Arizona Speedway

Arizona speedway

Greetings from Queen Creek, Arizona



From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”



Arizona Speedway – dirt oval – Lifetime Track #1,726


The EventVideosPhotos





2012 a 




The first trip of the year gave me a ‘trackchasing first’ …………..details in “The Objective & The Strategy”.



This weekend’s plan had lots of moving parts………………more in “The Trip”.



What’s my long-time tie to Arizona? …………..details in “State Comparisons”.






That would be a legitimate question to ask. It HAS been 42 days since our last trackchasing adventure….in Desert Center, California. Taking some time off this year gave me 19 trackchasing free weekends. That beat my goal of eighteen! My goal for weekends away from trackchasing in 2012 will be twenty-two. That should give me the balanced “entertainment diversification” I’m looking for.


Real good seats. 

During the time off we’ve been going to UCLA football and basketball games. We’ve been visiting with our kids and grandkids. During the last 42 days I’ve played golf fourteen times and been to see my acupuncturist about the same amount!







It’s simple. There are three different ways for you to see what I saw today at the races. You can watch a movie (always less than ten minutes). Secondly, you can see my still photos via Finally, you can see my still photos by using Picasa. With Picasa you can view the pictures at your own pace or watch them in a slide show produced by Picasa. Pick the method you like best.





The Plan 



It’s 2012 and time to get going.

First of all, thank you for coming along with me as I start a new trackchasing season. Yep! It’s 2012 already. What better way to begin the New Year than by seeing a new track on the very first day of the year?



The first trip of the year on the first day of the year gave me another ‘trackchasing first’.

The last time Carol and I went trackchasing on January 1 was back in 2007. On New Year’s Day we saw an afternoon show and then an evening performance at two tracks in New Zealand (Meremere Raceway and Meeannee Speedway). We also went New Year’s Day trackchasing in Australia (Sungold Stadium) on January 1, 2005. However, this marked the first time ever to trackchase on New Year’s Day in the United States.



The whole thing centers on the logistical planning.

My hobby involves a good deal of logistical planning. It’s one thing to DO the plan. It’s a totally different, and often times more challenging idea to “plan the plan”. However, I believe “planning the plan” keeps me young!



This trip had a lot of moving parts.

There were several “parameters” that needed to be considered in order for this to be a successful weekend. As you know, I spend a good deal of time doing other things besides trackchasing. I think that’s important to keep life interesting.



There were actually FOUR items that I wanted to do spread over four days with this trip. Two were of primary importance and the other two were just “important”.


Normally home to the San Francisco Giants. 

First, we had to be at AT&T Park (The Park) home of the baseball San Francisco Giants) for the 12:30 p.m. starting time of the “Kraft Fight Hunger” football bowl game on New Year’s Eve Day. The game pitted our UCLA Bruins against the “Fighting Illini” from the University of Illinois.



Then on Sunday January 1, we had to be in Queen Creek, Arizona for the 1 p.m. start of the racing at the brand new Arizona Speedway. These were the two primary logistical objectives.



The secondary logistics items included two other activities. Before we left home on Friday I was committed to a golf match until 3 p.m. or so in San Clemente. Then I wanted to get home on Sunday night so I would be able to attend my yoga class at 7:30 a.m. on Monday morning.



It was time to put ten pounds of potatoes in a five-pound sack.

No, I’m not talking about overeating. The travel distance (on EACH leg) was some 400-600 miles to get from home to the football game, then to the race from the football game and finally to get back home from the race.



The original plan called for us to be gone from home for just 60 hours or so. However, traveling about 1,500 miles, seeing two significant sporting events AND celebrating a holiday like New Year’s Eve would require first some planning and then some doing. Heck, it was the first weekend of the year. We were well rested. It was time to “get to it”!



The Trip


It takes some time to come up with an original plan.

We woke up this morning (Friday) in San Clemente, California. We went to bed in Buttonwillow, California on Friday night and then Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday night. This is what the weekend looked like.



The original plan called for us to leave home on Saturday morning, not Friday night. Our wake-up call would come at 3 a.m. for a planned 6 a.m. flight. That, my friends, was the PREFERRED plan. If you’re married and your preferred plan has the two of you getting up at 3 a.m………maybe you need to be a better planner.



The original plan had some problems.

However, we ran into two problems. First, San Francisco’s international airport experiences a good deal of fog in the winter. This both delays and cancels flights. Secondly, flights that looked wide open suddenly “tightened up”. I decided we couldn’t risk a fog delay and a lack of available standby seating early on Saturday morning.



We already had our “Kraft Fight Hunger” football bowl tickets. If the weather delayed us or we couldn’t get a seat on an early morning plane we would miss the game. That would be unacceptable.



On Friday I had played golf. For the first time since coming back from a nine-month medical leave I decided to walk the course. Our golf course, the Bella Collina Towne & Golf Club (Bella Collina), is a links style course with all kinds of extremely steep hills. It’s a “bear” to walk. Nevertheless, I wanted to give it a try. What was the benefit? First, it’s outstanding cardio exercise. Secondly, I can save money if I don’t ride in a golf cart.



By the time I got home at 3 p.m. I was 100% exhausted. The temperature had been near 80 degrees. I had “huffed and puffed” up every hill on the Royal Lytham and Carnoustie rotation. Yes, I was dragging.



It was time to change to ‘Plan B’.

However, when I got home I noticed that several flights had been delayed on Friday morning by fog in San Francisco. That scared me for our planned Saturday morning flight. Therefore, I made the executive decision during dinner (at about 6 p.m.) that we would leave at 8 p.m. for northern California.



Folks, Carol was coming along on this trip. It takes a very flexible woman to agree to leave in two hours, a day early for a trip like this. Fortunately, Carol aka “Trackchasing’s First Mother” is that flexible woman.



This plan had lots of moving parts.

However, we could not just drive from our home in the Los Angeles area up to San Francisco in our own car. We couldn’t do that for two reasons. First, I don’t like to wear out my car trackchasing. Secondly, there would not be enough “comfortable” time to drive from San Francisco after the football game to Phoenix in time for the race on Sunday.



We couldn’t leave our car in San Francisco and then fly to Phoenix because we were flying from Phoenix to the Los Angeles area after the race on Sunday. How would we solve this problem?



Was the new plan simple?

It was simple….sort of. We would drive our car an hour north to the Ontario International Airport. There we would park our car. Then we would get a “one-way rental” from my rental car sponsor, National. We picked up that rental car at 9:30 p.m. on Friday night. We then drove three of the seven hours we needed to make it to San Francisco. This put us in Buttonwillow, California at 12:30 a.m. early on Saturday morning. We had to be out of the hotel room by 6 a.m. for the remaining four-hour drive to San Francisco. Yes, we would be in our hotel for a bit more than five hours. This stuff never changes does it!


Carol gets our tickets. 

Once in the Bay Area, we parked our rental car at the B.A.R.T. station (Bay Area Rapid Transit system) next to the San Francisco airport. It would be cheaper and less of a hassle to ride the subway into downtown San Francisco that to drive in and then park. BART is a very slick and efficient system.



Lots of walking, subways, rental cars, shuttle buses, ‘A’ trains, airplanes….we did just about every transportation mode.

Following the game (more on that in the Trackchasing Tourist Attraction section), we walked a mile and a half from AT&T Park to the ‘Embarcadero’ BART stop. It was an easy ride back to the San Francisco airport. There was just enough time to pick up our rental car, gas it up and then stop at In N Out Hamburgers for a quick supper and then return our rental car.



The flight from San Francisco to Phoenix was wide open. That made life a little bit easier. We landed at 10:20 p.m. on Saturday, New Year’s Eve. We got to our hotel, The Phoenix Airport Hilton just in time for a mini New Year’s Eve celebration.



Thank goodness for my sponsors.

By the way, my sponsor got us into the Hilton for just $44 when the least expensive AAA rate was $95 plus tax. Of course being a season UCLA football ticket holder got us a nice discount on the football tickets. Then National kicked in so it wasn’t as expensive as it could have been for a last minute one-way car rental. Finally, my airline sponsors made it affordable to do some flying on this trip. Oops! I would be remiss to not mention that the Sunrise Airport Parking concession gave us a discount on airport parking. I can fully appreciate those NASCAR drivers who need to mention each of their sponsors without taking a breath.



Retirees living off their meager savings.

Folks, we are retirees living off our meager savings from thirty years of mostly enjoyable labor. We retired early and have been retired for nearly ten years. It isn’t easy or inexpensive to do what we do. However, with a little forethought and a good deal of support from my sponsors we seem to get by.





Carol and brother Mark. 

On Sunday, following the races, my brother Mark, who lives in Phoenix, got us back to the airport. This was going to be the first time I had used my newest sponsor, U.S. Airlines. They have a hub in Phoenix. They did a fine job of getting us back from Phoenix to Ontario, California. There we picked up the Carol Lewis owned and the Lincoln Financial Group sponsored Lexus LS 430. We joined in the Sunday night traffic of all those SoCal residents who had spent the weekend in either the desert or Las Vegas. By 8 p.m. or so we were pulling into the driveway of our modest little seaside cottage that overlooks the blue Pacific Ocean.



Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed….and no one was the wiser.

The next morning, Monday, I showed up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for my 7:30 a.m. yoga class. For the most part, no one was the wiser that just about every waking minute of my weekend had been “action packed”.



The People


Penny-wise, pound-foolish.

It was fun for Carol and me to go trackchasing with my brother Mark. However, the boy needs a new car. Driving an older Oldsmobile with well over 100,000 miles on the odometer is a recipe for disaster.





I very much enjoy the racing when I go on trackchasing trips. However, I am not the type of person who would feel the trip was complete if I simply left home, went to the race and came back home.



I do a good deal of traveling. I want to do my best to see the local area when I come for a visit. There are usually unusual attractions that one area is noted for more than any other locale. I want to see those places. I want to touch them and feel them. When I leave an area, I want to have memories of these special places that I call Trackchasing Tourist Attractions. I will remember those experiences long after the checkered flag has fallen on whatever race I have seen that day.



Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl – San Francisco, California




Small market sports.

I grew up in a “small” market, Peoria, Illinois. The best we could do for sports entertainment was the Peoria Pacers of the old Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL). The league was founded in 1963. The Pacers were charter members and stayed in the league until 1984. I was probably at their opening game in the summer of 1963. I would have just graduated from the eighth grade.


peoria pacers cicl

The Peoria Pacers.

I remember two things from my early Peoria Pacers games. First, Donnie Kessinger (Kessinger) played for Peoria in the beginning. He would later spend most of his career as the starting shortstop for the Chicago Cubs, where he was a six-time all-star. He also managed the Chicago White Sox for a brief time serving as a “player/manager”. He managed the infamous game at Comiskey Park on “Disco Demolition Night” (DDN). Of course, I followed the now “mid-major” sports program at Bradley University too. They reached a top ranking of #2 in the nation for basketball in 1960, when I was just eleven years old.



Seeing “small market” sports in fun. However, now we follow “big market” sports. When the Los Angeles Rams left SoCal in 1994 for St. Louis I was the holder of nine season tickets. Luckily, during this time, our three children were just beginning their UCLA academic careers. As a proud father I can tell you they each got into the college that gets more applications than any other college in the U.S. every year. Even more proudly I will tell you that each of them received their degrees in four years, like their ma and pa did.



Bring on the Bruins.

When the Rams left we began following UCLA football. That following has lasted a long time. It would be fun if they won every game. However, win or lose, we always make a “day out of it”. Lately, Bruin football has been on the “downside”. Nevertheless, they were selected to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against the Fighting Illini of the University of Illinois.


Any quesses? 

The game was played at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. We were there a few years ago to see the Giants play. I’ve seen Major League Baseball in more than have of their markets. AT&T Park, on a nice day, may be the most beautiful outdoor stadium I have ever visited. The stadium overlooks the San Francisco Bay and the famous Bay Bridge.



Just Google it.

Folks, are always asking me to make my Trackchaser Reports more concise. In order to accommodate those folks, I won’t comment on the game itself. If you want to find out who won……..Google it!   



Learning ‘what was up’.

Oops, I forgot to tell you what was the SECOND thing I remembered about attending the Peoria Pacers baseball games. When they started I was fourteen years old. I had been to a few Chicago Cubs games by that time (one game a year was our MAJOR vacation).



At the Cubs games fans got to keep the foul balls. I thought that was the drill at the Peoria Pacers games also. However, I must have been mistaken. The Pacers played their home games at the Caterpillar Tractor Company baseball stadium. My grandfather worked in “plant protection” at Caterpillar. Plant protection was kind of like the cops.



Somehow “word” got to my grandfather that I was tracking down foul balls along the right field line and keeping those baseballs. Soon I had a meeting with “Gramps” where he told me “what was up”. Now you know the rest of the story.





harlows cafe

Harlow’s Café – Tempe, Arizona


Click here for Harlow’s



I live to eat.

When I was a kid eating out meant the Steak n Shake or maybe the Beacon Buffet after church. Then when I entered the business world we ate in many of the finest restaurants in the U.S. on someone else’s tab. Our company president was a “wine connoisseur” and money was no object.



Somewhere along the line I began to enjoy “hole in the wall” restaurants. You know the kind. The ones that have been in business for a long time, are always packed because they have great food and service. I love those places and my “Yelp!” iPhone app tells me where they are when I travel.


breakfast harlows 

Harlow’s is one those places. They specialize in breakfast. Today was New Year’s Day. They were packed. Yelp! gave them four stars (out of five). That’s about what I would rate them too. The breakfast menu is huge. The place is easy to miss unless you know where you’re going. Everyone loved their food of French toast, biscuits and gravy and my chorizo burrito, which would probably be too spicy for the novice Gringo.






Arizona speedway sign




With a 1 p.m. starting time we wanted to be early.

Yesterday we went to a college football game. Late week we visited a movie theater. What did the football game and movie have in common? They both started at the advertised starting time. Was I surprised? No! I EXPECTED them to begin on time…..they always do.



Today’s racing was advertised to begin at 1 p.m. Did I believe them? Yes, I did. Why? I always believe the advertised starting times of any new track I visit. Why? Because, since this is my first visit to the track, I don’t have any reason not to believe someone when they tell me this or that.



Trust me, I am not one to complain over a minorly tardy start. However, as a good friend once told me, “If you’re not early you’re late”. I give a track 15 minutes of “grace period” when the weather is good and there are no other extenuating circumstances.


Arizona speedway sign 2 

Today we arrived forty minutes early (12:20 p.m.) for the above-mentioned 1 p.m. start. It was a gloriously sunny day with the high temps maxing out at about 80 degrees. Not bad for January 1, 2012.



I love enduros.

The Arizona Speedway opened in 2011. During the year they ran several shows. Today the advertised event was a 120-lap enduro for the “Bomber” class. I’m a big fan of enduros when run properly. I love enduros.


Arizona speedway racing

The track did lots of things right.

This track is a 3/8-mile dirt oval with good banking. The P.A. system is excellent. The track looks to have a decent concession stand although we didn’t eat anything at the track. They also have a very good souvenir store. They even had an “event” shirt for today’s “Hangover 120” enduro race. I know the set-up costs of t-shirts. I was impressed they went to the trouble of creating this fan souvenir although it didn’t look as if they were selling any.



All of the above is a very positive analysis of the Arizona Speedway. In every report I write I try to search for the positives as well as offering areas of constructive criticism. I will rarely seek any monetary advantage from a racetrack. I don’t carry a “press card” or seek free admissions. Actually, I prefer paying my own way. That way there is no hesitation in giving you a candid view of my experience at the track.


D- report card

Grade: D-

With the above being written, you might think I found something lacking in my Arizona Speedway experience. If you have that feeling, you are correct. I was VERY disappointed with how the program was run today. Let me tell you why.



As mentioned we arrived forty minutes early. That mistake was on me. I can’t blame the Arizona Speedway for that. However, after that it went downhill fast.



Why such a late start?

The weather was perfect. There were no nearby highway traffic problems. There weren’t any problems for that matter that were obvious to the fans. With all of the above being true, why did the very first racing green flag fall at a bit past 2:30 p.m.? I have no #$%^&%$ idea!



I will tell you that the track prayer and national anthem did begin only 26 minutes late at 1:26 p.m. Why 26 minutes late? I have no #$%^&%$ idea!


It's enduro racing time. 

The bomber class was the headline division with their 120-lap main event. Also on the card were the pure stocks. There turned out to be about 22 of them. However, they needed to “qualify”. Today qualifying consisted of each car taking two timed laps. The cumulative time was each driver’s official time of the day. I can’t recall seeing it done that way before.



Pure stock time trials….you’re kidding right?

The best drivers in each division most often support time trials. In today’s racing world the fast timers normally start at the front of the pack. Therefore the fast drivers WANT to have time trials. They know they will have the fastest times and therefore start at the front of the race. It’s a big advantage to start at the front of a race. Normally, the fastest drivers are the most experienced and the one’s with the longest tenure at any give track. Is it any wonder they have “the promoter’s ear” and ask for time trials?



The “pure stock” division is on the lower end of the stock car racing quality spectrum. I might go all year without seeing the pure stock division have any time trials. Normally, this class would have a “random” draw for starting positions.



To top it all off, the announcers told us that after time trials they would flip a coin to see if the fastest cars started in the front or the back of the race grid. If they were going to do that then why did they have time trials in the first place? I have no #$%^&%$ idea! By the way, with the coin flip, the fastest drivers started at the front!



Lots of dead time to get a sunburn.

The advertised starting time was 1 p.m. The first green flag fell at about 2:35 p.m. What had they done in 95 minutes. They said a prayer and played the national anthem. That took about three minutes. The time trialing of 22 pure stocks took another twenty minutes or so. They actually ran the time trials efficiently. This left more than an hour of PURE DEAD TIME with nothing happening other that the two announcers “jabbering” back and forth.



This guy needed some flash cards.

One of the announcers told the crowd several times that the three abreast start for the enduro would have fourteen rows and 52 cars. For those of you who didn’t major in math fourteen rows with three cars in a row would be forty-two racers. I think some fans finally told the announcer his math was a little off.



These guys just kept talking and talking with nothing much to say. They constantly told us the racing would begin “in just a moment or two”. It never did. One announcer took some time to tell the crowd he had a motorhome to sell. He mentioned we could visit “Craig’s List” for more information. If there is no action on the track, I guess I can’t blame the announcers. If there is no racing, they have to try to entertain the crowd somehow….I guess. Maybe it was the guys running the pit side operation that struck out. Why did they have no wheel-to-wheel racing for more than an hour and a half after the advertised start time? I have no #$%^&%$ idea!


Arizona speedway racing 3 

The first race of the day was a 20-lap pure stock feature event. However, the announcer kept telling us this was going to be a 25-lap race. He was still telling us the race would be for 25-laps when the flagman gave the drivers the “five to go” signal after just 15 laps. When the white flag was waved on lap 19 the announcer continued to tell us there were six laps to go. Why? I have no #$%^&%$ idea!



As a veteran race fan this was a comedy of errors.

Finally, at past 3 p.m. the 120-lap enduro race was set to go. They had all the cars parked in a haphazard fashion on the main straight and into turn one (see the pictures). The flagman then tried to pick the car starting in spot #1 from this hodgepodge of racers. When he found that car it was sent around the track to turn #4 for begin the race line-up. After about ten minutes of this idiotic display of poor organization they have about 10-12 of the forty-two starters lined up! At that point someone gave the signal that all of the thirty plus cars remaining would drive over toward turn one and form the rest of the line-up. For just a moment it looked like the “Oklahoma land rush” as drivers hurried to get a good starting sport. At this point the announcer apologized to the crowd telling everyone that for the next race each driver would have an in-car radio. If that happens, then they could start a race much faster.



Yellow flags….in an enduro?

During the enduro race itself, they had several yellow flags. A properly run enduro is supposed to only be stopped by the red flag when a driver is hurt or there is some major hazard on the track, i.e. fire, driveshaft or whatever.



One time a car lost a tire and wheel. The tire flew over the fence harmlessly stopping when it hit the track’s grader. The car that lost the tire made it to the pit area with no problem. THEN they displayed the yellow flag to check on the tire! There were no people anywhere near the grader where the tire came to rest. All the time this race was going on the dust was blowing and the cars were smoking badly. Getting forty-two cars to show up for an enduro in these times is pretty good. Having yellow flags in an enduro is pretty bad. Why did they do that? I have no #$%^&%$ idea!



Just a few friendly recommendations.

Overall, this program could have been much better. What did they need to do differently? I have an idea! Don’t have time trials for pure stocks. Don’t have yellow flags in an enduro. Have the cars lined up on the track for the first race of the day BEFORE 1 p.m. Start the #$%%&& show on time!!!



I hope the rest of my season doesn’t go like today’s racing did. I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.





arizona map


This afternoon I saw my 28th lifetime track in Arizona, the Grand Canyon state, yes the Grand Canyon state. I am a former resident of Arizona. In fact, our son J.J. was born in Arizona. Manzanita Speedway was our home track. Arizona is where we learned to enjoy really hot Mexican food all the way back in 1974. The racing Eckels (Bruce and Pat) have reported seeing 26 tracks each in the Grand Canyon state.



I have just one track remaining to be seen here. If the track’s promoter had lived up to his word I would have ZERO tracks remaining.



Coming Soon – RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Exclusive Features!

Do some trackchasers carry an unfair geographical advantage?


Should foreign trackchasers be given a handicap so they can enjoy the fruits of trackchasing glory?




Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,


Randy Lewis

World’s #1 Trackchaser

Peoria Old Timers Racing Club (P.O.R.C.) Hall of Fame Member


Arizona sayings: Welcome to Arizona, where summer spends the winter – and hell spends the summer. 







San Francisco, CA (SFO) – Phoenix, AZ (PHX) – 650 miles



Sky Harbor (Phoenix) International Airport – trip begins

Queen Creek, AZ – 33 miles

Sky Harbor (Phoenix) Airport – 66 miles – trip ends



Phoenix, AZ (PHX) – Ontario, CA (ONT) 324 miles


Total air miles – 974 (2 flights)

Total rental car miles – none

Total friend’s car miles – 66


Total miles traveled on this trip – 1,040 miles





Arizona Speedway – $10 ($2 senior discount)


Total racetrack admissions for the trip – $10









There are no trackchasers currently within 300 tracks of my lifetime total.


  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,726



  1. Ed Esser, Madison, Wisconsin – 1,423



  1. Guy “The Kid” Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania – 1,418




Official end of the RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Report










Arizona speedway racing

Click on the link below to see how a very busy trip layed out:

UCLA football, New Year’s Eve and the Arizona Speedway!








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