THE KEYS TO THE TRIP
My most significant stat in trackchasing?…………….more in “The Plan”.
You aren’t going to tell anybody about this are you?………………more in “The Trip”
It’s not often a track gets a 99.9% score………..details in “Race Review”.
My last three weekends of trackchasing have yielded just one new track each weekend. I didn’t become the “World’s #1 Trackchaser” by seeing just one track per weekend. However, those three trips qualified under the “special circumstances” trackchasing clause.
The first two were in California and the last of the three was in a foreign country (Lithuania). I’ve seen nearly every track that races in the Golden state although there have been a few new California locations in open in 2013. When I trackchase in California about the best I can do is see one new place for the entire weekend.
Of course when traveling internationally, and having seen racing in more than 60 countries, it’s virtually impossible to see racing at more than one track in a weekend. When I travel internationally the purpose of the trip is to see stuff and the racing is almost, but not quite, incidental. When I explain this to Carol she says, “Yes, but if they didn’t race you would hang yourself”. Of course Carol can be a little extremist at times but she is often directionally correct.
The most significant trackchasing stat?
I plan to add 3-4 new track locations this weekend. The weather looks to be rain free. My rainout free streak has now reached 715 days. If I can make it just 17 more days I will have gone TWO YEARS without being rained out. If you know much about trackchasing you might think this is the most significant trackchasing stat in all of trackchasing……ever.
With that said, let’s get this party started!
Why I left a day early.
I woke up this morning in San Clemente, California. I had been home from our ten-day Lithuanian trip for just SEVEN hours. However, it would soon be time to head to Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Carol kept saying “I don’t know how you do it!” I told her that was exactly what the Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers say.
Today was Thursday. My first race of the weekend was on Friday. However, I had to leave today in order to be in Canada in time for Friday night’s 7:30 p.m. green flag at the Ohsweken Speedway about an hour southwest of Toronto.
For me to make it back to the Eastern time zone locations for a Friday night show I have to begin the trip on Thursday. This applies to most Central time zone adventures as well. In order to minimize the time away from home (and Carol) I’ll leave as late on Thursday as possible, sometimes on the red-eye. I’ve discovered most people don’t like to take a later (I’m not talking about the red-eye flight) west to east flight that has them landing around midnight. With my airline sponsorships I can do best by flying when others don’t like too.
This strategy meant a 6:30 p.m. departure. I left the house at 3:30 p.m. (just 15 hours after we hit the driveway from our trip to Lithuania) to battle rush hour traffic up to LAX. With traffic I barely made it. I’ll have to leave earlier next time. I landed in Minneapolis at midnight. My flight to Toronto was leaving at 7:3o a.m. the next morning. I had less than eight hours until my next flight.
I had a short-term solution for tonight’s hotel.
Folks, what would you do about a hotel in a situation like this? I know. Some of you are saying you wouldn’t put yourself in a situation like this! Nevertheless, I WAS in this situation and I needed a short-term solution.
If I tried to get a hotel I probably couldn’t get to bed until 1-2 a.m. In order to make a 7:30 a.m. flight I would need to get up at about 5:30 a.m. to ride a shuttle bus to the airport, clear airport security and be there a few minutes before the flight boarded. That meant my “sleep time” might be 3-4 hours. Contrast that with the Dreaded East Coast Trackchaser trip where they leisurely pour into the family sedan, drive to the track and return home at their convenience. There IS a “West coast geographical penalty” isn’t there!
Am I really crazy or just persistent?
Folks who signed up for these Trackchaser Reports a long time ago probably started thinking (a long time ago) “This guy is crazy”. Crazy yes but PERSISTANT too. I had a great (my words) solution to this opportunity.
I would sleep in the airport! Yes, I would. Have you ever slept overnight an airport….on purpose? If you’re looking for direction check out www.sleepinginairports.net. As I’ve told you many times I don’t come up with very many of my own ideas. However, I’m very good at taking other people’s ideas and adapting them to my situation. I don’t want to brag but I’m one of the best at doing this of anyone I now. When one can cumulatively use so many “best in class” ideas from other people they tend to get outstanding results in every aspect of their lives when this strategy is applied. Folks, how many “other people’s” ideas did YOU use today. Remember I am casting pearls of wisdom here. All you have to do (metaphorically speaking) is bend over and pick them up. Then they are YOUR pearls of wisdom.
One of my all-time favorite places.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul airport is my favorite airport to sleep in. I have a “special” place picked out that was first identified to me from the fine contributors at www.sleepingairports.net. It’s an exclusive place. Few people know about it but I’m going to tell you…and only you. Yes, I risk the idea spreading like wildfire possibly forcing the Marriott Airport Hotel in Minneapolis to close its doors but so be it.
My location is on the second floor of the airport. When you clear security and come into the main shopping area of the airport it’s too your right above a restaurant. There is NO foot traffic in this place whatsoever. There are padded seats, carpeted floors and, most importantly, no annoying airport announcements about anything! There are also restrooms and a drinking fountain within 50 feet of “my area”.
You aren’t going to tell anybody about this are you?
When I enter this space the folks who aren’t sleeping look up at a new arrival and wink and then have that look that seems to say, “You aren’t going to tell anybody about this are you”. It is true that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. However, for readers of Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Reports that rule does not apply to Minneapolis.
When that I began to “set up my room”. Of course, I had electrical access that was most important to power my laptop and cell phone. I had two padded chairs and an ottoman that made a bed of virtually unlimited length. I always carry a security cable to “tie everything together”. The Dreaded East Coast Trackchaser have never been known to steal anything but I don’t want to tempt them. I don’t think they could find this place anyway. Then for the next five hours I snoozed in the comfort of knowing I was being both time efficient and cost efficient.
Canada here I come.
When I awoke on Friday morning my trip to Toronto for the weekend was beginning in earnest. This is what today looked like.
The flight to Toronto covered 678 air miles. It was a simple process to clear Canadian customs. Folks, you should know I don’t really consider Canada a foreign country but I know some people who do.
The customs agent, speaking English with a French accent (which sounded somewhat hoity toity) asked me a few questions about short track racing as if he had never had the experience. I told him to shut up and go visit Eldora Speedway. Of course, he didn’t seem to like that and soon called me over to “secondary screening”. O.K. that really didn’t happen. Just like when you are at a cocktail party and someone says something stupid, you just smile and move on the best way you know how.
Each of these trips is a process.
Getting my rental car was easy. Those people at National have perfected their customer service. I can pick any car I want. I turned down a fully loaded big Buick because its XM satellite radio did not have the premium NASCAR channel. Instead I chose a shiny black Dodge Avenger that came equipped with Sirius satellite radio. All Sirius radios come with the NASCAR channel as standard. Folks, I’ve been doing this for a while and seek comfort, convenience and cost saving at every opportunity.
From there it was time to find a Tim Horton’s. Tim Horton was a famous Canadian hockey player who started a small coffee shop type place that features donuts and coffee above all else. Actually, finding a Tim Horton’s in Canada isn’t very difficult. If you were in America and added all the locations of McDonalds and Subway and then just about all the gas station convenience stores in the U.S.A. you still might not have as many locations as Tim Horton’s has in Canada! Since they started taking credit cards a few years ago they are on my list of “must stops”.
The Tim Horton’s I went to was just across the street from the Motel 6 in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga. This is one of the very best Motel 6 properties in the entire chain. I’ve stayed here many times. For this trip I would be staying in the same hotel for the next three nights. That doesn’t happen very often in my line of work.
I am concerned about some people.
Yes, I am concerned about some people. Most folks are pretty well behaved when they are in public. When that is the case you don’t really know what they would be like behind closed doors. However, for the people who are obnoxious in public thinking about what they would be like at home sends shivers up my spine. I provide two examples for your review.
On the flight to Minneapolis I sat next to a well-fed young woman who said she “owned her own media” company. Good for her. She also told me she does a lot of work with NASCAR racing teams. According to this woman Jeff Gordon is constantly giving “$400 pairs of sunglasses” to her brother when they “hang out”. She told me she’s not much into NASCAR but loves the NFL and NBA. Up to that point her story was all very interesting.
She was in the aisle seat. I was crammed into the middle seat. During the flight she tuned into the live TV flight option with the TV screen on the back of the seat in front of her. She was watching an NBA game. After MOST made baskets she would applaud. On several plays she would pound her tray table in delight. At a basketball game I can appreciate this enthusiasm. However, from a cramped middle seat position not so much.
What made her behaviour particularly goofy was that every couple of minutes she switched from the game to a sitcom show. My brother is a big sports fan. I don’t see him switching from the Laker-Heat game in the middle of the fourth quarter to watch an episode of Friends. Get it?
Then on my early morning flight to Toronto I was boarded with just 12 other passengers. As luck would have it the gentlemen behind me, decked out in a sports coat and about my age, talked to himself the entire time. His first drink order was a “double” bloody Mary setting him back some $14 U.S. He followed that with three cups of coffee and an apple juice. Was he just getting back from the Saudi Arabia dessert?
Nobody ever thinks their OWN behaviour is the least bit peculiar. It’s a lot more fun to look at other people and comment on THEIR behaviour. Watching and listening to these two characters made my flight time go by that much faster.
OHSWEKEN SPEEDWAY – OHSWEKEN, ONTARIO, CANADA
All I have is good news to report.
I go to a lot of racetracks. Much more often than not they offer serious customer service/enjoyment shortfalls. That’s a “corporate” way of saying they don’t do their job very well. It’s probably a lot easier to tell you about how somebody screwed up than how they did something really well. I suspect the reader likes the “bad news” rather than the “good news” too. How else would you explain the way the evening news is portrayed each night?
However, I have no complaints about the Ohsweken Speedway. I’m giving them a 99.9% rating. They do EVERYTHING right! You’re probably thinking, “Randy did they ‘get to you’? Have you sold your soul to the Ohsweken Speedway”?
In the spirit of full disclosure.
Before I go any further I will, in the spirit of full disclosure, tell you I was given a complimentary admission to tonight’s program. To be clear, I never ask for a free ticket. From time to time I will write the track in advance telling them that the “World’s #1 Trackchaser” will be visiting. I’ll ask for access to take photos and volunteer my services to help promote their event or be interviewed at the track etc. However, I never ask for a free ticket. Truth be known I would rather pay my way in so as to avoid any type of conflict or obligation. However, I was raised “proper”. That means when someone offers you a gift you graciously accept. However, as you will see, my review will be most factual with little personal opinion offered. These folks did everything right.
Tonight I was making a return to Ohsweken.
This was not my first visit to the Ohsweken Speedway. I was here on May 5, 2000 to see racing on their “outer oval” track. At the time the Ohsweken Speedway was my 415th lifetime track. Since that time I’ve seen more than 1,400 tracks. To be honest with you I remember very little about that visit. I do know that the Ohsweken operation in 2000 looked a lot smaller than it did tonight.
In reviewing my note from that event I was reminded that I had my first ever “on the track” interview at Ohsweken in 2000. This was just before I started writing Trackchaser Reports about each track visit. However, I do remember the announcer wishing both Carol and I well over the P.A. as we left with the rest of the crowd at the night’s end.
Unlike most fans at the track tonight I was here for one main reason. I wanted to see racing on the Ohsweken Speedway inner oval. Only one class, the bombers, races on that track. That was good enough for me.
Sometimes I get feedback from fans who don’t follow trackchasing and don’t know the trackchasing rules that it’s “too easy” to count tracks if you can get two or more at one place. To some degree I agree with that assessment. However, I would say more often than not I have to go back a second time to get two tracks at one location. When I visited in 2000 the inner oval track did not exist. Now lets get to what happened in 2013.
I was just being introduced to the first class operation at Ohsweken Speedway.
A friendly woman at the “media/V.I.P.” window greeted me. Even though my name did not appear to be “on the list” the woman viewed my racing business card and trusted me that it “should” have been on the list. I spent my first few minutes in the pit area.
The pits had a large number of cars spread over four divisions, which included sprint cars, thunder stocks, mini stox and the bombers. As I go along I’m going to tell you about all the things that Ohsweken Speedway offered that most tracks do not.
Let’s try to count all the good things that this facility offered.
When I entered the pit area I could hear an excellent sound system in the pit area directing the cars for tonight’s program. You’d be surprised at how many tracks don’t have a P.A. system in the pits. The pit grandstand was better than 90% of other tracks main grandstands. Each class racing tonight had a “sponsor”. There were enough cars in the pit area that three of the four classes needed “B” mains to help determine the main feature lineup. That rarely happens at short tracks these days. The pit area also had a modern concession stand and bathroom setup. Remember this was “the pits”. Ohsweken was providing facilities in the pit area better than most other tracks do on the spectator side.
As you might expect they started the show right on time at their official start time of 7:30 p.m. The main racing was done on a dust free semi-banked 3/8-mile oval track. The bombers would race on a tiny dirt oval that utilized the main track’s front straight for the inner oval’s tri-oval straight.
The cars lined up on yet a third track that is used for micro-sprint racing on Thursday nights. As far as I know that track is limited to “youngsters” racing and therefore is not countable for trackchasing purposes. When one race finishes the next one comes onto the track immediately. Sounds pretty simple doesn’t it.
The cars enter the big oval in turn four. They exit the track when the race is finished off turn two. Get this! When the cars take the checkered flag they MUST exit at turn two without taking an extra cool down lap. This is done to keep the program moving. If they don’t exit as prescribed they are penalized! Did you get that? If the cars don’t get off the track within about 250 yards after the race is finished they get penalized!! I have never heard of such a thing. Talk about a fan friendly customer service experience.
The outer oval track is very well lit. However, the only negative I can think of is that the inner oval is not well lit. Otherwise, my grade for Ohsweken would be 100%.
The spectator grandstand P.A. is stout. Two funny, knowledgeable and interesting announcers keep the crowd informed and entertained. When a wreck occurs the pit announcer is quickly on scene. Each employee wears a bright yellow Ohsweken Speedway golf shirt. At a short track I can never recalled seeing so many track employees.
Very few tracks race on Friday nights compared to Saturday night. Nevertheless, Ohsweken can draw a very large Friday night crowd. I’m guessing they had well over 1,000 people at the track tonight.
When a driver spins they don’t sit stopped on the track waiting for the yellow flag to be displayed. In most cases they spin and get going again. Every time they do that, it says 2-5 minutes of “spectator butt time”.
To keep the program moving drivers all have one-way radios. The race director can tell each driver where to line-up on a restart. There’s no need for two-way radios in this case as the driver’s input in not required. Each car racing on the big oval has an electronic transponder attached to the car. This helps the track know exactly what the position of each car is for a restart or at the finish of the race.
The racing was excellent. For those trackchasers, you know who you are, who are just itching to leave when whatever narrow aspect of the evening’s show is finished that they came to see Ohsweken does not disappoint. Tonight’s bomber heats and feature were completed BEFORE intermission.
The normal intermission at the track is five minutes. Tonight they extended that to 15 minutes. Why? A tragedy had befallen one of their comrades. The drivers came into the grandstands with their helmets in hand to collect donations for the impacted family. They collected a solid $2,600 Canadian. The 50/50 pot was more than $1,200 Canadian.
The track’s scoreboard (most tracks don’t have one) used a “countdown” clock on the 15-minute intermission. Precisely at “zero” the announcer was calling the next feature event to the track. Wow!
Tonight’s feature racing was excellent. The 24-car thunder stock feature (similar to quality street stocks) was outstanding with all kinds of side by side racing. One car jumped the start and the announcer told the crowd he would be penalized two spots at the next yellow and he was.
The 24-car six-cylinder sprint car feature was another great race. I didn’t even know these were six-cylinders until I took a closer look at the engine headers. Each of these two feature events ran with a maximum of two yellow flags for the 25-lap distance.
When the sprint cars, as the main attraction, was finished much of the crowd including me left. The last and final race was the ministox feature. This is another good promotional move by the race promotion team. Many more fans came to see the sprint cars than the ministox. Why not let the sprint car fans “get on down the road” if they don’t want to watch the ministox. Too many tracks hold the featured division until the last race of the night after some preliminary divisions have worn out the track….and the fans.
If I lived in the area this is the place I would be on a Friday night.
If you want to go to a short track where they do everything right then you had better make a beeline to the Ohsweken Speedway next Friday night. I doubt very much that anybody will come close to this effort in all of 2013. I can just about guarantee you that nobody will beat this operation when it comes to an overall entertaining and efficient night at the races.
The ‘Province of Opportunity’ Province
This evening I saw my 52nd lifetime track in the ‘Province of Opportunity’ province, yes the ‘Province of Opportunity’ province.
Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,
World’s #1 Trackchaser
Peoria Old Timers Racing Club (P.O.R.C.) Hall of Fame Member
Ontario sayings: Home is where your story begins.
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – 1,535 miles
Minneapolis, MN (MSP) – Toronto, Canada (YYZ) – 678 miles
RENTAL CAR #1
Lester B. Pierson (Toronto) International Airport – trip begins
Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada
TRACK ADMISSION PRICES:
Ohsweken Speedway – Complimentary admission
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 300 tracks of my lifetime total. Don’t blame me.
1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,843
Total Trackchasing Countries
There are no trackchasers currently within 10 countries of my lifetime total.
1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 65
Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results
1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 5.10
That’s all folks! Official end of the RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Report