Today (2/21/15) regarding the author’s love of travel.  So many of her observations were the ones I had been trying to articulate for years.  Therefore, I’ve modified Megan Snedden’s story to fit my thinking on the subject.  I used her sub-titles and added my own thoughts on the subject.  Thanks Megan for writing such a great piece.

 

 

Here’s why I like the travel and the trackchasing.  I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way I do about this subject.  However, after reading this I’m going to guess you will better understand how I feel about what I do some 40 or more weeks a year.

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World map 

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You become the most interesting person in the room

I love meeting and interacting with people.  I spent the majority of my business career in sales.  I do a lot of travel.  I will routinely travel to 30-35 different states each year.  I’ve been to more than 80 countries and seen racing in seventy.  When I sit down next to someone on an airplane or meet them in a restaurant, at a cocktail party or anywhere else I almost always have something in common.  When they tell me they’re a Red Sox fan I can share the fact that we’ve both been to Fenway Park.  When they tell me they’re from Wausau, Wisconsin I’m pretty sure we’ve both heard of Dick Trickle.  People generally have a suspicion about “foreign” people they meet.  One person can be from Northern California and still be suspicious of someone they meet from Southern California.  However, when folks have experiences IN COMMON that suspicion fades quickly.  I’ve seen just about every major tourist attraction in the U.S.  I’ve probably traveled within 25 miles of 99% of the homes of everyone living in the United States.  I know where your Dairy Queen is.  I know where you live!

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It gives fresh perspective and new ideas

During my business career we lived in Illinois, Ohio, Arizona, Connecticut, back to Illinois and then in four different Orange County (CA) suburbs.  By living in so many locations we learned to think like the locals.  Trust me people in Connecticut do not think like people in Southern California.  It’s the same thing with my trackchasing travel.  Once you’ve hung out in a Wisconsin bar overlooking an ice track you understand better what “throwing dice” means.  Once you’ve been to Texas more than ten times in a given year you have a better understanding of cowboys boots and pickup trucks and where to find the best burger (Whataburger!).  What’s the moral to this story?  It’s pays to get out of the house.

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Spending the day with Bosnia friends at 'Hangar 7' in Austria

Spending the day with Bosnia friends at ‘Hangar 7’ in Austria

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It’s a source of meaningful connection

During my business career I earned more than six million frequent flyer miles on American Airlines.  I’ve been retired for nearly 13 years now.  I have routinely traveled 200-250,000 thousand miles every year since I have retired.  I would love to know how many people I have talked too in that time.  I’ve made friends all over the country and the world.  I routinely get emails from folks I’ve met in Malta, Columbia, United Kingdom, South Korea, Bosnia and the like.  Although I might have met those people just briefly every time we connect it brings back the memories of our past and makes me think about the folks I will meet in the future.

It gives you something to look forward to

My wife Carol often says that “he looks forward to making the trip as much as he has fun on the trip”.  Carol is right about most things and she’s REALLY right about this observation.  As long as I have a trip to look forward too I am happy.  In business I traveled about 100 nights every year for 30 years.  For a bit more than a year I worked in the “corporate office”.  What did I think about then?  Getting out of the corporate office and on my way to see a customer thousands of miles away!  Since retirement I’ve averaged 160 overnights each and every year.  My travel in retirement is totally voluntary.  No one is scheduling a meeting I must attend.  When I schedule the meetings I look forward to them much more.  I can cost out a 3-10 day trip in 30 seconds.  I can spend all morning putting together a trip that I might look forward to for weeks or months even if the trip takes much less time than that.  Yes, travel and trackchasing gives me something to look forward too.

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Dinner with my driver ad his family in their Sri Lanka home

Dinner with my driver and his family in their Sri Lanka home

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Opportunity arises to learn something new

I enjoy learning by seeing and doing.  Have you ever stayed in a “capsule” hotel in Japan?  How about walking the medina in Morocco?  How about just visiting Disneyland in Paris?  What do you do when you land in Manila at past midnight?  Suggestion:  Grab a 60 square foot “transit” hotel room just before clearing customs.  Want to go “dune bashing”?  Do it in Dubai.  How about getting the chance to meet the Prince of Denmark?  I’ve done it.  I’ve been invited into the homes of friends in Scotland, Belgium and Sri Lanka to name a few.  I’ve dined with Bosnians, El Salvadorians, Guatemalans and many other nationalities at the restaurants they picked.  I’ve ridden for 12 hours in a car with Bulgarian friends whom I had met just five minutes before jumping in the car!  Yes.  I’ve had the opportunity to learn the ways of others who are a long way, in many ways, from my home.  

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south korean friends

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It’s proof you can deal with uncertainty

Uncertainty is the NORM in my travel.  During the past eight years Carol and I have traveled on nearly 1,300 flights on a standby basis.  Would you be willing to plan an international trip if you didn’t know for sure you would even get on the plane.  I was still getting information from people “on the ground” three hours before I decided to head over to South Korea for the first time.  Based on a few lines of an email from a trackchasng contact I hopped on a plane to Seoul, South Korea.  When I landed I immediately grabbed a bus for a five-hour ride to a more rural part of South Korea.  When I arrived late at night I had to ask a local teenager to phone my contact.  If they don’t answer the phone I don’t even know where I’m staying.  They answered the phone and I created friendships with several people living in such a faraway place.  If you read any of my Trackchaser Reports the overriding theme will be the “uncertainty” of just getting there.  Not only can I deal with uncertainty I thrive on it.  It’s one of the main things that keeps me young at heart.

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carol cruise mexico 2010

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It makes you appreciate family

During my 30-year business career I normally traveled overnight a couple of nights each week.  I was rarely gone on weekends or for more than 3-4 days at a time.  There were some great benefits to this type of travel.  I think it allowed my wife to become more independent.  When I was gone she made all the decisions.  She didn’t have to lean on me.  Truth be told she STILL makes all the decisions.  When I returned from a trip we were genuinely happy to see each other.  I’ve got to believe that was better for us than having each of us return from a 9-5 job everyday and the routine that goes with that lifestyle.  I think spending some time away from friends and family makes the times you do see them even more worthwhile.

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View from our home in San Clemente, California USA

View from our home in San Clemente, California USA

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It teaches you gratitude

I am an American.  I root for the home team.  I think America is the very best place to live.  I’ve been all over the world.  I’ve been all over the United States.  When I return home from these adventures I have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the safety and comfort than we have here.  Every night when I go to bed I thank God for what I have.  

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Randy Ely Nevada

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Being in transit means more “me” time

I guess I was a “latch-key” kid.  When I came home from grade school my mother was at work.  I often came home to my grandmother.  I never had a problem entertaining myself.  I could go out in the driveway of our lower middle-class home and shoot baskets for hours.  I once asked a friend who has taken multiple motorcycle rides from Illinois to Alaska if he ever got lonely.  “No”, he said, “I enjoy spending time by myself”.  Although I can have a great time at a party I can have just as much fun and sometimes more just spending time with me.  Carol will travel with me more than 100,000 miles every year.  If you can get your spouse to make that kind of travel commitment, congratulations, you’re doing very well.  That also means I travel by myself well over 100,000 miles a year.  When I’m on an airplane or driving one of the fifty rental cars I use each year I never get lonely.  I’m miss seeing family but I never get lonely.  I enjoy having the proper amount of “me” time.

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Appearing on Malta TV "Sports Center" type program for one hour

Appearing on Malta TV “Sports Center” type program for one hour

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Exposure to happy people is influential

I noticed one very special thing when I’ve traveled the world.  People go out of their way to help me.  They’ll give advice, directions and whatever else I might ask for.  Their behavior makes me want to help others when I can even more.  I don’t know if it’s because I am an American or just another traveler.  People just want to help other people regardless of how their respective governments might feel about each other.  Often times when I travel I’ll be interviewed by local TV and radio stations as well as newspapers.  The folks in the media are so upbeat and happy to tell the story of a traveling trackchaser.

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Trackchasing in Morocco

Trackchasing in Morocco

Why I enjoy trackchasing written in 2006.

 

I enjoy trackchasing …………….

  • Because it lets me visit places all over the United States and the world.  As an example, I love it when I can visit a peanut factory in Virginia or the world headquarters of SPAM in Minnesota.  However if I wasn’t already in the area for trackchasing I would never take the time to see these places.
  • When I come over the hill or around the bend and see the racetrack in the distance.  It’s as fun to walk through the track’s front gate today at age 57 as it was for me to walk through the gate of the Peoria Speedway at age five.
  • And the planning that it takes to pull off a successful trip.  During January-March I can happily sit at my computer for hours (O.K., really days) checking out track and race sanction websites looking for those allusive race dates that will make up a trackchasing trip in the coming year.
  • Because I have a wife that’s just as happy to see me having fun in trackchasing whether she’s going along on the trip or not.  I can’t underestimate this point enough.  Having a supportive wife is like oxygen, without it you don’t live for long.
  • When I need to leave the house at 4 a.m., head to the airport, fly all day, drive 300 miles to the first track, then sit on a board in cold weather for two hours.  If everybody could or would do this, I wouldn’t get the level of self-satisfaction that I do.
  • When I can sponsor a contest or help someone out on a trip that they would not have been able to make without a little support from me.
  • When another trackchaser shares his/her information without an expectation of personal gain.
  • When I can develop a trackchasing strategy that no one else could have come up with.  It’s like creating your own piece of art.  Again, I will sit for hours sifting through thousands of pieces of information before I come up with my final “Tentative” plan.  I never really finish the planning and strategic development of each trip.  I just stop strategizing when it’s time to leave for the airport.
  • When it gives me the chance to meet up with friends and family during my trackchasing travels.  During any given year I will get the chance to have dinner, play golf or just socialize with friends and relatives that I would hardly ever see if I wasn’t out on the road like I am.  I don’t know anyone who gets the chance to do this more often that I do.
  • When I can see the cars race.  That’s not the same as saying I enjoy the racing offered in my hobby of trackchasing.  If I wanted to see great racing I would go to Peoria Speedway every Saturday night or go to the World 100 at Eldora or see the midgets at Ventura or go to more than 100 different places that offer entertaining racing.  I am definitely not in trackchasing for the quality of racing I see, but I enjoy seeing the cars race.
  • When I get to meet up with other trackchasers at the track.  It’s fun hearing from people who enjoy this hobby as much as I do.
  • And the sense of achievement I get when I reach a trackchasing milestone and/or climb in the trackchaser world rankings or even the Nebraska state rankings for that matter.
  • When I write my Trackchaser Reports and send them to my friends, relatives and racing contacts I’ve met along the way.  It’s a great way to keep in touch with more than 1,000 people on a frequent basis.  Hardly a day goes by that I don’t get a phone call or email from someone on the list mentioning something about my hobby.
  • Because it gives me something fun to do in retirement.
  • When I get a chance to re-visit any one of the great restaurants I’ve discovered during my 35 years of traveling the United States for business and pleasure.
  • When others achieve trackchasing milestones.  I could not have been happier to see the smile on Carol’s face when she received so many congratulations for seeing her 200th track and becoming a list trackchaser.
  • Because it’s like running my own race team.  I get all of my tools together at the start of a race season, i.e. laptop, cell phone, race scanner, XM radio, digital camera, video camera, power sources and on and on, just like a NASCAR crew chief who has planned for nearly every contingency.  With all of this preparation I’m prepared to go into trackchasing battle.
  • And creating my own trackchasing website at www.ranlayracing.com.  This gives me the chance to share my experiences with others in words and pictures.  Many of my website visitors, I don’t even know personally.  I’ll get satisfaction from checking the amount of “hits” the site gets even though I don’t want to actively promote it beyond my trackchaser email group.
  • When I get to meet track announcers and promoters.  They seem so genuinely enthused about my coming to their track.  They’ve poured their heart and souls into their business and they’re proud to show it off to someone who has traveled thousands of miles to see their “little baby.”

Of course, there are some things I don’t like about trackchasing but they pale in comparison to all of the things I really do like.  Here are some that come to mind:

  • I don’t like rainouts
  • I don’t like having to sit in a middle seat on a non-favored airline.
  • I don’t like trackchasers who are jealous of other’s achievements.
  • I don’t like racetrack promotions that don’t provide an evening of entertainment.
  • I don’t like rental cars that don’t have active power sources.
  • I don’t like overhanging trees that interfere with my XM radio’s reception.
  • I don’t like cold weather (below 60 degrees) or hot weather (above 80 degrees).
  • Did I say I don’t like race promotions that can’t entertain their customers?

This is why I like trackchasing.

Barring accident, illness or injury, I plan to keep on trackchasing just as much as I always have.

 

Randy Lewis
The World’s #1 Trackchaser

 

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