Greetings from Eagle, Michigan
From the travels and adventures of the
“World’s #1 Trackchaser”
Eagle Park Fairgrounds
Dirt figure 8
Lifetime Track #955
Today’s 2005 undertaking was just one of more than 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:
If you’ve got a question, comment or whatever please leave it at the bottom of this report. It’s very easy to do. I’ll try my best to respond. Thanks!
In 2005 my Friday trackchasing trip began with a stop for the figure 8 races at the Eagle Park Fairgrounds in Eagle, Michigan. I was able to catch the feature events later in the evening at the Dixie Motor Speedway on their 4/10-mile asphalt outer oval. The rest of the weekend had me trackchasing at the Richmond Good Old Day Festival (figure 8 racing) in Richmond, Michigan. There I was joined by Roger and Brenda Ferrell. The Saturday evening race plan had me at Sandusky Speedway for their sprint car racing. Finally, on Sunday I went to the Mercer County Fairgrounds to see antique car racing in Celina, Ohio. The year 2005 was my record-breaking trackchasing year. I had not yet secured any airline sponsorship at that time. Nevertheless, I ended up seeing 182 new tracks in 2005, a record that stands to this day.
Greetings from Eagle, Michigan and then Birch Run, Michigan
AND THE READER’S RESPOND
George R., formerly of Eden, North Carolina and now a resident of Fountain Valley, California writes regarding my visit to the Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, North Carolina and then about my recent visit to Peoria Speedway in Peoria, Illinois.
“You are one lucky person for avoiding the interview at the Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, NC! You have put your life in jeopardy on several occasions- the Georgia Klan Rally, visiting the church in Harlem, NY, staying in Super 8 motels- and now you can add the intended interview in NC, especially if you were going to say that the #11 race car is anything but C-A-R-O-L-I-N-A Blue! These charming people in the South are only charming if you don’t push their buttons. People in the South may take their religion, race and politics lightly but they for sure take their school and state allegiance very seriously. (Let me point out here that at Chris and Sara’s wedding they used “Carolina” Blue for their colors!) As a matter of fact, you may want to at least share your love for the Bruins with a team and school in the South since you like to travel there and long to be a Southerner. Just remember, the Tarheels are here to stay and you would have God on your side. As they say, if God wasn’t a Tarheel the sky wouldn’t be Carolina Blue!”
Wow! What a touching memory of your childhood and friends. I’m glad you had a chance to see your family for the weekend.
Most of the racetracks of America are located in the Midwest and Eastern parts of the country. In order for me to reach a new track in this part of the country on the same day I depart California, I need to be on the very first flight of the day.
Today, my flight leaves the Orange County Airport at 6:45 a.m. After losing three hours to time zone changes, I will arrive into Detroit’s airport at 4:20 p.m. By the time I get my luggage and rental car it will probably be about 5:30 p.m. It is a 105-mile drive from the airport to the Eagle Park Fairgrounds. If the planes are on time and there are no major traffic delays, I should make it for the 7:30 p.m. start time. I will not have much time to dawdle along the way!
There is a good deal of activity that actually takes place before my plane departs. First, I set my alarm clock for 5:01 a.m. I wanted to be leaving my driveway just 14 minutes later for the airport. Do you give yourself more than 14 minutes from the time you wake from a dead sleep to the time you shift the car into reverse on the way to the airport for a cross-country flight? Yes, I thought you did.
I was very comfortable with the 14 minutes. That would allow time for a shower, but no shaving. It doesn’t take long to put on a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Maybe next time I will try to cut those 14 minutes down.
The drive to the airport is 28 minutes. There is never any traffic at this time of day so I travel at freeway speeds. I get a bonus today. Carol has volunteered to drive me to the airport. My use of the word “volunteered” is similar to my season’s definitions. It may not be totally accurate but it’s close.
This plan puts me into the Orange County Airport at 5:43 a.m. The Orange County airport is the most consumer friendly, modern and full of amenities place you can fly from. I quickly check in with the first class ticket agent. The only comment I get is “that’s a BIG bag you’re checking”. Yes, it is.
Because I have flown more miles than anyone reading this would ever want too, American Airlines lets me board the plane first at 6:11 a.m. We still have 34 minutes before our scheduled take-off. Of course, veteran Orange County flyers know the airport doesn’t open for flying business until 7 a.m. We won’t be flying until at least then. That means I will be on the plane, guaranteed, for at least 49 minutes until we take off.
I always have plenty of reading material so the delay doesn’t faze me at all. Once we are ready to take off, the pilot warns the passengers about the unusual take-off procedure at the Orange County Airport. Our runways are shorter than normal. This means the plane needs a “head start”. How does a commercial jetliner get that head start? The pilot stands on the breaks while he revs the engine. When he has significant RPMs from the engine, he releases the brakes and we’re off. If you imagine being in a dragster or one of those roller coasters that goes from zero to 60 M.P.H. in a couple of seconds you have the feeling.
Next, we climbed to 1,000 feet faster than the space shuttle. Once we reach 1,000 feet, the pilot cuts back on the throttle. The power cutback is so severe that some people think the plane is going down. I guess they got this take-off idea from the folks at nearby Disneyland.
From that point and for the next several hours, I will work on my future trackchasing plans. I will also spend time working on our family financial plan, which I do nearly every day in one form or another. Golf is starting to reappear on my radar screen and the preparation for the links will rival and sometimes surpass my trackchasing prep. Actually, it’s a very relaxing day. I don’t have to be anywhere until 7:30 p.m. tonight. That’s when the real fun starts!
RACE TRACK STATS:
EAGLE PARK FAIRGROUNDS, EAGLE, MICHIGAN – TRACK #955
This track in Michigan is my 51st countable track to see in the state.
DIXIE RUN SPEEDWAY (OUTER OVAL), BIRCH RUN, MICHIGAN – TRACK #956
This track in Michigan is my 52nd countable track to see in the state. It is my 35th new track to see in the Wolverine state this year. I have never seen more new tracks in a single state in a single year. I am ranked ninth in Michigan tracks. Here are some incredible numbers. I still have 76 countable tracks I have not seen in Michigan. Only nine of those tracks are weekly oval programs at facilities I have never visited. Michigan has more “one-off” shows than any other state in the country. Allan Brown leads the state totals with 126 tracks.
RACE TRACK NEWS:
EAGLE PARK FAIRGROUNDS, EAGLE, MICHIGAN
We are now in the “fall season” of trackchasing. The “fall season” runs from the day after Labor Day to Thanksgiving weekend. By the way, these are my definitions of seasons and don’t necessarily agree with the calendar you have in your pantry.
In case you haven’t noticed I just love this trackchasing stuff! With the summer season only put to bed last weekend, I wanted to get a fast start for the fall trackchasing season. Soon fall will fade to winter and I will have to switch to my winter wardrobe. What will that entail for a Californian? I will be trading in my lighter colored shorts for the dark ones.
Mid-week racing programs are over for the most part now. Like the grizzly bear that goes into hibernation, the mid-week events won’t reappear until the late spring/early summer. What does that mean for you, the avid Trackchaser Report reader? Fewer Trackchaser Reports!
I will be forced to go back to my more traditional trackchasing trip. That means flying out on Friday morning and returning to the little Spanish city by the sea on Mondays. That type of trip should yield 3-6 tracks per outing. The fall season also introduces competing activities for my time. Carol and I are big UCLA (winners over San Diego State last weekend) football and basketball fans. She likes football best and I like basketball.
We have season tickets for both sports as well as a mini-ticket package for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Our plan is to go to four of the six home football games. We will bypass Rice, this weekend, since UCLA is a prohibitive favorite. We are also likely to miss one other home game in favor of our attending a NASCAR Nextel Cup race. Fortunately, the basketball season rarely conflicts with trackchasing because many of the games are mid-week and almost no one races in the U.S. in the winter.
As we go further into the fall season, the weather gets a bit iffier. In 2004, I had 61 successful days of trackchasing and another 7 days of rainouts. Two of those rainouts came in Nov/Dec. This year I have already had 96 successful trackchasing days with just three rain days for the entire season.
The weather in Michigan is beautiful today. There are cobalt blue skies and temperatures are in the high 70s. The forecast for the rest of the weekend is excellent. I arrived at the Eagle Park Fairgrounds just 14 minutes before the 7:30 p.m. start time. I am lucky there were no fight delays or problems getting the Budget rental car. I did run into some Friday night traffic, which is to be expected.
I was shocked by the size of the crowd at tonight’s county fair type event. There looked to be 2,000 cars in the rambling parking lot. I think there must have been about 2,000 people in the grandstands. It was packed. Apparently, everyone drove to the track by himself or herself!
When I arrived there were about 100 people in line to buy tickets. Rather than stand in that line, I noticed I could watch the event through the fence. My position was only 15 feet from the track. When cars came through the final turn they through mud on me. I glanced over at the packed grandstand. There did not look like there were any seats to be had.
After the line at the ticket window went down, I decided to continue to watch the races from where I was. I could also move to a similar fence position on the backstretch and watch from there. This strategy saved me $10, allowed me to view the action similar to how I would watch a road course race by walking around and gave me a chance to walk the very small fair between heat races.
The track was unusual. First, imagine you are looking at the circle made by your wristwatch. Now squeeze on your watch at 9 p.m. and 3 p.m. so it takes the shape of an oval. Now at about 2 o’clock put a little loop in your oval where the cars can crossover each other before returning to a straight part of the track at about 3 p.m. Then put a small piece of chewing gum at three o’clock and nine o’clock to simulate jumps and you have probably ruined your watch but have a replica of the Eagle Park Fairgrounds scrambles track.
The racing itself was not very entertaining. The track was very wide in most spots. Wide means limited contact in a class that needs contact to be entertaining. They started 14 cars in each heat race. They had two rows of seven cars each. The cars began from a standing start. You can imagine how wide the track was to accommodate seven cars side by side in each row.
They also heavily watered the track and this decreased the speeds. The announcer was terrible. He hardly said a thing. From my position the P.A. wasn’t very good. I suspect that was the case at all locations on the track. They started 10 minutes early. That was a good thing.
I had hoped to stay for two hours and see the complete program. My plan was then to drive for an hour over to the Dixie Motor Speedway for a traditional double. I was watching the fifth heat after being at the track for about an hour and a half. I had now seen 70 cars race. I am not certain how many cars attended.
The announcer asked for “someone in the concession stands to turn on the rest of the track lights”. He repeated his request a couple of times. Just as he was about to ask again, all of the track lights went out. Of course, this brought out the red flags during the middle of the fifth heat. After about 10 minutes, they either found the switch or paid their light bill. The mercury vapor lights began to come on very slowly. No, make that very, very slowly.
I have mercury vapor lighting in the RANLAY Events Center at home. Those lights are used to simulate the lighting that full-size gymnasiums have. When my lights have been on for a while and then are shut off, it takes 10-15 minutes for them to come back to full strength.
We had already had a 10-minute delay waiting on the lights. I didn’t want to wait another 15 minutes or more for a program that wasn’t very good, to begin with. The racing tonight was sub-par for these reasons. The track was too wide for much contact at all. In addition, the track was too wet for the cars to reach any real racing speed.
One good thing was the jumps. These were tall jumps placed in the middle of both straights. The jumps had to be 10 feet tall. Unfortunately, even with jumps that big the cars still only achieved about a foot of “air”.
I decided to make the Eagle Fairgrounds Park the first half of a blended double without seeing a feature at the first track. That makes this my ninth such double of the year out of my 147 tracks. After seeing the races at the Dixie Motor Speedway, I was very pleased from a racing standpoint with my decision.
DIXIE MOTOR SPEEDWAY (OUTER OVAL), BIRCH RUN, MICHIGAN
The Dixie Motor Speedway has three countable tracks. Very few of the venues I attend, maybe less than 20% has more than one countable track. Dixie offers a one-third mile asphalt oval and a traditional figure 8 course. I saw each of these tracks run in 2000. When I was there in 2000, they were in the midst of constructing the banked turns of what would become the four-tenths mile outer asphalt oval. I believe that track first ran in 2003. This new outer oval was the countable track for me tonight. I did not see any racing on the two tracks I had counted in 2000.
I arrived at about 10:05 p.m. The program was scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. I didn’t know if they would still be racing or not. One thing I did know, they were still charging the full $20 admission this late into the evening. I asked the ticket seller for a reduction. In great negotiating style, she said she had no authority to reduce the price. She suggested I talk to the ticket taker who was right around the corner. I went over to broach the subject with the ticket taker and he was not at his post. I am still looking for him with my twenty dollars.
It was dramatically cooler at Birch Run than in the city of Eagle. I don’t know why that would be since they are not very far apart. The local fans were ready for it as almost everyone wore long pants and a jacket. I went with shorts and a t-shirt.
The grandstands at Dixie are some of the largest I’ve seen for a short track. The stands were nearly packed for a $20 admission price. This was the first day of a two-day show. The program consisted of time trials for their big 200-lap late model show, three 20-lap qualifiers for the late models, the truck feature and an Auto Value Super Sprint feature.
I arrived near the beginning of the truck feature. They could not have run very many laps before I got there because they ran a lot of laps after I arrived. I never got the feature-length, but I saw about 20-25 laps. There were 18 trucks and they put on a good show.
The Auto Value Sprint feature was one of the better races I have seen this year. It made me happy I had left the poor racing show that was going on at the Eagle Park Fairgrounds.
The Dixie Motor Speedway is a first-class track. They had two announcers, one for the visiting sprint cars and the other for the remaining classes. The sprint car announcer gave some interesting stats about sprint cars. He told the crowd they only get ONE M.P.G.! That surprised me. They cost about $50,000 per car, must weight 1,600 pounds or more at the finish and have engines that produce 800 horsepower. That horsepower to weight ratio is one of the highest of any form of racing.
Twenty-three sprints started the 30-lap feature. The season champion, Cameron Dotson had the option of starting in the back, and if he won from there, he would win double the winner’s prize money. He elected to start on the tail of the field.
Somehow after a couple of restarts, he was up to 12th after just one lap. I’d have to study the video on how he was able to do that. During the next 25 laps, Dotson drove like a wild man and reduced a one-half lap lead to just a car length. The crowd loved it. On lap 26 a yellow flag slowed the field. The crowd expected Dotson to blow by the leader on the restart, but he didn’t. I did like the fact that under the yellow flag, Dotson drove up under the leader to show him he was there. You need to let those ahead of you know you’re coming through!
Dotson made a bonsai pass in the third turn of the last lap. He got by for first place, but then wiggled in the fourth turn. This allowed the driver (whose name I did not get) who had led the entire race until the last turn to regain the lead and win. The crowd went wild. I felt I got more than my money’s worth!
RENTAL CAR UPDATE:
I will be driving the Budget Rental Car Racing Nissan Ultima. The Budget location was very busy. I was about eighth in line when I entered the rental building. The counter agent told me they are this busy “every day and every night”. If that’s the case, maybe they should raise the rates on their full-size car from just $21.99 per day.
LIFETIME TRACKCHASER STANDINGS UPDATE:
These worldwide trackchasers are within 100 tracks (plus or minus) of my current trackchaser total.
- Rick Schneider – Bayshore, New York – 1,036
- Allan Brown, Comstock Park, Michigan – 1,020
- Guy Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania – 997
- Any Sivi, Clairton, Pennsylvania – 993
- Gordon Killian, Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania – 978
- Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 956
- Jack Erdmann, DePere, Wisconsin – 872
- Carol Lewis, San Clemente, California – 216
2005 TRACKCHASER STANDINGS
- Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 147*
- Ed Esser, Madison, Wisconsin – 95
- Roland Vanden Eynde, Vilvoorde, Belgium – 72
- Paul Weisel, Orefield, Pennsylvania – 60
- Guy Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania – 52
- P.J. Hollebrand, Webster, New York – 49
- Roger Ferrell, Majenica, Indiana – 47
- Carol Lewis, San Clemente, California – 47
- Pam Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania – 30
- Allan Brown, Comstock Park, Michigan – 26
* Trackchasing “New Tracks in One Season” record
Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,
Trackchasing’s #1 trackchaser of the 21st century
Randy Lewis is a freelance writer, who winters in San Clemente, California and frequently flies in economy class.
CUMULATIVE DRIVING DISTANCES:
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport – trip begins
Eagle, Michigan – 105 miles
Birch Run, Michigan – 185 miles
Orange County, CA – Chicago, IL – 1,726 miles
Chicago, IL – Detroit, MI – 281 miles
TRACK ADMISSION PRICES:
Eagle Park Fairgrounds – Free
Dixie Motor Speedway – Free
Upcoming new racetracks
September 10 – Figure 8s, Richmond, Michigan
September 10 – Sandusky Speedway, Sandusky, Ohio
September 11 – Mercer County Fairgrounds – Celina, Ohio
September 11 – Windy Hollow Speedway (figure 8), Owensboro, Kentucky
“TRACKCHASER CHEESE CHALLENGE 2005 PACE OF THE RACE REPORT BROUGHT TO YOU BY FRONTIER AIRLINES”
This is a comparison of how many new tracks Ed Esser has seen in 2005 and how many tracks I saw through the same date in 2004 on my way to seeing, at then a record, 127 tracks. In order for Ed to win the “Cheese Challenge”, he must see 128 new tracks.
Through September 6 – Ed – 95 tracks Randy – 88 tracks*
*Note: To properly evaluate Ed’s chances, remember I added six new tracks on and after December 26, 2004, in Australia. At this point in time, Ed has never trackchased outside of the United States. He will have a difficult time finding U.S. based tracks in late December. Net, he needs to stay 6-7 tracks ahead of my pace of last year through early December in order to win this challenge.
Prize: If Ed sees more than 128 new tracks in 2005, he wins a round-trip domestic airline ticket to anywhere Frontier Airlines flies. If he cannot see at least 128 new tracks then I win 10 pounds of the Wisconsin cheese of my choice.
Editor’s note: Ed did win the Cheese Challenge!
Racetracks visited in 2005 (** not the first time to visit this track)
- Sungold Stadium aka Premier Speedway, Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia, January 1
- Freedom Hall (oval), Louisville, Kentucky, January 15
- Freedom Hall (figure 8), Louisville, Kentucky, January 15
- Southern Illinois Center, DuQuoin, Illinois, January 16
- Golden Aisles Speedway, Waynesville, Georgia, February 25
- Zephyrhills Antique Racecar Track, Zephyrhills, Florida, February 26
- Dirt Devil’s Speedway, Land O’ Lakes, Florida, February 26
- Ringwood Raceway, Ringwood, England, March 25
- Birmingham Wheels, Birmingham, England, March 26
- Boiling Hills Farm, Sleaford, England, March 27
- Snetterton Circuit, Snetterton, England, March 27
** Great Yarmouth Stadium (oval), Yarmouth, England, March 27
- Great Yarmouth Stadium (figure 8), Yarmouth, England, March 27
- The Grove Farm, Monkland, England, March 28
- Grimley Raceway, Grimley, England, March 28
- Castle Combe Circuit, Castle Combe, England, March 28
- Boyd Raceway, Boyd, Texas, April 1
- Port City Raceway, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 2
- Outlaw Motor Speedway, Oktaha, Oklahoma, April 2
- Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, Jennings, Oklahoma, April 3
- JPR Speedway, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 3
- Charlotte County Speedway (figure 8), Punta Gorda, Florida, April 9
- CORA Speedway, Dixon, California, April 16
- Reno-Fernley Raceway (road course), Fernley, Nevada, April 17
- Lakeside Speedway, Kansas City, Kansas, April 22
- Salina Speedway, Salina, Kansas, April 23
- Jetmore Motorplex, Jetmore, Kansas, April 24
- Oberlin Speedway, Oberlin, Kansas, April 24
- USA Race Track, Tucson, Arizona, April 30
** Tucson Raceway Park (outer oval), Tucson, Arizona, April 30
- Tucson Raceway Park (inner oval), Tucson, Arizona, April 30
- Driesum Race Track, Driesum, Netherlands, May 5
- Autosportsdadion de Polderputten, Ter Apel, Netherlands, May 5
- Bellekouter Autocross (oval), Affligem, Belgium, May 8
- Bellekouter Autocross (road course), Affligem, Belgium, May 8
- Circuit de Croix-En-Ternois, Saint-Pol sur-Ternoise, France May 8
- Nurburgring, Nurburg, Germany, May 13
- Lopik (oval), Lopik, Netherlands, May 14
- Lopik (road course), Lopik, Netherlands, May 14
- Ten Boer Autocross, Ten Boer, Netherlands, May 14
- Rennplatz “Casper Gerd”, Rutenbrock, Germany, May 15
- Zuidwolde Autocross, Zuidwolde, Netherlands, May 15
- Midland Speedway Circuit, Lelystad, Netherlands, May 15
- Aalten Autocross, Aalten, Netherlands, May 16
- Circuit de Peel International Speedway, Venray, Netherlands, May 16
- U.S. 30 Speedway (permanent inner oval), Columbus, Nebraska, May 26
** U.S. 30 Speedway (outer oval), Columbus, Nebraska, May 26
- Hitchcock County Speedway, Culbertson Nebraska, May 27
- Pikes Peak International Raceway (road course), Fountain, Colorado, May 28
- Colorado National Speedway (asphalt oval), Dacono, Colorado, May 28
- Colorado National Speedway (figure 8), Dacono, Colorado, May 28
** Rocky Mountain National Speedway (oval), Commerce City, Colorado, May 28
- Rocky Mountain National Speedway (figure 8), Commerce City, Colorado, May 28
- Broken Bow Wilderness Park (figure 8), Fullerton, Nebraska, May 29
- Casino Speedway, Watertown, South Dakota, May 29
- Sioux Speedway, Sioux Center, Iowa, May 30
- Madison Speedway, Madison, Minnesota, May 30
** Hawkeye Downs (outer oval), Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 3
- Hawkeye Downs (inner oval), Cedar Rapids, Iowa, June 3
- Autobahn Country Club – North Course, Joliet, Illinois, June 4
- Shadyhill Speedway, Medaryville, Indiana, June 4
- Pottawattamie County Fairgrounds, Avoca, Iowa, June 5
- Dawson County Speedway, Lexington, Nebraska, June 5
- Marshfield Super Speedway, Marshfield, Wisconsin, June 14
- Red Cedar Speedway, Menomonie, Wisconsin, June 15
- Victory Lane Speedway, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, June 16
- River Cities Speedway, Grand Forks, North Dakota, June 17
- Raceway @ Powercom Park, Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, June 18
- Jefferson Speedway (outer oval), Jefferson, Wisconsin, June 18
- Jefferson Speedway (inner oval), Jefferson, Wisconsin, June 18
- Golden Sands Speedway, Plover, Wisconsin – June 19
- Langlade County Speedway, Antigo, Wisconsin – June 21
- Thunderhill Raceway, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin – June 22
- Luxemburg Speedway, Luxemburg, Wisconsin – June 23
- Monster Hall Raceway, Unity, Wisconsin – June 24
- Crandon International Off-Road Course, Crandon, Wisconsin – June 25
- Pepsi Raceway Park, Tomahawk, Wisconsin – June 25
- TNT Speedway, Three Lakes, Wisconsin – June 25
- Shelby County Speedway (permanent oval), Shelbyville, Indiana – June 26
- Shelby County Speedway (temporary oval), Shelbyville, Indiana – June 26
- Jennings County Fairgrounds, North Vernon, Indiana – June 27
- Paducah International Speedway, Paducah, Kentucky – June 28
- Crystal Motor Speedway, Crystal, Michigan – June 29
- Dells Motor Speedway, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin – June 30
- Van Wert County Fairgrounds, Van Wert, Ohio – July 1
- Baer Field (3/8 mile oval), Ft. Wayne, Indiana – July 1
- Gingerman Raceway, South Haven, Michigan – July 2
- Thunder Valley Motorsports, Jones, Michigan – July 2
- New Paris Speedway, New Paris, Indiana – July 2
- Durand Downtown Circuit, Durand, Illinois – July 3
- Ripple Ridge Raceway, Rawlins, Wyoming – July 8
- Sheridan Speedway, Sheridan, Wyoming – July 10
- Livingston County Fairgrounds (figure 8) Fowlerville, Michigan – July 12
- Eaton County Fairgrounds, Charlotte, Michigan – July 13
- Laird International Speedway, Echo Bay, Ontario, Canada – July 14
- I-96 Speedway (inner oval), Lake Odessa, Michigan – July 15
- I-96 Speedway (outer oval), Lake Odessa, Michigan – July 15
- Thunderbird Racepark, Muskegon, Michigan – July 16
- Bob’s Family Racetrack, Clarksville, Michigan – July 17
- Orleans Raceway, Orleans, Michigan – July 17
- Mid Michigan Raceway Park, Muir, Michigan – July 17
- Franklin County Park (oval), Brookville, Indiana – July 19
- Franklin County Park (figure 8), Brookville, Indiana – July 19
** 81 Speedway, Wichita, Kansas – July 21
- McCook Speedway, McCook, Nebraska – July 22
- Pikes Peak International Raceway (oval), Fountain, Colorado – July 23
- I-25 Speedway (oval), Pueblo, Colorado – July 23
- I-25 Speedway (figure 8), Pueblo, Colorado – July 23
- Thomas County Speedway, Colby, Kansas – July 24
- Waterloo County Fairgrounds (figure 8), Waterloo, Illinois – July 27
- Western Michigan Fairgrounds (figure 8), Ludington, Michigan – July 28
- Blackbird Bend Speedway, Onawa, Iowa – July 29
- English Creek Raceway, Knoxville, Iowa – July 30
- Beatrice Speedway, Beatrice, Nebraska – July 30
- Cedar County Raceway, Hartington, Nebraska – July 31
- Bull Valley Speedway (figure 8), Audubon, Iowa – August 1
- Saginaw County Fairgrounds (figure 8), Chesaning, Michigan – August 2
- Ingham County Fairgrounds (figure 8), Mason, Michigan – August 3
- Goodells County Park (figure 8), Goodells, Michigan – August 4
- Wonderland Speedway, Lambeth, Ontario, Canada – August 5
- Cheboygan County Fairgrounds (road course), Cheboygan, Michigan – August 6
- Northern Michigan Speedway, Elmira, Michigan – August 6
- Standish Asphalt Raceway, Standish, Michigan – August 7
** Spartan Speedway, Mason (oval), Michigan – August 7
- Spartan Speedway, Mason (figure 8), Michigan – August 7
- Branch County Fairgrounds (figure 8), Coldwater, Michigan – August 8
- Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds (figure 8), Imlay City, Michigan – August 9
- Bay County Fair Derby Arena (figure 8), Bay City, Michigan – August 10
- Shiawassee County Fairgrounds – (oval), Corunna, Michigan – August 11
- Mt. Pleasant Speedway, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan – August 12
- Waterford Hill Road Race Course, Clarkston, Michigan – August 13
- Jackson Speedway (concrete oval), Jackson, Michigan – August 13
- Owosso Speedway, Owosso, Michigan – August 13
- Grattan Raceway Park, Grattan, Michigan – August 14
- Ionia Fairgrounds Speedway, Ionia, Michigan – August 14
** Galesburg Speedway (oval), Galesburg, Michigan – August 14
- Galesburg Speedway (figure 8), Galesburg, Michigan – August 14
- Lenawee County Fairgrounds (figure 8), Adrian, Michigan – August 15
- Genessee County Fairgrounds (figure 8), Mount Morris, Michigan – August 16
- Berlin Raceway, Marne (7/16M oval), Michigan – August 17
- Will County Fairgrounds (figure 8), Peotone, Illinois – August 24
- Volunteer Speedway, Bulls Gap, Tennessee – August 25
- Tri-County Motor Speedway, Hudson, North Carolina – August 26
- Lake Village Speedway, Lake Village, Indiana – August 27
- Kamp Motor Speedway, Chase, Indiana – August 27
- Jules Raceway, Wilmington, Illinois – August 28
- Milwaukee Mile (road course), West Allis, Wisconsin – August 31
- Proctor Speedway, Proctor, Minnesota – September 1
- Lincoln Park Speedway (oval), Putnamville, Indiana – September 2
- Lincoln Park Speedway (figure 8), Putnamville, Indiana – September 2
- Kentucky Speedway (inner oval), Sparta, Kentucky – September 3
- Shelby County Fairgrounds (figure 8), Shelbyville, Indiana – September 3
- Edinburg Veterans Memorial Park (figure 8), Edinburg, Illinois – September 4
- Eagle Park Fairgrounds, Eagle, Michigan – September 9
- Dixie Motor Speedway (outer oval), Birch Run, Michigan – September 9
Greetings from Eagle, Michigan
From the travels and adventures of the
“World’s #1 Trackchaser”
Eagle Park Fairgrounds
Dirt figure 8 (2019 re-visit)
Lifetime Track #955
My name is Randy Lewis. I live in San Clemente, California. I am a “trackchaser”. I trackchase. Before you discovered my site had you ever heard of trackchasing? Maybe not? So….what the heck is trackchasing? Sit back, take a read and you’ll be an expert on my hobby of trackchasing when you’re finished.
Here’s my best explanation on what trackchasing is to me.
Trackchasing is a three-pronged hobby. I’m a racing fan. I love to travel. I love to analyze opportunities to get the most out of everything while saving time and money.
Trackchasing fills the need for all of the above. The racing part of my trackchasing has me trying to see wheel to wheel auto racing at as many different racetracks as I can all over the world. Yes, all over the world. So far things are going pretty well. As this is written, I’ve seen racing in 85 countries at more than 2,500 tracks. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen racing at more tracks than anyone else in the world.
Equally important to me are the things I get to see and experience over the “long and dusty trackchasing trail”. I call these adventures “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions”. You won’t want to miss my “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions” page. Here’s the link: Trackchasing Tourist Attractions or my “Sports Spectating Resume” page, Sports Spectating Resume on my website at www.randylewis.org.
I live in southern California. That’s probably the most inconvenient location in the country for seeing tracks in the U.S. Most of the racetracks in the U.S. are located well over 1,000 miles from where I live. As a matter of fact, my average trip covers 5,000 miles and more. I take 35-40 of those trips each season. In any given year I will travel well over 200,000 miles, rent more than 50 cars, and stay in more than 150 hotel rooms.
I get the chance to meet people all over the world. With trackchasing trips to 85 countries and counting just getting the chance to experience so many other cultures, spend time in their homes and meet their friends is a huge reward for being in this hobby. I am indebted to several of these folks for their help and friendship.
It’s takes a good deal of planning to do the above and not spend my entire retirement portfolio. I enjoy the challenge, the travel and every other aspect of “trackchasing”. In reality, my trackchasing hobby is a lot like being with the carnival. I breeze into town, stay a little while and then head on down the road.
I’ve tried to tell you what the trackchasing hobby is to me. Now I will show you what trackchasing is to me in pictures and music. If you watch just one YouTube video this year, this is the one to watch.
You will see how a simple trackchasing trip takes me a long way from my environment in California and most importantly not just in miles. My hobby is about seeing and experiencing the things that most folks walk right past. Check this out. It might just make your day.
Today’s adventure was one more of the 2,000 trips that have taken me up, down and around the proverbial long and dusty trackchasing trail. If you would like to see where I’ve been and experience those adventures here’s the link:
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!
Friday, September 6, 2019.
I woke up this morning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since I just arrived in the eastern time zone I elected to sleep through breakfast and my morning power walk.
Today I am headed to the small town of Eagle, Michigan for some trackchasing. A major part of today would revolve around driving and logistics and trying to get the most out of what I do.
First I would need to drive from Pittsburgh over to the Detroit Metro Airport. That’s a four-hour drive. There’s a lot of road construction in the Cleveland and Toledo areas. That slowed me down as I passed through those places today.
I had picked up my rental car yesterday afternoon in Baltimore, Maryland. Then I drove two hours over to the Bedford Fairgrounds Speedway in Bedford, Pennsylvania for some All-Star Circuit of Champions sprint car racing. After last night’s racing, I made it over to Pittsburgh at about 1 a.m. In Pittsburgh, I checked into my Springhill Suites by Marriott hotel.
My rental car contract called for a one-way rental. In this case, “one-way” meant Baltimore to Detroit. By making this rental car arrangement I avoided having to sleep in my car last night. Reducing my “didn’t sleep in a real bed last night” total is a trackchasing goal of mine!
There wouldn’t be any time for Trackchasing Tourist Attractions today. The entire morning, afternoon and early evening would be spent driving, switching rental cars and taking advantage of a Priority Pass sponsorship in the Detroit airport. I had to keep moving because there were a lot of boxes to check today.
I returned my Nissan Altima rental car over to National Car Rental in Detroit. I probably could have walked less than a block from the National Car Rental location over to Avis Rental Car where the remainder of this trip’s car would be sourced. However, I didn’t do that.
Right now I’m trying to meet a goal of getting $10,000 for the year in, “points and prizes” from the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card program with Priority Pass. My fiscal year ends on 28 September. I’m close to making the goal. However, in all likelihood, I will probably just miss it.
Today I wanted to stop at the Lufthansa Business Lounge airline club in the North Terminal of the Detroit Metro Airport. I rode the shuttle bus from National over to the airline terminal and cleared airport security. It was then that I learned that I was in the wrong terminal! I had to exit the terminal, leaving security, and hop on a shuttle bus. The shuttle bus would take me to the North terminal. The ride on that bus was more than 10 minutes just getting from one terminal to another.
Once in the North terminal, which is really the old Detroit Metro Airport, I cleared security for a second time. With my TSA pre-check capabilities clearing security only takes two or three minutes. I don’t have to mess with taking off my shoes or taking my laptop out of its bag or anything like that.
The North terminal is used for the “secondary” airlines. In all likelihood, I will be using Spirit Airlines to get back home on Monday. Having the North terminal logistical experience this afternoon will help me for when I use Spirit Airlines on Monday.
I only stopped in the lounge for a few minutes for a bite to eat. I scarfed down some salt potatoes, a cool pasta salad and had an orange juice/vodka screwdriver. It was all good.
While I was in the lounge I also opened my laptop to make a hotel reservation for tonight. Priceline gave me a full-sized Marriott hotel in Pontiac, Michigan at an incredibly low price. Pontiac is a suburb of Detroit. Pontiac was also host to the Silverdome where I once saw legendary Dick Trickle race stock cars indoors.
Soon I was walking out of my virtual environment with a reservation at the Marriott, for which I had paid only $67 plus tax. That was about half of the going rate. When I check in Marriott they will also offer me their complimentary breakfast buffet and maybe even an upgrade. That’s a pretty good deal on a quality property for 67 bucks.
When I left the airport lounge I hopped on another shuttle bus, which was about my sixth shuttle bus of the day. I popped over to Avis where I had made a car reservation using Costco Travel. They gave me a very nice full-sized Ford Taurus. I will drive that car for the next three days and put well over 1,000 miles on its odometer.
From there I hustled the Avis Rental Car Racing Ford Taurus over to Eagle Park in Eagle, Michigan. Their junk car racing program was beginning at 7:30 p.m. My Waze GPS system correctly told me that I would arrive exactly 8 minutes after the official starting time.
Eagle Park Fairgrounds – Eagle, Michigan
When I did arrive I was surprised by the huge crowd on hand. The large grassy parking lot must have had well over 500 cars. I probably parked a couple of hundred yards from the entrance to the fair. I could just barely see the covered grandstand from my vantage point.
Tonight’s admission price for the races was $10. In today’s world that seemed reasonable. I could tell that was the case for lots of other people as well because the place was jampacked with fair and racing fans.
I have not done a lot of research on this race event. I knew where the track was located. I knew they were racing junk cars. I didn’t really have any firm idea what type of track configuration they would use.
I had a few options for watching the races. It seemed like about two-thirds of the grandstand seating was covered in a very rustic log cabin type grandstand. Another section of the grandstand was a little bit further away from the main part of the race action. It was uncovered.
Since no rain was expected (famous last words) for the rest of the evening I very well could have chosen the uncovered grandstand. As it was I wanted to get a better view of the racing and sit sort of on the 50-yard line. That’s what I did. In hindsight that was a brilliant idea. Later in the program rains would come for several minutes with a steady downpour.
I made my way through the grandstand. I was looking for a top row seat. Too late for that. I settled in a location a little bit closer to the top row than the bottom row. I had to step over a couple of people to get there but they were friendly and accommodating.
From what I could tell they had seven heat races tonight. I think with my late arrival I missed the first two heats. It was much easier to hear the PA system way out in the parking lot that it was in the grandstand itself. Why does that happen?
Tonight racing was unusual on several fronts. They started nine or 10 cars in each of the heat races. The first row had five cars side-by-side in the second row for five cars. They started each race from a standing start and raced clockwise. All of what I am describing is exactly the opposite of what the way most traditional Oval Racing or even most traditional junk car racing happens.
The racecourse configuration and layout was a bit funky as well. At the drop of the green flag, the cars raced straight for about 100 yards before making a 90° right turn. That turn took them into essentially a circle. They completed that circle at which point the track crossed over itself. From there they drove down another straightaway for about another hundred yards before encountering a 90° turn to the right. Once that turn was completed they were pretty much back where they started. Ya, funky right?
In the world of trackchasing, a countable configuration must either be an oval, road course or figure 8 track. This was definitely not an oval. It could’ve been a road course but for one reason. The track, “crossed over itself”. Believe it or not this fact made the configuration a figure 8 track! It might’ve been the most unusual figure 8 track that I have ever seen and I’ve seen more than 325 of them. No trackchaser can match that stat.
The racing was exciting. There were several flips. Whenever that happened they threw an immediate red flag and safety workers came out to check on the driver. Once the driver was confirmed to be OK, the car was flipped back on its wheels. A green flag was then displayed and the cars started from the exact position from where they had stopped with the previous red flag. That was an excellent idea. Not having to re-lineup the cars saved time.
I did a little bit of, “live streaming” of the race action on Facebook. I started doing that a couple of tracks ago. People sort of pop on and pop off as they get whatever notification lets them know this option is available.
Even before the rains came the track was muddy and moist. Although it rained steadily for 20 minutes or so the wetness didn’t seem to affect the racing conditions all that much. It did rain hard enough for track officials to put their raincoats on!
I had a nice conversation with the couple in front of me. The gentleman had just moved to Michigan from Southern California. He met his girlfriend on Match.com. Tonight they enjoyed themselves with a little beer, a little hooch from a whiskey flask and were just having a good time at the fair.
I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Most of the people in the crowd were wearing long pants and sweatshirts and coats. Temperatures did get down to about 65° at 10 p.m. with a little bit of a wind. I was getting chilly but it wasn’t all that bad.
I couldn’t hear the announcer all that well so I didn’t know exactly where we were at in the racing program. When the track took intermission at 10 o’clock I hit the restroom. There is one thing about junk car racing with just one class. It tends to get a little bit repetitive.
I had already driven 6-7 hours in two different rental cars when I arrived at the track. At that point, I had seen two hours of racing. I still had two hours to go before I would get to my hotel tonight. I put all of those numbers in a big blender. The blender spit out the idea that now would be a good time to leave.
I can’t recall seeing racing where the crowd was any more enthusiastic than what it was like tonight at Eagle Park. I think a large number of the people in the stands had friends and family who were racing. Of course, the covered grandstand made their enthusiasm sound even louder. These were ragingly enthusiastic and well-behaved fans. It was almost going like going to an exciting high school basketball game.
AFTER THE RACES
At the intermission when I left the grandstand I headed over to the carnival and concession area. It looked as if the rain had done in the carnival rides. They were all shut down. However, I was able to stop at a corndog stand and get two smaller pronto pups for just five bucks. I doused them in mustard and enjoy them to the last bite.
It was a full day. It took some time and effort to get from point A to point B to point C. I’m glad the racing was good. I’m glad I got a chance to talk to some local people as well.
Good evening from the Eagle Park Fairgrounds in Eagle, Michigan itself.
P.S. When I got back to my hotel at the Marriott I begin to enter tonight’s race details into my lifetime trackchasing database. This was when I noticed some surprising news.
Tonight was NOT my first visit to Eagle Park for trackchasing purposes. Yes, this was a shock to me. I had been there all the way back in 2005. Since that first visit to Eagle Park, I had seen more than 1,600 racetracks.
On that night nearly 15 years ago I came away disappointed with Eagle Park. In the middle of the program the lights went out for a while. Then they told everyone it was going to take another 15 minutes when the lights did back on for the lights to come to full brightness. I gave up on them and left.
On the one hand, I’m very happy to report that I had a much better time tonight. The racing was decent and the crowd’s reaction was over the top. I talked and met with some new local friends.
This is not the first time that I had returned to a track thinking I was seeing the race action for the first time when in point of fact, I had been there previously. I think this is the third time I’ve done that. Each time I vowed to be a just a little bit more vigilant but as time goes on I guess I get a little more careless.
The one saving grace, if there was a saving grace, is that I was originally scheduled to see a race up in Canada tonight. I was planning a re-visit just to watch some good racing. Then I would have followed that up with a weekend of trackchasing in Nova Scotia. So… my original plan didn’t call for seeing a new track on Friday night and as luck would have it I didn’t!
Randy Lewis – 85 countries – 2,587 tracks.
The Wolverine state
This evening I returned to the Wolverine state, yes, the Wolverine state to trackchase. I hold the #4 trackchasing ranking in Michigan where I’ve seen 133 tracks. I’ve seen 133 or more tracks in two different states.
Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,
World’s #1 Trackchaser
Peoria Old Timers Racing Club (P.O.R.C.) Hall of Fame Member
Michigan sayings: I’m going to swing by the party store.
No, we’re not planning a surprise birthday party for you. Sorry to disappoint. Here in Michigan, a party store is just another name for a small convenience store where we head to pick up liquor and other adult beverages. We understand the confusion, though!
JUST THE 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 720 tracks of my lifetime total. Don’t blame me.
- Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,587
Total Trackchasing Countries
The nearest trackchasing competitor has seen racing in 30 fewer countries compared to my lifetime total.
- Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 85
Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results
- 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.