Happy New Year to my trackchasing friends!
Every year since 2001 I’ve been publishing my “Trackchasing Annual Report”. This gives me a chance to thank all of the people who helped me out during the year. There were lots of folks who provided support.
You’ll read about the great places I visited and the very best hole in the wall restaurants where I stopped to eat. I’ll also tell you how I did against my goals for the past year and what my trackchasing goals will be for the coming year. You’ll read about what I thought the “bests and the worsts” were from all of my travels to the tracks and beyond. Finally, you’ll be able to see the most direct comments from anyone in trackchasing about the state of racing, the trackchasing hobby and lots of other things. I hope you enjoy what you read. You can visit my website at www.randylewis.org (click the “Annual Reports” tab) to check out any of my previous annual reports. I’m busy working on an exciting schedule of trackchasing visits for 2012. I’m happy to have you along for the ride!
2011 TRACKCHASING ANNUAL REPORT
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the one main person I have to thank when I think about being able to trackchase whenever I want too. That would be wife, Carol. She is comfortable going on a trackchasing trip and comfortable if I go on a trackchasing trip on my own. That’s the best kind of life partner to have. We’re coming up on 40 years of marital bliss (that’s not bad out of 43 years…..just kidding!). I’m lucky to have a long-term exclusive contract with her.
I also want to thank our son, J.J. for deciding to change careers and become an airline pilot. Just when it looked to my fellow competitors like I might be slowing down, he dumped the ability to fly just about anywhere, anytime and for not very much money on me. That was quite a trackchasing gift.
I want to thank each and every one of you who gives me vital info about race dates, travel destinations and other sundry and various heads ups. All of your efforts are most appreciated. It seems that I always get several short emails after each Trackchaser Report offering encouragement and congratulations. It might not seem like much to you, but it does to me.
I thank each and every one of you for reading along with me as I visited racetracks, and lots of other interesting places, all over the world. I would also like to thank the track announcers, race promoters as well as newspaper and radio journalists that made my season so enjoyable in 2011.
Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t thank my trackchasing fellow competitors. Without them (and the rankings) I suspect I never would have approached this hobby with such gusto.
As you can probably tell, the hobby for me is more about “The Amazing Race” than the racing itself. A newspaper reporter asked me, “It’s about the chase more than the race isn’t it?” She was right. I enjoy the challenge of getting from point A to point B as well as meeting the people along the way. I don’t travel to find things, I travel to get lost. My deal is really about the chase and not so much the race.
At my age, it’s hard to go through life without losing some people who you were close too and admire. My 2011 Trackchasing Annual Report is dedicated to those people. I was sad to hear of the passing of fellow trackchaser and friend John Osowski. Shortly thereafter we lost my college fraternity pledge father, Dick Goff. Dick frequently commented on the craziness of my trackchasing.
I lost another good golfing buddy this year, Gabe Gordon. Gabe was a fun guy and was the first at the club to welcome me into the weekend golf groups. He had a tough time health-wise in his final years and I know he is in a better place today.
Rest in peace fellas, you will be missed.
MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR
- 1. I ended up traveling 221,608 miles to see the 113 tracks I visited in 2011. During the past five years I’ve traveled 1,184,284 miles to trackchase. How many miles is that? Let’s look at it this way. By way of comparison, it’s about 238,000 miles from the earth to the moon. If I traveled on a jet at 500 M.P.H. it would take more than 98 days of non-stop flying to cover the distance I traveled during the past five years! Here’s another way to look at it. I AVERAGE more than 27 M.P.H. moving my body somewhere for EVERY hour of the day of every month of every year for the past five years!
- I now have more than a year of YouTube films productions. Through late December my videos (normally 5-10 minutes in length) had more than 78,000 views.
- This was my 12th straight year of finishing in the top three in the annual trackchasing standings. This has to stop!
- Carol and I went over the 1.25 million mile mark with our airline flying partners. This has all occurred since we gained our sponsorship in September, 2006.
- My trackchasing travel took me to 11 different countries for trackchasing. These included:
When we go trackchasing internationally, it’s more like taking a vacation with an afternoon of racing thrown in. I estimate that the mainly one track per weekend of international trackchasing cost me 20-40 tracks that would have been seen had I stayed “local” in the United States. Trust me; traveling to all of these foreign countries to trackchase was well worth it.
- I didn’t short change the U.S. I took in racing in 27 different states.
- At the Aylmer Fairgrounds in Aylmer, Ontario, Canada I saw my 1,700th lifetime track.
- My lifetime trackchasing total now stands at 1,725 tracks. That amount is not very much different that 2,700 or 1,100 or whatever. Very few people can get their arms around a trackchasing number this large. Carol and I joke that her 460 lifetime tracks sounds more realistic than my total. Fortunately, I don’t get the question “did you see all of your tracks this year” that often anymore.
- I completed my first full year with my trackchasing souvenir clothing line. Sales exceeded expectations. Check out “The Store” tab at www.randylewisracing.com for more details.
- I had just one day of weather-related cancellations. That’s a new world record for avoiding bad weather for me. I trackchased successfully 87 days during 2011.
GOALS, GOALS, GOALS
For the most part, I’ve been very successful in meeting the goals I set at the beginning of each year. I am getting much better at “staying home”. My “Trackchasing Annual Report” is published in January of each year. It’s very difficult to predict what will happen during the next 12 months of trackchasing. In 2011, I met or exceeded most of my goals. However, I missed some too.
At the end of the 2004 season, I wrote, “I still have 1,054 tracks in the United States and Canada that I have not seen. I should be able to experience that new track thrill for a long time into the future. That being said, if I keep up with my 2004 pace I would see all of the remaining 1,054 tracks in just about eight years. Then what would I do? I guess I better slow down a bit, so I can still be seeing new tracks when I’m 80 years old!”
In 2005 I saw 182 tracks, in 2006 147 tracks, in 2007 160 tracks, in 2008 102 tracks, in 2009 117 tracks and in 2010 I saw 95 more tracks. With the 113 new tracks I saw in 2011 my combined total since 2004 is 896 tracks. You would think after seeing this many tracks in the past six years, my 2004 total of 1,054 tracks still to be seen would be significantly reduced. I am making progress but probably not as fast as I would like. By my count I still have 542 tracks in the U.S. and Canada left to see. The majority of those race just one time per year.
This year I removed many many defunct tracks from my lists. However, my fellow competitors and I have been discovering heretofore unknown U.S./Canada tracks so rapidly that I still have more than 500 tracks to see. However, at the pace I’ve been going even 500 tracks can melt away quickly.
Nevertheless, this season was another very fun and productive year. My international trackchasing makes that statement true. There is definitely a bigger “rush” when heading toward another new country than my “more normal” U.S. visits. This is my twelfth consecutive year of finishing in the top three in the world rankings. No one has ever come close to doing that.
Here’s a summary of how I did against my 2011 trackchasing goals. These goals were published twelve months ago in January, 2011.
2011 Trackchasing Goal Recap
Lifetime trackchaser rankings
Increase my lead by as little as one track over my nearest fellow competitor.
My “nearest fellow competitor” isn’t just one person. It’s TWO people. As of December 31, 2011 Ed Esser led Guy Smith 1,423-1,418.
During all of 2011 I saw 113 tracks. During this same twelve-month time frame Guy saw 82 tracks and Ed added 78 to his overall totals.
Foreign country trackchasing
Add, at a minimum, 3-5 new countries to my trackchasing list. This will bring my lifetime “trackchasing countries” total to more than fifty.
I got off to a slow start but my international trackchasing came along nicely in 2011. I ended up seeing seven new countries this year. They are listed below.
Additionally, I’ve returned to four other countries to see new tracks including:
Annual trackchaser rankings
Finish in the season top 5; I will be satisfied with 50-75 tracks although I may see a few more than that. I will see all I can in the time I have allotted for trackchasing.
I didn’t plan to see more than 100 tracks this year. With the 1,700+ tracks on my career resume I never really thought that would be possible.
Of course, there’s another reason I really didn’t want to see 100 more tracks in a single season. I don’t think it’s easy to be “well-rounded” if one spends that much time with trackchasing. That’s why I set the goal of having a minimum of 18 weekends off from trackchasing for the year. However, I soon discovered that with my airline sponsorships, and a little extra willpower, I could fly almost every day during a trip. The tracks soon started to add up. I found that by averaging more than four tracks for every trip that I could see a lot of tracks and still have plenty of time for my other interests.
When my trackchasing totals are compared to others I achieved the #1 rank for the sixth time in the past eight years. That’s enough. Let’s give someone else a chance at the top.
Lifetime National Geographic Diversity results
Maintain my leadership position.
I was able to maintain the #1 position in the 2011 annual and lifetime NGD category. The lifetime category is one ranking where trackchasers have a difficult time moving up, or down for that matter. I am going to “sunset” the annual NGD category after the 2011 season. Why? There just isn’t enough competition to justify the time it takes to crunch the numbers. I will maintain the lifetime NGD results for at least one more year.
Far Western states lifetime rankings
Maintain leadership position in 12 of the 13 Far Western states (x California).
I saw racing in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico and Washington this year, all Far Western states. The Far West is a LONG way from where most of the worldwide top 25 chasers come from. The tracks in the Far West are few and far between. Their geographical location does not offer much reward for the traveling trackchaser. I was able to meet my goal in 2011.
Play golf an equal amount of days that I trackchase. Maintain golf index below 7.0.
I failed in a major way against this goal. I trackchased on 87 days this year and golfed only thirty. The reason? A bad back! I was on medical leave from my golf club from January 1 to September 30, 2011. However, my back is better now but still not perfect. During the last quarter of the year I hit the links on 23 days.
Golf is an important ingredient to my overall “entertainment diversification” program. I must say I haven’t really missed golf that much during my down time. However, I do recognize that golf is a tremendous social atmosphere that I don’t want to miss. If my back stays healthy I will likely golf on more days than I trackchase this coming year.
Continue to add to my trackchasing technology/information arsenal. Produce a movie of each 2011 trackchasing day.
Over the years I have build up an impressive array of trackchasing technology weapons. Technology allows me to do more, quicker and cheaper. I can’t imagine getting the results I do without my iPhone, my MacBook Pro, Garth (my friendly GPS buddy) and J.J. my technology gifted oldest son. It’s nice to have a “full membership” at the local Apple store as well. My “Apple Care” membership finds me visiting frequently for training.
You will find me in an Apple store getting training about every other week. I have recently upgraded my Apple photo software to Aperture. You’ll see the benefit if you view photos from my Trackchaser Reports via Picasa. I’ve also been using the iPhone app “Stitch” to provide some fantastic panoramic shots of the tracks I visit. There are lots of other more minor programs I’m using just to produce better stuff in less time. The YouTube view of my trackchasing movies have now topped 80,000!
Trackchasing Tourist Attractions
Continue to be the leader in the trackchasing hobby when it comes to Trackchasing Tourist Attractions. Strive to see all kinds of “fun stuff” when I’m away from home trackchasing.
In some ways my “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions” are down this year. Why is that? On some of these trips I fly somewhere EVERY day. It’s hard to get some sleep, return a rental car, fly on an airplane (or two), get a rental car, drive a few hundred miles and go to Yankee Stadium in the same day! However, when I have time I go to as many local places as I can.
I was surprised when I sat down to review my 2011 results that I had been so many places. It’s really a lot of fun to take the time to see the local sights. Our country and the world has so much to offer.
Go to 3-5 major race shows for the year without regard to existing trackchasing opportunities.
This is an important part of my 2011 season. Many of the shows I see in today’s trackchasing world fall far short of what got me interested in “racing” so many years ago. So far I’ve made it to these major shows or tracks that were important for me to re-visit. I’d like to go to more but I don’t feel like spending any more days at a racetrack. There’s too much to do elsewhere.
Tulsa Chili Bowl – Chile Bowl Nationals
Florence Speedway – Florence, Kentucky
Peoria Speedway (my all-time favorite track)
Knoxville Raceway – Lucas Oil Late Models
Orange County Fairgrounds Speedway – D.I.R.T. modifieds
Free time diversification
This is my most revolutionary goal for 2011. I want to average two weekends per month (Weekend = Friday/Saturday/Sunday) away from trackchasing for EVERY month of the year excluding May, June, July and August. That’s eight months of having two weekends without trackchasing. Additionally, during the “summer” months of MY/JN/JL/AG I will take off another two weekends. In order to meet this goal I must have 18 weekends away from trackchasing.
This was a revolutionary goal compared to what other leading trackchasers do in this area. I ended up taking nineteen full weekends away from trackchasing. I am proud that I had the discipline to see this goal through.
Here’s a newsflash. I’m planning to INCREASE the number of weekends I spend away from trackchasing in 2012. It just isn’t fair to keep burying my fellow competitors year after year, is it? They might do better if I take some time off.
I saved the most important goal for last. I plan to see as many new tracks in 2011 as I want too. If I don’t go trackchasing, it won’t be because of some form of restraint on my part. It will be because I found something more fun and interesting to do not because I couldn’t find a place to go trackchasing.
I still find trackchasing fun. However, the quality of many shows I see, relative to “traditional racing”, is poor. For me the “fun” comes in scouting out the opportunities, managing the plan and then implementing the plan.
I also enjoy sharing my efforts with my friends and fans at www.randylewis.org. My website has more than 70,000 photos linked to it. My videos have been viewed more than 80,000 times. I continue to average website hits from more than ten different countries every day. People from more than 140 countries have viewed my YouTube videos. The hobby remains “fun” or me.
Overall, I am pleased with my 2011 trackchasing season. I established several “stretch” goals for the year and achieved many of them. The more “developed” my trackchasing is the more difficult it becomes to continually set more and more stretch goals. Nevertheless, I’ll continue trackchasing at one level or another until it’s time to take that final checkered flag, which I hope is several laps in the distance.
With that said, the staff at RLR – Randy Lewis Racing and I are already busy planning a fantastic 2012 trackchasing season. My U.S. passport is rapidly running out of the 48 fresh pages I added. I will need to add more. With the support from my current airline sponsors and several additional airlines that are expected to come on board early in the year, my trips will continue to be very creative. By the time you read this, I will already have already begun my 2012 season.
2012 Trackchasing Goals
Lifetime trackchaser totals
Stay within 25 tracks of my nearest fellow competitors, Ed Esser and Guy Smith.
Foreign country trackchasing
Add, at a minimum, 4-5 or more new countries to my trackchasing list. This will bring my lifetime “trackchasing countries” total to sixty or more.
Lifetime National Geographic Diversity results
Maintain my leadership position in the lifetime category.
Far Western states lifetime rankings
Maintain leadership position in 12 of the 13 Far Western states (x California).
Play golf an equal amount of days that I trackchase. Get golf index below 8.0. My current golf index is 9.4. I also want to play golf on as many or more days that I trackchase.
Trackchasing Tourist Attractions
Continue to be the leader in the trackchasing hobby when it comes to Trackchasing Tourist Attractions. Strive to see all kinds of “fun stuff” when I’m away from home trackchasing.
Go to 3-5 major race shows for the year without regard to existing trackchasing opportunities. Go to at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup show.
Free time diversification
This is my most revolutionary goal for 2012. Pursuing any one hobby to the exclusion of others is a bad idea in my opinion. I plan to take off a minimum of 22 weekends (a complete weekend is Friday, Saturday and Sunday) from trackchasing in 2012.
I saved the most important goal for last. I plan to see as many new tracks in 2012 as I want too. If I don’t go trackchasing, it won’t be because of bad weather, a lack of tracks to see or any other form of restraint on my part. It will be because I found something more fun and interesting to do not because I couldn’t find a place to go trackchasing.
TRAVEL AND BUDGETING
This season I made it to 113 new tracks. To get those tracks I traveled 221,608 miles in rental cars, trains, ships, taxis, shuttle buses, jeepneys, airplanes and ferryboats. During the past eight years, my travels have covered right around 1.7 million miles!
I have done my best to manage expenses. If anyone is going to trackchase to the extent I do, then they had better had their financial ducks in a row.
Here is how the 2011 season travel miles broken out in each transportation category
Airline – 195,607 (233,941 – my all-time best)
Rental car – 25,174 (not even close to my record)
My car – 637 (no wonder the Carol Lewis owned and Life of Virginia sponsored Lexus LS 430 seems to last so long)
Friend’s cars – 190
Ferryboat, Buses, Trains and such – a few more…
There are some good things that came about with all of this travel. First, I didn’t use my car much, so it’s not worn out from trackchasing. Secondly, with my airline sponsors coming on board, my airline expense wasn’t as high as it could have been. Finally, it has been my practice to not include mileage from my house to my home airports. I probably should include it, but I didn’t from the beginning and wanted to keep my records comparable from year to year. With 30 airline round-trips this year, that would probably add another 3-4,000 total miles.
I did drive more than 25,000 miles in a rental car. That’s more than twice the distance I drive in my personal car each year. I’m happy to report that I have not had a speeding ticket since 2003. It’s probably not important to talk about violations for driving the wrong way on a one-way street!
Of course, with that amount of travel, you might think it would wreak havoc with my trackchasing budget. Actually, it’s really not that bad. I figure I earned the money, then I saved some of it and now I spending most of it! Here’s how I did against the budget I established for trackchasing at the beginning of the year.
Airfare – 83%
Rental cars – 95%
Gasoline – 127%
Airport parking – 76%
Hotels – 105%
Food – 103%
Race tickets – 93%
Total – 101%
My airline sponsors provided numerous flights for me and for Carol. We were even able to fly first or business class about a third of the time. This year I flew on several other airlines including Southwest, Korean Air, Asiana Air, Lufthansa, Alaska Airlines, Lot Polish and Air Nippon as associate sponsors. SkyWest, United and Delta Airlines continue to support RLR – Randy Lewis Racing on a primary sponsorship basis.
I was also able to dramatically upgrade my hotel accommodations during the season using Priceline.com. With “anywhere/anytime” flying came “name your own price” hoteling. I am now staying in some very fine hotels. Just a few years ago, I stayed in the lowliest rat holes, you would be likely to find. There was no way “Jill would approve” of those places. Now, I’ve got Sleep Number beds, room service and the works.
I still find it amazing that I AVERAGE $38 a day for gasoline for every day that I trackchase. This year my two biggest travel expenses were hotels and rental cars. My trackchasing fellow competitors spend very little in these areas.
I finished 2011 at 101% of my overall budget plan. I’m happy with that result. I continued to do a good deal of international trackchasing (just like in 2008, 2009 and 2010). I spent 41% less in 2011 than I did in 2006, which was my most expensive trackchasing year.
I go about budgeting my trackchasing expenses just like I do my household expenses. If you don’t have a budget, you don’t know where you’re going and you won’t know whether to celebrate or cry once you reach the finish line.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE YEAR
This was a fantastic trackchasing season on many fronts. I saw more than 100 new tracks for the seventh year. I traveled to 27 states and 11 countries (seven of them for the first time to see racing). I met and exceeded my goal of “entertainment diversification”. I saw many old friends as well as lots of family coming or going from the racetracks I visited.
However, the #1 highlight of the year was my induction into the Peoria Oldtimers Racing Club Hall of Fame. Most of you know that I grew up in East Peoria, Illinois. My home track was the Peoria Speedway. My boyhood racing heroes all raced at this track.
Most of those racing heroes are enshrined in the P.O.R.C. HoF. Now I am too. Many thanks go to Hall of Fame creator Scott Shults. He’s the one who has taken the time to organize and recognize all the people who have made the Peoria Speedway such a fantastic little dirt track.
NEW FOREIGN COUNTRY VISITS
Norwegian Frank Markussen was my main contact for my adventure in Norway. He hung in with me all the way. Despite his living more than 1,000 miles from where I would end up trackchasing in Norway, he did lots of “leg work” on my behalf. He found race dates, made track contacts and even sent me the longitude/latitude coordinates for the track I would be visiting. I am indebted to Frank Markussen.
I was in Norway for four nights. I came to Norway directly from our Easter trackchasing trip in the U.K. I actually stayed in London for two nights extra after Carol left for home to avoid the expense of Norway. London is about as expensive as New York City. Can you imagine staying in London to SAVE money?
Our rental car expense from London averaged about thirty dollars per day. That’s about what I pay in the U.S. However, a car in Norway, even the smallest available, costs around $125 U.S. per day. Are you kidding me? I consider myself the “king of renting cars” (everyone should be the king of something right?). There was no way I could find a car for much less than $125 per day. I knew in advance that Norway was going to be expensive. Commercial airline pilot and son J.J., travels the world as much or more than I do. He told me that Norway was the most expensive country he had ever visited. Now I was about ready to experience that reality. I stopped at a restaurant in downtown Oslo. To say their menu was pricy would be an understatement. A large cheeseburger with a small salad and fries went for $40 U.S. I settled on a large draft beer (Ringnes – Norway’s most popular beer) and an Italian (not American) pizza. Any guesses on the price? Forty-Four bucks U.S.! Let’s be honest here. I have some financial means or I wouldn’t be able to make all these trips. However, I am not “The Bill Gates of trackchasing” as some members of the “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers” would have you believe. I grew up without much money. Despite whatever I have today, I don’t want to waste it on things that are not a “good value for money”. That makes some sense doesn’t it?
For touring I selected the “Oslo Grand Highlights Tour”. Is was fantastic for seeing the sights in and around Oslo. The next day was “race day”. The racecourse was a “mixed” surface one. Most of the track had an asphalt surface. Less than half of the track was covered in gravel. I would be seeing Bilcross racing. This is similar to the rallycross and autocross races I have seen. They start very few cars (4-5) and have short races (today, three laps each). There were several flips on the track. When that happened they didn’t stop the race. The remaining drivers just steered around the cars that were sitting on their tops. That kept the program moving.
From there it was on to the airport to return my rental car. That process went smoothly. Although I had done research at www.sleepinginairports.com I asked the rental car agent where the best place to sleep in the airport was. He misunderstood my question. He began to tell me which hotels were located nearby. No, I told him I wanted to know where was best to sleep in the airport. He still didn’t get my point and told me about the two hotels right outside the terminal. Finally, I smiled and said, “No, I’m talking about IN the airport”. Now he understood. He threw up his hands, smiled and said, “I’m not sure!”
Getting to Malaysia and back would take me through these cities, Orange County to Salt Lake City to Chicago to Cincinnati to San Francisco to Seoul to Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta to Tokyo to Los Angeles. Folks, if you fly to all of these cities, your “flight odometer” will read 22,511 miles. That’s about 44 hours of flight time. Can you imagine the frequent flyer miles I could be earning. However, under my “sponsorship” program I don’t earn any frequent flyer miles.
I would need some local currency in Malaysia. The Malaysian ringgit (Ringgit) has an exchange rate of 3.02 ringgit to the dollar. Fortunately, a simple division by three gives me the cost in U.S. dollars.
It’s race day! I was awakened this morning with a reminder that I wasn’t back home. At 5 a.m., while it was still pitch black outside, the sound of Islamic prayer chants wafted through the air. They were being broadcast over a P.A. system that was stronger than those used by most U.S. short tracks. I loved it. This is what I travel for….the experience.
Today’s event at the Sepang International Circuit was sanctioned by the Asian Festival of Speed (AFOS). Ms. Pipa Arbee of Motorsport Asia immediately contacted me. She was excited that I had shown an interest in AFOS racing at the Sepang International Circuit. Without my asking, Pipa offered me full media accreditation.
The Sepang International Circuit (Sepang) opened in 1999. The track is about 60 kilometers south of the city of Kuala Lumpur. It is the venue used for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix. The main circuit is 5.54 kilometers long. I’ve seen some very nice media centers. The Sepang media center is one of the best. They must have easily more than 100 flat screen TVs where the media can watch the racing. Another good thing about the media center is that it was air-conditioned. That felt awfully good after being outdoors in the heavy heat and humidity. There was one surprising feature to me. There was virtually no one in the massive grandstands. The place seats up to 100,000 people.
Getting money in Indonesia would be a different story. They use the Indonesian rupiah (Rupiah). There are approximately 8,517 rupiah to the dollar. Quick….what is the U.S. price for something that retails for 229,500 rupiah? It’s not so easy to figure is it! That item would sell for about $27 U.S. Converting rupiah into dollars was not going to be a simple math process.
I was about to encounter the luckiest situation of my entire international trackchasing for the year. My Bluebird taxi pulled up to the hotel perfectly on time to take me to the Sentul International Circuit. Ruswadi was driving it. That’s it….just Ruswadi. He had only one name. By the end of the trip I would thank my lucky stars I met him. I was so lucky that I got Ruswadi as my taxi driver. He spoke English well. On the way out to the track Ruswadi and I talked non-stop. He was very open. I could ask him any number of questions, and did. He, upon my prompting to ask me questions as well. Don’t miss my Indonesian videos.
I have now trackchased in 52 different countries. I’ve traveled in another ten or so. Whenever I could I have tried to “push the envelope” when it came time to explore different cultures. Sometimes that meant taking chances. Sometimes it was a bit on the dangerous side. All that being said, I don’t think I have ever had a day of foreign country touring that surpasses what I experienced today in the adventure, uniqueness and just plain fun department.
First of all, I had a devil of a time confirming when the Sentul International Circuit held races. They don’t have a website. They are on Facebook and I am not. The emails I sent often went unreturned. The weather was oppressive. I can’t recall sweating as much as I did since a race many years ago at Talladega. This was one of the best facilities for getting close-up video of the racing action. The track itself is 3.96 kilometers long (about 2.46 miles).
Later in the afternoon I was in for a special surprise. I would get a personal tour of the Sentul Racing Museum. The museum was fun. It had about 30-40 cars under roof. Most of them were American made Chevies and Dodges. It was pretty strange to see a ’57 Chevy with the steering wheel on the RIGHT side! The Dodges and Imperials truly were “boats” back in the day.
Luxembourg doesn’t have a lot of racing. However, they do have some rural and traditional stock car racing. At today’s track there were probably 80 cars on hand all heavily reinforced, “European big iron”. We noticed the cars were decked out in “team colors”. Each team had 4-8 cars all painted in the same solid color. Later we would find out that in the races each team helped out their teammates.
The race was run over a ¾-mile dirt road course. Each time a car flipped or a driver ran off course the race officials threw the red flag. We feasted on hamburgers, fries and beer for lunch. To get them I first had to buy food tickets (usually a security feature).
There were lots of pluses with the racing program. First, we had the run of the place. I took photos from every conceivable angle. There wasn’t much delay between races. We had good views of all the action. The refreshments were good and somewhat, for Europe, reasonably priced. About the only downside was the announcer speaking in a foreign tongue.
I have developed (just this week) a proprietary method to flush out the frequency and location of racing at foreign racetracks. It’s an ingenious method. I’m surprised I haven’t figured this out sooner. I think it’s going to make seeing racing in even more countries easier.
Belgium would be Carol’s 26th trackchasing country. I had trackchased here previously. We would headquarter ourselves in Bastogne, Belgium. This was a quaint little town with lots of restaurants and military statues and memorials. The signs told us they’ve love Americans.
We were lucky to see racing in Belgium today. We tried for a Belgium autocross venue. However, today was Saturday. Our planned for track was only having practice and Saturday with racing to be conducted on Sunday.
Off we went in search of another autocross track where I feared the result would be the same. However, during the midst of our drive we came upon a road sign for the famous Formula 1 track in Belgium known as “Spa”. We decided to stop and take a look. Maybe they were having some racing this weekend. They were! We stay at the track for several hours waiting to see a German Porsche group race. The racing wasn’t much. We could see very little. However, we did get to explore every “nook and cranny” of this historic and famous venue.
After seeing racing in France, Luxembourg and Belgium we flew to Warsaw, Poland. There were several highlights in Poland. Our hotel was within walking distance of the airport. This was also our best hotel experience of the entire trip by far. We dined in a former international embassy and our all black SIXT Ford rental car allowed us to explore Warsaw.
The racing activity was provided by the European Rallycross group. I don’t know that I’m a big fan of this type of racing. They only start 4-5 cars and race for just four laps. Normally, the car that leads after 100 yards (meters?) wins. There is little passing and almost no wheel to wheel racing.
However, a real highlight is the “Joker” lap. A drive must take a separate turn from the normal track’s layout for one of his/her four laps. This is the “Joker” lap. It takes longer to complete the Joker lap because the turn is a greater distance than staying on the normal course. This adds some drama to the racing outcome.
Carol and I were lounging on the beach in Maui, Hawaii. We go to the islands twice each year just to relax from the rigors of trackchasing travel. One afternoon I stared over my Pina Colada at Carol basking in the sun. “Why don’t we leave tomorrow morning for Singapore?”, I asked. “We would get home on the same day as if we had stayed in Hawaii for the full time,” I told her. After a brief discussion we were off to Singapore!
After transiting through Seoul, South Korea we were soon in Singapore. It wasn’t nearly that easy but to save some space I will make it sound like it was. Soon we were pulling into our hotel at 2 a.m. in the middle of Singapore’s red light district.
The weather was as hot and humid as it could get. We rode the air-conditioned subway everywhere. We ate in great restaurants, saw the sights and then went to the Formula 1 race along Marina Bay in Singapore.
The Singapore skyline was as beautiful as any I have ever seen. The race was poor…real poor. You can’t see a thing at one of the F1 races. The weather sucked, the race sucked….but Singapore itself was fantastic. I would love to go back to see more of the city, when the weather is better if it ever is. By the way, the Singapore people were the best.
Uruguay would be a great place to finish off my international trackchasing for the year. I had a heck of a time confirming the race date though. Luckily, I came into contact with Ms. Belkis Mendez from the Hotel Genoves in Piriapolis, Uruguay. She gave me the details I needed to know.
Before arriving in Uruguay I had a one-night stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There I had time to tour the city, have the biggest filet mignon steak I’ve ever seen and then spend a couple of hours at “Tango night”. It was all as good as it sounds.
Piriapolis, Uruguay sits at the western edge of the Atlantic Ocean. My hotel and the racetrack were both within 50 yards of the beach. The sunsets were glorious, the food was fresh and exotic and the people were nice, although no one spoke any English.
There was a minor dispute regarding which way one should drive on a one-way street. You can imagine who won that discussion. I had plenty of time to sightsee and drive around the area. It’s a “poor man’s” Laguna Beach.
The racing was fun. There was the chance to walk all around the race course getting different views of the action. I am a frequent visitor to South America. Everywhere I’ve been the people have been fantastic. Uruguay was no exception.
BEST/WORST of 2011
Most overpriced racing show
Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center – $25
Most generous ticket policy
Donington Park – We arrived late in the day and the ticket seller and security guard ‘looked the other way’ allowing us to enter with their approval
Best dirt track hospitality
Outlook Stock Car Track, Outlook, Saskatchewan, Canada
Trackchaser ice racing first
First trackchaser to see ice racing in Vermont – Puffer’s Pond
Most scenic drive of the year
From Anchorage down to Soldotna on Alaska highway 1
The 202-mile drive from Grand Junction down to Cortez, Colorado
Best racing at track re-visits
Peoria Speedway, Peoria, Illinois
Chili Bowl, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Florence Speedway, Florence, Kentucky
Salem Speedway, Salem, Indiana
Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, Iowa
Most crowded grandstands
Almost all county fair shows
Questionable novelty ‘racing’
There were many but the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point, Indiana stands out
Best trackchasing recognition
Grand prizewinner! Induction into the Peoria Oldtimers Racing Club Hall of Fame
Second grand prizewinner! Front-page newspaper coverage – The Phoenix Star, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Front-page newspaper coverage – Teton Valley News, Driggs, Idaho
Coverage from my hometown newspaper – Peoria Journal Star
Lake Sinissippi – Lake Sinissippi racing t-shirt with my name on the front
Sentul International Circuit – Jakarta – White dress shirt with Sentul insignia
Poughkeepsie Speedway – track racing t-shirt
Outlook Stock Car track – track racing t-shirt
Best advance publicity of my trackchasing arrival
Lake Sinissippi track website –“Join us this Sunday, January 16, to welcome Randy Lewis, the World’s #1 Trackchaser. Randy’s visited over 1,600 tracks in 49 countries. So let’s show him the fastest rubber on ice.”
Lake Magnor message board – I was pleasantly surprised to see a welcoming message in bold letters on the site announcing my upcoming track visit.
Best state saying
Wisconsin saying: If you’re not supposed to eat animals, how come they’re made out of meat?
Best track visit recognition
Lake Magnor Ice Track – Just as the driver’s meeting was breaking up President Peper surprised me with two beautiful and special custom mementos of today’s visit. The first was a checkered flag trophy engraved to read,
Lake Magnor Ice Racing
In addition to that David gave me a beautiful white on red racing shirt that read,
Lake Magnor Ice Racing (in circular letters)
Track #1,619 (letters displayed inside the circle)
Best on the track racing action with me in the car!
Lake Magnor Ice Track – Ride along with “Pete” in car #69
Chetek Lake Ice Track – Jim Demers #46 race truck
Bass Lake Ice Track – Cesca Vogel #6 Vikings special
Most unusual track packing equipment
The ambulance! At the Lone Star Expo Center in Conroe, Texas
Most overhyped European racing (beside F1)
First trackchaser to ever see an ice race in Alaska – Big Lake Ice Track, Big Lake, Alaska
Best concession stand choices
Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agricultural Center – nearly 15 different hot sandwiches ranging from the traditional hamburger/cheeseburger/hot dog/corn dog quartet to sandwiches of BBQ, pork chops, chicken (both grilled and fried) and bologna sandwiches.
“Western Frito Pie” – Fairgrounds Speedway, Cortez, Colorado
Best family personal accomplishment
Jennifer Brown – Eastern Illinois University college graduation
Best new iPhone app
Best foreign hotel
Marriott Courtyard, Warsaw, Poland
Best newspaper coverage outside the continental U.S. of my trackchasing adventures
Homer Tribune, Homer, Alaska
Coolest ice racing racers I’ve ever seen
Beluga Lake Ice Track, Beluga Lake, Alaska (the track opened in 1956 and some of the cars have been racing there since the early 70s)
Tracks seen on their first night of racing….ever
Sandia Speedway dirt track – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Most unusual race flag
Crosslake Ice Track, Crosslake, Minnesota – Blue flag instead of white flag since white flag is difficult to see with snow in the background
Best trackchasing gift
“500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late” from the Peters’ family
Most unusual racing surface
Horndean Raceway, Horndean, United Kingdom – chalk!
Slickest ice racing pit area
Crosslake Ice Track, Crosslake, Minnesota
Biggest foreign car attempted rip-off
Thrifty Rental Car, Frankfurt, Germany (insurance scam)
Tracks that race without helmets (crazy!)
Puffer’s Pond, Vernon, Vermont
Garfield Lake Ice Track, Laporte, Minnesota
Worst drive back to the airport
Major Minnesota snowstorm following Bass Lake Ice Track visit – didn’t make it home that night
Worst track for starting on time (among many)
Beaver Creek Speedway, Toney, Alabama
Best international mall
Suria KLCC, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Most scenic road course overlooking the sea
Anglesey Circuit – Irish Sea – Wales, United Kingdom
Most difficult track to find
Lydden Hill Race Circuit, Wooten, United Kingdom
Most ice racing states/provinces/countries by a single trackchaser
British Columbia, Canada
Lucky to get these tracks in before it rained
Boothill Speedway, Shreveport, Louisiana
New Senoia Speedway, Senoia, Georgia
Caroga Creek Speedway, Ephratah, New York
Floyd County Fairgrounds, Charles City, Iowa
Tri-City Speedway (F8), Auburn, Michigan
Best indoor arena
Cowan Civic Center, Lebanon, Missouri
Fewest countable competitors (racers) at a single track
Pensacola Speedway, Pensacola, Florida -2
Best roadside stops
United Kingdom ‘Welcome Breaks’
Best 2011 personal race driving experiences
Big Lake Ice Track, Big Lake, Alaska
Track most unable to live up to their word
Eagle Speedway, Irving, New York
Best iPhone app for international calling
Oldest hotel that we stayed in while trackchasing
Ye Olde Bulls Inn, Beaumaris, Wales (built in 1472)
Worst indoor air quality
Chili Bowl, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Most extensive and expensive toll roads
All over France
Biggest celebrity spotted on our airplane rides
Chase Atkins – Frankfurt, Germany to Washington, D.C.
Best ‘Drifting’ race action
MAXXIS British Drifting Championship – Donington Park
Best ice racing hospitality
Dickie, Linda, Pat and the gang at Puffer’s Pond in Vermont
Most anticipated track
Arena Essex Raceway, Purfleet, United Kingdom
Least visibility of any racetrack for the spectator
Chuckwalla Valley Raceway – Desert Center, California
Best racing t-shirt seen all year
Carol’s “Randy Lewis Racing” t-shirt (I gave her a good deal on it!)
Most unusual racing division
Van bangers – Horndean Raceway, Horndean, United Kingdom
My best 2011 trackchasing strategy
Most unusual individual racecar
A hearse! Aldermasten Raceway, Aldermasten, United Kingdom
Most expensive fuel
Norway – $9.19 U.S. per gallon
United Kingdom – $8.98 U.S. per gallon
Most hard to believe entrance road to a racetrack
Dover Raceway, Dover, England, United Kingdom
Best new country bed & breakfast room
Lizbet’s Gjestehus, Sandefjord, Norway
Most extensive ‘goodie bag’ given to us on the trackchasing circuit
Anglesey Circuit, Wales, United Kingdom
Track furthest from any major airport
Fairgrounds Speedway, Cortez, Colorado
Most unusual local delicacy served to me in the home of friends during a trackchasing trip
“Goetta” aka “Cincinnati Caviar”
Most unusual United Kingdom short racing fan amenity
Grandstands! Aldermasten Raceway, Aldermasten, United Kingdom
Best figure 8 race
Salem Speedway, Salem, Indiana
Floyd County Fairgrounds, Charles City, Iowa
Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds, Little Valley, New York
My only one track domestic flying trip
Teton County Fairgrounds, Driggs, Idaho
Most expensive charge to pee
France – 0.70 Euros
Northwest Michigan Fairgrounds, Traverse City, Michigan – Female ATV ride crash….she walked away
Most exotic meal of any international trip
Grilled Eel, Seoul, South Korea
Favorite United Kingdom racing class
Most confusing international airline situation
The fact that Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has two different airports
Most unusual rental car
A Nissan Cube!
Best demolition derby
Aldermasten Raceway, Aldermasten, United Kingdom (just four cars)
Luckiest ‘track find’
Scott County Fairgrounds, Jordan, Minnesota – Saw a billboard advertising the race a week before it was run.
Best hotel staff
Hotel Empress, Malaysia
Aylmer Fairgrounds, Aylmer, Ontario, Canada
Most unusual racing class
Reliant Robins (three wheelers!), Dover Raceway, United Kingdom
Best brand new airport
General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport* *Even though they have no international flights!
Best taxi driver/international tour guide
Ruswadi, Jakarta, Indonesia
Most upscale international hotel stay
Le Meridien Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia
My most adventuresome touring day…..ever
Touring Jakarta, Indonesia with my driver, Ruswadi. The trip included visiting the slums of Jakarta, boarding an old merchant ship in the Jakarta Harbor, lunch with Ruswadi at the famous Batavia Cafe, a visit to the old Jakarta fish market, spending several minutes inside a Muslim mosque and much much more.
Best stock car driver in the family
Ed White #14, River Bottom Speedway, Deer Creek, Illinois
The track that did the most to avoid a rainout
Caroga Creek Speedway, Ephratah, New York
Most disappointing major city visit
Best trackchasing website
Best medical recovery from a good racing friend
Worst “race” of the year
Henderson County Fairgrounds – Stronghurst, Illinois
Best cultural experience
Touring Jakarta, Indonesia
Best international travel information website
Best motorcycle racing
Peoria Motorcycle Club, Peoria, Illinois
Most fun afternoon of down home racing
Dover Raceway, Dover, England, United Kingdom
Best tour of the year
My self-conducted tour, for family and friends, of East Peoria, Illinois
Carol’s only ‘at the track’ interview
Teton Valley Fairgrounds, Driggs, Idaho
Nicest people at any track visited
Outlook Stock Car Track, Outlook, Saskatchewan, Canada
Dustiest track of the year
Peoria Speedway, Peoria, Illinois
Best online money saver
Best trackchasing training website
Scariest moment at the track
Knox County Fairgrounds, Mt. Vernon, Ohio – runaway school bus
Best book I recommended all year
The Intelligent Asset Allocator
Worst track entrance lighting
Gulf Coast Speedway in Alvin, Texas
First ever democross
Aylmer Fairgrounds, Aylmer, Ontario, Canada
Most squared away track promotion
Stateline Speedway, Busti, New York
Most unexpected motorcycle cop
Punta del Estes, Uruguay
Favorite figure 8 promoter
Thrill Show Productions – Canada
Best domestic airport
Detroit Metropolitan Airport
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport
Best Randy Lewis Racing Special Report
Randy Lewis Racing Films on YouTube
Best International Country Hospitality – alphabetical order
Best private foreign tour of the year
Indonesia – Ruswadi
Most insensitive fellow fan
Guy in the French fry line at the Orange County Fairgrounds Speedway
Best racing of the year
New Senoia Speedway, Senoia, Georgia
Fayette County Raceway, West Union, Iowa
Brighton Speedway, Brighton, Ontario, Canada
Hesston Speedway, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania
Note: These are all small dirt tracks ovals.
If you’re not five minutes early, you’re ten minutes late…tardiest of the year award
Whynot Motorsports Park, Meridian, Mississippi
Best World Airport
Incheon International Airport, Seoul, South Korea
Best Historical Racing Website
Worst ‘facing the sun’ grandstand
Ottawa County Fairgrounds, Holland, Michigan
Most unique senior discount
Stateline Speedway, Busti, New York – $2 discount coupon on anything sold at the track
Best trackchasing publicity
Front page story with Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s 95,000 circulation daily newspaper, The Phoenix Star
Knox County Fairgrounds, Mt. Vernon, Ohio
Best racing in a bean field
River Bottom Speedway, Deer Creek, Illinois
Favorite auto racing trade paper
Hawkeye Racing News
Worst roads and road system in America
Trackchasing’s First Ever ‘Round the World’ trackchasing trip
Hurricane Irene ‘encouraged’ us to fly from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Frankfurt to Warsaw to Frankfurt to Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles – 20,876 miles
Best “Randy’s Really Riled Up” report
In N’ Out Burgers vs. Five Guys
National pride is a good thing
Best airport rental car facility
Hartsfield (Atlanta) International Airport
DFW International Airport
Nicest people in the U.S.
NIMS people, i.e. residents of Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota
Best technology value in all of trackchasing
Garth, my GPS buddy
Best technology gadget in all of trackchasing
Best trackchasing iPhone ‘app’
There were not very many missed opportunities in 2011. With the amount of advance planning I put into each trip, not very many things go wrong.
- I was only rained/iced out one time in the 87 trackchasing days I planned to see racing. That’s the best “bad weather” result I’ve ever had. The one time I did get rained out came on a ferociously hot summer day in the middle of Kansas. The race was scheduled for a Friday night. It had not rained in the area since Wednesday afternoon. I called Thursday and the races were on. Since there was no more rain forecasted after I called I figured I was “golden”. Somehow the geniuses that run that track said they were racing as of Thursday night and then with no more rain canceled the show for Friday night. Amazing!
- From my visit to the Lake Chetek Ice Track – I have only one regret regarding today’s visit and the people I met. After the races the Green Bay Packers would be hitting the gridiron against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Super bowl. Most of the folks at the races would be heading a few yards toward shore and watching the game at “Red’s”. Red’s is a sponsor of the ice races.
I can only imagine that would be one wild place. However, standby flights for Monday didn’t look very good. I had better get home today while I can. Of all the non-racing things I will do this year, I suspect watching the Super Bowl in a huge Wisconsin bar with Wisconsin ice racers when the Packers were playing would have ranked near the top.
- In late June I was all set to see racing at the Rolling W Ranch off-road course in West Sunbury, Pennsylvania. I set my GPS for “Sunbury”, Pennsylvania. In the early part of the drive things didn’t “look” right. It turned out that “Sunbury” was a good 3-4 drive from “West Sunbury”. That was a surprise! I didn’t make it to the Rolling W Ranch that day but did find time to come back in October.
- That same weekend I couldn’t get the Dodge Journey SUV’s rental car exterior gas cover to open. At first I searched and searched for the secret “button” that would pop that gas cover open. I couldn’t find it.
The car’s owner’s manual was in the glove compartment. I read that thing from front to back. I could find no information about the gas cover. At this point I was convinced there was no “secret button”. However, no amount of pushing, pulling or cursing could get the gas cover to open.
From the owner’s manual I called the “Chrysler Customer Care” line. Although the woman was friendly, she didn’t know how to help me. All of her “suggestions” proved either impractical or untimely or both. I thanked her for her time and moved on.
My final idea to solve the problem was simply brute force. The women inside the gas station provided me with a screw driver. It was a “Phillips” screwdriver not a standard one that I was hoping for. Nevertheless, this would have to do. I used the screwdriver as a lever and the gas cover popped open. It had been stuck all along.
I quickly fueled the car. Now I was behind. I had lost 40 minutes messing with this problem. There must be a very good reason that this week’s J.D. Power new car satisfaction survey found Dodge at the VERY BOTTOM of the list. This was not my first problem with rental car Dodges. Who was at the top of the J.D. Power list for customer satisfaction? Lexus! I rest my case!!
- I rented an SUV for the one day I was in Saskatoon for this trip. Some ten days after my visit to Saskatoon I received an email message from the National Rental Car Company. The message said that my SUV had sustained hail damage during the 24 hours I rented the vehicle. The bill for repairing this damage was $6,700 U.S. I was told that I was responsible for this damage and should pay the bill immediately.
During the time I had the vehicle there was no hail and no rain (despite what the video might lead you to believe). I had even slept overnight in the car. During the entire rental I was never more than 100 yards from the SUV.
After a strong letter (telling them to get lost) with lots of documentation I received this message closing the case:
“After investigating this file, we are no longer pursuing you for the damages to the rental vehicle. Attached is our letter indicating this for your file.”
- Carol and I headed to Europe for some trackchasing fun in early September. The main objective was to see racing in both Luxembourg and Poland. However, with a couple of “free” Saturdays on hand we wanted to add some extra trackchasing countries for Carol.
We showed up at a nice autocross track in France. They had a great field of cars on hand. Unfortunately, they had reserved Saturday for only practice and qualifying. They would race on Sunday but we would be in Luxembourg by that time.
The same thing happened the next Saturday in Belgium. However, on that day we found, again by mostly pure luck, ANOTHER track racing in Belgium. This was not part of our plan. We simply saw a road sign directing us to the famous “Spa” track in Belgium. This allowed Carol to add Belgium to her international trackchasing resume and then we both added Luxembourg and Poland.
- Another low point was getting bounced off an airplane on the way home from Uruguay. This forced me to “re-enter” Buenos Aires, Argentina at midnight. I ended up sleeping in the airport and was more than lucky to get home just one day later. I was bounced for “weight and balance” issues.
Colin Herridge – United Kingdom
Russ Currie, Pennsylvania
Louis Skypala – New Jersey
Kyle Ealy – Iowa
“Jeff & Barry” – Iowa
Carol, Jim, Kristy, Becky, Bob, Mark, Lynn, Ed White, Carly, Eric, Sarah, Dan, Kyle, Katie, Abbie, Aunica, Jennifer, Stan Olson – Illinois
Greg & Donna Robbins – Ohio
Paul Weisel – New York
Ed Esser, Alan & Nancy Brown – Indiana
The Boeye family – Illinois
Mike & Mary Skonicki – Illinois
Scott Shults – Illinois
Roger Ferrell – Indiana
PEOPLE WHO HELPED ME AT/WITH THE TRACKS
Dickie and Linda from Puffer’s Pond ice track
Rob Palmer – Upper Midwest
Jesse Koncitik – Vermont
Chris Kearns – Santa Maria Speedway
Kyle Ealy – Iowa
Butch Knouse – South Dakota
Jim Holland, Rapid City Journal, Rapid City, South Dakota
John Sullivan – Maine
Tim Frost – National Speedway Directory
Lyubomir Simeonov – Bulgaria
Colin Herridge – England
Paul Weisel – Pennsylvania
Members of the ‘trackchaser” Yahoo group
Will White’s Autoracingrecords.com site
Jeremy Kluewer & Travis Ottesen – Lake Sinissippi race promoters
David Peper & Shawn Denver – Lake Magnor race promoters
Theresa Waller – Gator Motorplex, co-owner and promoter
Jim Hamilton & Jerret Hamilton co-promoters for the Lake Chetek Ice Track
Karen Koltunski (driver #45 – Lake Magnor) and her husband Al (driver #50 – Lake Magnor)
Troy Holder – Rice Lake Ice Track promoter
Amanda Moore, Shaggy, Kent and T.J. Clark – Alaska Sports Car Club
Homer (AK) Tribune reporter Naomi Klouda
Phil, the Beluga Lake (AK) ice racing club president
Peninsula (AK) Clarion reporter – Scott Moon
Charlie Harris and Tina, the president and V.P. of the Peninsula Ice Racing group
Ralph & Roxie Mills – Peninsula Ice Track
Trudy Tisdale owner of the Decanter Inn, Kasilov, Alaska
“Cowboy” – Beluga Lake Ice Racing
Diggy – Garfield Lake Ice Track – Laporte, Minnesota
Minneapolis National Rental Car buddy “Doug”
Bass Lake Ice Track, Jim Johansen
Jay Reynolds – Cowen Civic Center promoter
“Ms. Jesse” – Track promoter – Sabine Motor Speedway
Robert Benecke – Track owner – Sabine Motor Speedway
Annette F, Group Chairman, Tom Dooley, Competitions Secretary, Andrew Brewer, Track Manager, Richard Peacock, Neil Lambert, Track Photographer, Track Commentator, Richard Sproston – Anglesey Circuit
Martin Murphy, Luggview Raceway
Dave Gordon, Arena Essex Raceway
Track Commentator, Ben Thompson, Horndean Raceway
Frank Markussen, Norway
Carlos Perdoma, all Mexican racing
Dawn, Cincinnati Delta Airlines ticket agent
Sue Collins, Malaysia
Ms. Pipa Arbee & Eunice of Motorsport Asia
Ruswadi, Bluebird taxi driver, Jakarta, Indonesia
Onny Padno, Sentul International Circuit, Indonesia
Jeff Nelson, Minnesota enduro promoter
Kevin Tymon, Poughkeepsie Speedway promoter
J.D. King, “Race Chair” – South Jersey SCCA region
Jim Tornetta – “Regional Executive” South Jersey SCCA
Clancy Miller – Caroga Creek Speedway track announcer
Autodrome East Broughton first contact Sylvie, track owner Josie and track announcer Anthony
“Bob” – local reporter for the Big Rapids News (MI)
Todd and Rod Pickett Speed Creek 2 Raceway owners
Devin Heroux lead reporter for Saskatoon’s daily newspaper “The StarPhoenix
Angela – Brighton Speedway promoter, Brighton, Ontario, Canada
“Cooter”, Charlie Schwanbeck, track announcer, Outlook Stock Car track
Ms. Sheila Horne – Teton Valley News, Driggs, Idaho
Gretchen, Traverse City, Michigan National Car Rental representative
Russ, track announcer, Aylmer Fairgrounds, Aylmer, Ontario, Canada
Jane Miller – Peoria Journal Star
Scott Shults – Peoria Oldtimers Racing Club Hall of Fame
Jennifer – Stateline Speedway owner and promoter
Jay Pees – Stateline Speedway
Knoxville Late Model 101 Forum – Bob Marcos, Lee Ackerman, Tom Schmeh, Ed Sanger & Barry Johnson
Dennis Piefer – Dirt track racing photographer
Lauren – RPM Speedway, Crandall, Texas
Ms. Belkis Mendez – Hotel Genoves, Piriapolis, Uruguay
Greg Zimmerman – out by Palm Springs, California
Please accept my apologies if I left anyone out. I didn’t mean too.
TRACKCHASING TOURIST ATTRACTIONS
Grand Prize Winner – Lakewood Church, Houston, Texas
International best – Omaha Beach visit in France and Tango Night in Argentina
Domestic best – American Sign Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio
When I am out on the trackchasing trail, I am always on the lookout for local attractions to visit and enjoy. Finding such places is even more enjoyable when Carol or another member of the family is with me. During the course of the year, we’ll get to touch and feel lots of cool places. I call them Trackchasing Tourist Attractions. Here are the major TTAs we visited in 2010 during our trackchasing travels.
University of Virginia Basketball – Charlottesville, Virginia
Alaska Law Enforcement Museum – Anchorage, Alaska
Anchorage Museum, Anchorage, Alaska
Alaska Aces Hockey, Anchorage, Alaska
Alaska Sled Dog Racing Association, Anchorage, Alaska
Unclaimed Baggage Center – Scottsboro, Alabama
President William J. Clinton – Hope Visitor Center and Museum – Boyhood home – Hope, Arkansas
Staples Center – Los Angeles, California
Grambling State University and the Eddie G. Robinson Museum – Grambling, Louisiana
Oaklawn Racing (horses) – Hot Springs, Arkansas
Conwy Castle – Wales, United Kingdom
Caernarfon Castle – Wales, United Kingdom
Puffin Island – Wales, United Kingdom
Buckingham Palace – London, England, United Kingdom
The Wizard of Oz, Palladium Theatre – London, England
Imperial War Museum – London, England
Million Dollar Quartet, Noel Coward Theatre – London England
Oslo Grand Highlights Tour – Oslo, Norway
Unser Racing Museum – Albuquerque, New Mexico
American Sign Museum – Cincinnati, Ohio
Seoul 5-hour City Tour – Seoul, South Korea
All day (behinds the scenes) tour of Jakarta, Indonesia
Soo Locks – Sault Ste Marie, Michigan
Amana Colonies – Amana, Iowa
Mall of America – Bloomington, Minnesota
Holland State Park – Holland, Michigan
Queen City Ferry Company – Buffalo, New York
Bolingbrook Golf Club – Bolingbrook, Illinois
Bedford Valley Golf Club – Benton Harbor, Michigan
Disneyland – Paris, France
Honfleur, France city touring & overnight stays
Caen Memorial Museum – Caen, France
Omaha Beach – France
Eiffel Tower – Paris, France
National Sprint Car Hall of Fame – Knoxville, Iowa
Knoxville Raceway – Late Model 101 Forum – Knoxville, Iowa
Lakewood Church – Houston, Texas
Tango night – Buenos Aires, Argentina
RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Restaurant Money Back Guarantees
Grand Prize Winner – Las Brasas Asadero – Mexicali, Mexico
International best – Abracadabra Italian Restaurant, Caen, France
Domestic best – Frontier Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
California Tortilla – Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C.
Navajo Hogans – Salt Lake City, Utah
Fat Olives – Homer, Alaska
Herby K’s – Shreveport, Louisiana
Cantina Grill – Denver International Airport
Rays PeGe – Monroe, Louisiana
Enstrom Candy Company – Colorado Springs, Colorado
Frontier Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico
Las Brasas Asadero – Mexicali, Mexico
Skyline Chili – all over the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area
Café Batavia – Jakarta, Indonesia
Ray’s Pizza – Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Gold Star Chili – Florence, Kentucky (Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport)
Tim Horton’s – All over Canada
Cassecroute Chez Mike – Saint Just de Bretenieres, Quebec
Waffle Houses all over America
The Red Pepper Deli Café – Madison, Indiana
Rudy’s Tacos – Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa
Ronneburg Restaurant – Amana, Iowa
Steak n’ Shake – near Joliet, Illinois
Hungry Hobo – Outlets all over the Quad Cities
Anchor Bar – Buffalo, New York
Don’s Drive-In – Traverse City, Michigan
Emmet’s Tavern & Brewing Company, Palatine, Illinois
Davis Bros. Pizza, East Peoria, Illinois
Le Hamelin, Honfleur, France
Abracadabra Italian Restaurant, Caen, France
Rozana Restaurant, Warsaw, Poland
Kula Lodge, Maui, Hawaii
Andhra Curry, Singapore, Singapore
Maid-Rite – all over America
El Mirasol Steakhouse – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Casapueblo Hotel – near Piriapolis, Uruguay
Each of the following quotes appeared in the yearlong RLR Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Reports of 2011.
January 7 – Following the rejection by trackchaser voters of the “add flat karts rule”….I wrote: Many years ago, I accurately predicted that when trackchasers began to run out of tracks within a reasonable driving distance of their homes, they would suggest adding flat karts. That seems to be exactly what has happened.
We have some trackchasers that want to add tracks to their lists at ALL costs. They don’t care about the historical impact on the trackchaser rankings. I am confident that if a “flat kart” rule ever passes I can see more of those kinds of tracks than any other trackchaser. Despite the positive impact on my trackchasing totals, I am 100% against this idea for the main reason noted above.
This year I am operating with a self-imposed “governor”. If you happened to see my trackchasing goals for 2011 you noticed that I plan to take 18 weekends off from trackchasing. That leaves me just 34 weekends to “get it done”.
January 8 – Carol has already achieved her two most primary trackchasing milestones. First, she’s seen racing in all 50 of the United States. Secondly, she has qualified to become a trackchasing voter with her 400+ lifetime tracks. Now she can help influence to legislative direction of trackchasing without having to do this week in and week out.
January 14 – This (tonight’s racing at the Chili Bowl) does remind me of what I think is the biggest drawback to our hobby of trackchasing. Much of the time, the racing just isn’t that good. At some tracks, the veteran race fan might not even call it real racing.
So many of our trackchasers have never been to the Knoxville Nationals, Boone, the World 100, the Chili Bowl, the Indy 500 or Daytona. Those the places where the REAL racing is. Of course, there is plenty of good racing at the little bullrings of America on Saturday nights as well. We just seem to focus FAR TOO MUCH on “countable” tracks rather than “raceable” tracks. To be clear, no one holds a gun to my head making me go to several lame shows each year. When I say “lame” I mean so far afield from the real competitive events at a place like the Chili Bowl.
January 15 – If I’m going to trackchase successfully against those Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers, and their cushy travel itineraries, I must use airplanes. For the past five trackchasing seasons, I’ve had airline sponsorships. Prior to that, for my 1,100 tracks or so, I did this without sponsorship.
January 16 – In order for me to pursue my hobby, the track has to be run successfully week after week, usually year after year……so it will be open on the one day that I decide to attend. Just being able to stay open like this requires a tremendous commitment from a large number of people. The track’s owners and promoters, their workers and the racers all have to “keep it going”. A track may do that for years, before I finally get a chance to darken their door. When I finally do make it to the track, I have all the promoters, workers and racers to thank for making sure the track was there and ready to race when I finally get to add it to my schedule.
Folks, it is MY privilege to attend these tracks. I am indebted to all of the people who make it possible for the track to open up each week. It will always be that way.
February 5 – I now use the Super Bowl to my trackchasing advantage. Not many people want to travel on Super Bowl Sunday or Super Bowl weekend for that matter. The flights are WIDE open. That’s good for me.
I can price out a multi-day trip (to within 5% accuracy) over seven expense categories (airfare, airport parking, rental car, hotel, gasoline, food and race tickets) in less than 30 seconds. Yes, I’ve been doing this for a long time.
February 5 – In advance of my ice racing “ride along” at the Lake Magnor Ice Track. I looked out the narrow opening where the passenger’s window would normally be. The door was welded shut. I knew how difficult it had been to simply get inside the interior of this racecar. I’m 6’3” tall. However, my racecar helmet makes me about 6’7”. What would be my exit plan if somehow that six gallons of gas got out of the tank and ignited? Oh well, it was time to “sit down, buckle up and shut up”. We were racing.
Later that evening from Conroe, Texas…
At Procter & Gamble we worked a lot of systems. Our saying was, “Your system gives you the results it was designed to deliver”. What that pretty much means is that if you have a crappy system you will never get good results. Using orange highway plastic barrels that tipped over, and onto the track, at the slightest contact was a BAD system. It produced BAD outcomes that resulted in lots of yellow flags and general customer dissatisfaction. This was the second year of this event at this location. I am surprised they didn’t learn of this problem last year.
February 6 – Like yesterday there was one question I wanted to ask but I didn’t want to see like a wimp. Let’s think about this. We were all standing far enough away from shore (this was an ice track) that any “creature comforts” would have been a good hike to reach. So where were the bathrooms? I didn’t see any. I’ve got to believe that somebody would want to satisfy “nature’s call” sometime during a 4-5 hour afternoon. Did they even have any facilities?
February 12 – I would prefer you didn’t tell Carol this. She never reads my reports. She says she doesn’t have too….she lives it! This will just be OUR secret. I had no real idea how or when we are going to get home from Alaska. The flight I was planning to take has filled up fast. I’ll figure it out sooner or later. I just don’t have to worry her little head about this in the meantime.
February 13 – Did you know that Alaskan residents don’t pay any real estates taxes on their homes after they (not their house) turn sixty-five. Alaska also has no state income tax or sales tax! Finally, every Alaskan gets a “rebate” from the oil income the state produces each year. Lately, that rebate amounts to $1,200 per person each year. Kind of makes you want to move to Alaska doesn’t it.
I get a kick out of kidding Carol whenever I can. Does that surprise anyone? She’s a much more serious person than me. She also seems to think my plans will never turn out nearly as well as I think they will. She only has to be right with this assertion about 1% of the time to prove her theories correct. What do they call this? Marriage!
February 19 – The three primary trackchasing categories that I do compete in are:
- Total tracks – lifetime
- National Geographic Diversity – lifetime
- Total trackchasing countries – lifetime
It’s not that I don’t value the season trackchasing title. I do. I think any trackchaser that wins one of these has done a great job. It’s just that after seeing more than 1,600 tracks, I can’t (or at least shouldn’t) be competitive in the season’s totals. Annual winners have been identified (from each chasers reported tracks) since 1969. You can see a complete list of winners by clicking on this link: (Trackchasing’s past season champions). The Auto Racing Records site currently lists past winners from 1990-2010.
February 20 – I was still wearing long underwear, handling a heavy winter coat and managing three different bags. Once I was clear of security I had one last look at the “departures” board. Rats! Double rats!
Both of my flights were canceled! Now, I wish those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers” had taken me seriously when I recommended that the hobby of trackchasing suspend operations during the winter.
February 25 – (Beaver Creek Speedway) The official schedule called for the karts to practice, then have “qualifying” at 8:30 p.m. with feature events to follow. Folks, this is NOT like going to a movie or a professional “stick and ball” sporting event. Racing, except NASCAR and Eldora, rarely starts on time. I could go out on a limb and say it NEVER starts on time. However, I’m sure there is some race fan that is reading this that remembers one short track, maybe many years ago, actually starting their show on time.
I seemed to have it all tonight. A PLANNED starting time of 8:30 p.m., cold weather and an exorbitant admission price. Did they start on time? Are you kidding me? Does a bear #$%^ in the woods? With practice finished up at about 9 p.m. they went to a “15-minute break”. Qualifying lasted until 10:49 p.m. At 11:11 p.m. they went to first the invocation and then the national anthem. The first countable wheel to wheel racing event did not begin until 11:45 p.m. My flight left for Atlanta at 6:30 a.m. the next morning. I would have to be at the airport no later than 5:30 a.m. I was four hours from the airport. You can do the math on that one. Oh, my.
February 26 – Three tracks in three states in 72 hours. Yes, that’s MY “rule of 72”. I know that trackchasing historians are never going to believe these itineraries a hundred years from now. They will be texting each other with their iPhone 68s asking, “How did he DO that?”.
In everything in life I do I try to “play the odds”. I think “strategy” in nearly everything I do. Life is a series of constant choices. Every day you are faced with “do I go this way or that way”. If one makes the right choices more often than not, they will end up with a content, happy and comfortable life.
The women of Oklahoma are unique. They are a “country bunch”. I am taken back by their “big hair”. They say the ladies in Texas have big hair. I think the Oklahoma lasses have them beat. They go for the make-up too. They look like strippers. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been talked into going to a strip club or two in my younger days. I LIKE strippers.
These Oklahoma ladies speak in a very uninhibited manner. It’s a lot like running into a woman in a country and western bar after they’ve had a few drinks. I’ll bet they two-step pretty well too. Overall, I am a big fan of Oklahoma ladies, I just don’t know if I could keep up with them!
March 5 – I’ve said it many times. The main advantage of our “airline sponsorship” is not the cost savings. Of course, that’s nice. The real benefit is the ability to change an airline reservation on 60 seconds notice and hop on an airplane heading somewhere else without incurring penalties of any kind.
My YouTube movies have now surpassed 23,000 views. I realize there are clips on YouTube that have MILLIONS of views. Most of those clips are less than a minute long or involve some celebrity. However, most of my productions are 8-10 minutes in length. I am honored that folks have spent about 137 total days (at nine minutes per) watching these homemade “not yet ready for the Oscars” films.
March 5 – We woke up this morning in Shreveport, Louisiana. We had to get moving because we needed to cover nearly 500 miles. We were headed to Lebanon, Missouri. Yes, I was glad to be driving someone else’s car on this trip.
It’s bad enough that gas costs 11-12 cents per mile. I don’t need to be adding additional maintenance and depreciation expenses on top of the gasoline charge. By the way, you won’t hear me saying much about gas prices in the U.S. We pay about half what most other countries pay for fuel AND we have a national health care plan.
I try never to reveal my own political beliefs in these Trackchaser Reports. However, I will tell you that “Trackchasing’s First Mother” is the original political conservative. Even with my extensive skills in persuasion the Clinton Presidential library would be a tough sell. I’ve been there. It’s beautiful and educational. However, TFM has often referred to this at the “Presidential Library and Massage Parlor”. She firmly believes the Chinese financed the place. I don’t know if any or all of this is true. I just knew we wouldn’t be visiting the Presidential library today.
I use www.autoracingrecords.com for my trackchasing stats. I don’t use this site much for my domestic track racing information. I’ve taken that responsibility “in house” for better quality control. It’s going to be a sad day in trackchasing when the “stats” come down off Will White’s epic website.
The flat karts put on a great show. Although I voted against adding flat karts there is one circumstance that would allow me to vote FOR adding flat karts as a countable class.
I would recommend that every trackchaser be credited with an additional 100 tracks at a flat kart rule inception. Each time a trackchaser saw a flat kart track, their lifetime total would NOT be increased until they saw their 101st flat kart track. At this point all additional flat kart tracks would add to the chaser’s lifetime total.
This way trackchasing’s “old-timers” would not be penalized by “newbie” trackchasers inflating their lifetime totals with flat kart tracks. This would also allow those trackchasers that are intent on going to all of those flat kart tracks the ability to enjoy the racing close to home and still, at some point, add to their trackchasing totals. I think this is a brilliant solution. I am surprised no one has thought of this up to now.
March 11 – In racing we have “racechasers” and “trackchasers”. I used to be a racechaser but now I am a trackchaser. The hobby has identified some 60-70 people worldwide who have seen more than 200 different tracks each. If I had to guess I would say there are well over 1,000 people who have seen more than 200 tracks.
Why does the “trackchasing community” have so few of those more than 1,000 race fans as card carrying members? There are several reasons. I would imagine several long-time race fans have never heard of “trackchasing” the hobby. Others are just too lazy to compile their lists. Still others don’t care for the “politics” of trackchasing.
You probably don’t drive down to the grocery store, come home and then get right back into the car to run to the post office. You wouldn’t come back from the post office to home and then head right back to the gas station. This wouldn’t make much sense would it?
If I can average 2.7 tracks per trip, then 30 trips nets me about eighty tracks. If a fellow competitor averages just 1.5 tracks per trip then 30 trips would give them 45 tracks. In order to see 80 tracks, to match my total, they would have to make FIFTY-THREE trips. I would like to see 80 tracks every year. I just don’t want to make fifty-three trips doing it!
March 12 – This trip’s objective is to see three new racetracks in three days. However, if that’s all I did I would not consider this trip a success. I was going to be in Louisiana for the first two days of this trip. I don’t get down here that often. I needed to see a “local” attraction of some sort.
I very much enjoy the racing I see at each track I visit. However, I strongly suspect that it is the “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions” that will burn in my memory long after the third heat of just about any race I see.
March 13 – Trackchasing often has conflicting objectives. I really like racing and visiting all of these new tracks is a lot of fun. However, I understand that I have a responsibility to others. Left to my own devices I could do this every day for a very long time. Carol is very tolerant of my hobby. Nevertheless, I don’t want to push it any more than I already do.
I can’t ask her to make every one of these trips. She is not part of any competition. I am. I don’t want to spend any more time on the road, when Carol is not with me, than I have too. The trackchasing objective always remains simple. I want to see as many tracks as I can while spending the least amount of time away from home as possible.
I HATE Subway customers who show up with a long list of sandwiches for everybody in the office. Today I got behind an old woman who was ordering three sandwiches. She seemed to think that every ingredient she added to each sandwich was worthy of comment. It can be frustrating, but also rewarding, to observe and interact with local people’s lives. However, sometimes I am in a hurry and they are not.
Material things are certainly not the most important things in life. Good health and good friends should top that list. However, if you have nothing (or as my Grandma used to say, “not a pot to piss in”) life is going to be much more difficult than it needs to be. Mostly, I feel sorry for the children. They won’t ever get a shot at the “American dream”.
Virtually every track (except ice tracks) plays the national anthem before the event begins. If the track is near Canada they will play the Canadian anthem as well. However, in the south a prayer precedes then national anthem.
March 18 – Trackchasing is primarily a male sport. There is not a single woman who has ever trackchased on their own like many of our male trackchasers do. Trackchasing seems to attract a special male demographic. Most of the top male trackchasers are unmarried. Of the chasers who are married, very few of them bring their wives along for the ride. I, and a few others, are lucky that our wives will come along to share our crazy hobby from time to time. I am not sure that if Carol had a similar hobby that I would be willing to join in as much as she does.
March 19 – I must post a grave concern about the hobby of trackchasing. Below is a table that shows how many United States tracks were posted during the three-year period from 2007-2009.
2007 – 966
2008 – 870
2009 – 1,052
How many tracks were posted in 2010? Seven hundred and nine. Yes, only 709 tracks were posted by the NGD deadline of February 28, 2011. That is dreadful. Will this trend continue?
One of my friends told me I was the most “introspective” person he knew. I took that as a compliment. I do go around constantly observing things. As I observe my mind asks questions and judges.
Finally, promoters are “eternal optimists”. They never think it’s raining even when it’s raining. They always think they will start on time even when they are already 1-2 hours after the starting time. Finally, if a promoter tells you there will be 20 cars for the race, you will probably be lucky to see 5-10. Sorry folks, I’ve been at this a long while. This has been my experience most of the time.
The bottom-line was this. The track provided a very poor show tonight. Without a working P.A. system, with generally poor lighting and well below average it made me glad I was a trackchaser. A trackchaser “never has to go back” and usually doesn’t. I doubt I will ever darken the door of the Smoky Harris Speedway again.
April 15 – I’ve said for years that when the driving trackchaser had seen most of the tracks within 500 miles of his/her home then their trackchasing propensity would fall off. That has certainly been the case with top ten chasers like Brown, Erdmann, Moore, Sivi and Hollebrand. Ed Esser still drives long distances but seems to be less and less productive. Guy Smith trackchases at his normal frequency but primarily because he has someone else to split the driving and expenses.
I’ve also said that when trackchasers began running out of tracks they would want to add flat karts to the mix. Alas, that has come to pass as well.
April 16 – I have been retired for nearly nine years. Overall, I have never really liked “work”. For me I would just as soon be playing all things being equal. However, I discovered a long time ago that if I wanted “stuff” and my dependents (wife and children) wanted “stuff” I would have to work for it. So I worked hard, made some good financial choices and retired at age 53. That might not work for everybody but it does for me.
April 22 – Our objective for this trip is straightforward. Carol and I want to have a lovely time in the United Kingdom while seeing some auto racing. Easter is a fantastic time to come to the U.K. This will be my seventh trip to the U.K. to trackchase. On one of those trips I invited trackchaser P.J. Hollebrand (2005) to tag along. On another trackchaser Allan Brown (2004) was my invited guest. Carol had been part of the trip in 1999 and 2000. I guess that means I came here twice by myself. Before we left on the trip I used Google Earth to determine the longitude/latitude coordinates for all of the racetracks and hotels we expected to visit.
I had several people question me about the tracks I had seen in my trackchasing pursuit. As most folks know, trackchasers count tracks that offer wheel to wheel racing on ovals, figure 8 tracks and circuits. A few folks today seemed to think if a race wasn’t held on a circuit then it really wasn’t a race. This included the tracks I planned to see this weekend such as autograss and oval racing. As it is in the U.S., circuit or road racing attracts the “wine and cheese” group. Oval racing seems to attract the “beer and pretzel” fans. I like ‘em both. I was glad that the folks I met today had probably never seen a two-car champ kart race or a four-car figure 8 “feature”!
April 23 – Tomorrow is Easter Sunday. Carol wanted to attend church on Easter. What Carol wants, Carol gets if I have anything to say about it. I wasn’t as interested in attending church as I was in solving the logistical problem her request created. I had to find a Catholic church that had services early enough that we could drive to the Horndean track in time for their start. This had all the makings of “If Joe leaves home at 8:30 a.m. bound for his school which begins at 9:15 a.m. and he lives 6.2 miles from school and must walk against a 15 M.P.H. headwind what is the name of his dog”. Those are problems I love to solve. Carol was “pleased as punch” with my good work of finding her a church. It’s sort of like I’m the chef and Carol is a patron in my restaurant. She enjoys the finished product and doesn’t really understand what goes on back in the kitchen. That’s fair enough.
Why can’t the U.S. do this? Like most U.K. short tracks the Arena Essex Raceway starts the fast cars in the back. This is another reason I so much like U.K. racing. Not only do the fast cars start in the back they sometimes start nearly a full lap behind the slowest cars in the field. Often the cars starting in the back come all the way up to win the race.
April 24 – I have always loved U.K. racing for several reasons. They start the fast cars in the back and there is lots of passing. They don’t delay races with yellow flag cautions. Fans can access the pit area with only a general admission ticket. U.K. tracks race in the rain. All of those are HUGE for the real racing fan.
April 25 – The proper use of technology and my extensive trackchasing sponsorships allow me to string together some very unusual geographical trackchasing combinations. On the one hand that gives me the chance to see a lot of tracks NOW. It also lets me strategically plan for what will come later in trackchasing. This is a very challenging and thought provoking hobby.
We drove 1,162 miles during our United Kingdom vacation. We were never in any major traffic for a single mile! Would nine dollars plus per gallon have anything to do with that?
Carol and I were up early for breakfast in the Sheraton Lounge on the club level. Shortly thereafter a big black Mercedes limo rolled up and Carol was deposited inside. Her trackchasing adventure was coming to an end. You see, SOMEONE, has to take care of things at home when I’m off on these wild goose chases. However, I’ve got to give Carol credit. She travels more than any other woman in trackchasing. Left to her own devices she probably wouldn’t stay away from home a single night. As it is, she has already spent 29 nights on the road and it’s still late April.
April 30 – I am really the only trackchaser that puts a main focus on “local touring” while I chase tracks all over the world. That’s too bad. For me, often times what I see and do away from the racetrack is much more entertaining and memorable than what happens at the track.
I do that somewhat selfishly. Some day when I can no longer “hit the road” I might be able to sit back and experience my trips all over again via pictures and videos. Of course, there is another reason I take pictures. I want to share them with you!
In downtown Oslo, I had time for a beer at an outdoor café. While I drank my beer I used the café’s internet to cancel my original rental car reservation. However, you can’t always “beat the bear”. My large beer (not really that large) was fifteen dollars U.S.!! Because I was in such a good mood I tipped my server three dollars for her efforts. Eighteen bucks for a beer. Next time I go to the Staples Center and buy a beer for half that I’ll think what a bargain I’m getting.
Amongst my readers and other trackchaser friends I am not the first to visit Norway. I thought you might be interested in seeing the contributions of other Norwegian visitors. The first comes from long-time friend Louis Skypala. Louis shares his photos from last year’s visit. The second comes from trackchaser (former commissioner) Will White. Will visited Norway a few years ago for trackchasing purposes.
May 13 – One of my overriding objectives is to see as many tracks as I can while spending as little time away from home as possible. I would much rather see three tracks in one trip than three tracks in three trips. Over the years, I’ve found I can make far fewer trips than my fellow competitors and still exceed their totals. It’s all in the planning.
I have now entered my nearly “unrestricted” four month trackchasing period. The period of May-August is the trackchasing “season”. Virtually every track that races weekly is open by May and will stay open through August. I know some of you are probably saying, “But Randy, how can you possibly stay competitive in this “dog eat dog” trackchasing hobby by taking so much time off?”. Yes, my readers can ask the very best hypothetical questions.
May 14 – To show you what a “relentless” trackchaser that Ed Esser is consider this travel schedule. Ed drove from Wisconsin to New Mexico to see a new track. Folks, that’s about 50 hours of round-trip driving! Remember Ed does all of his driving and trackchasing by himself. At 20 M.P.G. that’s more than $500 just for gas!
I know what you’re saying. “But Randy, are you just picking out an exception with Ed’s travel. He can’t go places that far from home very often can he?”. Well, that a legitimate question.
However, as God is my witness, Ed turned around two weeks later and drove right back to New Mexico from Wisconsin to see racing at two different Aztec tracks. Yep! Another five-hundred dollar bill for fuel. By comparison my gas bill in the first five months of this year, is about what Ed spent on two weekends driving to New Mexico. Folks, I have no idea how I can ever remain competitive with these people.
Not all of my fellow competitors have to drive cross country to see their tracks. Guy Smith is a “regional” trackchaser. Guy lives in Pennsylvania. Where are most of the tracks located…..in and around Pennsylvania! Just how important to Guy’s trackchasing is his location?
Let’s look at the numbers through the end of the 2010 season. At that point, Guy had seen 1,336 tracks. How many of those were in Pennsylvania or a state or province that borders Pennsylvania? 645! Yes, nearly half of the tracks (48%) Guy has seen are in the Keystone state or a border state or province. That, trackchasing fans, is a regional trackchaser.
Ed Esser is an “independent” trackchaser, he does it all by himself. Guy is a “team” or “corporate” trackchaser. He rarely goes anywhere by himself. He is dependent upon others to drive him and pay as much as half or more of the expenses.
Ed’s background is “racechasing”. Guy’s background is “trackchasing”. A trackchaser would not walk across the street to see the very best racing program of any kind if a nearby, yet to be seen, track was racing. As long as there is a new track to be seen, you will never see Guy at a “real” racing event. Please don’t confuse my observation with criticism. This is true of most top level trackchasers. It’s just the way the hobby works.
Has the “competitive nature” gotten to these trackchasers and others? That’s hard to tell for sure. I do notice this. Neither Ed nor Guy shares much worthwhile future trackchasing information. I am certain there are young trackchasers out there who could benefit from the knowledge of these two. However, as it stands now they are left out in the cold.
May 15 – We insist on maximizing our international experiences. Today that would include having dinner in Mexico. We were only a mile from the U.S. border. We could have easily (not quickly though) gone back into the U.S. for supper. We don’t roll that way. We would have dinner in Mexico.
May 20 – When I first started going to races, my hometown track was located 10-15 minutes from my house. We sometimes arrived before they even opened the gates to the track. I remember many times standing in line waiting for them to let us in. We would sit in the sun until the cars came out to pack the track. Then we would watch each car time trial. Finally, we would watch every race (there were only two classes). When the final checkered flag had flown we were on our way trying to beat the traffic jam out of the parking lot. We would usually be home by 11 p.m.
Folks, no one in the trackchasing hobby does that anymore. The top trackchasers are now driving hundreds of miles, each way, to see the next track on their schedule. You won’t find anyone standing in line two hours before race time waiting to get in. You will also be hard-pressed to seeing many trackchasers still sitting on a bleacher board until the last checkered flag.
My fellow competitors still “go racing” like I did back in 1960. They go out to the driveway, get in their cars and drive to the track. However, the leading trackchasers must drive a LONG way to reach their destinations. As you’ve read recently some are driving nearly 1,000 miles or more (one-way!) to add a track to their totals. That’s bonkers!
May 21 – I blame Carol for my lack of domestic skills. I certainly wouldn’t want to blame myself. Carol has spoiled me. Yes, she has “spoiled me rotten” as my mother used to say (sometimes in reference to me).
May 22 – Regarding my visit to the Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana. What do I remember most from that trip? First, the Salem track was the first “big time” track I had ever visited. It was old then (the track started in 1947) and somewhat dilapidated. The second thing I remember was this was the first time I ever ate at a Kentucky Fried Chicken (now KFC) restaurant.
May 28 – In today’s world of technology my fishing does not involve a rod and reel. It involves email! I guess my “fishing” is really called “phishing”. I send out a rash of emails to any foreign contacts that I think might be able to give me information about the racing where I plan to travel.
I’m looking for a person who is interested in racing. They’ve got to speak and write in English. Finally, they have to be willing to help me organize my trip. Fortunately, I have “met” several people who have all of the above skills and attitudes. Sometimes I actually get to meet these folks when I visit their country. Sometimes, regretfully, I will never actually meet some of the people who help me on my international trackchasing trips.
I have now seen eleven countries in Asia. Why don’t other trackchasers come here often? The Asian culture is dramatically different from anywhere our trackchasers come from. The continent is also the furthest away from where most of our trackchasers live. Maybe that is why the next leading trackchaser, in Asia, has seen racing in only three countries on this continent.
Trackchasing is much like my former business life or even the Navy Seals attack on Osama bin Laden. No matter how much planning you do, sooner or later you just need to “do it”. The “real life” situation will almost never totally duplicate the plan. That’s when “improvising time” comes into play.
May 29 – I had four days worth of dirty clothes (socks, underwear, shirts and one pair of walking shorts). When those clothes were cleaned I would have enough clean clothes to get me back to California. Any guesses on how much it might cost to have four days worth of laundry cleaned with one-day service? Four Malaysian Ringets! That’s only $1.30 U.S.!! Wow! Maybe I should move to Malaysia. Am I paying Carol too much?
In America, people I meet seem to be most curious about how I PAY for my hobby. When I travel internationally, folks seem are more interested in WHY I do this. Ruswadi, my Indonesian taxi driver, wanted to know what my “profit” was in trackchasing. Maybe that’s a combination question that includes both “how do you pay for it?” and “why do you do it?”
I responded with two points of rationale. I explained the “collecting” aspect of the hobby. I asked him if he collected stamps or coins. He didn’t but he seemed to understand what I was getting at. I told him that I collect “experiences”. He was part of my Indonesian experience.
I found his question about “how do I profit” an interesting one. Of course, there is no monetary profit for me in this hobby. I am firmly convinced that I could profit financially from trackchasing if I wanted too. It’s just that would turn my hobby into a job and I don’t do jobs or any kind of work for pay any more. I stopped doing those dreadful (mostly kidding) activities on June 30, 2002. That was the day I retired from “traditional” work.
I told Ruswadi that my “profit” is sharing what I see and do with people who find that interesting. When anyone gets to “share and reapply” any of my ideas or experiences and I hear about it, that makes me happy. That’s where my “profit” comes in from the hobby of trackchasing.
Tonight, our taxi was stopped before the mall’s entrance. The guard opened both the hood and the trunk before we were allowed to pass. Then before I could walk into the mall I had to put my camera bag etc. through a metal detector. Ruswadi told me this extra security all came about because of the bombing in Bali, Indonesia twelve years ago. Folks, watch out, this will be common in America during our lifetimes.
Jun 3 – I absolutely HATE being rained out. Yesterday, at the Whiskey Park Raceway (WPR) in Junction City, Kansas I was rained out. How often does this happen? Rarely! During the past 4 ½ years I have been rained out only thirteen times. During the same time I have successfully trackchased on 416 days. That gives me a “rainout ratio” of just 3.1%. No other U.S. trackchaser comes close to that mark. Why do I mention it? Because it’s true!
Jun 4 – Today’s circuit (road course) fan was an older white male. I would say there were more people watching today that were older than me, than just about any track I have visited all year. Of course, with that demographic it is a well-behaved crowd. In listening to side conversations the value and uniqueness of the racing cars to the fan is paramount.
On the other hand, tonight’s oval crowd was made up of families and younger people. There was no shortage of tattoos! I wonder how these folks with feel about their “body art” a few years down the road? At the oval track, beer sales were robust. The announcer told the crowd it was “last call for alcohol” at the beginning of the super late model feature. Then he pretty well negated that responsible activity by encouraging fans to “buy two”. Mind you, I grew up being an oval track fan.
Folks should not be required to sit on a concrete slab (Spokane International Raceway) for nearly four hours before the main event kicks off. That leads to one-thing…….fewer repeat visitors. I’d love to see the crowd count two months from now. Here’s another way of looking at it. When the fans left the track tonight it was as if they had a five-dollar bill taped to their forehead. Many of those five-dollar bills will be spent on something other than coming to SCR by many of the first-time curious fans. It’s a commonly held belief in business that it costs a lot less to keep your current customers than it does to get new ones.
Jun 17 – In order to remain competitive in this hobby I’m going to have to travel further and further from home. I will pretty much have to travel to Chicago and beyond to get a trip started. The most new tracks remain in the Midwest and East for me.
I’ve seen nearly every countable track in the Far West and New England. There isn’t much left to see in the south either. That area is limited because they don’t race on Sundays and there are very few Friday night tracks in the south left to see. This leaves the Midwest and the East.
My fellow competitors just won’t stop. Since I am likely the “most underfunded” of any of them this makes it difficult for me.
Jun 18 – I used to come flying into an area for the weekend to trackchase. Now I fly into a different area EVERY DAY to trackchase on some of these trips. When I do that the time allotted for sleep decreases dramatically.
Let me give my take on today’s gas expenses. I hear fellow trackchasers complain about $4 per gallon gas prices. I think their complaints are without merit. In most every country I visit their fuel is more expensive than ours. In Europe petrol goes for $7-9 U.S. Our fuel costs about half of that amount.
You might say, “But Randy, I don’t live in Europe. I think gas prices are high in the U.S.” I would agree….gas prices are higher than they were. However, if Ed Esser can afford to drive from Wisconsin to New Mexico….twice…..in a month to go trackchasing how expensive can they really be?
Jun 19 – My original weekend plan called for me to see four tracks in three states in three days. I actually went that one better and ended up seeing four tracks in four states in three days. It took some doing. I didn’t get much sleep. I flew on seven different airplanes. I rented three different cars. However, I DID make it.
Overall, it was an entertaining afternoon. Unfortunately, the announcer could not be heard over the sounds of the racing engines. About every 50 laps he would give a rundown of the results. I could hear that pretty well. He would read off the car numbers of the top ten drivers. He would always conclude with “these results are in no particular order”. Say what?
During one of the breaks, the track’s announcer gave me a very nice “mention” for being there. He pretty much read my “trackchasing bio” verbatim. He listed ALL 52 countries where I have been trackchasing. Then he asked the crowd to give me a nice hand for coming all the way to Minnesota to see their racing. Now let’s think about this. Is there any real question that the nicest people in the country come from Minnesota (and Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota as well)?
Jun 24 – Sponsorships in racing “pay off” in three different ways. It works the same way in trackchasing. These payoffs can come in the form of cash, free products or products provided at a discount. I could not, nor would I want to trackchase without my airline, rental car, hotel and airport parking sponsors. Trackchasing, if you’re paying all of your own expenses and have to travel long distances, isn’t worth it in my opinion.
If I didn’t have any sponsors I would still trackchase….some. Let’s take this trip for example. It will involve 3-4 overnights. I will be renting a car and driving 600-800 miles. I will fly around 5,000 miles.
My typical trackchasing expenses fall into seven categories. These include airfare, rental cars, hotels, gasoline, airport parking, race tickets and food. Only smart people have been selected to subscribe to these reports. You can do the math.
During our trip to Denver we spent time seeing and talking to family we don’t visit very often. My sister-in-law, let’s call her “Terry” is a “civilian”. That means she doesn’t follow racing. I don’t know if she’s ever been to a race. It would be most accurate to say she does not “understand” trackchasing.
She described the idea of sleeping of the floor of the JFK airport as “stupid”. Then just in case I had not heard her raise her voice she said that type of behavior was “really stupid”. Fortunately, this sister-in-law is connected to Carol’s side of the family.
I did ask her if she collected anything. As I might has guessed she did not. I told her I was “collecting experiences”. That’s what I see as he REAL point to my trackchasing. That’s why I sometimes get upset when it seems many of my fellow competitors only go to the races and don’t stop to see and do much along the way. However, right now I’ve got “Aunt Terry” to worry about. I think it’s going to take a very long time to get her to “see the light”.
Jun 25 – How lucky was I to find a track (Poughkeepsie Speedway) that had just opened after being closed for two years. Then when I needed an afternoon race, I found their “afternoon racing window” that ran from about June 1 through July 9. Then when nearly all of their car count went to a big race at another track, four mini-cup cars showed up for the first time in years as the only countable cars. On the one hand I was lucky. On the other hand my trackchasing research capabilities came through…….again.
Jun 26 – I’ll admit my “strategies” are sometimes too ambitious. However, if you don’t set your sights high, you probably won’t get much accomplished.
One of my overall strategies is to see as many of my friends, who live a long way from me, as I can each year. They’re spread out in nearly every nook and cranny of the country. Most of them don’t have any interest in one of my main hobbies, trackchasing.
That’s O.K. I’ll join them for a meal or a game somewhere. When we can arrange it they’ll indulge me and ride along to a track. The saying that “in order to have a friend you need to be a friend” is one of the best I’ve ever heard. It’s also very true.
In my opinion, road racing at most places is a very boring activity for the spectator. Often times the racing fan can see less than 25% of the entire race course from any one position. Would you have much fun at a baseball game if you could only see 25% of the field?
However, since I have seen nearly 200 different road courses, more than anyone other U.S. trackchaser, I have come to enjoy some parts of the road racing scene. I like the diverse groups of race cars that race on road courses. Often times vintage racing groups will bring cars to the track that are 50 years old or more. Those are really cool events.
Additionally, fans can roam the paddock area (pit area) and get close up looks at the cars and talk to the drivers. Fans can do that to a limited degree with oval track racing but there is almost always a hefty extra charge for doing so.
Jul 4 – Our Fourth of July party was a highlight of the year. In order for Carol “to approve” such a party I had to agree to do some of the pre and post-party chores. I hate chores. I’m no good at ‘em and don’t like ‘em at all. However, as Carol’s father accurately predicted many years ago, I am a “party boy”. I agreed to follow a spreadsheet of sorts (Carol uses a legal pad and pencil not Excel) of chores spread over a five-day period. She also expressly pointed out that I could not delegate any of the chores to our children and that I needed to use my brother Mark “with caution”.
Jul 7 – I took the Fourth of July weekend off from trackchasing. I’m trying to set an example by taking weekend after weekend off. It’s so much better for maintaining a more well rounded lifestyle. However, my fellow competitors NEVER let up. Except for rainouts and times when there are no tracks to be found they go trackchasing virtually EVERY weekend. While I was enjoying the Fourth of July weekend at home in San Clemente first Guy was driving from Pennsylvania to Georgia and then Virginia to pickup two new tracks. Then Ed was driving from his home state of Wisconsin to Idaho and Utah to see five new tracks!
Can you imagine how competitive these folks are making this hobby? I know they both want to be in second place but how much is too much? Hopefully, they will come to their senses soon. With them being so active I have to protect my position as well.
Cincinnati is the “chili capital of the world”. There is no city that has the vast number of “chili parlors” that Cincy does. Whenever I’m in the Cincinnati airport I head directly, without passing “Go”, to the Gold Star Chili location.
Jul 8 – Of course, whenever I’m trackchasing in the East I give full credit to Pennsylvania trackchaser Guy Smith. I went on to tell the crowd that Guy writes an article in most issues of the Area Auto Racing News, a very popular racing magazine in the Northeast. I also mentioned that Guy is now the #2 trackchaser in the world. Of course, when I’m in the Midwest I usually mention Ed Esser’s name (he lives in Wisconsin) as being one of the top two or three worldwide trackchasers.
Yes, my East coast readers are probably saying “But Randy, you’re such a soft touch. You know Guy wouldn’t mention your name in an at the track interview.” First of all, I don’t think Guy Smith does at the track interviews.
Of course my eastern readers might be referring to my trip to Maine last year. One of my express objectives was to be on hand for Guy Smith’s 1,300th lifetime track. At the end of the program I went over and congratulated Guy and his lovely wife Pam on the special occasion. I had previously sent a note to the track announcer at the track. I asked him to mention Guy’s special moment over the P.A. system. Unfortunately, the announcer did not make any personal announcements on this evening.
Later Guy went to write up his story in the Area Auto Racing News proudly proclaiming his 1,300th track conquest in Maine. His newspaper story referred to my presence as “talking with another trackchaser”. This is not unusual behavior from Guy Smith. It was all witnessed by Maniac race fan John Sullivan and then documented by a “mystery man” (not listed for his own protection) who sent along a copy of Guy’s story. Now, I’m wondering if the readers of AARN are being short changed? Has Guy ever mentioned that for the past several years we have a new “World’s #1 Trackchaser”. Maybe Guy will come to his senses some day and provide his readers with my website address: www.randylewis.org and my YouTube channel: RANLAY. We can only hope.
Jul 9 – I really don’t think of traveling to Canada as foreign travel. Heck, they didn’t even require me to have a passport until the last couple of years. However, there is ONE province in Canada that is like traveling to a foreign country. That would be Quebec. They think and speak French up here. They take it very seriously.
Jul 10 – I don’t plan my trips (except the ones outside of North America) more than a week or two in advance. This gives me the chance to consider all of the latest track information that comes from the research department at Randy Lewis Racing.
By the way, when I offer these opinions (remember opinions are different from facts) I make generalizations. Remember generalizations BECOME generalities because they are mostly true.
If you walk around you can see about 75% of the Circuit Mont-Tremblant course. Some of it is just too far out in the woods. However at most points around the track you can only see the cars for a few seconds out of the 90-120 second lap. I wouldn’t pay to see Pamela Anderson run a complete lap around this track naked if she was only in view for a few seconds. O.K. already. I WOULD pay to see that and I paid to see the Bobby Rahal Legends of Motorsports to for just a few seconds here and there as well.
Jul 14 – If I want to remain competitive against the trackchasers who have it so much easier than I do, I need to “keep at it”. I could probably see a track everyday starting from July 1 and going through August 31. The July/August period is when most county fairs hold their once a year races. It’s the busiest time of the year for trackchasers.
I find one thing most fascinating when I explain my hobby to strangers. They seem interested in two things. The first is the amount of travel this activity requires. They are also amazed at the NUMBER of tracks I have seen. However, I don’t think some folks differentiate between 1,600 tracks and 16,000 tracks!
There is one other aspect of trackchasing that strangers don’t seem all that interested in. It’s the trackchasing rankings. To trackchasers, rankings are paramount. If you don’t agree to be part of the rankings then you can’t even vote on trackchasing proposals! Without rankings I don’t really think the hobby would exist.
Jul 15 – I never used to use an airplane “inside” a trackchasing trip. Normally I would fly from California to “point A”. Then I would drive around until it was time to fly from “point A” to back home in California. However, as the available tracks have “dried up” my trackchasing strategy and plan had to change.
Now I routinely fly into “point A” from California. Then, after seeing a track or two, I fly from “point A” to “point B” to see more tracks. Sometimes I will even fly to points “C and D” before finally heading back home to the Golden State.
I don’t see my fellow trackchasers that often. Sometimes that’s the plan; sometimes it is not. The more tracks each chaser sees on their own the less likely it is for folks to run into each other. As an example, let’s say I see 50 tracks on my own and another trackchaser sees a different 50 tracks by himself. That’s 100 tracks where the two people wouldn’t meet up. Do that for a few years, when there are only 1,200 or so permanent tracks and you can see why trackchasers don’t see each other that often.
There are several reasons I am happy to talk about my trackchasing hobby in public as I frequently do. It’s a form of “sharing”. What a great opportunity to explain and educate racing fans about the trackchasing story. Most people, even racing fans, have never heard of trackchasing. After I spend a few minutes explaining what trackchasing is and why I do it, folks get a great view of the hobby.
Another reason I do interviews is to give recognition to my fellow competitors. For years, my “press release” contained the names of the top ten trackchasers. Often announcers would read the top few, concentrating on any trackchasers who might be from their local area. Once in a while every one of the top ten trackchasers would get their name read.
Jul 15 – Folks, I have been rained out just one time in all of 2011. That covers 67 tracks spread over 50 days of trackchasing. That’s a pretty good weather record. I use the latest in weather forecasting technology. Then I have the transportation resources to “turn on a dime” when I need to head for a place more likely to race than be rained out. I’m still steamed at the crazy people in Whiskey Lake, Kansas who canceled their racing when they clearly could have and should have raced earlier this year.
Jul 16 – Roger Ferrell is the “King of Indiana”. That’s right. He has seen more tracks in Indiana, 126, than any other trackchaser. However, like many others (Sivi, Hollebrand, Moore, Erdmann, Weisel, Metz) who have dominated the hobby at one time or another, Roger doesn’t trackchase that often any more.
I think the majority of these folks has come to a simple conclusion. There just is “not enough bang for the buck”. I’ve said this for more than ten years. When a trackchaser has seen most of the tracks within his or her driving “radius” they will cut back on trackchasing significantly.
Jul 17 – My overall plan is to leave home fewer times this year but to see as many or more tracks as I do in a normal year. That means I have to see more tracks per trip.
I’ve made 18 trackchasing trips this year. I’ve taken nine weekends completely off from trackchasing. That’s about the ratio I’m looking for in 2011. I am currently averaging 3.7 tracks per trip. If a fellow competitor averages two tracks or so per weekly trip they would have to leave home nearly twice as often as I do to keep up.
“But, Randy”, the concerned reader might rightly ask. “If the Midwest is so great why did you leave?”. That’s a good question. In a few words “the climate sucks”. I’m one of those folks who believes there are very few differences from one place in the U.S.A. to the next.
Everywhere has gas stations, movie theatres and dry cleaners. The things you do in your every day life are similar from one region to the next. You might spend eight hours of every day in your bedroom. Several other hours are spent in your house. Work takes up some time for those still “working for the man”. One of the few significant differences in the climate.
In American you can choose to live inside an icebox (that’s what they call a refrigerator back here), a sauna or in a place that offers up room temperature (72 degrees) nearly every day. I vote for room temperature. Lots of other people do too. That’s why real estate prices are so high in SoCal.
Jul 21 – In the few hours I would have at home I needed to make a visit to the hospital. Yes, that’s right. During my precious 51 hours I was hospitalized. However, before my fellow competitors can begin licking their chops, I was “going to hospital” for a simple blood test. It’s part of my annual physical exam. I take these exams so that I will be healthy enough to torment those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers” for years to come.
I was disappointed in one aspect of my hospital visit. I had anticipated taking a urine test. In preparation I drank a barrel (not a bottle) of water. Then I had to wait some time for the medical personnel to meet with me. At that point, I was beginning to re-think my urine test preparation strategy. Finally, I was seen. The nurse smiled and said, “I have good news. No urine test for you today”. I couldn’t WAIT to get out of that office. I did my imitation of the Olympics power-walking race straight to the men’s room!
Jul 22 – So what’s the tie in between math and county fair racing in Iowa? Tonight we would be seeing racing on both an oval track and a figure 8 track. When I can see two tracks in one night my trackchasing totals add up about twice as fast. Yep! It’s great to be good at math.
Jul 23 – Most folks think the Midwest had brutal winters with ice, snow and cold. They do. However, many of the other seasons can be just as bad or worse. It’s tough to beat for “badness” an early spring day in the Midwest when the temperature is 40 degrees, the wind’s blowing 30 M.P.H. and it’s raining.
Of course, in the summer folks must deal with excessive heat and humidity. Don’t forget the ferocious thunderstorms. It is not very surprising that the four seasons of this area are sometimes referred to as 1) almost winter, 2) winter, 3) still winter and 4) the Fourth of July!
By the way our companions for the evening, Mike and Mary very much enjoyed the program. Mary said she liked it much better than the oval races in Pennsylvania. “They took too much time lining up the races at that track”, she said. Mary’s view seemed to be shared by so many others here tonight. Maybe that was why the grandstand was absolutely packed at premium admission prices. Promoters are you listening? Fans want entertainment more than competition.
If you’re a racer turned promoter you’ll probably continue to take ten minutes relining up your race after the fifth caution. Then you will see your crowd decline every week and you will turn over the “promotional reins” to the next guy who wants to promote more races. On the other hand, if you can get your arms around the “entertainment” aspect of your job, you’ll have a job for a long time to come.
Jul 25 – When Carol is out on the road, she wants to see tracks. She can only come about once a month but when she does she’s up for seeing tracks. She’s not competing in any trackchasing competition whatsoever. She just wants to see tracks if she comes on a trackchasing trip. That makes sense to me.
We are “trackchasing assassins”. We do whatever it takes see the next track. We have near perfect flexibility in TWO areas. First, we have flexibility of MIND. We have the mindset of being able to change directions “on a dime”. That’s a very important asset to have in life.
Secondly, we have the “airline sponsorship” capability. That’s awfully important too. For the first 57 years of my trackchasing life we didn’t have that. Some day in the future we won’t have it the way we do now. When and if that happens we’ll just adapt. That’s where the “flexibility of mindset” comes in.
Jul 26 – Today I would be trackchasing in Iowa. Iowa is special to me. It’s the first state where I ever saw racing outside of my native locale of Illinois. Iowa is my most favorite racing state of all. The very best dirt racing emanates from the Hawkeye state. It doesn’t hurt that the people of Iowa are part of a four-state union (Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Nebraska) where the nicest people in the world live either.
I’m a pretty laid back guy (my words). I can handle just about every travel situation without “batting an eyelash” (as my grandma used to say). However, when Carol travels with me I feel the “pressure”. I feel the pressure to perform, logistically that is.
Jul 27 – In terms of coverage, the Saskatoon “StarPhoenix” story might have been my best ever. Getting a front-page color photo in a daily newspaper with 95,000 subscribers is about as cool as I could ever expect. Then being able to buy a copy (O.K. as many copies as I could carry!) in the airport gift shop the next morning was pretty cool too!
Some trackchasers are resentful of this. Others think it’s great. Overall, our trackchasing group is on the shy side. Being shy is certainly O.K. Begrudging others because you are shy is not O.K. Carol frequently says this behavior is because “they’ve never seen anyone like you”. Leave it to your wife to stand up for you!
Jul 28 – Once a year tracks race predominantly during county fairs. Most county fairs run during July and August. I estimate that I’ve been to more than 200 county fairs. That’s a lot of corn dogs. Truth be told I don’t eat much “fair food” anymore. The selections seem to be less and less and the food doesn’t look that appetizing.
They say that hay should be made while the sun shines. Is that the same as “don’t be at the airport when you’re ship comes in?” Folks, the “trackchasing hay” is being made now, in July and August. I’ll see as many county fair races during this period as I can. The racing isn’t that great at the fairs most of the time but the experience of the fair can be fun.
Jul 29 – While all this (trackchasing politics and drama) was going on I was trying to distance myself from the trackchasing political process and turmoil. I stopped posting regularly on the trackchaser forum well over five years ago. Now I post just one time each year. That would be toward the end of January when I share my trackchasing “annual report” with the entire trackchasing group. Most of the leading trackchasers either get my Trackchaser Reports directly or read about my exploits at www.randylewis.org. For those who don’t don’t fall into either of those two groups, they can see what I’ve been up too for the year via this single trackchasing forum posting.
There WAS just one more thing. Mr. White had relinquished the keys to his trackchasing “lists” website. One of the east coast trackchasers once told me that Mr. White has all the power. “He has the keys to the website”, he told me. Not anymore.
Mr. Smith has now taken over the trackchaser website at well! Yes, it’s true. Mr. Smith wrote the original rules, controls the trackchasing forum, acts at the trackchasing commissioner AND now runs the trackchasing forum. Talk about a company town!
I think rankings have been the downfall of the hobby. That’s why I have resisted being part of the official trackchasing rankings but to little avail so far. I tried, but the trackchasing political process kept dragging me in.
I will continue to try to distance myself from the trackchasing BS as outlined above. I have not submitted any tracks for counting in the trackchasing statistics for more than five years. That policy will not change. I see no benefit to me personally to be “under the domination” of such a process.
Jul 31 – During the races (Outlook Stock Car track) I saw something I had never seen in the 1,692 tracks I had visited before. The track employees were going through the grandstand handing out umbrellas. Was it going to rain? Not likely.
They were offering umbrellas to the crowd of 75 or so to shade them from the sun. Can you imagine! That’s just one reason why I judge the residents of Saskatchewan to be the nicest in all of Canada.
If the umbrellas weren’t enough, then a woman working for the track came out with wet towels!! Wet towels! She squeezed cool water over the hot patrons and actually gave two ladies a sponge bath. No the track didn’t have state of the art equipment in most areas, but their people more than made up for it.
Aug 1 – I will also discuss another unrelated point. Everything that is posted on my website is copyrighted. That means that no one can use the photos or content in any way without my permission.
Folks who are on my email distribution list are strongly asked to not share this information with anyone in an “anonymous” fashion. One of the things I dislike most is someone who posts information on the net without identifying himself or herself. Hope that is clear to everyone. Violators will be removed from the distribution list.
This track (Claire County Fairgrounds) counts in my overall totals. However, to me this is NOT racing. I’m almost (but not quiet) ashamed to add this type of racing to my trackchasing totals. However, I try to count my track by trackchasing rules. If the rules allow ‘em, I’ll count ‘em.
Aug 2 – It takes some planning to pull off a 17-track, 15-day trackchasing adventure without a major misstep. There were some significant outcomes from this trip. Take a look at the following:
I never checked a bag on any of the 16 planes I rode on during this trip. My sixteen airplanes moved me 11,618 miles across the North American skies.
I had clean socks, underwear and shirts for every day of the trip without doing any laundry while on the road. Yep! My one carry-on bag and computer briefcase carried enough clothes for fifteen days.
I rented 12 different cars and drove a scant 2,703 miles. I gassed up those cars more than a dozen times. I received newspaper coverage of my trip from three papers: Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Jordan Independent (MN) and The Outlook in Outlook Saskatchewan. The StarPhoenix coverage was my first front-page story (Show me the story!) in a major (95,000 circulation) daily newspaper. The Swift Current Booster called but we didn’t make a connection.
Aug 6 – I commonly say “people vote with their feet”. Here’s what I mean by that. People may tell you “one thing or another”. However, it’s what they DO that really counts. What’s this got to do with the opening of tonight’s figure 8 races?
After the national anthem the announcer went on to thank our military for keeping us free. Yes, we live in the “home of the brave and the land of the free”. People all over the world “vote with their feet”. People are clamoring to get into the U.S.A. I don’t see a big rush of folks seeking residence from the outside into China, Mexico or …..Belgium. We have the best country!
Aug 11 – Fresh off my 1,698th career track visit, I found a quiet spot at the fairgrounds and gave Jane Miller (Peoria Journal Star reporter) a call. We talked for more than thirty minutes. She is a very knowledgeable race fan.
Jane was most interested in the trackchasing rules. We talked about that for a few moments. Later, I would send her a copy of our trackchasing rules. She wanted to know why we don’t count drag racing? I told her that the top ten trackchasers back in about 1997-98 set up the original rules. I think counting drag strips, go-karts and motorcycle racing would have been a good idea.
Jane asked a lot of good questions. She asked me “is it the race or the chase?” She was curious as to why the Peoria Speedway is my all-time favorite track. The story she will write should appear in the Sunday edition, August 14, 2011, of the Peoria Journal Star. You won’t receive this report by then so I guess you’ll have to search the archives of the Peoria Journal Star to see Jane Miller’s story on trackchasing.
Aug 13 – I woke up this morning in Traverse City, Michigan. I went to bed in Detroit, Michigan. I spent the main part of the day in Canada. When I left my hotel this morning at 6 a.m. it was pouring down rain. Because I live in a place where it almost never rains and I travel to places where I don’t EXPECT it to rain, I rarely see the wet stuff.
Mind you, I don’t dislike rain. It’s just that I don’t care for rain altering my outdoor plans. Growing up in the Midwest I experienced the “pain and suffering” of having things I was looking forward to cancelled just because it rained. I didn’t like that……..and still don’t.
I am always telling you that “strategy” is all important in trackchasing. Why do I say that? Because it is! Good “strategy” in life as well as in trackchasing let’s you get more done while using fewer resources. I can’t say it any simpler than that.
Trackchasing has definitely taken some unusual twists and turns over time. Where would we be if we had never added figure 8 tracks in trackchasing? Now various forms of county fair enduros, autocross events and now democross races are providing more and more countable tracks for everyone to see. It’s too much in my opinion.
For me personally, I would rather have a “finite” number of places to go trackchasing. Then I could get a sense of “I’m gaining on it”. However, others feel differently. They are willing to drive hundreds of miles for a 45-minute democross event. I’m not on board with that.
Aug 14 – People ask me questions all the time about my trackchasing hobby. They want to know what it is. They want to know why I do it. They are curious as to “what’s the attraction”. Sometimes I tire of trying to answer those questions. People either get it or they don’t. That’s not a criticism of people who don’t get it. Lots of people I know love doing things that I don’t understand.
Recently, I came across a film I made about a track visit to Arkansas. Really it’s just a compilation of still photos and music. However, the film covers the real essence of trackchasing for me. It’s about “a day in the life of a trackchaser”. I love seeing so many things that are different and/or I don’t get to see in my everyday life in California. The more unusual the better.
When I was in business I used to think that I could conduct a job interview with just one question. “When the light turns yellow do you hit the gas or the brake?” That would tell me about 90% of what I needed to know about someone. Of course, this is an oversimplification, but I hope you get my point.
Some folks like the certainty of keeping their money in the bank or under the mattress. No, they won’t lose their money (assuming they’re FDIC insured!). However, they won’t get much return for their lack of risk. I am a “measured risk taker”. I take a risk when the reward is good and the downside isn’t a deal-breaker. Can I afford to miss a plane or two if I have a fantastic reward system? To me, the answer is always yes.
Aug 20 – Late this week I was contacted by Scott Shults. Scott is the founder of the Peoria Oldtimers Racing Club and Hall of Fame. He founded the club in 1981. This is the 30th anniversary of the HoF.
I first met Scott a few years back at the speedway where he was handling the announcing. We had a great interview during intermission while we reminisced about the good ole days at the Peoria Speedway as well as where trackchasing had taken me all over the world. Since that time Scott and I have stayed in touch.
That’s why I was absolutely thrilled to get this message from Scott:
“We would be honored to include you as a 2011 “Inductee” into our Peoria Oldtimers Racing Club Hall of Fame.
I don’t know of any honors from your Track-Chasing adventures that have been bestowed on you. We would like to be first to do this.”
Aug 23 – Following the Labor Day weekend, the county fairs will be history. Many of the traditional Friday night tracks will be closing so as not to conflict with the local high school football games. With the kids back in school midweek racing specials will be nearly non-existent. Yes, the trackchasing season grinds to a “slow down” from Labor Day and beyond.
Aug 24 – The plan is always about finding a race where the weather is good and where I have a way to get to the race. When I say it like that it sounds rather simple. Of course, it is not.
I’m trying to keep my “tracks per trip” ratio up. Before this trip I had seen 91 tracks in 21 trips. That’s an average of 4.3 tracks for each of my trackchasing adventures in 2011. That’s not bad. To see 100 tracks would take me less than twenty-five trips this year. Heck, I could have taken some 27 weekends off instead of just eighteen!
I think at some point in time trackchasing at too many county fairs dulls the mind. Long ago, I gave up on the food at fairs. It just doesn’t look too appealing anymore. This was my 19th county fair since July 14, a period of just 41 days!
Aug 25 – I’m in Michigan this week to see county fair racing. Michigan might have more county fair, once a year, races than any other state. I know this. I have more tracks “remaining to be seen” in the Wolverine state than any other.
The good thing about seeing Michigan county fairs, during the summer, is that I don’t have to drive very far. It’s beautiful country up here. Michigan is famous for their reasonably priced good quality golf courses.
I feel badly for anyone my age that hasn’t and now can’t handle the demands and benefits of a technology driven society. The worst part of it? They don’t even know what they’re missing. However, how can anyone be unhappy if they don’t know what they don’t know.
However, today the racing effort was “dumbed down” to novelty figure 8 and enduro racing. This is not what I signed up for when I became a trackchaser. However, I do have those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers” to contend with. They don’t seem to mind relegating all the great racing they have in their own backyards to the back burner so they can simply add another track. Rankings are very important to these folks.
Did you know that you can’t vote on a trackchasing proposal if you don’t agree to participate in the rankings? Alas, the rankings are the most important aspect of the entire trackchasing hobby as measured by trackchasing’s “political elite”. I don’t care for that.
Aug 26 – I would say that Carol goes trackchasing with me for about one-third of my tracks, maybe a little bit more. I go with friends about a third of the time and the last third I end up traveling by myself. This is the perfect balance for me.
My travel methods and schedule keep me from going with Carol or my friends any more than I do. I can’t ask Carol to fly over night, sleep in rental cars or drive 700 miles a day that often. As a matter of fact, I can’t ever recall having Carol sleep overnight in a car on a trackchasing trip. If that had ever happened, then I’m sure I would remember it!
Most of my “civilian” friends (meaning they are not trackchasers) are still working. They don’t have the time flexibility to travel with me all over the country. It’s the same with my trackchasing friends. They can’t easily meet me anywhere when my plans are as “fluid” as they are.
Aug 27 – Let’s do the math. First, I would get to bed at about 1 a.m. in Michigan. By 2 p.m. the next afternoon I had to cover 312 miles. I would also have to pass through Canadian border control since driving through Canada from Michigan to New York was the best route. Why don’t we just annex those Canada folks anyway! You can figure out how much time there was left to sleep with a 2 p.m. start time. Not much!
When I had emailed the track (Eagle Speedway, Irving, New York) I was told they were expecting “20 or 30” enduro cars for the race today. This was not my first rodeo. When a promoter tells me “20 or 30” I divide by three……take a deep breath and divide by two again. Yep! If they had six or eight cars that would be great. How many did they have? Two!
Aug 28 – My “plan” for July and August was to “bust it”. This was my chance to keep my two closest fellow competitors “back there”. How did I do? Through the end of August, Guy Smith has been credited with 70 tracks. Ed Esser has seen 57 tracks. What’s my total? Ninety eight!!
During the months of July and August I spent 40 nights away from home. Carol was on the road a dozen nights during this two-month period.
Sep 3 – Folks, that’s why everyone needs a GPS unit. People need to go places in life where they don’t know the way. If a person never goes to a place where they don’t know how to get there then their life isn’t going to be nearly as exciting in my opinion. Get yourself a GPS for all of the places you’ll be heading where you don’t know the way. Remember life is all about what’s just around the next corner.
Nowadays the remaining tracks that I have to see in the U.S. are getting further and further apart. Often times the racing that I see isn’t all that great. In good conscience I can’t ask Carol to fly overnight, sleep in a rental car and then watch some “novelty” race night after night. Sorry, I just can’t do it. It’s not fair to her. However, on trips like this one (to Europe) it makes a lot more sense for her to come along.
Aug 31 – Sep 12 – Like all of my trips I deemed this adventure a huge success. The driving force was to see some racing in foreign countries. We did that. I saw racing action in my 53rd and 54th countries, meaning Luxembourg and Poland respectively. Carol also added Belgium to her totals and has now seen racing in 27 countries. She ranks third in the “total countries seen” category and is the leading women’s international trackchaser.
However, international trackchasing is not that much about racing. We were gone for 13 days. We were probably at racetracks for about 13 hours. To be honest, if I had visited some of America’s little dirt oval bullrings I would have seen much better racing and spent a lot less money.
This trip took us “around the world”. This was the “first ever round the world trackchasing trip”. We went from Los Angeles to Tokyo to Frankfurt and back to Los Angeles. More than one person did a double take when they learned we came from Los Angeles to Frankfurt….via Japan!
We visited Japan, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Poland. We stayed overnight in most of those places. We ate dessert at almost every lunch and dinner location for every day of the trip. I fear getting on the scale back home. We had enough time between most of our many stops that we didn’t seem rushed.
Sep 24 – Yes, what about tickets? (Singapore Grand Prix) Formula 1 is a very popular sport worldwide. In reality it’s a bit like soccer. America doesn’t get very excited about either of these activities but the rest of the world sure does.
For some ungodly reason ticket prices are sky-high for Formula 1 events. How expensive were they? Tickets in any of the Singapore grandstands were sold for all three days only. The most expensive three-day grandstand ticket sold for $1,288 Singapore dollars (about $1,018 U.S.). For gosh sakes, are you KIDDING me?
We (Carol and I) had done it. We had exercised together or at least on the same island at the same time. Now I know what those “Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers” feel like when I lay the hammer down on them in the trackchasing world. I can now feel their pain!
Flying standby is a lot like going to war or preparing for a competitive sporting event. In those situations you know what YOU want to do you just don’t know what the “other side” is going to throw at you.
In the midst of out attempt to get from Honolulu to Singapore 79 hours ago, I would have given us a 20% chance of making it. Yet, we made it. This morning, again I would have given us a 20% chance, or maybe less, of making it home today. We made it. We’ve cut this so close so many times I know there are going to be trips where we don’t get to our destination on time or get home on time. This is a lot like trying to avoid rainouts on the trackchasing trail. I do my best to avoid bad results, but occasionally that’s not possible. We just have to be happy for all of the times we get to our destination on time.
Sep 30 – Yes, the Wisconsin race fan is a hearty soul. During late September nights can get a little chilly. Temps were expected to fall into the 30s later on tonight. You can always expect the Wisconsin fan to be sporting two things under these conditions. First, a snowmobile suit to keep them warm. Then a can of beer, or maybe even a six-pack to keep them warmer.
I have never seen such a beer-drinking state as Wisconsin. To their credit, they seem to handle their beer drinking well, although it does seem to be adding a few inches to a few waistlines. Wisconsin is made up of linebackers not defensive backs.
Oct 1 – At this point, I had a decision to make. I could stay at Dallas County and watch some lower level stock cars race or………….I could drive an hour to see the “big boys” of short track racing compete on arguably the best short track facility in the country.
I think I made the right decision. After being at the Dallas County Fairgrounds for about an hour and a half, I hightailed it over to Knoxville. I’m in trackchasing for the fun of it. I went where the most fun was.
Now I was faced with a trackchasing “ethical” dilemma. I had information that other trackchasers didn’t have. There wasn’t another trackchaser on earth who knew about the “River Bottom Speedway” in Deer Creek, Illinois.
What should I do with this information? In the past I would have shared this “nugget” with other trackchasers in a heartbeat. Folks, who research my old reports with find two things to support this assertion.
Oct 2 – I used to post all of the key race dates at tracks I had never visited on my website. Often times this meant sharing nearly 1,000 upcoming dates. This took hours and hours to input. Additionally, I would post my upcoming travel plans for the next two weeks or so at the bottom of each Trackchaser Report that I wrote. That seemed like the neighborly thing to do.
However, and this was a “bad” forever, I discovered that my fellow competitors didn’t share much, if anything. This was when it dawned on me. The trackchasing hobby is a “dog eat dog” world. Today as this report is written, my two closest fellow competitors are Ed Esser and Guy Smith. Ed had posted 1,412 tracks and Guy 1,411.
When I was sharing all of those dates, what were Ed and Guy doing? They didn’t share a gull-durned thing. Why was I taking so much time and effort to post hundreds of racing dates when my fellow competitors weren’t doing any such thing? That’s when I decided that maybe it would be best to keep my race date database to myself. Folks, who doubt the authenticity of these assertions can easily check the “Yahoo Groups – Trackchasers” forum. It’s all there in black and white so there will absolutely NO confusion in this area.
However, and this is a GOOD however, I still felt I should share the results of my racing activities. I would simply share them after I went to the races. This was good for another reason as well.
Oct 14 – That would be a legitimate question to ask. It HAS been 12 days since my last trackchasing adventure….in Illinois. Last weekend was my twelfth weekend away from trackchasing. I’ll bet when I set my goal of taking 18 weekends off from my hobby, lots of folks didn’t think I would be able to make it. I’m hear to tell you that I am well on my way to meeting and maybe even exceeding that goal.
Truth be told I didn’t really want a free ticket. I like to remain “independent” when it comes to trackchasing. Anytime anyone gives me anything I feel there might be an expectation on their part for some form of reciprocation. When I give to others I don’t want it to be based upon reciprocation. I want to give back because I want to give back. Does that make sense to you?
Oct 15 – I like to see multiple tracks in one day. When I do it’s called a “trackchasing double”. There are several kinds of “doubles”. Today I saw my favorite type of trackchasing double. It’s the “day/night” double. Just as the name says, with this type of double I see one track in the day (afternoon) and one at night (evening).
I am surprised to look back on this year and note that I have seen 25 trackchasing doubles. Over the years, I’ve tried to see trackchasing doubles as often as I could. Considering I’ve seen more than 1,700 tracks, being able to catch 25 doubles in a single year at this stage in my career is noteworthy.
Oct 21 – In racing the promoter is faced with many challenges. Essentially, he had two masters to serve. Those would be his racers and his racing fans. Unfortunately, what is good for one of those groups is usually not so great for the other.
Fans want the show to begin on time. Racers always want a little more time to work on their cars and don’t mind starting a few minutes late. The fast racers, who often draw the most fans and have the most pull with the promoter, would like to start up front in the race lineup. Fans want to see the fast cars start toward the rear of the grid so there will be more passing.
I could go on and on but the needs and wants of the racers and the racing fans are different. I’m a race fan. I vote with the fans. I want the show to get started on time, have very few yellow flag delays and have races with lots of passing. How did we do tonight? (Whynot Motorsports Park) Not that well.
Oct 22 – When trackchasing archivists (who will obviously be indirect descendants of Will White) see that I went trackchasing in Mississippi one night and rural Pennsylvania twelve hours later, they’re going to scratch their heads.
Nov 12 – There are really only three international trackchasers who have taken this category “by the horns”. I’m talking about Roland Vanden Eynde (Belgium), Will White (United States) and myself. We are the only three trackchasers who had seen racing in more than five countries that meet some important criteria.
First, we did it on our own. We didn’t go to these places on business. We spent our hard-earned money to go there on pleasure. We researched the race information in foreign countries and then we found those places by ourselves. Of course, we had help and advice along the way that was indispensible. However, when it came time to decide whether to turn right or left in a foreign place we were on our own. There is a huge difference between trackchasing in a foreign country that speaks your language or trackchasing with someone else holding our hand. Roland, Will and I went to foreign-speaking places by ourselves. On this trip to Uruguay there would be no hand holding and there would be virtually no English!
By a show of hands, how many of you think that someone who drives the wrong way down a one-way street should get a ticket? Wow! This is a tough crowd. Must be a lot of Fox TV watchers?
I learned these types of strategies from a woman I worked with in business many years ago. She was how shall I say it, ‘well endowed”. Debbie (I use that name because that was her name) told me as she dropped her gaze toward her chest “one had to use what God gave them to get ahead”. Made sense to me at the time and it still does today. Debbie, if you’re reading this thanks!
On the other hand, now that I think about it, I might have been able to file a sexual harassment suit against Ms. Debbie. Maybe, with a sizeable settlement I could have retired even earlier. However, in the 70s this thought never occurred to me!
Nov 20 – I will tell you this. I didn’t much like driving Carol’s Lexus (one of two “Lexi” she owns) on this trip. You see I don’t like wearing out her cars driving to racetracks.
I will rent 40-50 cars per year. I will drive 25,000-30,000 miles per year……in a rental car. I cover less than half of those distances in my personal car. That’s why Carol’s 2004 Lexus looks like its brand new. I simply don’t think it’s worth ruining your car to drive back and forth to racetracks.
THE NITTY GRITTY FROM 2011
6 new tracks – North Carolina, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin
11 new tracks – Wisconsin, Texas, Alaska, Minnesota, Alabama
8 new tracks – Louisiana, Missouri, Texas, Florida
11 new tracks – Arkansas, United Kingdom, Norway
9 new tracks – Colorado, New Mexico, Mexico, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Malaysia, Indonesia
10 new tracks –Washington, Michigan, Tennessee, Georgia, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey
27 new tracks – Kentucky, New York, Quebec, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Saskatchewan, Ohio, Ontario
16 new tracks – Michigan, New York, Idaho, Indiana, Ontario, Minnesota, West Virginia
5 new tracks – Luxembourg, Belgium, Poland, Singapore, Wisconsin
8 new tracks – Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Mississippi, Pennsylvania
2 new tracks – Uruguay, California
0 new tracks – Vacation!
NUMBERS! NUMBERS! NUMBERS!
I wanted to share with you the highlights of my 2011 trackchasing season. Here they are:
Total new tracks seen: 113
Total U.S. states visited 27
Total Canadian provinces visited: 3
Total countries visited: 11 – Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Singapore, United States, Uruguay
New countries: 7 – Indonesia, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Uruguay
Dirt ovals – 37
Road Course tracks – 22
Figure 8 tracks – 22
Kart/small car tracks – 7
Asphalt ovals – 6
Ice tracks – 12
Inner ovals – 1
Indoor tracks – 5
Total foreign country tracks – 29
Total successful trackchasing days in 2011 – 87
Total golfing days in 2010 – 30
Trackchasing days rained out – 1 (A new personal best!)
Total flying trips – 30
Total driving trips – 1
Randy’s total overnight stays in 2011 – 162
Randy’s total overnight stays due to trackchasing in 2011 – nearly 100
Carol’s total overnight stays in 2011 – 73
Carol’s total overnight stays due to trackchasing in 2011 – about 40
Trackchasing days by the day of the week
Sunday – 24
Monday – 2
Tuesday – 3
Wednesday – 2
Thursday – 6
Friday – 20
Saturday – 31
RACETRACKS VISITED IN 2011
* Tracks attended by Carol
#1,613. Senator Bob Martin Eastern Agriculture Center, Williamston, NC – January 7
#1,614. Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia – January 8
#1,615. Puffers Pond (oval), Vernon, Vermont – January 9
#1,616. Puffers Pond (F8), Vernon, Vermont – January 9
Chili Bowl, Tulsa Expo Raceway, Tulsa, Oklahoma – January 14
#1,617. Fox Lake Ice Track, Fox Lake, Wisconsin – January 15
#1,618. Lake Sinissippi Ice Track, Hustisford, Wisconsin – January 16
#1,619. Lake Magnor Ice Track, Clayton, Wisconsin – February 5
#1,620. Lone Star Expo Center, Conroe, Texas – February 5
#1,621. Lake Chetek Ice Track, Chetek, Wisconsin – February 6
#1,622. Big Lake Ice Track*, Big Lake, Alaska – February 12
#1,623. Peninsula Ice Track*, Kasilof, Alaska – February 13
#1,624. Beluga Lake Ice Track*, Homer, Alaska – February 13
#1,625. Cross Lake Ice Track, Crosslake, Minnesota – February 19
#1,626. Garfield Lake Ice Track, Laporte, Minnesota – February 19
#1,627. Bass Lake Ice Track, Underwood, Minnesota – February 20
#1,628. Beaver Creek Speedway, Toney, Alabama – February 25
#1,629. J.S. Birdwell Agricultural Center, Wichita Falls, Texas – February 26
#1,630. Boothill Speedway*, Shreveport, Louisiana – March 4
#1,631. Cowen Civic Center*, Lebanon, Missouri – March 5
#1,632. USA Speedway, Sterlington, Louisiana – March 11
#1,633. Sabine Motor Speedway, Many, Louisiana – March 12
#1,634. 281 Speedway, Stephenville, Texas – March 13
#1,635. Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, Springfield, Missouri – March 18
#1,636. Pensacola Raceway, Pensacola, Florida – March 19
#1,637. Smoky Harris Speedway, Haleburg, Alabama – March 19
#1,638. Arkansas Motorsports Park, Warren, Arkansas – April 15
#1,639. Diamond Park Speedway, Nashville, Arkansas – April 16
#1,640. Anglesey Circuit*, Ty Croes, Wales, United Kingdom – April 22
#1,641. Lugg View Raceway*, near Marden, England, United Kingdom – April 23
#1,642. Donington Park*, Castle Donington, England, United Kingdom – April 23
#1,643. Arena Essex Raceway*, Purfleet, England, United Kingdom – April 23
#1,644. Horndean Raceway*, Horndean, England, United Kingdom – April 24
#1,645. Aldermaston Raceway*, Aldermaston, England, United Kingdom – April 24
#1,646. Lydden Hill Race Circuit*, Wooten, England, United Kingdom – April 25
#1,647. Dover Raceway*, Dover, England, United Kingdom – April 25
#1,648. Lyngas Motorbane, Lier, Norway – April 30
#1,649. Fairgrounds Speedway, Cortez, Colorado – May 13
#1,650. Sandia Speedway – dirt, Albuquerque, New Mexico – May 14
#1,651. Mexicali Grand Prix, Mexicali, Mexico – May 15
#1,652. Kil-Kare Speedway (F8), Xenia, Ohio – May 20
#1,653. Gallatin County Fairgrounds (F8), Glencoe, Kentucky – May 21
#1,654. Salem Speedway (inner), Salem, Indiana – May 22
#1,655. Salem Speedway (F8), Salem, Indiana – May 22
#1,656. Sepang International Circuit, Sepang, Malaysia – May 28
#1,657. Sentul International Circuit, Babakan Madang, Bogor, Indonesia – May 29
Rained out. Whiskey Lake Raceway, Junction City, Kansas – June 3
#1,658. Spokane County Raceway (RC), Airway Heights, Washington – June 4
#1,659. Spokane County Raceway (oval), Airway Heights, Washington – June 4
#1,660. Kinross Speedpark, Kinross, Michigan – June 17
#1,661. Nashville Super Speedway (RC), Lebanon, Tennessee – June 18
#1,662. New Senoia Speedway, Senoia, Georgia – June 18
#1,663. Waseca Fairgrounds, Waseca, Minnesota – June 19
#1,664. Northeast Fair (F8), Pittston Township, Pennsylvania – June 24
#1,665. Poughkeepsie Speedway, Poughkeepsie, New York – June 25
#1,666. Clinton County Speedway (F8), Mackeyville, Pennsylvania – June 25
#1,667. New Jersey Mtrspts Park – Lightning course, Millville, New Jersey – June 26
#1,668. Kentucky Speedway, Sparta, Kentucky – July 7
#1,669. Caroga Creek Raceway, Ephratah, New York – July 8
#1,670. Autodrome St-Just, Saint Just de Bretenieres, Quebec, Canada – July 9
#1,671. Autodrome East Broughton, East Broughton, Quebec, Canada – July 9
#1,672. Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada – July 10
#1,673. Mecosta County Fairgrounds (F8), Big Rapids, Michigan – July 14
#1,674. Jefferson County Fairgrounds, Madison, Indiana – July 15
#1,675. Crawford County Community Park, Marengo, Indiana – July 16
#1,676. Speed Creek 2 Raceway, Lapel, Indiana – July 16
#1,677. Montpelier Motor Speedway, Montpelier, Indiana – July 16
#1,678. Franklin County Fairgrounds Speedway (oval), Hampton, Iowa – July 17
#1,679. Franklin County Fairgrounds Speedway (F8), Hampton, Iowa – July 17
#1,680. Henderson County Fairgrounds* (F8), Stronghurst, Illinois – July 21
#1,681. Floyd County Fairgrounds* (oval), Charles City, Iowa – July 22
#1,682. Floyd County Fairgrounds* (F8), Charles City, Iowa – July 22
#1,683. Route 66 Raceway* (oval), Joliet, Illinois – July 23
#1,684. Route 66 Raceway* (F8), Joliet, Illinois – July 23
#1,685. Watonwan County Fairgrounds*, St. Peter, Minnesota – July 24
#1,686. Ottawa County Fairgrounds*, Holland, Michigan – July 25
#1,687. Fayette County Speedway, West Union, Iowa – July 26
#1,688. Auto Clearing Speedway, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada – July 27
#1,689. Knox County Fairgrounds (F8), Mount Vernon, Ohio – July 28
#1,690. Scott County Fairgrounds, Jordan, Minnesota – July 29
#1,691. Brighton Speedway (oval), Brighton, Ontario, Canada – July 30
#1,692. Brighton Speedway (F8), Brighton, Ontario, Canada – July 30
#1,693. Outlook Stock Car Track, Outlook, Saskatchewan, Canada – July 31
#1,694. Speedy Creek Raceway, Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada – July 31
#1,695. Clare County Fairgrounds (F8), Harrison, Michigan – August 1
#1,696. Cattaraugus County Fairgrounds (F8), Little Valley, New York – August 2
#1,697. Teton County Fairgrounds (F8), Driggs, Idaho – August 6
#1,698. Lake County Fairgrounds (F8), Crown Point, Indiana – August 11
#1,699. Northwest Michigan Fairgrounds, Traverse City, Michigan – August 12
#1,700. Aylmer Fairgrounds (oval), Aylmer, Ontario, Canada – August 13
#1,701. Aylmer Fairgrounds (F8), Aylmer, Ontario, Canada – August 13
#1,702. Grand Bend Speedway, Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada – August 13
#1,703. Nicollet County Fairgrounds, St. Peter, Minnesota – August 14
Peoria Speedway*, Peoria, Illinois – August 20
Peoria Motorcycle Club, Peoria, Illinois – August 21
#1,704. Jefferson County Frgrds (F8), Kearneysville, West Virginia – August 23
#1,705. Sanilac County Fairgrounds (F8), Sandusky, Michigan – August 24
#1,706. Chelsea County Fairgrounds (F8), Chelsea, Michigan – August 25
#1,707. Tri-City Motor Speedway (oval), Auburn, Michigan – August 26
#1,708. Tri-City Motor Speedway (F8), Auburn, Michigan – August 26
#1,709. Stateline Speedway, Jamestown, New York – August 27
#1,710. Woodstock Fairgrounds (F8), Woodstock, Ontario, Canada – August 28
Marcolin Auto Cross*, Marcolin, France (practice only) – September 3
#1,711. Alzingen Stock Car Track*, Alzingen, Luxembourg – September 4
#1,712. Circuit de Spa Francorchamps*, Francorchamps, Spa, Belgium – September 10
#1,713. Tor Slomczyn*, Slomczyn, Poland – September 11
#1,714. Marina Bay, Singapore*, Singapore – September 24
Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, Iowa – September 29
#1,715. ABC Raceway, Ashland, Wisconsin – September 30
#1,716. Dallas County North Track (oval), Adel, Iowa – October 1
Knoxville Raceway, Knoxville, Iowa – October 1
#1,717. River Bottom Speedway, Deer Creek, Illinois – October 2
#1,718. RPM Speedway, Crandall, Texas – October 14
#1,719. Cycle Ranch, Floresville, Texas – October 15
#1,720. Gulf Coast Speedway, Alvin, Texas – October 15
#1,721. Whynot Motorsports Park, Meridian, Mississippi – October 21
#1,722. Rolling W Ranch, West Sunbury, Pennsylvania – October 22
#1,723. Hesston Speedway, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania – October 22
Orange County Fair Speedway, Middletown, New York – October 23
#1,724. Piriapolis Grand Prix, Piriapolis, Uruguay – November 12
Piriapolis Grand Prix, Piriapolis, Uruguay – November 13
#1,725. Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, Desert Center, California – November 20
Pages needed to print this – 137; Total words – 27,728
Official end of 2011 Randy Lewis Racing Annual Report