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Franklin County Speedway

Franklin County Speedway sign

Greetings from Callaway, Virginia

From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

 

 

Franklin County Speedway – Asphalt Oval – Track #1,947

 

HighlightsThe EventVideosPhotos

flat tire 

What a bad start to this trackchasing day.

 

You’ve got to be kidding me #1!

 

flat tire girl 

What would YOU have done?

 

You’ve got to be kidding me #2!

 

taxi driver 

Here came “Bob”.

 

You’ve got to be kidding me #3!

 

Finding someone who cares and who is competent is the secret to life.

 

What did making things “right” mean? A lot!

concession menu 

I had never seen a concession pricing plan like this before. Very creative!

 

No alcohol allowed in restrooms.

 

Get the kids hooked and the parents will follow.

 

 

SUNDAY

 

 

bad day 

What a bad start to this trackchasing day.

I woke up this morning in Greensboro, North Carolina. I went to bed in, Charlotte North Carolina. My day started out really bad. Then it got to be a great day!

 

 

Have you ever had a day start out really bad? Of course, “bad” is a relative term. After you read what I have to say you can decide if the beginning of my day qualified as a “bad” start to the day.

 

 

Last night I ended up trackchasing in Dublin, North Carolina. Dublin is out toward the water. It was chilly enough there for me to need to wear my jacket. Following the race I was looking at a 3-hour drive up to Greensboro, North Carolina. Greensboro would be the perfect overnight stop for today’s trackchasing effort in Callaway, Virginia. My iPhone Apple Maps GPS app told me I would get to my hotel in Greensboro at 1:45 a.m.

 

 

For the first two nights of this trip I had checked into my hotels at first 4 a.m. and the next night at 11 p.m. I guess that made a 1:45 a.m. arrival about average for this trip!

 

late 

I would not be arriving on schedule.

However, I would not be arriving as scheduled. The trackchasing gods had other plans for me. Much of my just after midnight drive tonight was on rural two-lane roads. I’m not a big fan of that kind of driving especially on a Saturday night. There are too many crazies out there. However, I didn’t really have much choice if I wanted to do what I wanted to do.

 

low tire warning 

You’ve got to be kidding me #1!

When I was out in the middle of butt-#$%# nowhere my “low tire” warning light came on. At first I wasn’t too concerned. I was driving a Hyundai Sonata and I’ve seen that light a few times in the past. Each time it was a false alarm. Nevertheless, it sure wasn’t a good sign. I drove on.

 

 

The warning light stayed lit. After a while the car seemed as if it was driving a little “funny”. I pulled over to the side of the road in near pitch-black darkness (except for a beautiful starry night). The right rear tire was nearly flat! My bad day was just about ready to begin.

 

 

It wasn’t my tire.

I figured since it wasn’t my car and it wasn’t my tire I would see how far I could make it. I lowered my speed to about 40 M.P.H. That seemed to help. However, in about three miles the tire went completely flat and my driving for the night was done.

 

 

What would YOU have done?

I have a sense that when people read my reports they think lots of things to themselves. They might say, “Boy, Randy that was pretty clever”. Or, they might say, “What is that boy thinking? I would never do that!” What would YOU have done in this situation? The answer can’t be “I wouldn’t have put myself in a situation where that situation could happen”.

 

 

When was the last time you have had a flat tire at 1 a.m. on a rural highway was no help in sight. Never? Not very often? I quickly accessed my options. I had three.

 

options 1 

My options.

First, I could change the tire myself. Secondly, I could call AAA. My last choice was contacting the National Car Rental roadside assistance folks.

 

 

I wasn’t going to change the tire myself. First, it was dark. Secondly, I wasn’t pulled that far off the highway and didn’t fancy hanging my butt out over the white line and having a drunk driver knock it off. I would call AAA.

 

 

Luckily, given my remote location, my cellphone had reception. I called AAA and a cheery young woman answered with, “Hello Mr. Lewis how can I help you?” Wow! This was going to be a piece of cake. That was a very wrong thought. After I got into my “spiel” the cheery young woman’s tone changed a bit. “Sounds like you’re in North Carolina. I’ll have to transfer you to ‘North Carolina AAA’!” What could I say. She put me on hold. After 12 minutes of holding, with some of the most annoying music playing in the background I hung up.

 

 

I would have to work with option #3.

It was time to go to my third option, calling National’s roadside assistance program. I rent 50 cars a year or more. I’ve been renting 50 cars a year for more than 40 years. You can do the math. I’ve had 4-5 flat tires in all of those rentals.

 

customer service rep 

I deal with a lot of customer service people in the travel business. I could lump them into two broad general categories. Those who will help you to the extent of what their system can produce and those that will try to go a bit beyond if they like you.

 

 

The first couple of people were pretty much from the first group. “I’d like to help but my system won’t let me really help you”. Finally, I got a young woman who was doing her best to help. That was a start.

 

 

Now we were cooking.

She and I developed a plan. Once she had some idea of my rural location she would call a cab for me. I was 26.7 miles from my Embassy Suites hotel in Greensboro. It was going to take some time to find a cab and find a cab willing to drive nearly 30 miles one-way just to get to me, at now almost 2 a.m. in the morning. We agreed I would gather my gear, leave the keys on the front seat and the car unlocked. National would send a tow truck to get the car.

 

 

However, finding a cab would not be easy. I was on the phone with my benefactor for more than 40 minutes. That was bad enough but I knew that once we did find a cab driver it would be another 30-40 minute wait for him/her to arrive.

 

no spare tire 

You’ve got to be kidding me #2!

In the meantime my roadside helper asked me to check the trunk to see if there was a spare tire. If there was a spare they would not need a flatbed tow truck. If there was no spare they would. There was no spare tire!

 

 

That’s right. There was no spare tire. This was not a mistake. Current Sonata models do not COME with a spare tire. OMGoodness! What has the downsizing world come too?

 

taxi driver 

Here came “Bob”.

At about 2:30 a.m., nearly two hours after my car had become disabled, “Bob” showed up. He was driving a “mini-van” cab. Bob couldn’t have been a nicer guy.

 

 

On the 25-mile plus drive back to the hotel he and I got to know each other. Bob and I had a lot in common. We also had a number of other things about our lives that were not in common.

 

 

What did “Bob” and I have in common?

First, Bob was just two months older than me. His two sons and one daughter (in the same birth order as our children) were almost exactly the same age as our kids.

 

 

Bob had recently retired as a bakery truck driver. He did that for 40 years. However, he had run into the “I married you for life but not for lunch” marital syndrome. Apparently, he was having some conflicts with his wife about being home too much since his retirement. He also told me he “needed something to do”. These are common issues with newly minted retirees. Sometimes “needing something to do” is code for “I didn’t save enough money for retirement”.

 

 

Now Bob was working 72 hours per week (that’s right six 12-hour days) driving a cab. He was picking up guys like me at 2 a.m. That didn’t sound like a very relaxing retirement to me.

 

 

What did “Bob” and I not have in common?

Although Bob was now a taxi driver he wasn’t into technology or GPS units. I asked him why? “Don’t think that stuff can help me” he said. I get that a lot from folks who haven’t bonded with tech. I thought to myself. There MUST be some form of technology that I can use as an example to resonate with Bob. I had it!

 

 

I told him about my experiences with technology using my TV digital video recorder (DVR). I mentioned he could watch a TV program in 44 minutes when it might take others a full hour to see the same program. This seemed to resonate with Bob. Will he change his views on tech? I doubt it. It truly is difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. I’m lucky with tech. In order to work in the “corporate” world I had to keep up with the technology world or fail. I’ve also had three kids pushing me to “keep up” with the 21st century.

 

 

Anyway, it was nice getting to meet up with Bob. The round-trip fare came to about $110 U.S. Bob was pretty happy about that. He gets 50% of the fare but has to pay 50% of the gas. He dropped me at the Embassy Suites, my Priceline sponsored hotel at a little past 3 a.m.

 

embassy suites 

I was most happy to get to my hotel before it was time to checkout.

I immediately sought out the bed in my two-room suite. I set my alarm for 9:30 a.m. Embassies’ buffet breakfast (one of the best in the industry) stopped serving at 10:30 a.m. I figured National would have my car situation figured out by the time I woke up. Of course, they didn’t!

 

 

My alarm woke me from a dead sleep at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. That pretty much means I didn’t get all the sleep my body was yearning for. My first call was to National. What did they have for me after last night’s marathon experience? Not much.

 

 

You’ve got to be kidding me #3!

Even though it was eight hours after my flat tire, they had no record of my “incident”. Since there was no record the National agent “assumed” the car had not been picked up from the roadside where I left it.

 

tow truck 

They wanted to send a tow truck out to the scene this morning, which would have majorly screwed up my trackchasing plan for this afternoon. I insisted that just because there was no “record” that didn’t mean the car had not already been picked up. They had no record of sending a cab to pick me up either. OMGoodness. I can get pretty agitated when I feel I’m dealing with either consciously incompetent people OR unconsciously incompetent people!

 

 

Finding someone who cares and who is competent is the secret to life.

After talking to several customer service people who either had poor plans of action or didn’t want to take ANY action I found a manager at the Charlotte office who would help me.

 

 

She had to trust me; this really did happen last night.

Initially she had a little bit of a hard time believing that my car was really picked up since there was no record of the flat tire problem whatsoever. Again I insisted that “no record” did not mean “no pickup”. I kept telling her that a cab, ordered by the National Car Rental Company picked me up in the middle of nowhere and drove me nearly 30 miles to my hotel. That being the case, the incident we were talking about MUST have happened!

 

 

After being on the phone for 40 minutes she agreed to keep pursuing the problem. She also told me, that if I had too, I could rent a car from another company in Greensboro and drop it in Charlotte. She would reimburse me up to $250 for that rental.

 

 

In the meantime I grabbed a quick shower, ate the Embassy Suites breakfast AND made my own one-way rental with National from Greensboro to Charlotte. Cost? About $90 U.S.

 

 

Miracles do happen.

About the time I got another call from the Charlotte agent. My “incident record” had miraculously surfaced. The car had been picked up last night at about 4 a.m. That meant she could rent me another car.

 

 

Although I had not been rude I had been very assertive regarding my car problem. I was most disappointed with the lack of understanding and action most agents I talked to had provided. The Charlotte agent was more than apologetic. She wanted to make things “right”.

 

 

What did making things “right” mean? A lot!

Here’s what that meant. Of course, they paid for the $110 cab fare. That made both Bob, my driver, happy and me. Then the agent agreed to waive my two-day rental car fee. That saved me $98. Then she put “three free days” into my account. I can use those whenever I want them. I will use them on “one-way” rentals. Those are each worth a minimum of $90 per day as one-way rentals are very expensive. Finally, I would not be charged for the gas used during the 315 miles I had driven before my flat tire happened. That would save another $35 or so. Net gain from all of this hassle? About $400! I wouldn’t wish a flat tire on anyone at 1:30 a.m. along a mostly deserted rural highway. However, flat tires cannot always be predicted. Getting $400 in “stuff” did take quite a bit of the sting out of things.

 

greensboro rental car 

I would get a new car and continue my pilgrimage to Virginia.

With that I rented a Nissan Altima from the Greensboro airport. They didn’t have any Sonatas! It didn’t have satellite radio and didn’t get the mileage my rental Sonatas do. However, it didn’t have any flat tires either.

 

 

I headed off toward Virginia. More on the racing afternoon in the “Race” section.

 

 

MONDAY

 

 

Last on the list.

Today the plan was to fly back home to Los Angeles from Charlotte. My airline sponsorship program has changed. In some cases my priority has improved dramatically. In others it has deteriorated. Today I was flying with “last place” priority. That’s never a good thing.

 

 

However, when I have long delays in airports I simply pop open my laptop. I have five, maybe ten years, of work to do. So an afternoon of downtime is put to good use.

 

charlotte airport 

You won’t see this anywhere but in Charlotte.

The Charlotte Douglas International Airport has something that I don’t see ANYWHERE else. I’m not sure about the women’s bathrooms but the men’s bathrooms have “attendants”. In Charlotte these folks are very aggressive with their “Have a good day, nice to see you” comments. In reality they are hustling for tips! In a way I’m surprised the airport doesn’t get more complaints about this overbearing “service”.

 

 

 

ONE CANNOT LIVE WELL OR SLEEP WELL IF ONE HAS NOT DINED WELL

 

biscuits gravy 

Waffle House – The South

I must admit to eating at the Waffle House three times during this trip. I love ‘em. For the first time ever I tried the jalapeno pepper biscuits smothered in gravy. Very good!

 

 

However my Waffle House “go to” items remain the basic waffle and Diet Coke with cherry syrup in a “to go” cup. I won’t be eating at WH for at least several weeks. I had to stock up while I could.

 

 

The Race.

 

pano franklin county 

Franklin County Speedway – Callaway, Virginia

 

virginia hillside 

Pretty far out in the boonies.

This place is out in the boonies of the Virginia mountains. How far out in the boonies? I didn’t have ANY phone reception here.

 

 

Callaway, Virginia itself is an unincorporated area some eight miles from Rocky Mount. Rocky Mount is the county seat with just a bit more than 4,000 people. Booker T. Washington, founder of Tuskegee Institute was born near Callaway.

 

 

If you’re not early you’re late.

Racing was set to begin at 3 p.m. I arrived an hour early. Admission was a more than reasonable $10 U.S. That was fantastic actually. Today would be feature racing only. I like that. There were nine divisions racing. I don’t like that a lot.

 

concession menu 

I had never seen a concession pricing plan like this before. Very creative!

My first stop was at the concession stand. Prices and offerings were reasonable and plentiful. FCS has an unusual pricing method. As an example one of my bologna sandwiches was two dollars. However, two sandwiches were only three dollars in total. Chili to be added to the sandwiches was one dollar per sandwich. However, my two fried bologna sandwiches WITH chili and a Diet Mountain Dew (in honor of being in the mountains) was only four dollars all together. You can’t beat that. You might want to reread this paragraph for better understanding.

 

franklin announcer 

I get the V.I.P. treatment at so many places.

At the beginning of the program I was invited into the announcing tower. There the young announcer and I did a brief interview. It’s always fun to spread the word about trackchasing to all of the fans who show up for these races. I estimate my interviews have reached more than one million people.

 

 

Skinny, deathly skinny.

The overall program was very well run. Car counts were skinny, very skinny in some divisions at 2, 6, 5, 7, 9, 15, 5, 10 and 15. Car counts are down almost everywhere I go. In today’s racing world a class of ten cars is considered somewhat normal.

 

 

There were very few yellow flags. That comes with small car counts. This allowed the all feature racing to run for 20 to about 50 laps per race and keep the program moving. They took 5-10 minutes between races to recognize the winners and get the next race lined up.

 

no alcohol in restrooms 

No alcohol allowed in restrooms.

I was impressed by a couple of small things. First both the men and women’s restrooms were painted bright white on the outside with HUGE two foot high red lettering telling fans, which was which. That’s a big difference from lots of places where even if you can find the restroom you aren’t quite sure which is the men’s and which is the women’s. There was a curious sign at the entrance to the men’s restroom. It read, “No alcohol allowed in restrooms”. Folks, the last place I want to sneak a snort of whiskey is in a racetrack restroom.

 

franklin train 

Get the kids hooked and the parents will follow.

McDonalds made famous the plan of going after the kids to get their parents.   The Franklin County Speedway was taking a page out of Mickey D’s book. The FCS had something I had never seen before. They had converted several 55-gallon drums into rolling racecars of sorts. Then two older men used John Deere riding lawnmowers to pull groups of five brightly colored “drums” around with small children steering the daylights out of those things. The drums had NASCAR paint jobs except for one that sported Richie Evans colors. Those lawn tractors never stopped moving during the four hours I was at the track. This was a very creative idea to keep the kids occupied.

 

franklin turns 3 4 

The track.

The track itself is a 3/-8 mile high-banked asphalt oval. Turns three and four are at a significantly lower elevation than turns one and two. Three-quarters of the track (all but turns three and four) are ringed by poured concrete grandstands. I was happy to have my “gardener’s foam knee pad” to make the concrete seating area bearable. Some fans watched from their cars.

 

 

There were two classes of mini-cups. I don’t know what the difference in the two was. There was a single class of IMCA type mods. The rest of the racers were various forms of stock cars. The late models ran last with 15 competitors. With the late models being the featured class I would have like to have seen them run earlier in the program.

 

 

As always don’t miss the photos and video. I tried to get video of all nine classes of racing.

 

 

State COMPARISONS

 

Virginia

 

The Old Dominion state

This afternoon I was seeing my 18th lifetime track in the Old Dominion state, yes the Old Dominion state. I don’t have a lot of trackchasing penetration in the Virginias. I have no idea why.

 

 

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

Virginia sayings: Please don’t confuse us with West Virginia

 

 

 

QUICK FACTS

 

 

AIRPLANE

Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Dallas, TX (DFW) – 1,256 miles

Dallas, TX (DFW) – Atlanta, GA (ATL) – 713 miles

 

 

RENTAL CAR #1

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – trip begins

Concord, NC

Charlotte Douglas International Airport – trip ends – 325 miles

 

 

RENTAL CAR #2

Charlotte Douglas International Airport – trip begins

Raeford, NC

Dublin, NC

Flat tire; left the car #2 on the side of the road

Total miles – 315

 

 

 

RENTAL CAR #3

Piedmont Triad (Greensboro) International Airport – trip begins

Callaway, VA

Charlotte Douglas International Airport – trip ends – 258 miles

 

 

AIRPLANE

Charlotte, NC – (CLT) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – 2,125 miles

 

 

 

Total air miles – 4,094 (3 flights)

Total rental car miles – 898 (3 cars)

 

 

Total miles traveled on this trip – 4,992 miles 

 

 

 

TRACK ADMISSION PRICES:

The Dirt Track At Charlotte – $15

Rockfish Motorsports Speedway – $10

Dublin Motor Speedway – $10

Franklin County Speedway – $10

 

 

Total racetrack admissions for the trip – $45

 

 

 

 

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 375 tracks of my lifetime total. Don’t blame me.

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,947

 

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

There are no trackchasers currently within 10 countries of my lifetime total.

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 68

 

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 4.96

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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