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Red Rock Raceways

clifford pa

Greetings from Clifford, Pennsylvania,

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claysburg map

then Claysburg, Pennsylvania

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dubois pa

then DuBois, Pennsylvania

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huntsville tn

and finally (whew!) Huntsville, Tennessee!

 

 

From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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hurricane hills pano 

Hurricane Hills Sports Center – MX Track – dirt road course 

Lifetime Track #2,088

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red rock raceway pano

Red Rock Raceways – dirt oval 

Lifetime Track #2,089

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Race-1 pano

Race-1 Motor Speedway – dirt oval 

Lifetime Track #2,090

Buffalo Raceway racing 

Buffalo Raceway – dirt oval 

Lifetime Track #2,091

The EventVideosPhotos

editor 4

Editor’s note: On Sunday, May 24, 2015 my trackchasing day included visits to tracks located all over Pennsylvania. Then on Monday I grabbed a track down in Tennessee before returning home over the “Bank Holiday” Memorial Day weekend. This Trackchaser Report will cover the entirety of this busy trip.

 

You may also be interested in how this trip began (not well) with a misstep in Michigan and then a three track visit to first West Virginia and then Pennsylvania on Saturday of this weekend. It was a very productive holiday weekend yielding seven tracks to my burgeoning lifetime total. Here’s the link to the beginning of the trip:

Here’s how this Memorial Day trip started…not all that well

 

 

THE EVENT

 

 

ON THE WAY TO THE RACES

 

 

SUNDAY

 

sunday keep calm

I could have made this an easy day. I didn’t.

Today, Sunday, was going to be a busy day. I could’ve made it less busy but that was not part of my plan.

 

Last night’s track the Hummingbird Speedway was located in Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania. Tonight’s track, the R-1 Motor Speedway is in DuBois, Pennsylvania. These two facilities were only 12 minutes apart.

 

 

Nope. I don’t roll like that.

It would’ve been easy to stay around Reynoldsville last night and drive such a short distance for tonight’s racing. However that is not how I roll.

 

 

The plan for the day.

From last night’s track I would drive four hours to a race up in Clifford, Pennsylvania for a race expected to start about 11 a.m. this morning. Then I would hop in the car and drive four more hours for a race expected to start about 4 p.m. Finally I would motor on to DuBois, Pennsylvania for a 6:30 p.m. starting time. I hoped to wrap up my night in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 

Folks, this is after I slept on an airplane two nights ago and in my car last night. Nevertheless, I never really seemed to get tired or tired of this lifestyle. I can’t explain it.

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Hurricane Hills Sports Center – Clifford, Pennsylvania

 

hurricane hill sxs lineup

Like it or not it’s here to stay…..maybe.

I’m really getting into the side-by-side racing. Whether people like this kind of racing or not this is going to be the future of trackchasing. You will see more and more trackchasers going to more and more side-by-side racing events.

 

There’s really only one thing that can stop it. What’s that? A rule change. You see the political machine that runs trackchasing doesn’t like a west coast trackchaser getting a jump on them. Side by Side racing benefits me more than any other trackchaser. Will we see a rule change? It would not surprise me in the least. It’s happened before.

 

Peoria Speedway logo

A long way from my roots.

Side-by-side racing on a hilly dirt road course is about as far away from what I grew up on at the Peoria speedway as you can get. Do I think that’s a good idea? Not necessarily. However I’ve seen just about every Peoria Speedway type track that exists. I’d rather see racing on little high-banked dirt ovals but they don’t exist much for me anymore.

 

I was told by the NEATV promoter that the race I wanted to see would be beginning at about 11 a.m. However he told me that I should show up by 10 AM just in case. In case of what? Anyway I showed up at ten.

 

I was glad I followed his advice for two reasons. First I could have breakfast at the track. Secondly I would be able to see the first Moto for the “open” side-by-side class. That race started at about 10:30 a.m.

 

Rural Pennsylvania is not the laden with tourists conveniences. I’m talking about restaurants! I’m glad they were serving breakfast at the track. Most don’t.

 

eggs

Sunny side up please.

After I paid my $15 general admission fee I found a suitable parking spot. Then I found the café. There were three young woman working inside all friendly and helpful. I didn’t want any of the items on their menu but they agreed to make me a custom choice.

 

Hurrican hills kitchen

Soon one of the women was frying up three eggs with bacon. Since I’m not a coffee drinker I washed my vittles down with a bottle of diet Pepsi. I try not to drink diet soda for breakfast but sometimes you just gotta. Thank you ladies for being so accommodating even after I spilled my Diet Pepsi all over the place!

 

 

Follow the money.

Most of the side-by-side racing events I attend are dominated by ATV racing machines. Why? Remember whenever you don’t know the answer to a question….follow the money. ATVs are a lot cheaper than most other race machines. They also look to be a lot more dangerous than side-by-side racers.

 

sxs brand new

How much does a brand new SXS racer cost?

I took the opportunity to talk with one of the side-by-side racers who was obviously from New England based upon his accent. He told me he had been racing ATVs but had just upgraded yesterday to a brand-new side-by-side racer.

 

He told me he bought it from the dealer for $23,000. I looked at the machine. That seemed like a lot of money for a side-by-side racer. My new friend told me he had already broken a couple torsion bars. That wasn’t a problem. They were covered under warranty he told me!

 

 

No, this was not the Peoria Speedway.

It turned out there would be only three side-by-side racers in their “Open SXS” event today. They went off as the fifth moto. Of course “moto” in the ATV/SXS world simply means “race”.

 

Most of the races today were over a duration of four laps. The dirt road course had some severe elevation changes. It had lots of jumps and moguls too. It would’ve been fun to see about 15-20 of the side-by-side machines in a race like this.

 

I’m not sure trackchasing is heading in the direction I would like it too based upon my background as a racechaser. At the West Virginia side-by-side race I had seen three countable racers. At the Blairsville speedway I saw three countable racers. Now the Hidden Hills track was featuring three countable racers. They do say things happen in threes right? Nevertheless, this was a VERY long way from the type of side-by-side competitive dirt oval racing I was raised on.

 

 

THE RACING

 

red rock raceways pano 3

Red Rock Raceways – Claysburg, Pennsylvania

 

 

Time to move on down the road. Track #2,089 beckoned.

Following this morning’s side-by-side moto I have now seen racing at 2,088 different racetracks. However there was no time to rest. I was soon headed down to Claysburg, Pennsylvania for an afternoon senior champ kart race at a brand-new track.

 

 

I rack up the miles on my rental cars.

When I wasn’t too far away from the brand new Red Rock Raceways I noticed my trip odometer was closing in on 1,700 miles. Heck the car only had 1,900 miles when I picked it up! I am glad I rarely drive my own car (really Carol’s car) on these trips.

 

deer deer

Why shoot ‘em when you can just pick them up….and they’re already dead!

Deer hunting is a major sport in Pennsylvania. However if I lived in Pennsylvania and wanted to have a dead deer I don’t think I would go hunting. I would simply drive along the interstate. You can pick up a dead deer about every hundred yards during this time of the year. Why shoot ‘em when you can pick ‘em up already dead.

 

 

No time for Indy anymore.

For the past several years I have recorded the Indy 500 with my DVR. However I can’t remember when I watched the recorded program in full or even in part over the last couple of years.

 

I am not an IndyCar fan and never really have been. I didn’t even take the time to record it on my TV’s DVR this year. However I did listen to some of the coverage on satellite radio as I drove over to this afternoon’s track.

 

paul page

Happily announcer Paul Page no longer works on TV broadcasting the car races. Unhappily he has somehow scored a job with satellite broadcast radio of the race. He is still as bad as he always was.

 

 

No names.

Here I am a major racing fan and I haven’t even heard of more than about five drivers in the entire Indianapolis 500 field. That’s been the case for a very long time. Even the guys I think I know by name I’m not sure I could recognize if I saw their photograph. Nope I don’t care much for Indianapolis.

 

 

Boonieville.

Pennsylvania is extremely rural state. Growing up as a Midwesterner and now having lived in California for more than 35 years that fact about the Keystone State still surprises me. I think of the Northeast as an old and crowded place. However, rural Pennsylvania as well as rural upstate New York, offers some of the most picturesque rolling landscape you’re likely to see anywhere in United States. It’s beautiful.

 

red rock raceways sign

Where was I going this afternoon?

Today I was planning to visit the Red Rock Raceways. The track is located in Claysburg, Pennsylvania. I didn’t know how rural this place was until I attempted to find the track.

 

 

How do I find these places?

I am frequently asked, “How do you find these places?” By the time I get to each track I visit I normally can no longer remember where the original information came from. That was the case with the Red Rock Raceways.

 

I may have picked it the info on the trackchaser Yahoo Groups forum. If that was the source of information it probably came from trackchasing commissioner Guy Smith. Smith shares more information on the forum that anyone else. Far too many people on the forum are takers rather than givers. That would be okay if they “gave” somewhere else but most don’t.

 

 

Sharing the obvious.

Guy Smith is much better at sharing the obvious upcoming race dates. Of course, I usually know when the Daytona 500 is coming up! He is a little reticent (O.K. a LOT reticent) to share the really obscure race dates he plans to use. Why in the world would that be?

 

However, as Guy is a constant reader of this website, I can usually get him to change his behavior when it “just ain’t right” which is often. What are examples of this?

 

 

Examples.

I complained that he never published any trackchasing goals until AFTER he had achieved them. Anyone can say they planned to hit a home run after they did it. Finally, Guy began listing some goals in advance. That was a good first start. However, he is the king of setting “softball” goals. What are “softball” goals? These are goals that can be achieved by simply getting out of bed every morning. I’m a fan of “stretch” but achievable goals.

 

Additionally, I have mentioned the low number of visits to Guy’s website at www.roamingtheraceways.com. Frankly, for what it does, which is creating lots of trackchasing LISTS, I think it’s great. However, my site gets in a month the number of visits www.roamingtheraceways.com gets in 3-4 years. After registering this fact in my writings the counter has been removed from www.roamingtheraceways.com! Nevertheless, I recommend you check out the site.

 

hope

I can hope right?

Now maybe that I have mentioned it Guy Smith will publish ALL of the upcoming race dates he plans to use and even the obscure dates he doesn’t plan on using. I’m sure other trackchasers would like to have been reminded of this somewhat obscure racing day on a Sunday afternoon in Claysburg, Pennsylvania.

 

 

Going to the top.

I will commonly call the track promotion team a few days in advance to clarify the details of an upcoming event. I did that with the Red Rock Raceways promoter Troy Aichey. Troy is also the promoter at the Cove Valley Speedway a track I visited in 2012.

 

Most of the time when I get in touch with the promoter my trackchasing hobby comes up. I feel it’s necessary to explain myself so as to justify the unique questions I am asking.

 

I always feel self-conscious, no make that badly, when I must explain to a flat kart promoter that trackchasing’s forefathers dumped all over the entire class of flat karts. As you’ve heard me explain many times, the only general form of karting that is acceptable to trackchasers is the senior Champ kart and it’s variations.

 

Nevertheless Troy was understanding and encouraging about the prospect of senior champs appearing at his race today. As many promoters do he told me to “look him up” when I arrived at the track. I would surely do that.

 

Paul Weisel Monmouth

Ring. Ring.

During my nearly four-hour drive over to Red Rock from the Scranton, Pennsylvania area I received a phone call from friend and fellow trackchasing competitor Paul Weisel. Paul was returning from a business and trackchasing trip to North Carolina. He was planning to see this afternoon’s race in Claysburg. He was calling to inquire about my attending that race as well.

 

Paul has seen a little bit more than 900 tracks in his trackchasing career. I am always encouraging him to keep at it so that he can get into the exclusive 1,000 track club. He is slowly but surely encroaching upon that grand number.

 

 

A busy Saturday and Sunday.

On this particular Saturday and Sunday I was going to be seeing six new tracks. Somewhat surprisingly five of those were tracks that Paul had never seen. What was even more surprising was that these five tracks were within a five-hour drive or less of Paul’s home up by Allentown, Pennsylvania. The trackchasing information I share broadly will allow Paul to plan visits to some or all of those tracks.

 

I was happy to tell Paul about a trackchasing opportunity for this evening. After seeing the racing at Red Rock Raceways my plan was to head up north to DuBois, Pennsylvania. At DuBois, my plan was to see racing at the R-1 Motor Speedway. I’ll tell you more about that a little bit later.

 

 

A hard place to find.

Luckily, Troy the Red Rock promoter had given me a street address to use in my GPS system. Without it I’m not sure I would have ever been able to find his track. It truly was out in the boonies.

 

Once I arrived I quickly spotted Paul sitting in his van just across from the track entrance. We said hello and then I went off to find the track promoter.

 

 

Let’s talk to the promoter.

It was easy to find Troy Aichey who runs this track. He was the big friendly guy. He was happy to see that a California trackchaser had come all this way to visit the brand new Red Rock Raceways. 

 

He told me this was the third ever event at the track which it opened this year. They’ve got the beginnings of a very nice little track.

 

One of the things I have always liked about trackchasing is just seeing the uniqueness of each track’s physical plant. The Red Rock Raceways is unique in many ways.

 

red rock raceways turn one

The dirt oval is about 1/9-mile in length. Of course I’m guessing. I think they may have stated that as the track’s distance on their Facebook page.

 

What makes the track unique compared to most karting tracks that I have seen is the extreme banking. It is not only banked in the turns but the straightaways as well. The track sits down in sort of a bowl. The spectator viewing points of the racing are excellent.

 

Today’s racing was scheduled to begin with practice at 3 p.m. and races to follow. I could see the setting sun would be an issue for fans on a hot summer day. The fans generally faced West and of course that’s the direction where the sun would be falling each evening.

 

Spectators watched from a small bleacher area and from their own lawn chairs along and well above the track’s backstretch. Paul Weisel, ever the trackchasing politician told me that other trackchasers were in attendance. He referred to GSmith, PSmith and RSchneider. Although that was likely the case I did not have encounters with any other fellow competitors other than Paul.

 

 

Not it was time to explore Red Rock on my own.

After finishing my talks with the promoter, Troy told me I would have the “run of the place”. That’s normally how promoters handle it. They are very busy on race day and don’t have time to babysit me. They are proud of what they have created. They want visitors like me to see their handiwork and appreciate it.

 

I understand that proudness of accomplishment they seek to share. That’s why you will find me being the only trackchaser to feature a website with videos, photos and reviews of each track I visit. I’m proud to tell you and show you what the nation’s racing industry is all about.

 

Troy’s primary promotional track is the Cove Valley Speedway located “on the other side of the mountain” as he described it. I visited the Cove Valley Speedway a couple of years ago. I remember after leaving the track a black bear had become a traffic fatality just outside the speedway. It’s weird to recall some of the memories that come from these track visits!

 

 

The pits.

Today’s kart racers would pit their machines just outside of turns one and two. There weren’t all that many racers but there were two countable trackchasing classes.

 

red rock pit board

The pit board told me there were two senior champ karts and three “cyclones”. Tracks are not all that consistent in the names associated with each racing class. At some tracks the cyclones are called either junior late models or mini-late models.

 

 

Timely.

I had arrived just as the national anthem was playing. That was good timing considering I was coming from nearly four hours away.

 

 

Who knew?

The track had a very nice flag stand. It allowed the starter to be viewed high above the racing surface. His perch was almost directly over the racers as they passed the start/finish. During some of the races I was allowed to stand out on that catwalk to take photos. That was a fantastic view. 

 

red rock raceays vip box

The press box was state-of-the-art for kart racing track. I doubt that many fans viewing today know that the “press box” has a different purpose during the wintertime. Troy and his buddies use it as a deer hunting stand during deer season!. 

 

 

Why hunt deer?

I told Troy that I didn’t understand why people hunted deer in Pennsylvania. I said “If people wanted a deer so badly they can simply drive along just about any Pennsylvania highway and pick one up. They’re already dead too!” He got a kick out of that comment.

 

 

Were they racing?

While Troy and I were chatting there was some racing activity on the track. I asked him if they were still practicing? Yes, they were he told me. However, later Paul Weisel seemed to think the senior champs were actually “racing” when I thought they might have been practicing. I can’t honestly tell you, because I’m not sure, I “saw” the senior champ cart racing.

 

Of course I was looking right at the track while Troy and I talked. Of course I saw the champs karts running around the track. I’m just not sure I thought they were racing. However, luckily, trackchasing rules don’t mention anything about what you are “thinking about” when you watch the cars go round the track.

 

red rock raceways cyclone

Luckily I was able to get some great racing footage from the cyclone (a lot like a mini late model) heat race a bit later in the program. I think you’ll enjoy my vantage point. I was standing right next to the flagman during the entire race! That’s what I call having the run of the place.

 

Following the heat races the track went to intermission. It was a warm clear sunny day. They took some time to put a little bit of water on the track.

 

 

Red Rock Raceways was in the books!

There may have been two or maybe three senior champ karts. The pit board said two. Paul said three. I didn’t take any pictures of them because I was busy chatting with the promoter. There were three cyclones. These were the racing classes that “counted” in trackchasing parlance.

 

It is common practice within the trackchasing hobby to see the trackchasing countable classes of karts run their heat races. If the car counts are skinny as they were today it is perfectly acceptable to head on down the road after the countable classes race once. Normally the senior champs run near the end of a racing program. I try to make it a practice to watch each class race at least once. That’s what I did today.

 

There are many trackchasing “habits” that I do not fully support. However the idea of leaving after seeing a three kart heat race and not waiting another 2-3 hours in many cases to see those same three karts race a “feature” again is one I fully support.

 

With that in mind Paul’s black van was seen leaving the track. My gray National Car Rental Racing Hyundai Azera was not far behind.

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Race-1 Motor Speedway – DuBois, Pennsylvania

 

Race-1 owner Andy

Want to low down? Go to the top.

Once again I had spoken to the track promoter at the Race-1 Motor Speedway a few days ago. I needed to confirm the details of the racing activities at Race-1. I spoke with Andy the track owner and race promoter.

 

Andy was a most sincere fellow. He told me he had been promoting this track for the past 18 years. That’s impressive. There can’t be as many as 10% of today’s current promoters that have been at their job at the same track for that length of time.

 

 

The promoter was a trackchaser?

Andy he told me he was a “trackchaser” of sorts. He said he went to other tracks simply to see what they were doing well so that he might bring back good ideas to his own track.

 

continuous improvement

Continuous improvement.

I liked that approach. At Procter & Gamble we called that type of thinking “continuous improvement”. If you could improve your system just a little bit all the time after a while you would have a very good system.

 

 

Check with my wife.

Andy told me to check in with his wife when I arrived at the track. She would be running things at the pit shack and would be happy to take care of me. That was a nice gesture on Andy’s part. Before we finished our conversation and he reminded me of one thing. If I saw anything that needed improving he wanted to hear about it.

 

apple pie

No charge for the apple pie.

Frequently, especially when I make prior contact with the promoter, I am given complimentary admission. I don’t ask for it but appreciate the gesture. This simply comes from the generosity of the promoter. If you went to a friend’s house to visit they certainly wouldn’t charge you for a piece of apple pie.

 

Nevertheless I am sworn to a few objectives to you the loyal reader when I write these Trackchaser Reports. First I will provide you with as many facts as I possibly can. Facts cannot be disputed. That’s why they call them facts.

 

I will also give you my opinions from time to time. Everyone gets to have their own opinion. That’s why they call this America. You may or may not agree with my opinion. However I’m guessing that one of the reasons you read my reviews is to see what the opinion of an experienced trackchaser like myself might be.

 

rural pennsylvania 4

This was not Manhattan and I don’t think they wanted to be.

No one should consider the locations of these rural Pennsylvania karting tracks as being in anyway similar to downtown Manhattan. Some of these places including the location of the Race-1 track are about as far from civilization as one can get and still get a cell phone signal.

 

When I pulled in the parking lot I soon met up with trackchasing buddy Paul Weisel. I told Paul I had some “work to do” and would meet him in the grandstand shortly.

 

True to Andy’s word the track had a pit pass waiting for me. General spectator mission at the track was $10 and a pit pass $15.

 

 

We were here on a special night.

The Race-1 Motor Speedway normally races on Fridays. However, over the Memorial Day weekend they were having a special Sunday night race program. That was lucky for me….and Paul too.

 

Race-1 pit area

The pits.

There were a large number of kart racers pitted in the heavily wooded area beyond the track’s fourth turn and front stretch. Tonight there were six senior champ karts on hand. This was the only countable trackchasing countable class racing tonight.

 

 

I’m a fan. I don’t like time trials.

I am an honest and objective reporter. I was also on the hook to fulfill Andy’s request of mentioning anything I thought needed improving. I’ll tell you about that one opportunity area. Then I’ll detail the many things I loved about the Race-1 Motor Speedway. 

 

Tonight as far as I can tell the entire racing field ran time trials. I am not a big fan of time trials to say the least. Tonight each racer completed two laps on the clock.

 

Most things at a racetrack are done either to please the racer or the fan. There are very few things done at a race track that are good for both the racer AND the fan. I am a race fan. I like the things that are done to make racing more fan friendly.

 

 

Can we all do the math?

Time trials are not a fan friendly item. I know very few fans that come to the racetrack to watch time trials. However racers like them. The fastest racers at any given track normally have the most clout with how the race program is run. Normally the fastest racers do the best in time trials. Normally the fastest time trailers get the better starting spots. The racers with the best starting spots normally do the best in the race. Can we all do the math?

 

Noted west coast racetrack promoter Chris Kearns once told me, “I can hold a race without fans, but I can’t hold a race without racers”. He was trying to say in a nice way that a race promoter needs to look out for his racers. I understand that. I’m just on the fan’s side of race promotion.

 

Of course any track promoter that goes to either extreme of trying to please the racers and not the fans or vice versa will not be very successful. The promoter who tries to meet both groups in the middle will likely fair best.

 

 

I feel qualified to make this comment.

I have seen racing at well over 100 karts tracks. I’m not sure if any trackchaser has seen racing at more kart tracks than I have. Therefore what I’m about to tell you in the next paragraph may surprise some and shock others.

 

race-1 racing on track

I have never seen better go-kart racing anywhere or at any time than what I saw tonight at the Race-1 Motor Speedway. Paul Weisel sat next to me during the entire racing program. Paul is a stubborn Dutchman. He can be typical of the somewhat, glass is half empty cynical Eastern based resident. Of course I say that as a compliment. However even Paul nodded his head in agreement when I asserted this was some outstanding racing and some of the best I’ve ever seen at a kart track.

 

race-1 an egg

An egg?

The dirt oval track is shaped like an egg of sorts. It is banked more than most kart tracks I see. Even the straights are banked. With the track being egg shaped, and not that far away from being a circle the straights are not straight for long. The track’s configuration reminded me of the old El Toro Speedway in SoCal.

 

 

These racers….race hard.

The racers at the R-1 Motor Speedway are hard on the gas from the moment the green flag drops. As I say I have never seen better or harder racing at any venue I have ever visited.

 

favorites

It is the racing that I saw tonight that places the Race-1 track into my select “most favorite tracks” category. Click on the link below to see the tracks that have met my high standards.

 

Randy Lewis Racing – Favorite tracks

 

 

Watch the video.

I hope you can get the thrill of the racing from watching my video. For whatever reason I don’t think I’ve ever heard louder kart racing. Additionally the fans were allowed to sit right next to the fence just a few feet from the racing surface.

 

It wasn’t just the racing that made me think so highly of this track. They had a strong P.A. system and a quality announcer. Lots of kart tracks don’t even have a speaker system. Those that do usually don’t have a quality announcer. Tonight the Race-1 Motor Speedway was at the top of their game in both areas.

 

race-1 concession menu

Check out these prices.

Concessions can be hit or miss at most racetracks. I’ve taken to buying my dinner before I get to the racetrack. I have noticed that Eastern based tracks have the very best racetrack concession food. Nobody else is even close.

 

What was so noteworthy about the concessions at Race-1 was the pricing. I have never been to a racetrack, in current times, where a cheeseburger is priced at $2.00 U.S. I’ve seen that sandwich priced 3-4 times higher at some places. “Pop” was a buck and a half. The highest priced item on the menu, at $3.50, was the chopped steak hoagie.

 

weisel mr whippy

During the evening Paul and I talked about the state of trackchasing. I can’t speak for Paul’s point of view on these matters.  For gosh sakes he has to see these people on a regular basis.  Nevertheless, I reminded Paul about the trackchasing “geographical driving circle” limitation. Briefly stated the “GDC” in a simple explanation of what is happening and most importantly HAS happened to trackchasing.

 

The GDC concept simply states that an imaginary “circle” surrounds almost all trackchasers. The radius of the circle is about 500 miles. What is magical about 500 miles? It’s about the distance a trackchaser could travel, one-way, to see a single track. Actually most trackchasers would not travel anywhere close to that distance but I’m giving chasers the benefit of the doubt.

 

Here’s what’s important about the GDC. When a trackchaser has seen nearly all of the tracks within his or her GDC they won’t often step outside the circle.

 

What happens then? They stop trackchasing. It’s just too far to go for the entertainment value of seeing a new racetrack. Don’t believe me? Simply check out the data provided at www.roamingtheraceways.com. There you will see the annual results listed by trackchaser. Take a look at the top 20-30 trackchasers. See how they did ten years ago or more. Importantly see WHERE they were trackchasing ten years ago. Most of the tracks seen by most of the trackchasers were within their 500-mile geographical driving circle.

 

downward graph

Fast forward to today. See how those same trackchasers are doing in 2013 or 2014 or this year. Their production has dropped in most cases by well over 50%. Effectively they are no longer trackchasing.

 

So….I have identified a problem. Trackchasers don’t trackchase because there are almost no tracks to see within a reasonable driving distance of their home.

 

Is there a solution to this problem? Yes, there is. We need to have more trackchasing opportunities within 500 miles of a trackchaser’s home location.

 

Where will these tracks come from? It won’t be from the “traditional” sources. They are not building many new oval tracks, road courses or figure 8 tracks.

 

So then where WILL the tracks come from…if we want trackchasing to be available to the folks who helped build the hobby. They will come from non-traditional sources.

 

A couple of years ago I discovered that side by side (SXS/UTV) racing could be a countable class. No one, including me, knew how much side by side racing there was to be had. I think I might someday see as many SXS tracks as I have figure 8 venues.

 

flat kart

However, SXS racing is not the complete answer. The hobby needs to consider adding other types of tracks that cater to racing machines that heretofore have been considered verboten. I’m talking about kart tracks and motorcycle tracks and drag strips.

 

Many of the current trackchasers who were heavy hitters 10-15 years ago have faded away from the hobby. Even if the above “new” tracks were added they might be too old and burnt out to even be interested.

 

vote rigging for dummies

A few years ago Mike Knappenberger proposed that go-kart tracks be added. Mike had recognized the problem I have outlined here. Little did he know that his “buddy” Guy Smith was in the perfect position to put the nix on Mike’s idea. Guy could see how the votes were coming in. All he had to do was “convince” his wife to vote against karting and the vote would be tied. Ms. Smith voted against karting. Did Mr. Smith influence her vote? Only a couple of people know the answer to that question and they have a vested interest in what they might be willing to share.

 

Here’s the bottom-line, which cannot be disputed. The top 20-30 trackchasers in most cases have nearly stopped trackchasing. The weekly numbers are pathetic today compared to years ago. There simply are not very many places for folks to trackchase. They’ve seen all the tracks in their Geographical Driving Circle. Now they stay home. Once they stay home they probably won’t ever want to hit the trackchasing road again. That is a sad state of affairs.

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

 

 

Why leave after the heat racing?

The racing was fantastic. I got video from several different angles. However, both Paul and I left after the heat races. Why? We each had a long way to travel. Paul would have to drive four hours to get back to his place.

 

I had a long 2-3 hour drive back toward the Pittsburgh airport. The roads in and around Pittsburgh are the very worst. For the three nights preceding tonight’s racing I had flown overnight on an airplane, gotten six hours of sleep in a hotel and slept in my car on the final night. I was starting to drag. If my hotel were across the street from the Race-1 Motor Speedway I would have been there until the final checkered flag dropped.

 

fairfield inn interior

Up and at ‘em.

My wakeup call would come at 4:30 a.m. the next morning. That made my Sunday overnight stay in Pittsburgh come out to about five hours of sleep, maybe less. It really wasn’t even worth getting a Marriott Fairfield Inn hotel room. However, I didn’t fancy the idea of sleeping overnight in my car for TWO straight nights.

 

 

MONDAY

 

 

ON THE WAY TO THE RACES

 

 

THE RACING

 

buffalo raceway pano

Buffalo Raceway – Huntsville, Tennessee

 

 

Not much ‘bed sleep’.

I woke up this morning in a Fairfield Inn in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was a nice property. This was only the second hotel I stayed in over the past four nights. In total I have had exactly 10 hours of “bed” sleep during the past four nights.

 

Nevertheless this trackchasing trip was not finished yet. With a 4:30 a.m. wake up call I made the 20-minute drive from Neville Island to the Pittsburgh International Airport. I figured, correctly, the flight would be wide-open on an early Monday morning, despite it being Memorial Day, from Pittsburgh to Nashville. I’ve done this enough by now to know which routes are more popular and which are less so.

 

Nice airport; bad roads.

The Pittsburgh airport is one of the nicer ones in the country. They have lots of upscale shops and quite a few reasonably priced eateries. I like that about coming to Pittsburgh.

 

However the roads in and around Pittsburgh are something else. They’re the worst of any major city, considering Pittsburgh to be a major city, of anywhere in the country. I’ve never seen a city with such a lack of interstate highways. The GPS directed me this morning from the hotel to the airport along a series of surface streets with potholes the size of Volkswagens.

 

southwest airlines rain

No not rain!

I was heading to Nashville, Tennessee. The rain forecast was suspect. Rain and trackchasing do not go well together.

 

However I cannot predict everything. I knew there was a slight chance of rain in Tennessee today but it didn’t look like much. I was surprised to see it pouring down rain when I landed in Nashville.

 

My planned track for tonight was about 160 miles east of Music City. That meant the rain I was seeing in Nashville would likely hit Huntsville, Tennessee by about race time. That couldn’t be good.

 

 

Why not just head home now?

I strongly considered simply hopping on a plane after I had just landed in Nashville and returning to California. I would’ve done it…except I was too tired!

 

At 9 a.m. I just wanted to get a hotel that I could check into right now and take a nap. I called the Motel 6 to see if they could help me with that plan. They could.

 

 

I’m always up for getting something better.

Then I got to thinking. Maybe I could get a better hotel choice with Priceline.com that would also let me check in earlier. There was a risk with this idea. If I got a hotel room with Priceline it would be non-refundable. Once I had the name of the Priceline hotel I would call to see if I could check in at 9 a.m. If they were full last night they might not have a room available that early

 

I decided to risk it and ended up with a Red Roof Inn property. I guess this was a minor upgrade over a Motel 6. The reservation clerk told me I saved “$35-$40” with Priceline over their best rate being offered tonight.

 

 

Can’t anything be easy?

Today’s trackchasing day would be fraught with obstacles. Although these obstacles were inconvenient I didn’t mind too much. If doing this were easy everyone would do it!

 

First the weather was going to be an issue. It was pouring down in Nashville and the rain looked like it would move directly toward tonight’s racetrack. At 7 .m the forecast for Huntsville called for a 100% chance of rain. This was an obstacle that I understood. Despite having a nearly 350 mile round-trip drive I was willing to take the weather risk.

 

However the final two obstacles were unknown to me until I got started on the trip. Little did I know that much of my driving would take me through the Appalachian Mountains on winding two-lane highways. On those roads I could rarely travel more than 40 miles an hour and sometimes less.

 

I kept seeing my expected time of arrival inching later and later. I also knew that I was going to have to retrace this route on the way back likely in pretty dark or fully dark conditions. That didn’t seem like a good idea. 

 

Today the gates were to open at the Buffalo Raceway at 2 p.m. Practice would begin at 4 p.m. with racing to follow. I had called the promoter today to confirm everything was still ago.

 

weather radar 49

Great!

We talked briefly about the impending rain. I asked him if there would be any way they would run the show sooner since the rain looked like it would hit right at race time. He told me that wouldn’t be possible as it would be difficult to get the racers in tune with any type of time change. Great!

 

I was expecting to arrive at 4:30 p.m. If they didn’t take too much time to practice I figured they would be starting shortly after I arrived. This was going to be tight with the rain forecast.

 

time zone change

My life changed.

You can imagine my shock and chagrin when just 30 miles or so from Huntsville, Tennessee my life changed. How was that?

 

My phone and GPS system suddenly told me I had moved, without prior knowledge, from the Central time zone into the Eastern time zone. Wow! 4:30 p.m. suddenly became 5:30 p.m.

 

 

Good news and bad news.

I thought about that for a moment. That was good news and it was bad news. Arriving at 5:30 p.m. cold be good news. I figured they would certainly be finished with race practice by that time.

 

This time change could be bad news as well. I figured I could have arrived by 4:30 p.m. Central time might have seen some during the hour from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Now if I arrived at 5:30 p.m. Eastern time and got rained out, I would be kicking myself in the shins for not departing an hour earlier.

 

So here I was battling rain, a mountain road with constant switchbacks and now a time zone change. What more could befall me?

 

When I pulled into the grounds of the speedway there was action on the track. Flat karts were racing. I figured they were in the midst of the preliminary heat races. Wrong! This is short track racing. Most short tracks do not start on time. They were still PRACTICING at the Buffalo Raceway.

 

It was now 5:30 p.m. Eastern time. That’s exactly when I arrived. Practice was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. I didn’t know if they started practice on time or not. Probably not!

 

 

The weather radar looked bad.

However I was a little surprised that with heavy rain in the forecast they couldn’t have shortened practice from the hour and a half it was taking up to this point to something less. Luckily what I was seeing on the track was the last of the practice sessions.

 

buffalo raceway ticket sign

I bypassed a $12 pit pass in favor of a five-dollar spectator admission ticket. I was able to park my National Car Rental Racing Ford Fusion (with really pathetic windshield wipers) at the edge of the turn four fence.

 

These folks did not seem to be in a hurry. That concerned me. In the past I have been very critical of my trackchasing fellow competitors who criticize the south for tardy behavior.

 

 

If you’re not early you are…wait for it…late.

In point of fact the majority of short track racing operators do not seem to run an efficient operation. I also find it comical that the folks who criticize the south live in areas that are virtually identical to much of the south. What’s the saying? If you live in a glass house don’t walk around naked?

 

I ended up buying a cheeseburger for four dollars and a Diet Mountain Dew for just a buck. The soda was a good value the cheeseburger not so much.

 

buffalo raceway pit area

Curiosity made me spend seven more dollars.

The curiosity of not knowing what was going on in the pit area got the better of me. I forked over another seven dollars and received the wristband that would allow me to walk freely in the pits.

 

Once inside the pit area like I could see the schedule for tonight. There were about a dozen heat races. The classes I wanted to see would race last as they normally do with the senior champ karts.

 

The timing of the race order didn’t seem like much of a problem. I figured I would still get back to Nashville at a reasonable hour tonight and be able to catch a flight home tomorrow. That was until I checked my Wunderground weather app on my iPhone.

 

What did the app tell me? There was lots of “green stuff” bearing down on the track. This effort was no longer going to be a trackchasing slam-dunk.

 

Buffalo Raceway racing

Dry and slick with lots of “water” coming soon.

The fairly flat dirt oval looked to be dry and slick. How did I know that? On just about every lap a kart spun out or was spun out by their fellow competitors. This brought out an onslaught of yellow flag delays.

 

I would say that each race had 4-8 yellow flags. That is most unusual in kart racing. What made it worse was the starter didn’t start the field as quickly as he could have. He continually waited an extra lap to give the green. That created a 20-30 second delay per yellow flag. I would estimate that delayed the entire program tonight by well over a half hour.

 

As the flat kart racing drug on my concerns about the weather heightened. The rain was really on top of us right now. I broke out my compass iPhone app and checked the west to east directions.

 

buffalo raceway black cloud

Yuck.

Just as I thought! That big fat black cloud out toward the west was bearing down on the track at a rapid rate of speed. It looked like it would get here before the senior champs hit the track.

 

It is times like this that I wish I could measure my normally unusually low blood pressure. I would like to see if it spikes. I wouldn’t be surprised if it did.

 

A few of the flat kart races started 9-10 competitors. That’s a lot for a go-kart heat race. The drivers were aggressive. More spins were due to the chrome horn than for an individual driver losing control on his own.

 

With each yellow flag for another spin the black cloud got closer. Finally just two races before the senior champs were to come onto the track it started to sprinkle. Then it started to rain harder. The red flag flew. Now I really wished I could measure my blood pressure! Expletives were flowing freely.

 

However as soon as the red flag was displayed it was withdrawn. They finished the last 10-kart race. There was just a three-kart flat kart race to complete before it was time for the senior champs. Luckily the three-racer heat race ran off without delay.

 

Buffalo raceway champ kart driver

Asleep at the switch.

However when the first rain had begun the senior champ drivers put their racing machines back in the trailer. When it came time for the 475-pound senior champ class to race nobody was on the starting grid. It was still raining lightly.

 

I wanted to go up and strangle the race director. Finally just two of the three senior champs that were scheduled for the race pulled onto the grid. Of course it took them an additional five minutes just to get their large bodies into the small caged karts. I was now about ready to go into an epileptic fit.

 

Buffalo raceway champ kart racing

Finally just in the nick of time.

However these two lonely senior champs karts finally made it onto the track and took the green flag. When that happened lifetime track #2,091 was officially in the books. This had been a close one. It could’ve gone either way. I was most fortunate.

 

I stayed for two more flat cart races before the final senior champ class raced. These were the 425-pound “light” senior champs. There were three of them. There wasn’t much action in their race.

 

I had now been at the track for more than two hours. They were going to intermission at this point. I suspect they would likely go to a rain delay sometime during intermission. I was not going to stay around for that.

 

buffalo raceway announcer

What can I say? The announcer was a real piece of work.

By the way the track announcer was a real piece of work. He liked to sing country songs (poorly) during any lull in the racing action. He sung a lot. He did tell us that “one boy took two hours to watch 60 minutes”. He also warned the crowd with this, “Forgive me if I miss pronounce any of today’s driver names. I didn’t do no good in English”. I suspect he was correct.

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

 

 

It ain’t easy.

I had more than 160 miles to drive over the Appalachian Mountains after the race. I wanted to get going before it got any darker and began to rain any harder than it already was.

 

On the ride back to Nashville I have plenty of time to think about how the day went and how this particular trip went. It had some downs but it had many more ups as all of my trips do.

 

 

I messed up.

I had messed up in a big way to begin the trip by showing up in Michigan on the wrong day! That mistake was quickly erased when I saw three tracks on Saturday and three tracks on Sunday. Now I had one more on Memorial Day Monday.

 

7 dkd

Nevertheless, things turned out pretty well.

Folks as you might imagine when I’ve already seen nearly 2,100 tracks the remaining alternatives become fewer. When anyone can go out and add seven new venues to a lifetime total that reaches nearly 2,100 tracks they have had a pretty good trackchasing weekend. I had a pretty good trackchasing weekend!

 

On the way home I exchanged several text with my buddy Charlie Hulse. He was advising me on how the airplane loads looked for tomorrow that would get me back to Los Angeles. I figured I had better make it I had a couple of appointments that couldn’t be changed on the next day in SoCal.

 

As soon as one trackchasing weekend wraps up I began more seriously looking at the next. I still have an international data plan that’s good for a few more days. Maybe I can use it in a foreign country and I’m not talking about Canada.

 

 

TUESDAY

 

honest 49

Let’s be honest…here’s the obvious truth.

Can I be honest with you for a moment? If you’ve been reading my Trackchaser Reports very long you’re going to know that I am telling you the obvious.

 

Trackchasing is a lot more difficult for me than it is for other people. Who is their right mind would attempt to do this from one of the most remote parts of the continental United States?

 

 

Here’s how they do it!

Take a look at how my fellow trackchasing competitors approach the hobby. I worked full-time for thirty years Monday through Friday nearly 50 weeks every year. My nearest fellow competitor has had ten weeks off EVERY summer for thirty years. If I had that much time off I might have seen 5,000 tracks by now. I just wish for a single year my fellow competitors could trackchase out of San Clemente, California. I just wish.

 

 

24 hours and more.

I routinely, as in more than 25 times a year, get home from the last race about 24 hours or more after the last checkered flag falls on the trip. I normally must cover 2,000-3,000 miles to find my own bed.

 

How long does it take my fellow competitors to pull into the driveway after their last race most of the time? The answer: A lot less than 24 hours!

 

 

This trip’s timeline.

Yesterday’s track wrapped up for me at about 6:30 p.m. Central time. It was Monday. Follow me for just a second please. Today, Tuesday, I arrived at the Nashville airport at 8:30 a.m. I didn’t get on a flight, although I tried, until 8:20 p.m. I arrived into my driveway on WEDNESDAY morning at about 3:30 a.m. Nashville time. That’s right. I didn’t get home for nearly 30 hours after seeing racing at Monday night’s track. I just wish my fellow competitors could be in my shoes for a short time.

 

 

pennsylvania map

Pennsylvania

 

The Keystone state

This morning, afternoon and evening (Sunday) I saw my 90th, 91st and 92nd lifetime tracks in the Keystone state, yes the Keystone state. I’ll never reach the top ten in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, I enjoy the scenery.

 

 

tennessee map 34

Tennessee

 

The Volunteer state

On Monday I saw my 29th lifetime track in the Volunteer state, yes the Volunteer state. I wouldn’t be surprised if I showed up in Tennessee again…real soon.

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: If you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much

Tennessee sayings: If you love southern women raise your glass; if not raise your standards

 

 

QUICK FACTS

 

AIRPLANE

Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – San Francisco, CA (SFO) – 338 miles

San Francisco, CA (SFO) – Pittsburgh, PA (PIT) – 2,251 miles

 

RENTAL CAR #1

Pittsburgh International Airport – trip begins

Masonville, WV

Blairsville, PA

Reynoldsville, PA

Clifford, PA

Claysburg, PA

DuBois, PA

Pittsburgh International Airport – trip ends – 1,954 miles

 

AIRPLANE

Pittsburgh, PA (PIT) – Nashville, TN (BNA) – 462 miles

 

RENTAL CAR #1

Nashville International Airport – trip begins

Huntsville, TN

Nashville International Airport – trip ends – 338 miles

 

AIRPLANE

Nashville, TN (BNA) – Los Angeles, CA (LAX) – 1,796 miles

 

Total air miles – 4,487 (X4 flights)

Total rental car miles – 2,292 (2 cars)

 

Total miles traveled on this trip – 7,139 miles 

 

 

TRACK ADMISSION PRICES:

Marvin’s Mountaintop – $20

Blairsville Speedway – complimentary admission

Hummingbird Speedway – $10

Hidden Hills Sports Center – $15

Red Rock Raceway – complimentary admission

R-1 Motor Speedway – complimentary admission

Buffalo Raceway – $12 included pit pass

 

Total racetrack admissions for the trip – $57

 

 

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

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,091

 

world 3929

Total Trackchasing Countries

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

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 70

 

 

Current lifetime National Geographic Diversity results

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 4.88

 

 

 

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

Hurricane Hills Sports Center (note I have cleverly disguised this video as “Hidden” Hills Sports Center.)

 

 

Red Rock Raceways…a brand new Pennsylvania kart track

 

 

Race-1 Motor Speedway…added to my all-time favorite tracks list

 

 

Buffalo Raceway…a new find in Huntsville, Tennessee


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