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Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center – Northeast Building

 

Greetings from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center – Northeast Building

Concrete oval

 Lifetime Track #2,420

 

 

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 77 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!

 

 

This is one of those racing venues where I’ve been wanting to visit for a very long time. Today was the day. I had no idea the “Pennsylvania Farm Show” would offer so many unusual activities. It was worth the visit.

 

 

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, February 18, 2018

Today is Daytona 500 today. No, I will not be there. I have seen that race in the past. This is the start of the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup racing season. Their season will go all the way through all through November. I watch every race on TV and probably attend one or two each year in person. I’m a big Cup fan.

 

 

I’m on the road. I had one more box to check off with today’s visit to the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center (referred to as Pennsylvania Farm Show from here on!) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. This morning I simply needed to get over there, from Allentown about an 80-mile drive. I didn’t have high expectations for the racing. I didn’t know what to expect from the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

 

 

With the hobby of trackchasing a single go-kart race with as few as two competitors counts the same as watching the Daytona 500 in person at the Daytona International Speedway for five hours. Yep. That’s just how it works.

 

 

There was quite a bit of truck traffic on the drive over to Harrisburg today. In Southern California, for the most part, 18-wheeler type trucks are not allowed to use the roads during the day. That being the case when I’m anywhere close to home I rarely see a big truck.

 

 

Today the countryside was blanketed with a beautiful white snowfall. With a temperature of 39° the roads were clear. When it’s that warm and I’m going to be inside all day my wardrobe consists of a pair of cargo shorts and today a long sleeve hooded T-shirt. I suspected I wouldn’t see many other people with a similar wardrobe today. That’s OK. It works for me. 

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Pennsylvania Farm Show – Northeast Building – Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

 

 

The primary objective today at the Pennsylvania Farm Show was to see a simple senior champ go-kart race. That race might last somewhere between two and three minutes, maybe less.

 

 

I would be arriving early, some two hours before the race was expected to begin. I was very much looking forward to seeing all of the other displays and exhibits that go on at the farm show. In all likelihood that would be more entertaining than what I would see on the racetrack.

I’m going to tell you that I totally underestimated what was being offered at Motorama 2018 held at the Pennsylvania Farm Show grounds. Yes, it was expensive. They charged $10 USD to park and $20 USD to get into the show. Of course, it was cash only. I’m all for letting others simplify their taxes with the U.S. government but I don’t like to deplete my own cash to let them do that.

 

 

I’m going to say that when God dispersed racing fans across the country he did not deal them out in equal quantities by state. Most of the REAL racing fans seem to live in the Keystone State. Granted a disproportionate number of tattoo parlors must exist in Pennsylvania as well. On the right people they look pretty good. On the wrong people not so much… I’m just saying.

Have you ever seen those Russian dolls where you open up the doll you’re looking and there’s another smaller doll inside? Then when you open up that doll there is another smaller doll and it goes on and on for several iterations. That’s sort of what the Pennsylvania Farm Show building complex was all about.

 

 

I went into as many of the buildings as I could. I’m not really sure if I saw them all or not. I will say that I saw quite a few separate buildings housing some of the most unusual things that you could possibly imagine. Some of them were first time sightings for me.

 

 

The first large building I entered, which was carpeted, held a huge car show. They had some really cool looking custom rods in this place. I took several pictures for your viewing enjoyment.

 

 

I asked around and I was soon being directed to the main building. Inside the main building was a dirt motocross track. The motorcycle guys were having fun in there. The building had a large circular seating area where fans watched the action.

 

 

I was on the lookout for the “Northeast” building. That’s where today’s adult go-kart racing was going to happen. I wanted to get over there to make sure they had some senior champ karts. That’s never a guarantee. I also wanted to confirm today’s race schedule. When I found the Northeast building the karts were on the track practicing.

 

 

I saw some things today that I had never ever seen before during a trackchasing endeavor. Of course, I was in Pennsylvania. I don’t hang around Pennsylvania all that much so I’m still a little surprised when I see people wearing fatigues and girls scampering around in skimpy costumes trying to win the Miss Motorama 2018 crown.

 

 

That’s right. Amongst all of the moms and dads and  children were more than 20 contestants competing in a beauty contest. I didn’t know if they had to answer college entrance exam questions or not. I know that when I came past and watched for a few minutes they were striding back and forth in some rather skimpy, glittery uniforms. Most were wagging their backsides to such an extent that I was sure they were going to have lower back problems later on tonight.

 

 

Of course, as any self-respecting auto racing journalist would do, I took a few photos and videos of the action. Of course, I had to stand behind people who blocked the view but improved mine! I was thinking you might want to take a look. The girls all got to answer the same single question asked by a male MC with fluorescent green hair and more tattoo ink than exists in Wyoming. It was the thought provoking “Why do you want to be Miss Motorama 2018“? question. It seemed like every young lady started her answer with, “The reason I want to be Miss Motorama 2018 is…” Now in modern politics every politician wants to tell you they are NOT part of the system. They are outsiders.

 

 

They don’t do that in the Miss Motorama competition. They wanted to tell everyone how they were really “insiders”. They all stressed their previous connection with motorsports and how they were expecting to do good deeds for others. It really brought a tear to the eye of just about any observer.

 

 

I continued to wander around a huge auto racing oriented shopping mall. They had lots of race cars on display and lots of race car-oriented products. I think I walked through the entire thing and enjoyed every bit of it.

 

 

Every time I saw a door at the Philadelphia Farm Show I walked through it. This strategy normally took me to another building. I did sample a five-dollar package of kettle corn. Pennsylvania may be famous for Dutch funnel cakes but they’ve got a ways to go to match up with the geographical kingpins of kettle corn. Today’s offering was a little light on both the sugar and salt. I did see some beef ribs (above) that looked sort of tasty for a late lunch.

 

 

 

I think I could give you 1,000 guesses about what I was to encounter in the very next building I entered and you still wouldn’t figure it out. For the first time ever in what is now 2,420 trackchasing visits I saw my first ever “robot fight“. That’s right, I was going to see a cage fight between robots. These were not tall standup robots. Nevertheless, they were metal combatants that entered into a Plexiglas cage of sorts.

 

 

Once the robotic machines were locked inside the bulletproof Plexiglas cage the door was bolted. Then the robotics owners guided their bots by remote control. They went at it making contact that generated sparks to the amazement of the crowd. Sometimes the robots were thrown up into the air. When one robot couldn’t move anymore it was given a “ten count”. I was mesmerized by all of the above. Did I feel I was getting my twenty bucks worth? Er…..I’ll get back to you on that.

 

 

I wandered into another building which appeared to be a food court of some sort. They offered Pennsylvania food staples such as pierogis and fresh-cut fries. At the other end of this very same building it looked as if some adult men had built these little replica villages and off-road scenes. They were then remotely controlling their miniature off-road vehicles as a judge with a clipboard looked on. Folks, only in Pennsylvania.

 

 

I walked into the equine building half expecting to see some horses. Nope. They had two small dirt tracks racing simultaneously. One was a huge road course with small off-road machines again moved by remote control. The other track was a dirt oval with east coast modifieds racing around it by remote control. What will they think of next?

 

 

Quarter midget racing is big in Pennsylvania for youngsters. I’m going to say that QM racing is more popular in Pennsylvania than anywhere else. Heck, racing is more popular in Pennsylvania than anywhere else. That’s what makes the fact that the World’s #1 Trackchaser doesn’t come from the Keystone state so unbelievable.

 

 

I think the age brackets for quarter midget eligibility run from age 5-16. In another large building there were hundreds of quarter midgets waiting for their chance to get on the track. The QM track itself was very small, pretty much one groove over a flat concrete surface. The youngsters got around that track really well. If I had a five-year-old I would encourage him to be a quarter midget driver. If he or she did that they would be a much better driver when they got their license at age 16.

 

 

I needed to check back in with the Northeast building where the adult karts were racing. Paul Weisel had given me some sage vice about today’s racing. He warned me that I wouldn’t want to miss the senior champ kart heat races by diverting my attention to all of the other activities. If I did that then I would probably have to wait until a feature races to see that class race again. If that happened my poor judgement would add a couple more hours to my visit. I wanted to tell Paul that he was talking to a professional. But, I was pretty sure he already knew that.

 

 

There were about 15 classes of go-karts racing today. Only two of them would count for trackchasing purposes. There were two forms of caged adult driven senior champ karts. Either one or both of these classes would allow me to add the Pennsylvania Farm Show – Northeast Building to my lifetime resume.

 

 

I’ve told you over the years how trackchasing’s founding fathers frowned on flat kart racing. Some of them would tell me that these kinds of karts “are not really racecars”. They weren’t race cars? Please! If a daily driver 1982 Dodge Neon with the horn and radio still working is a “racecar” then a hopped up flat kart that was brought the track in a former NASCAR Nextel Cup race trailer is a racecar!

 

 

The Pennsylvania-based trackchasing group, of which I am not a member, did consider changing the rules and adding flat carts a few years ago. If I told you the political shenanigans that went on during the voting process for that proposal you would shutter. It would make Russia’s involvement in our presidential elections seem like child’s play.

 

 

However, trackchasing has always been a hobby where two or three politically active folks get their way one way…..or the other. They can do this because the lion’s share of people that participate in trackchasing don’t have the gumption or the interest or both to stand up to trackchasing’s powerbrokers. It’s always been that way and it is not going to change.

 

 

I was under a time crunch today. I had arrived at 10 a.m. It’s important to note that I picked up my rental car in Boston on Friday night at 3:45 p.m. I didn’t want to pick it up that early but with the traffic being what it is in Boston I had to so that I could get to the Harvard University basketball game for their tip off at 7 p.m. I still arrived a few minutes late.

 

 

I also knew that National Car Rental offers a 30-minute grace period. That meant that since I picked up my car at 3:45 p.m. I could actually return it to the Philadelphia International Airport by 4:15 p.m. on Sunday afternoon without penalty. Yes, I picked up the car a little bit earlier than I wanted to. Now I was going to have to drop off the car a little bit earlier than I wanted to in order to avoid being charged an extra day’s rental car expense.

 

 

Upon entry today, I had picked up a free program telling me all about the events of the day at Motorama 2018. When I get on the airplane tonight I’ll read it in more detail but I was able to find out the go-kart racing schedule. It seemed to indicate the senior champ karts would race at the end of the program. That was bad news. That meant I would have to wait until the 1 p.m. starting time and see several different classes of flat carts before the kart class raced that I needed to see. It was going to be tight as to whether not I would incur extra rental car charges back in Philly or not.

 

 

Then two things happened that I didn’t think would happen. First of all, they started the actual racing at about 12:30 p.m. nearly 30 minutes before the scheduled 1 p.m. start time. How often does that happen in racing especially when you really need it to happen?

 

 

Then I saw a copy of today’s race order posted on the wall. One of the two senior champ classes had been moved up to the fourth race of the day. In total there were 15 races or more. That meant the guys I wanted to see were going to race early in the program. That was absolutely wonderful.

 

 

I grabbed a seat in the small elevated grandstands overlooking turn three in the Northeast building. This was a fantastic place to watch the racing. They had an announcer but the speaker system so inadequate and the race cars were so loud and the air was so foul that I couldn’t hear virtually anything he was saying. That is often the case with indoor racing shows.

 

 

Later in day, after arriving at the Philadelphia airport I had a few minutes to visit the American Airlines Admirals club. That’s when I began to smell gasoline. Most folks who frequent the Admiral’s Club do not smell like gasoline…but I did. The smell of my sweatshirt was just about strong enough to give me carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

 

I was impressed with how fast the karts raced today. They were turning lap times in the six plus second range. They didn’t have any fear either. They went into the turns at full speed. The slower driver ahead of them was either moved out-of-the-way or crashed. Some of the crashes were at high-speed and it looked somewhat serious.

 

 

The senior champ kart heat race started 10 drivers, which was also the total number drivers in the class for a ten-lap heat race. It is common practice within the trackchasing industry that trackchasers can see just the senior champ kart heat race and then leave without any political or social stigma. I didn’t start that practice but I agree with it. It seems like a good practice to me.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

Let’s think about this now for just a second. I wanna give you some facts. Most of what I tell you most of the time is simply a set of facts. I’ll share opinions from time to time. When I do you’ll know that I’m doing it.

 

 

I had gotten off the ice up in Meredith, New Hampshire yesterday at roughly 3 p.m. Then I battled a snowfall that took me all the way down towards New York City before heading west out towards Allentown, Pennsylvania. The drove took me nine hours before I got to my hotel at about midnight.

 

 

I incurred the extra expense of an upscale hotel as well as an additional day of rental car expense compounded by the extra charges for dropping the car in Philadelphia after I picked it up in Boston for the chance to see a senior champ kart race at the Philadelphia Farm Show. Yes, I know that’s a long sentence. I figured I had driven 500- 600 miles out of my way to do this.

 

 

Why would I do this? Because I am a collector. I am a collector of tracks. Trackchasing is a “counting“ hobby. It’s not really about the racing. Everyone knows this but I’m pretty much sure I’ve the only person who’s going to tell you that.

 

 

Today’s 10 karts for 10 laps senior champ kart race had one yellow flag. The yellow flag delay didn’t take long. The actual race time for 10 laps probably took about 80 seconds. 80 seconds.

 

 

I have made all of those travel arrangements, and then put my body through what it takes to complete those travel arrangements while simultaneously depleting the funds in Carol’s shrinking retirement portfolio. I did it all for an 80-second senior champ kart heat race. Why? Because trackchasing is a collecting hobby.

 

 

Please don’t feel sorry for me. I do this at my own free will. I spend my own money. I never made Carol work so that she could pay for my trackchasing. I didn’t take anyone’s inheritance to pay for this. I didn’t ask anyone to drive me to the races. I simply went out and worked every day like the “working man“ I was. I earned all of my own money. Then I took a little bit of that money each day, each week and each month and put it aside. I invested it.

 

 

When the time came I retired. Then I looked at my investment account and figured I could blow money like this once in a while and still be able to make sure Carol lived a quiet and peaceful life in her modest seaside cottage. That’s really the story of it all in a nutshell.

 

 

I don’t want to diminish the fact that I was able to watch the beauty contest or the robot fighting or the quarter midget racing. It was a fun entertaining day. I don’t know that I’ll come back and do it anytime soon but then that’s not really what trackchasing is all about is it?

 

 

I was celebrating my good fortune today. With the races getting over a little bit quicker than expected I was able to get my rental car back to the Philadelphia International Airport on time without incurring any overtime charges. The weather was good. It was an easy drive back to the airport. My flight had a few open seats. I was able to grab one of them for the flight from Philadelphia back to Los Angeles. The flight was a measly six hours long. Heck, I’ll fly longer than that on Tuesday!

 

 

With any luck I will be able to join Trackchasing’s First Mother for some rest tonight in the aforementioned modest seaside cottage. I think I’ll get home by about 11 p.m. Pacific time. Yes, that would be 2 a.m. Eastern time the time zone where the Pennsylvania Farm Show resides.

 

 

I think just about 99.96% of the people that I observed today in all of the buildings I visited would be fast asleep by 2 a.m. Eastern time tonight. That’s just how it goes. It’s how I roll.

 

 

If they did this kind of racing in California I would go see it there but they don’t do that very much. California is not the hotbed of racing that Pennsylvania is. Now as regards tattoos I don’t really know where California stacks up against Pennsylvania. I think Golden State might be a loser in that comparison but I don’t have any data to support that.

 

 

I’ll get home on Sunday night. Then just 36 hours later, again if all goes well, and you never know if things are going to go well, I hope to be heading out on a trip that will culminate in my seeing auto racing in my 78th different country in the world. As you can imagine if you follow my hobby very much I’ve seen most of the “mainstream“ countries by now.

 

 

However, over the past few years I have developed some really good contacts located in some really unusual locations relative to the type of place in typical U.S. tourist might visit. I’ve met some of the nicest people and, of course, I’ve met them electronically. They have helped me see racing and have experiences that I never would have dreamed about when I first became a racechaser or a trackchaser. Wish me luck on trackchasing country number 78.

 

 

Good afternoon from the Pennsylvania Farm Show – Northeast Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

 

 

Randy Lewis – 77 countries – 2,420 tracks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pennsylvania

 

 

The Keystone state

This afternoon I saw racing at my 106th lifetime track in the Keystone state, yes, the Keystone state.  I don’t even rank in the top ten here. I’ve seen 106 or more tracks in five different states.

 

 

 

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

Pennsylvania sayings:  It’s Just PA

 

 

Pennsylvania is one of few states in which locals refer to their home simply by its abbreviation. The word “pee-ayy” is more often than not heard in place of the full name.

 

 

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

 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,420

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

There are no trackchasers currently within 20 countries of my lifetime total. 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 77

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Motorama 2018 – Lots of entertainment to choose from!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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