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Collier County Fairgrounds

Greetings from Naples, Florida

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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Collier County Fairgrounds

Dirt oval

 Lifetime Track #2,424

 

 

The EventVideo PlusPhotos

 

 

THE EVENT

I have had the opportunity to follow my trackchasing hobby all over the world.  As this is written I have seen racing in 78 countries.  My lifetime track total is just over 2,400.  Long ago I wrapped up seeing racing in every American state.

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Today I saw my 70th track in Florida. I’ve made 57 separate trips to trackchase in the Sunshine state. I’ve also been to many business meetings here. I have well over 100 trips to Florida. It sometimes amazes even me at how many times I have visited so many places.

 

 

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

 

 

I live in Southern California.  The vast majority of tracks in the U.S. are located in the Midwest and East.  It takes a good deal of logistical planning to get from where I live to where the tracks are.  A typical weekend trip within the U.S. will cover more than 5,000 air and driving miles.  I do about forty of those trips each year.  For the past 15 years I have traveled about 175 nights each and every year.  Surprisingly to some, more than half of those overnights were not part of trackchasing.

 

 

A big part of trackchasing for me is simply travel just for the fun of seeing new things.  You won’t want to miss my “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions” page or my “Sports Spectating Resume” page on my website at www.randylewis.org.  Search around on my site.  Use the drop-down menus.  They will take you all over the world!  My site will give you some understanding on how important seeing the world and just “seeing stuff” is with my trackchasing hobby.

 

 

Today’s adventure was one more of the 2,000 trips that have taken me up, down and around the long and dusty trackchasing trail.  If you would like to see where I’ve been and experience those adventures here’s the link:

 

 

Randy’s Complete Track List

 

 

If you’ve got a question, comment or whatever please leave it at the bottom of this report.  It’s very easy to do.  Or you can visit me on Facebook.  Thanks!

 

 

Randy on Facebook

 

 

 

 

FOREWORD

 

 

Sunday, January 31, 2018.

 

I woke up this morning inside the National Car Rental Racing Chrysler 300. That’s right. At 12:30 a.m. I had stealthily driven the car into National’s rental car lot at the Greensboro airport. I knew they closed at midnight. I also knew that I could sleep in my car for 3 1/2 hours and awake before they came back to work. It was a perfect plan if your idea of a perfect plan is just a little bit off kilter.

 

 

After three and one-half hours of sleep I was returning my rental car contract inside the terminal at 4:15 a.m. My flight from Greensboro, North Carolina to Miami, Florida was leaving at 5:30 a.m. Who makes these airline schedules anyway? By the way if you want to experience my “body time” just subtract three hours from the above and you’ll be on “California time”.

 

 

I subscribe to the Gerry A. O’Reilly theory that if you’re not early you’re late! That would be especially true today since there was only one nonstop flight from Greensboro to Miami. I cleared security easily and now had an hour to kill before the 5:30 a.m. departure.

 

 

Since I was early, real early, I elected to put my free time to good use. I walked up and down, much to the chagrin of some passengers I’m sure, working toward my goal of four miles or more of power walking. By the time the plane began to board passengers I had surpassed two miles!

 

 

The two-hour plus flight to Miami was uneventful. Those are the best kind. You can do a lot of walking in the Miami International Airport. It’s a huge place.

 

 

I’m not a big fan of Miami. It’s like being in a foreign country. Don’t get me wrong. I love being in foreign countries. I just don’t want to be in a foreign country when I’m in my own country. Make sense?

 

 

One of my very best trackchasing investments was a membership with the Alaska Lounge private airline club. There are only about five Alaska lounges in existence. However, Alaska Airlines has a reciprocal agreement with the American Airlines Admirals clubs. They have nearly 100 of those clubs around the world.

 

 

Once in Miami I walked another mile. Then I checked into the Admirals Club and spent the next four hours there. I was able to get caught up on a lot of computer administrative work as well as have breakfast and lunch. Once you pay the membership fee there’s no additional charge for any of the other services. I’ve gotten my money back several times over just in free food and drink, not to mention the hours or relaxation the club offers. The Admirals Club and airline clubs in general rock.

 

 

For the third consecutive day in the third different airport I was able to pick up a Chrysler 300 rental car. Lots of other rental car companies would classify that automobile as a premium car. In the National Car Rental world, it’s simply a full-sized car. I like the Chrysler 300 as a rental car.

 

 

It was going to be about a 2 ½-hour drive over to the West Coast of Florida in Naples. You might recall Naples suffered a lot of damage from the recent hurricanes. Once I got over there I didn’t see much of any damage. I think they were mainly affected by flooding more so than the winds.

 

 

Almost all of the drive was along a two-lane highway that went directly across the Florida Everglades. I could see people having fun on airboats and going off into the brush and swamps in search of alligators. I really wished I could have done that. Years ago, Carol, Jim and my stepfather Bill and his wife Betty did one of those trips. We could attract alligators by throwing marshmallows on the water. That was fun and I want to do it again.

 

 

I didn’t know exactly what to expect from a county fair in Florida. There are certain states where every county has a pretty good-sized fair. Those would include places like Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota and Illinois. There are several states, mainly in the south and the far west, that don’t have much in the way of county fairs at all. Florida is not known for county fairs at least as regards to having auto racing events. I’ve been to a few down here but not many.

 

 

It seems like county fairs have about 5,000 cars in their parking lots and about 1,000 people on the fairgrounds. I have never understood that. That was seemingly the case today.

 

 

The Collier County fair was pretty good-sized in some respects and not so much in others. I didn’t see any agricultural or farm animal activity to speak of. However, the carnival part of the fair and the food offerings were large.

 

 

I paid my $10 admission. I asked the ticket seller if that also included admission to the demolition derby. He didn’t know. He told me they never tell him anything!

 

 

I had placed a mobile order from my telephone at McDonald’s before coming to the fair. I knew that I could get exactly what I wanted from McDonald’s and at a much more reasonable price than if I ate at the fair.

 

 

Trackchaser P.J. Hollebrand would never eat at the fair. He didn’t think the food preparation was clean. I’m not worried about that. I just want to get what I want to eat at a reasonable price.

 

 

I don’t do very much trackchasing at county fairs in the month of March. I could probably count less than five times when that has happened. Like I say most county fair racing takes place in the Midwest and the northeast and it’s way too cold in March for county fair racing there. Today was a very warm day with the temperature topping out at 86°.

 

 

I figured if I walked around the fair long enough I would find the demo grounds. Wrong! I needed to ask someone and found out that I was at the extreme opposite end of where they would be contesting the demolition derby. No problem. That would help me meet my 4-mile daily walking goal.

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Collier County Fairgrounds – Naples, Florida

 

 

It didn’t take me long to get down there. When I did reach the demolition derby grounds what I found was minorly disconcerting. There were only six cars in the pit area. The two small grandstands were pretty well full as well.

 

 

During the program the announcer told us that 18 separate sets of fair grandstands had been damaged and demolished by the hurricanes. That seemed like a stretch. Now they had two ten-row aluminum grandstands in their place. They each sat about 120 people. I was lucky to find a seat in the first row from the top.

 

 

The event was scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. I’m not sure how long the fans had been sitting in the stands when I arrived. I do know this. When the announcer told them that today’s racing was going to be delayed by 15 minutes there was an audible grown from the stands. Old people don’t hold back their emotions. The announcer heard the crowd and directed his staff to get with it. Today I had more patience than some.

 

 

How does a six-car field of junk cars with no real track prep needed get delayed? I guess it’s just one of the mysteries of life.

 

 

The announcer was a bit of an unusual fellow. He wasn’t exactly country and he certainly wasn’t city. He seemed to react to the crowd’s reaction to the news he shared.

He apologized for having only six cars in the pit area. He told the crowd that another six cars had been involved in an accident “on the other side of the island” and wouldn’t be arriving at the fair for another two hours. That sort of sounded like a “story” as my grandma used to say but who knows. The reality was he was dealing with six cars in the pit area.

 

 

 

A little while later the announcer came back with some more bad news. He had told the crowd the program would be delayed by 15 minutes earlier. Now he announced to everyone that they would be starting at 5:30 p.m. That was thirty minutes late. This caused a minor riot from the elderly set! A number of folks said “screw it” and left the grandstand to go back into the fair. That opened up a top row seat for me. When one door closes another door opens.

 

 

Not every racing event that I attend is the World 100. If you don’t know what the World 100 is that is not a requirement for reading and enjoying my Trackchasers Reports. By the way it is pretty important in life to temper your expectations right?

 

 

I was more than happy, although all right I was downright jubilant, when the announcer told us the demolition derby would begin with a 15-lap “enduro” race. All six cars came out and raced over a 1/5-mile flat dirt and mostly sand oval track. What was unusual was they raced in a clockwise direction which was fitting for the type of event I was seeing today.

Your best bet to see what the racing action was like is to take a look at my video and photo album. They raced nonstop. Then the announcer told us there would be another 15-lap in endure up next. Only four of the six cars made it out for that.

 

 

I didn’t much care what they did from this point. The Collier County Fairgrounds was safely implanted as the 2,424th lifetime track of my trackchasing resume. However, I was more than intrigued with what the announcer told the crowd next.

 

 

He said he had come up with a “new idea”. He was going to have to check with his drivers and his staff to see if it was acceptable to them. He went on and on telling the crowd what was going to be the most intriguing idea of the entire afternoon.

 

 

I began to wonder. Were there any of the Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers in the audience? They have been known to go up to an announcer and/or a promoter and ask them if they would be able to run on a second (unplanned) configuration. They don’t just “ask” (wink). They come with $20 bills in their hands and sometimes promoters accept the bribe.

 

 

Was the Collier County Fairgrounds and its demolition derby race promoter going to be subject to such graft? Where they going to be unduly influenced? Were they going to seriously damage the credibility of the trackchasing hobby simply to accept a few dollars from greedy East Coast Trackchasers? I didn’t know. I stayed in my seat to see exactly what would happen.

 

 

I was all set for the announcer to state proudly that a figure 8 race was going to be run. If he had said that it would not have surprised me one bit. However, he did not do that. By the way the couple pictured above, Linda and Dickie from Vermont, promoted the first figure 8 track I had ever seen on ice. There was no ice in Florida today.

 

 

When the announcer finally did tell the crowd what was going to happen it wasn’t a figure 8 race. That pretty much told me that I was the only trackchaser in attendance today. The announcer’s bright idea was to have the junk car stock cars race a five-lap race backwards! I’ve seen backwards races before and they’re not much. Today’s was better than most but it was still a backwards race.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

With three “races” in my back pocket I looked at what was going to be a four-car demolition derby. It was hot. I had a long walk back to the car and a long drive up to West Palm Beach, Florida where I’ll be staying tonight. There would be no demo for me today.

 

 

I did find a county fair food item that I had never seen before in some 400 county fair visits. The delicacy was called an “Erepas”. I think it is a Cuban specialty. Cuban’s are probably the largest ethnicity in south Florida.

 

 

An erepas is essentially a potato pancake that isn’t made from potatoes but from corn. Two huge corn pancakes surround a healthy dose of mozzarella cheese. Yes, sort of like a grilled cheese sandwich. It was delicious. I’m going to ask Carol to make this for me. It was the highlight of the fair.

 

 

I spent the next three hours or so watching NCAA basketball tournament scores and making my way up toward West Palm Beach, Florida. I’ll stay there tonight and hopefully catch a spring training game tomorrow.

 

 

Good afternoon from the Collier County Fairgrounds in Naples, Florida.

 

 

 

 

MONDAY

 

 

The first thing on this morning‘s agenda was to get in a 2-mile, not a 4-mile, powerwalk. If I got in two miles now there would be plenty of time to wrap up the other 2 miles and more later in the day. If I did four miles now, with the walking I expect to do later in the day, I would be covering six or seven miles and there was no need for that.

 

 

Hotel prices are out of sight in this part of Florida at this time of the year. I would say hotel prices were averaging easily $150-$200 a night. A Motel 6 was going for about $100. That’s why I was so pleased to get an Extended Stay America property in West Palm Beach for $90. Normally that would be a rip off but comparatively speaking in this market it was an excellent price.

 

 

I am on day 4 of what is expected to be an 11-day trip. I was traveling with a bag that measured 21” x 15” x 9”. Eleven day’s worth of stuff plus Bose headphones and a MacBook Pro computer don’t fit well in such a bag. Did you use a bag that was only as wide as your show on your last 11-day trip?

 

 

There was no way I could bring 11 day’s worth of clothing. I had to do laundry in the middle of the trip and preferably during the American portion of the trip. Today was laundry day! The Extended Stay America hotel was perfect for that. They always have good laundry facilities.

 

 

I had already slept overnight in my car for one night. Later in the trip one night would be spent on the plane. By doing wash when I did I only needed about seven days of clothing. That was about all my little bag could handle.

 

 

The cost to use the machines for one wash load was two dollars. It was the same price to use the dryer. I ran into a lady in the laundry room. We started talking and she made a comment about the wash costing two dollars a load.

 

 

Naïvely, I asked, “Is that high”? She gave me a look, rolled back her eyes and let go with a hearty laugh and cried, “Yes!“ Sorry, I didn’t know.

 

 

I’ve had two countries vying to become lifetime trackchasing country #79 for next weekend. They were located thousands of miles apart. I literally, and I’m not exaggerating one bit, had a couple hundred messages with my contacts from these two countries. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even know one of these countries had any racing until about five days ago.
The expected high temperatures from these two countries varied by nearly 50°. That meant I had to have a warm weather clothing selection and a cold-weather one with me on my domestic trip to the southeast. Then just a few minutes ago one of the countries announced they had canceled their program. It was something that had been a distinct possibility from the start. That left me with one country to consider.

I would mull the new situation over while I went over to the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, Florida. There was just enough time to catch a Washington Nationals at Miami Marlins game. Of course, this was spring training grapefruit league play.

 

 

Somewhat ironically, because I don’t really get to Florida all that often anymore, Carol and I saw a spring training game in Florida just eight days ago. Yes, we try to move around the world when we can.

 

 

Today, it was eight bucks to park. I didn’t have a ticket to the game. That wouldn’t be a problem. I figured a Monday outing would be an easy game to get into.

 

 

Long ago I learned a ticket buying strategy that works for me on about one occasion out of ten. Most of the other times I’ll just approach someone directly to get my tickets.

 

 

However, I have learned if I just “hang around” the box office area someone will come up and either give me a ticket at no charge or at a greatly reduced fee. Of course, that happened again today just five minutes before the game was scheduled to begin. I didn’t even need my famous “Need one” sign.

 

 

A fellow came up to me and asked if I needed a ticket. I did. He would have given me the ticket for free. However, I always feel a moral obligation to at least say, “What do you want for your ticket”? Most of the time people simply say “no charge”. Today the fellow said, “Why don’t you give me what you want to give me”. I said, “10 bucks?” He said that would be fine. He told me a buddy had bailed at the last minute. He wasn’t expecting to get anything at all. I thought the situation was a fair deal for both sides.

 

 

It was a sunny and warm day with the temperature in the mid 80s. I didn’t have any vested interest in either the Marlins or the Nationals. That allowed me to relax and simply take in the scenery and see what I could see. There are a lot of older folks in Florida.

 

 

While at the game I was in constant communication with my main contact from the one remaining country that might become trackchasing country #79. That trip was going to be somewhat of a longshot. If it happens you’ll be the first to hear about it.

 

 

I will tell you this. Based upon my conversation with my contact I would need to change my rental car return location from Miami to Orlando. Then I flew 3,000 miles and waited.

 

 

At midnight my time I expected to get a call from my contact letting me know whether their race was going to happen or not. If it was and the airfare to that location had not increased by much in the 12 hours from our ball game discussion I would be buying a ticket and heading for that destination.

 

 

I wish I could tell you about all of the intensity, intrigue and uncertainty this trip included. However, on the one hand I don’t think I could properly explain it. On the other hand, people who don’t live the lifestyle I do couldn’t really appreciate it. I will say this. It keeps my mind going 24/7.

 

 

One more thing. The Orlando airport, especially at spring break time, is just about the craziest place I’ve seen anywhere in the world. It was packed.

 

 

I will tell you this. I would not be a trackchaser if I didn’t have full TSA PreCheck capability. Standing in those long security lines looks like a terrible experience. Tonight, a sign at the Orlando security entry point said the wait was 35-45 minutes! I breezed through in the PreCheck line in about two minutes.

 

 

There are a lot of people who should not be flying. You’ve seen these people. We require folks to get a driver’s license before they can drive right? The same thing should happen for airline passengers! So many folks just don’t know what to do and how to act.

 

 

The people who stop in the middle of a busy airline concourse to look at their phones are the worst. They are closely followed by people who walk down the concourse with their eyes never leaving their phones! I hope these people put their phones down when they drive but I suspect they don’t.

 

 

I did get out of Florida but it wasn’t easy. Huge thunderstorms rolled through delaying our departure. What choice did I have regarding the weather delay? None. It pays to be patient in my game.

 

 

Randy Lewis – 78 countries – 2,424 tracks.

 

 

 

Florida

 

 

The Sunshine state

This late afternoon and evening I saw racing at my 70th lifetime track in the Sunshine state, yes, the Sunshine state.  I hold the #1 trackchasing ranking in Florida.  I’ve seen 70 or more tracks in twelve different states. No other trackchaser comes close to matching that stat.

 

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

Randy Lewis

World’s #1 Trackchaser

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

Florida sayings:  God’s waiting room

 

 

 

QUICK FACTS

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS 

The three most important trackchasing comparisons to me are:

 

Total lifetime tracks seen

Total “trackchasing countries” seen

Lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

 

Total Lifetime Tracks

There are no trackchasers currently within 640 tracks of my lifetime total.  Don’t blame me.

 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,424

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

There are no trackchasers currently within 25 countries of my lifetime total. 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 78

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 4.14

 

 

 

That’s all folks!  Official end of the RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Report

 

 

Click on the link below to see the video production from the racing action today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the link below for a photo album from today’s trackchasing day.  You can view the album slide by slide or click on the “slide show” icon for a self-guided tour of today’s trackchasing adventure.

 

 

 

Another trackchasing adventure in the Sunshine state

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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