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Tulsa Expo Raceway (Chili Bowl 1995, 2011, 2019)

 

Greetings from Tulsa, Oklahoma

 

 

From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

 

 

Tulsa Expo Raceway  

Indoor dirt oval  

Lifetime Track #246

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Highlights2011 Re-visit2019 Re-visitVideosPhotos

chili bowl racing

The Chili Bowl rocks! 

I first went to the Chili Bowl with my stepfather back in 1995.  We saw three nights of racing action.  Billy Boat and Ronnie Shuman won features on the preliminary nights.  Then Donnie Beechler Jr. won the grand finale on Saturday night.

 

 

Back in 1995 my visit to the “Tulsa Expo Raceway” was my lifetime track #246.  I’ve seen nearly 2,000 more tracks since then!  I didn’t begin writing my famous Trackchaser Reports until about track #430.  Nevertheless, I have some very fond memories of my visit to the Chili Bowl.  I made it back for a “re-visit” in 2011 and again in 2019.  You can see my comments as well as YouTube videos and a Picasa photo album from that visit in this post.

 

 

chili bowl simulators

When we went down in 1995 we didn’t have any tickets.  That’s no problem for me.  Even though tickets to the Chili Bowl are hard to come by we bought some “out front” and were soon being treated to the fun that this event provides.  On our first night we were seated behind the flagman along the front straight.  I don’t recommend that.  We were pelted with mud balls all night long.

 

 

We got a little smarter on nights #2 and #3.  We found seats high up in the turn three and four grandstands.  That’s the place to sit.  I was amazed at two things during this visit.

 

 

First, the racing is awesome.  It’s some of the very best I’ve ever seen.  There are lots of big name open wheel drivers giving the Chili Bowl a shot each January.  There are also some of the wildest flips you will ever see.  A “normal” night might have ten or more flips that could make any highlight reel.  

 

 

Secondly, the building in absolutely huge.  The Tulsa Expo Center was built in 1966.  It’s one of the largest “clear span” buildings in the world.  When it was built it was the world’s largest building under a single roof!  There’s only one real drawback to watching racing here.  The air quality is some of the worst I have ever experienced anywhere.  It’s bad!

 

 

During that 1995 visit we spent time during the day in the building looking at race cars.  The event attracts well over 100 entries.  All of the cars and race car haulers are parked INSIDE the building.  National Speed Sport News’ Chris Economaki was roaming around the building all week long.  There is also enough room for a full-sized basketball court inside the building.  We watched several drivers playing the game.  In a full-court scrimmage I couldn’t help but notice how out of shape Ron Shuman was.

 

 

chili bowl beer can midget

I’ve seen five nights of Chili Bowl racing in total.  I need to see more.  I hope I do.

 

 

 

 

chili bowl grandstands 

DAYS 1 & 2 – “FROM THE CHILI BOWL TO THE ICE BOWL” TRACKCHASING TOUR

 

TODAY’S HEADLINES

From the Chili Bowl to the Ice Bowl …………..details in “The Objective”.

 

The trackchasing pot of gold lies to the East……………..more in “The Trip”.

 

It’s the racing stupid…………..details in “Race Review”.

 

 

 

RLR – RANDY LEWIS RACING SPECIAL REPORT 

My special reports are meant to be “critical thinking” pieces on the state of trackchasing.  Often times they will be considered controversial by the “trackchasing hierarchy”.  Nevertheless, some things just have to be told regardless of whose feathers may be ruffled.

 

 

At other times my special reports will be major “news flashes” about the direction I am going with trackchasing.  I will always try to stay ahead of the curve as I continue to pursue more and more tracks.  Regardless of where you stand on the trackchasing “political fence” everything is meant to stimulate thought about what can, should and frequently will be done in this hobby.  I hope you enjoy the commentary.

  

 

TRACKCHASER VOTING PROPOSAL UPDATE 

follow the rules 

The rules proposals are coming at us in bunches now. 

We currently have another rules proposal in front of the eligible trackchasing voters. We don’t have a rules proposal in years and then all of a sudden one is coming at us each month.

 

This proposal comes from Belgium trackchaser Roland Vanden Eynde. Here’s an excerpt from his idea and some of the background on why he feels this is a good idea.

 

“There has always been a slight difference between the counting of ovals and road courses. Road courses are only counted once to avoid them being recounted every time some part of it is altered or when consecutive track layouts are constructed on the same premises. The purpose of the proposed rule change is by no means to change this way of counting, but to allow, just like for ovals, the counting of two different track configurations that exist simultaneously and could be used during the same meeting or the same year.

 

Therefore, I propose to replace the portion of the current rules:

“all tracks falling under the road course category are only separately countable if they are not connected or if they meet the change of surface rule, with the following exception, one permanent and one temporary road course which share a minority of common surface may be counted twice”

by

“all tracks falling under the road course category are only separately countable if at least one of the following conditions is met:

  • they share no common racing surface
  • they meet the change of surface rule
  • they consist of one permanent and one temporary road course which share a minority of common surface
  • they consist of two variants, which share a common surface, but which are distinguishable by at least one straight and three separate corners
  • they have separate track combinations which can be used separately or form the track together. In this case only 2 separate variants (either 2 parts or 1 part and the entire track, consisting of a combination of the variants) can be counted.”

In case this rule change should pass, there will be no retroactivity in the counting.”

 

 

Sorry, I have absolutely no clue. 

I consider my self to be a reasonably intelligent person (who DOESN’T think of themselves in that light). I have a solid background of both racing and trackchasing experience. However, after I read the proposal I said to myself, “I have absolutely no idea what this means”. Carol looked at it (she’s an eligible voter as well) and asked “What does this mean?”. I hated to tell her that I had no clue.

 

One of the most successful investors in the world, Warren Buffet, says you should never invest in things you don’t understand. I would take his comment is a slightly different direction. I don’t think you should ever support something you don’t understand.

 

 

What will the trackchasing community say? 

It will be interesting to see what the trackchasing community has to say about this proposal from Belgium. We have 29 trackchasers who have seen the requisite 400 tracks in order to qualify as an eligible voter. However, just 21 of those people keep there track lists current, another requirement of being able to vote. Of that group only 16 people voted on the last proposal.

 

 

I’ll keep you posted. 

This information has been in the voter’s hands for about three weeks now. I never like to comment until most people have already voted. That way my views won’t have any influence on those voters. Although I don’t understand the proposal I’m sensing that it won’t affect the way trackchasing is done by many people in any meaningful way. I will keep you posted on the outcome of the vote.

 

 

THINGS YOU MIGHT HAVE NOTICED HAD YOU BEEN PAYING MORE ATTENTION IN SCHOOL 

 

 

THE BEST READERS IN RACING TAKE TIME TO CONTRIBUTE

new hampshire map 

From one of my supporters in New Hampshire  

“The next time you come over to New England, please let me know and you can stay in my home. Monadnock racetrack is nearby to where I live.”

 

Editor’s note: Jesse Koncitik was very instrumental to my success in New England last week. Thanks for everything Jesse. Don’t miss my link to his YouTube channel via my website at www.randylewis.org.

 

 

 

GREETINGS FROM TULSA, OKLAHOMA AND THEN FOX LAKE, WISCONSIN

 

 

THE OBJECTIVE, THE TRIP, THE PEOPLE…AND A WHOLE LOT MORE

 

 

The Objective and the Strategy  

 

The objective.

 

This race is not for little people. 

This trip has more than one objective. First, I want to get back to my roots of “racechasing”. That’s one of my goals for 2011. I hope to do that by returning to the “Chili Bowl” in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Chili Bowl is a race for midgets. No, I’m not talking about “little people” but open-wheeled racecars. Not familiar with a racing midget? Click on this link to see what I’m talking about.

 

Show me what a midget racecar looks like

 

I was last at the Chili Bowl all the way back in 1995. I went there with my stepfather for three nights of racing. I only have time for one night this year but that’s a start.

 

 

From the Chili Bowl I will jump into the ice bowl. 

Secondly, I plan to catch a couple of ice racing tracks this weekend. This could move me up into the #4 position in the lifetime ice track standings. I would be only one ice track out of third place.

 

 

 

This is it for January. 

This will be my last trackchasing weekend for January. Yes, there are still two available trackchasing weekends remaining for this month. Carol and I have big plans for the rest of the month that don’t include racing. You all know that my goal for the months of January-April, 2011 (also September-December) is to take off from trackchasing for two weekends each month.

 

I will not be trackchasing over these THREE January weekends (1/2, 22/23, 29/30). That means I will have one extra weekend to ADD to one of my upcoming “non-seasonal” months (Feb-Apr or Sep-Dec). Yes, I get these ideas from reading the Internal Revenue Service tax code!

 

 

The strategy.

 

My homework is done, I just need to take the test now. 

I’ve done all my homework for this trip. I’ve made contact with the folks running the races and they tell me the ice is ready to go. I actually first became aware that today’s ice track was racing from one of my fellow competitors Ed Esser (world’s #2 trackchaser). Thank you Ed.

 

The weather looks good for everywhere I’m going. It will be cold but there shouldn’t be much snow to deal with. I’m taking JUST four airplane rides on this trip. The flights are WIDE open. I guess folks just don’t want to venture out to the Midwest in the middle of the winter. Imagine that!

 

 

The Trip

 

 

Head east young man. 

You all know that I live in California. You probably also know that virtually every racetrack in the United States is located to the east of me. Most of those tracks are located some 1,500-3,000 miles to the east of me. When I get as far as nearby Arizona the time changes. I lose from 1-3 hours on nearly every trip I take. Normally, I’m dealing with a 2-3 hour time change. That means for every day I am on the road I’m getting up 2-3 hours earlier than I would at home.

 

I could never realistically drive to the tracks I visit. It would take 2-4 days (driving 500 miles each day) to reach most of the places I visit. Then I would be faced with the same amount of driving to get home. Heck, most racetracks visits last only three hours on average. That would truly be a “long walk for a short slide”.

 

 

Airplanes are the only way to go for me. 

Therefore, if I’m going to trackchase successfully against those Dreaded East Coast Trackchasers, and their cushy travel itineraries, I must use airplanes. For the past five trackchasing seasons, I’ve had airline sponsorships. Prior to that, for my 1,100 tracks or so, I did this without sponsorship.

 

Quite often when I fly I must change planes in order to reach my destination. As an example, today I am flying from my home airport in Orange County, California. You may know it as the “John Wayne” airport or “Santa Ana”. My destination is Tulsa, Oklahoma. There are no direct flights from Orange County to Tulsa. Therefore, I must make a flying connection. Today that connection will be in Denver, Colorado.

 

Driving time to the Orange County airport from my home is 30 minutes since I’m traveling before “rush hour” begins. I normally use the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) because they have more flights to choose from. LAX is 65 miles from my house. It’s a 15-minute walk or so from my airport parking location (fully sponsored I might add) to the airport. I need to be clearing security an hour or so before my first flight. I will lose two hours getting to Tulsa because of the time change to Central Standard time. The actual flying time will be 3-4 hours. My layover in Denver will be nearly three hours. When I land, it will take some time to get my rental car. Then my drive to the first track of the trip is normally 1-3 hours. Today the driving time is 30 minutes.

 

 

The numbers tell the truth. 

You’re probably better with numbers than I am. However, every time I “add up” the numbers from the above paragraph I come to the same conclusion. On day one of each trackchasing trip I must get up early (today that was 4:30 a.m.), travel all day and then reach the racetrack just in time for the program to begin. Don’t worry, it’s what I do. However, now I DON’T do it two weekends each month (except, of course, for the months of May-August when I will “go crazy”.

 

Now you might better understand how all this works. You’re welcome to come along for the ride whenever you want too. However, you’ll have to buy your own ticket. Then you might get to our destination and I won’t if the flights are full!

 

 

The People

 

 

 

Midwestern people are nice.

The Midwest has lots of nice people. Tonight I sat next to a younger (35-40) farmer from rural Kansas. He’s a grain farmer and a big open-wheeled race fan. We shared a good deal of conversation. He’s been coming here for about 15 years. When I told him my situation he said, “You came all the way from California to the Chili Bowl without a ticket”. No, folks just don’t understand how “my deal” works sometimes.

 

The fellow on the other side of me was also from Kansas. He told me he flagged the races at the 81 Speedway. He was recovering from a “shotgun” injury. He was hurt while hunting pheasants. He had a huge black and blue arm to prove his story.

 

I searched the crowd for any signs of midget fan Ed Esser. I didn’t see him. However, with the large throng of people he very well could have been here.

 

 

 

RACE REVIEW

chili bowl wreck

TULSA EXPO RACEWAY – TULSA, OKLAHOMA

 

 

I’m going back to my ‘racechaser’ roots tonight.  

I will be getting back to my “racechasing” roots more in 2011. That means I will go to shows for the quality of the racing more than just being able to count a new track. There are very few (maybe less than 25-50?) tracks that offer top notch racing that I have not seen.

 

I don’t plan to go to any MORE race events. I already spend too much of my time with racing as it is. I will simply substitute some really major races at tracks where I’ve already been in the past. I’ve decided (it wasn’t rocket science but it did take me awhile to figure this out) that five years down the road it won’t make much difference if I have 2,027 tracks or 2,045 tracks. However, if I get to see some really good races during the next five years that will be great fun. Sometimes it just takes time to get it right!

 

 

This was not my first rodeo. 

I first visited the Tulsa Expo Raceway back on January 12, 1995. It was my 246th lifetime track. I was pretty much a “racechaser” back then. I only went to 22 new tracks all year in 1995. During that visit my stepfather and I saw three straight nights of racing. The winners were Bill Boat, Ronnie Shuman and Donnie Beechler Jr. My one main comment about the races was “fumes”. Yes, often at major indoor racing shows exhaust fumes are a problem.

 

 

I didn’t begin writing Trackchaser Reports until about track #330. Therefore, I don’t have a written report from that 1995 visit. However, I do remember, for the first night, sitting near the start/finish line. That was a bad idea. We got pelted with mud balls all night. Later in the trip we moved over to the turn three and four grandstand which was a much more comfortable place to watch from.

 

 

I also don’t remember the Chili Bowl tickets being that expensive. Now tickets sell for $40-50 per night and they are all sold out! That’s not a problem for me. Someone always has an extra ticket they don’t need and they are willing to sell it to me for a nice discount.

 

sold out 103 

Sold out! 

Just to be sure, I called the Chili Bowl folks last week regarding tickets. The entire racing program calls for a full program for five nights, Tuesday through Saturday. I’m guessing that capacity, including the pit area, might reach 10,000 people. I was told there were NO GRANDSTAND TICKETS available for any nights. Folks, the Chili Bowl is popular!

 

 

A sold out event is no problem for me. I simply walked up to the front door, found a fellow selling tickets and bought one for the $45 face value. I was more concerned about seat location than price. I didn’t even try to dicker or look for another source. Fans can sit on the front stretch, back stretch or in a very large grandstand that dwarfs turns three and four. The last option is the best. However, the higher the better. The first several rows of the 35 row or so grandstand gets mud. Getting hit by mud is not good. I was high up in row 27, a perfect location.

 

 

Men of a certain age 

The vast majority of racing fans (80%+?) who come here are men. Generally, these are large men. They are somewhat older and, I’m sure, veteran racing fans with a focus on open-wheel racing. When you get a group of larger men all wearing sweatshirts and winter coats it gets somewhat “cozy” in the grandstands.

 

 

Editor’s note: One of my favorite TV programs is now “Men of a Certain Age” starring Ray Romano. It’s on TBS. If you’re anywhere close to age 50 you might enjoy it.

 

 

What could be better” 

I’ll start with what could be better with the Chili Bowl. The biggest issue is probably the air quality. I would love to have measured by blood level for carbon monoxide both before and after the races. It’s probably better than breathing paint fumes from an open can of Sherwin-Williams but not by much. For much of the evening it was very warm in the grandstands. When I walked around at ground level the temperature was noticeably cooler.

 

 

 

The announcer was good but it was most difficult to hear him. I have found very few good P.A. systems in indoor arenas. Early in the program one of the footboards of the wooden bleacher grandstand broke near me. That’s never a good thing when you are 50-60 feet in the air.

 

 

The Chili Bowl is crowded. Just walking around the common area is a chore. You can’t get anywhere very fast. Ticket prices are somewhat high for general admission. Refreshment prices are high too. It makes me long for the more reasonable prices of NASCAR. Tonight a 12 oz. can of beer was $4.75. A 20 oz. bottle of Diet Coke was $3.75. However, I can’t fault the promoter. He’s in business to make a profit. If you can get it, then get it.

 

 

Let’s summarize. We have an overpriced event that is way to crowded. The air is only suited for fully trained Olympic marathon runners. You can’t hear too much of the P.A. So…..why is this event so popular?

 

 

 

It’s the racing stupid. 

President Clinton used to say, “It’s the economy stupid!”. Fans here would likely say, “it’s the racing stupid!” There’s a good chance I won’t see any better racing all year that what I saw tonight.

 

 

They use a system of “passing points” that awards more points for the more cars passed in the preliminary races. That is SO MUCH better than the lame shows that start the fast guys up front. Wingless midget race cars on a small track like the 1/5-mile oval at the Chili Bowl are exciting to watch. Tonight there were probably ten separate flips. I caught a couple of them on video. One of the cars bursts into flames. Don’t miss my movie of tonight’s racing.

 

 

There was lots of racing and it was all good. 

Racing started tonight at 6 p.m. It was over at 11 p.m. There were 17 races in total. The first eight lap race had four cautions. I didn’t like starting out like that. However, as the night went on the less experienced drivers were eliminated. By the time we got to the two “B” mains and the 24-car, 25-lap “A” main the racing was both fast and furious. The “A” main was fantastic. I’ll probably be back for some more “Chili Bowl” in the coming years, it’s that good.

 

 

Our hobby suffers from poor racing frequently. 

This does remind me of what I think is the biggest drawback to our hobby of trackchasing. Much of the time, the racing just isn’t that good. At some tracks, the veteran race fan might not even call it real racing.

 

 

 

So many of our trackchasers have never been to the Knoxville Nationals, Boone, the World 100, the Chili Bowl, the Indy 500 or Daytona……but they’ve been to the most obscure figure 8 track. Those the places where the REAL racing is. Of course, there is plenty of good racing at the little bullrings of America on Saturday nights as well. We just seem to focus FAR TOO MUCH on “countable” tracks rather than “raceable” tracks. To be clear, no one holds a gun to my head making me go to several lame shows each year. When I say “lame” I mean so far afield from the real competitive events at a place like the Chili Bowl. From the Chili Bowl I was off to Fox Lake, Wisconsin for some wintertime ice racing.

 

 

 

FOX LAKE ICE TRACK – FOX LAKE, WISCONSIN

 

 

All of my logistical tools were working well.  

In order for this weekend’s trip to work every flight had to be on time. This Saturday morning I caught a 6 a.m. plane from Tulsa to Chicago. I could have then flown to Milwaukee to be closer to today’s ice racing in Fox Lake, Wisconsin. However, more planes means more chance for a delay or cancelation. I would just grab a car in Chicago and drive the three hours to today’s ice track. The more of the logistical plan that I can keep “in my own hands” the better.

 

 

The winter weather in these parts is extremely unpredictable. However, with no measurable snowfall predicted it was only cold. Nevertheless, I could see where the area had been “dumped on” over the past week.

 

 

Finding a Saturday afternoon ice track is difficult. 

It seems like most Midwestern ice racing occurs on Sunday afternoons. It doesn’t make much sense to come all the way out here for just one race. Therefore, finding a Saturday afternoon race to go along with a Sunday ice race was important.

 

 

I discovered that the Fox Lake ice racing group was racing today, Saturday, from arch rival (and college fraternity brother) Ed Esser. Yes, Ed visited here last week and told everyone about it in his track report. Although Ed had been to Fox Lake in the past it was nice of him to remind chasers this group was racing on Saturday. Of course, I was the beneficiary of his knowledge.

 

 

A trackchaser earns what they get. 

I grant you that Ed did NOT tell anyone in advance he was going to Fox Lake. Therefore I didn’t have a chance to join up with him last Saturday. That’s O.K. by me. Ed discovered Fox Lake and he has the right to benefit from his group’s research. I was more than happy to go there a week after he did. Fox Lake on Saturday would nicely compliment my ice racing plans for tomorrow, Sunday.

 

 

Small towns of America are great places to visit. 

Fox Lake (Tell me more about Fox Lake) is a small town of about 1,500 people in the central southern third of Wisconsin. Carol and I used to go cross-country skiing up in this area when we lived in Chicago in a previous century. Bunny Berrigan, jazz trumpeter is a noted former resident of Fox Lake.

 

I never did make any contacts with the Fox Lake ice racing group. I acted on Ed’s advice as well as the as yet unnamed ice racing group I will visit tomorrow. Ed had mentioned the group raced in front of the “Fish n Fun”, a bar/restaurant that overlooks Fox Lake.

 

My GPS didn’t list the Fish n Fun. Therefore, I used a method that I abandoned years ago to find the place. I stopped in a convenience store. This rustic way of getting local information brought back a flood of both good and bad memories. Soon I was on my way to Fox Lake.

 

 

Ever driven your car on a frozen lake? 

I don’t know if you’ve ever driven a car onto a frozen snow covered lake before. The first time I did it I felt weird. Today was my 33rd career ice track so I’m much more accustomed to the sensation. Today’s lake had about three inches of snow over 12” or so of ice. It’s amazing how little traction a rental car gets when the “base” is glare ice. I’m been stuck in as little as two inches of snow on a frozen lake. Today I tried to follow other’s tracks and keep my speed up.

 

The lake was dotted with more than 100 ice fisher people and their huts. I’ve never been in an ice fishing hut but I want to do that sometime. Ice racing promoters if you read this and can set me up that would be outstanding. I drove nearly a mile to the other side of the lake. There was the Fish n Fun and about 20 ice racing stock cars. I had struck pay dirt! O.K., maybe not pay dirt but you know what I mean.

 

I could have entered the lake at the Fish n Fun. However, the road onto the lake was long and steep. My National Rental Car Racing Chrysler 300 (with Sirius Satellite radio) never would have made it back up that hill.

 

 

Where was everyone? 

It was 20 degrees outside with a good-sized wind. The racecars sat on the snow-covered ice with hardly anyone around them. Where was everyone? I suspected they were up at the Fish n Fun so I headed up there. Yep! They were getting everything organized and drawing for starting positions for today’s races. They looked busy so I didn’t bother anyone by announcing my presence.

 

It wasn’t long before they were ready to race on the ½-mile flat ice oval. Did you know that all ice tracks in America are flat. Anyone know why? Water seeks its own level!

 

 

What was different about this track? 

At every track I visit, despite having seen more than 1,600 of them, I see something I have never seen before. Today’s track had old Christmas trees marking the inside of the oval course! The starter was housed is a small “hut” of sorts on the inside of the track. Only a couple people could comfortably fit in this building.

 

 

Lots of cars, lots of races. 

I watched the races from the comfort of my car. That’s a nice way to see an ice race. During breaks I wrote postcards and worked on trackchasing stuff with my laptop. By the time, the racing was finished I had much of this report already written.

 

The racing was good. Each race had a large field of cars. All of the races were started with a rolling start. During the races the ice dust/spray totally obliterated my views. After having ridden in several races in Vermont last week I have a full appreciation for what the drivers see or don’t see.

 

Overall, I had a nice time at the Fox Lake ice races today. It was especially nice to have a place to see ice racing in the Midwest on a Saturday. I wish I could have found some advance information on this group and made some local contacts but that wasn’t to be.

 

 

Never a good sign. 

We have a helicopter circling over the house as this report is completed. That normally means a surfer is missing. That is never a good thing.

 

 

 

 

STATE COMPARISONS

 

wisconsin

Wisconsin 

This afternoon I saw my 66th different track in the Badger state, yes, the Badger state. That gives me a fourth place ranking here. Today’s event broke my tie for fourth place with Wisconsin’s Dale O’Brien. Wisconsin’s Ed Esser is listed with 114 Wisconsin tracks.

 

 

I show 27 tracks remaining to be seen for me in Wisconsin. Only three of those race on a regularly scheduled basis. About ten of my remaining tracks here race only on ice. I like traveling in Wisconsin so I’ll be back sooner rather than later.

 

 

Note: I am not certain how long state trackchasing standings will be available. I will post them for you as long as I can.

 

 

Coming Soon – RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Exclusive Features! 

My review of the Apple iPhone trackchasing “app” Track Guide powered by the National Speedway Directory.

 

How is the transition going from Will White to his successor?

 

 

Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,

 

Randy Lewis

World’s #1 Trackchaser

Wisconsin sayings: If you’re not supposed to eat animals, how come they’re made out of meat?

 

 

 

 

TRAVEL DETAILS

 

 

AIRPLANE

Orange County, CA (SNA) – Denver, CO (DEN) – 845 miles

Denver, CO (DEN) – Tulsa, OK (TUL) – 540 miles

 

 

RENTAL CAR #1

Tulsa International Airport – trip begins

Tulsa, OK – 10 miles

Tulsa International Airport – 22 miles – trip ends

 

 

AIRPLANE

Tulsa, OK (TUL) – Chicago, IL (ORD) – 585 miles

 

 

RENTAL CAR #2

O’Hare International Airport – trip begins

Fox Lake, WI – 154 miles

 

 

 

TRACK ADMISSION PRICES: 

Fox Lake Ice Track – No charge

 

 

 

COMPARISONS

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS 

 

There are no trackchasers currently within 200 tracks of my lifetime total.

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 1,617

 

  1. Ed Esser, Madison, Wisconsin – 1,345

 

  1. Guy “The Kid” Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania – 1,339

 

 

 

Official end of the RLR – Randy Lewis Racing Trackchaser Report

 

 

 

 

Greetings from Tulsa, Oklahoma

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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Tulsa Expo Raceway

Dirt oval

 Lifetime Track #246 (1995)

 

 

 

 

 

THE EVENT

I am a “trackchaser”. I trackchase. Before you discovered my site had you ever heard of trackchasing? Maybe not? So….what the heck is trackchasing? Sit back, take a read and you’ll be an expert on my hobby of trackchasing when you’re finished.

 

 

Here’s my best explanation.

 

 

Trackchasing is a three-pronged hobby. I’m a racing fan. I love to travel. I love to analyze opportunities to get the most out of everything while saving time and money.

 

 

Trackchasing fills the need for all of the above. The racing part of my trackchasing has me trying to see wheel to wheel auto racing at as many different racetracks as I can all over the world. Yes, all over the world. So far things are going pretty well. As this is written, I’ve seen racing in 82 countries at more than 2,500 tracks. As a matter of fact, I’ve seen racing at more tracks than anyone else in the world.

 

 

Equally important to me are the things I get to see and experience over the “long and dusty trackchasing trail”. I call these adventures “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions”. You won’t want to miss my “Trackchasing Tourist Attractions” page. Here’s the link:  Trackchasing Tourist Attractions or my “Sports Spectating Resume” page, Sports Spectating Resume on my website at www.randylewis.org.

 

 

I live in southern California. That’s probably the most inconvenient location in the country for seeing tracks in the U.S. Most of the racetracks in the U.S. are located well over 1,000 miles from where I live. As a matter of fact, my average trip covers 5,000 miles and more. I take 35-40 of those trips each season. In any given year I will travel well over 200,000 miles, rent more than 50 cars, and stay in more than 150 hotel rooms.

 

 

I get the chance to meet people all over the world. With trackchasing trips to 82 countries and counting just getting the chance to experience so many other cultures, spend time in their homes and meet their friends is a huge reward for being in this hobby. I am indebted to several of these folks for their help and friendship.

 

 

It’s takes a good deal of planning to do the above and not spend my entire retirement portfolio. I enjoy the challenge, the travel and every other aspect of “trackchasing”. In reality, my trackchasing hobby is a lot like being with the carnival. I breeze into town, stay a little while and then head on down the road.

 

 

Today’s adventure was one more of the 2,000 trips that have taken me up, down and around the proverbial long and dusty trackchasing trail.  If you would like to see where I’ve been and experience those adventures here’s the link:

 

 

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

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019.

I was headed to the Chili Bowl! The Chili Bowl midget auto race, held in Tulsa, Oklahoma each January, is the biggest midget race of the year. This year’s edition, the 33rd, featured six nights of racing inside the biggest indoor arena ever to host an auto race.

 

 

I would be attending the Chili Bowl for the third time. I first went there with my stepfather (above right – 1991) all the way back in 1995. Then the Chili Bowl ran for three nights. During that first trip we saw famous names like Boat, Shuman and Beecher win the A mains. That very first visit to the Tulsa Expo Raceway netted my 246thlifetime track. Then I returned again in 2011 and now one more time in 2019. This is definitely an event an avid racing fan would want to check off their bucket list.

 

 

I divide my race viewing into two specific categories. I started out as a “racechaser”. What is a racechaser? Permit me to elaborate. As a racechaser I reviewed the local racing papers to decide where the very best racing action and my favorite drivers would be competing. I didn’t give one thought to whether or not it was going to be a new track visit or not. I was going there for the quality of the racing and to see the drivers that were my sports idols.

 

 

Through the year 1979, when I was 30 years of age, I had limited my race viewing to just 71 tracks. As I look back on those tracks I went to every one of them for the quality of the racing. During that time I never saw a freestanding figure 8 race. I only went to one road course. That trip to Road America was my first RC in nearly 30 years of race watching. I went there because my fraternity was having a weekend camping event up in Wisconsin. When I couldn’t see all of the race action I immediately developed a dislike for road course racing, as a spectator, which exists today. I was a dirt oval fan. Once in a while, thanks to Dick Trickle, I watched racing on asphalt and enjoyed it.

 

 

As I began to travel further afield following my favorite drivers I did begin to see some tracks for the first time. In 1980 I went to many iconic raceways including these locations East Bay, Devil’s Bowl (TX), Eldora, Grandview, Lebanon Valley, Silver Dollar, Mansfield and Wall Stadium. If any race fan could lay claim to see those racetracks they would have had a pretty good career with racechasing!

 

 

Mind you that in 1980 I was first living in Connecticut and then later in the year Chicago. As you can see I was doing a lot of traveling to get to these races all those many years ago.

 

 

As I ventured out further and further watching racing tracks for the very first time, which almost always included my favorite drivers, a change came over me. I decided I liked watching racing at a new track more than I did, in most cases, going back to a track for the 10th time. This was the birth of my trackchasing.

 

 

Trackchasing does take some time away from the family if the family is not into racing. Our kids were never much into racing. Carol enjoys it but only goes because I invite her to come along.

 

 

For a sixteen-year period beginning in 1980 I averaged just 12 new tracks visits per year. During that time our three kid’s average age went from 3-19. Nope. There wasn’t time to be a good father AND be a trackchaser of much note. There were too many little league games, camping trips and school plays to attend. Trackchasing would have to wait and it did.

 

 

There are several occupations that have a very specific gender demographic. Most garbage people are men. Most nurses are women. There are so many gender related occupations. Some are changing but usually slowly.

 

 

There is a certain demographic of a “trackchaser” as well. First of all, in virtually every case a trackchaser is male. Quite often a trackchaser is single. Often times a trackchaser still lives at home despite being in the middle of his adulthood years. Those trackchasers who did marry often got married later in life and in almost every case never had children.

 

 

This particular demographic fits well into what is required of a trackchaser. If you’re single, or if you’re married with no children you have very few people to “satisfy”. The single trackchaser doesn’t have to ask his wife if it’s OK to go to the races. The married trackchaser with no children doesn’t spend any weekends going to soccer matches, little league baseball games, school plays and all the rest. For years and years up through today that trackchasing demographic has persisted.

 

 

I didn’t see my 400th track (Barren County Speedway – Glasgow, Kentucky – above) until 1999. I was forty years old. Somewhere about that time I noticed an article in a racing paper. There was a group that was doing something called “trackchasing”. The article said that a fellow by the name of Guy Smith was heading up things. The story mentioned that if I could send my track list to Mr. Smith I could be included in the trackchaser group.

 

 

So I pulled together a list of all of my trackchasing efforts up to that point in time. I put it in an envelope and mailed it first class to Mr. Guy Smith. What happened? Nothing. I never heard back from Mr. Smith! Boy, was that a predictor of the future!

 

 

Several years later while I was doing some research for a trip to the United Kingdom. At that point a fellow by the name of Will White contacted me. My lifetime track total stood about a 600 tracks then. Mr. White’s track total was very similar to mine at the time. It turned out that Mr. White was an executive within the trackchasing ranks.

 

 

It also turned out that Mr. White had been given responsibilities by Mr. Smith of being trackchasing’s “commissioner”. It was his job to record track visits from each person allowed to be in the inner circle of trackchasing.

 

 

It was also Commissioner White’s responsibility to provide the “muscle” in the group. If someone tried to add a track that didn’t pass muster, as judged by Commissioner White’s interpretation of the trackchasing rules, then that submission would be rejected. Mr. White, used his power of the “counting” to “keep people in line“.

 

 

Mr. White had a policy that if he knew you had seen a track, even though you may not have reported it publicly, it was added to your list. You might not have wanted it to be added to your list. Several trackchasers at the time believed it was they who should decide is a track made it onto their lifetime list. Those were the folks who were part of trackchasing, they just didn’t want to play 100% by the rules.

 

 

Commissioner White also had another policy which was well known at the time. This was that if you submitted your list and he published it as part of the entire group’s accomplishments you could never ever get your tracks removed from the list. When I joined trackchasers I understood this policy and accepted it. There were times after joining the group that I would just as soon not have had anything to do with the leadership. However, I knew it was useless to ask Commissioner White to let me go free. It was a little bit like being part of the mafia. Once you were in you were in. 

 

 

During the ensuing years I would invite several trackchasers to become part of the group. I tried to get Edward Corrado to join. It seemed as if he were trying to see new tracks on an independent basis. Edward never responded to my communications. It took some doing but I was able to get trackchasers John Osowski (above left with grandson and wife), Mike Knappenberger and Dave Garrison from Kentucky to pull together a list and send it in.

 

 

Did you know that most mafia crime bosses have either been killed or jailed? Yep. That’s true. Commissioner White’s run as the “enforcer” would end in a very similar manner to the Al Capone and Babyface Nelson era.

 

 

Commissioner White would end up getting sideways with the World’s #1 Trackchaser at the time (as measured by track’s seen), Rick Schneider. Rick got so irate over an interpretation situation that he dropped out of trackchasing. He refused to ever submit another track to the organization again.

 

 

On the one hand, I’ve got to give Mr. Schneider his due for sticking to his promise of never submitting another track. However, I have always wondered why he hasn’t petitioned the people running the hobby to get his tracks removed from their current standing within trackchasing. It seems Rick wants things both ways?

 

 

The dust up with Mr. Schneider was only the beginning of trouble for Commissioner White. Later Will White would run afoul of the venerable Alan Brown. Allan got so upset with Will when he proposed a rule change for the hobby. Normally a voting proposal would be submitted to the commissioner (Mr. White). The commissioner would receive and tally the votes and let the group know if it passed or not. Alan Brown stated that he had no trust in Mr. White. He wanted all the ballots to be sent to him for processing. That’s a little like Donald Trump saying to America, “Send me all your votes. I’ll count them and tell you how the election turned out.”

 

 

What happened next really depends on who does the telling. I will tell you that Commissioner White resigned in frustration. Others might say that he was “eased out“ by the mafia’s true boss, Guy Smith. How did all come down? I can’t say for sure. You never really know in these big corporate shakeups. I do know this. Guy Smith ended up being the commissioner and Will White was shoved aside as a historical footnote within the hobby of trackchasing.

 

 

I don’t want anyone to misinterpret my feelings about former Commissioner White. It is true that I very often disagreed with his line of thinking. Nevertheless, I never once doubted his sincerity and honesty. Were Mssrs. Schneider and Brown out of line in questioning the rulings made by Will White? Probably. When they joined the group I’m assuming they agreed to play by the rules. Commissioner White interpreted the rules.

 

 

One of the best things Will White ever did was create an email conference where trackchasers and others could share ideas on line. Will White was ahead of his time. The very first trackchaser to ever “sign up” for Will’s trackchasing email “chat” group was Californian Gary Jacob. Gary was the #1 “racechaser” in my book in the entire world of all time. He had passion. Sadly Gary Jacob died several years ago. Who was the group’s second signee? Another Californian. That would be me. Few know that I have the most seniority with this group of any living member beyond Will White who started the group! The conference was much more robust back in Will’s day. This conference is now managed by Guy Smith now. Who makes more than 50% of the posts by far today? Guy Smith. The trackchasers who used to post, i.e. Brown, Vanden Eynde, Weisel, Eckel, Killian, White and more rarely if ever post. Why? I’ll let you answer that question. Even the new members are hesitant (afraid?) to post. OMG. 

 

 

During this time I continued to meet and enjoy spending time with several trackchasers. I made international trackchasing trips with P.J. Hollebrand, Alan Brown and Paul Weisel (2). I have stayed overnight in the homes of Mr. Weisel, Mr. Brown and Andy Ritter.

 

 

I ended up trackchasing with the storied Ed Esser more often than any other leading trackchaser. As a matter of fact, I encouraged and then actually drove Ed across the border into Canada for his first ever trackchasing effort outside of the United States. The success and enjoyment of that trip was drowned out by Ed’s sudden passing just four days later.

 

 

I have such great memories of my trip to Canada with Ed. The night before the Canadian ice race we went to dinner up in Minnesota. He complained during our meal about a severe pain in his arm. I didn’t know that was a foreshadowing experience of what was to come.

 

 

On race day it was terribly cold and windy. The weather was so foul they canceled the ice race midway during the program. I still have the photo of Ed standing in front of the track’s sign. I helped support that track holding a memorial for Ed the very next year. Finally, I have a memory of telling Ed that we really needed to go to sleep, at about 4 a.m., after we had laid in our beds in the dark “bench trackchasing” for several hours the night before his first ever trackchasing visit to a race in Canada.

 

 

Yes, I’ve enjoyed the comradeship and friendship of many of the hobby’s trackchasers over the years. I can’t help but recall having Bruce & Pat Eckel join Carol and me and our family at our home for Thanksgiving dinner. Despite the Eckel’s being strong competitors in the Arizona trackchasing space the last time I saw Pat at an Arizona track she walked up and gave me a big hug.

 

 

It was with some positive expectations that when Guy Smith had rolled over Will White and taken control of trackchasing that I thought policies would change. As mentioned Will White wouldn’t let anyone “drop out”. Commissioner Smith campaigned on a different outcome for those who no longer wanted to be involved in the “counting” of trackchasing. Mr. Smith said that when he took over anybody could drop out and move on. No harm, no foul. He would just be fine with that. I had ZERO interest in being part of a trackchasing hobby that was headed by Mr. Smith.

 

 

I took Commissioner Smith on his word. Bad mistake! On the day he took over trackchasing anyone who didn’t want to be part of his “statistical control” could simply leave. I immediately informed him of my intentions. However, Guy Smith would not come through. Would he delete my track list and allow me to leave the hobby’s statistical references? Nope. He wouldn’t do that. If you were to go to his website today you would still be able to see my complete trackchasing list on the day I submitted my resignation. What can I say? Guy Smith didn’t respond to my track list mailing back in the late 90s. He didn’t live up to his word when he took over control a few years ago. Really, you can only judge people by their actions.

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Tulsa Expo Center – Tulsa, Oklahoma

This brings me back to tonight‘s Chili Bowl experience. I’m coming back here as a “racechaser” not a “trackchaser”. Tulsa, Oklahoma is 1,451 miles from San Clemente. Do you really see any other trackchasers traveling long distances exclusively to go to a racetrack they’ve already seen in the past? Sorry, the factual answer is “no”.

 

 

I don’t go racechasing myself that often. I don’t visit my local racetracks because I’m usually on the road trackchasing. I don’t go to all that many tracks on a return visit basis across the country, again because I’m trackchasing elsewhere.

 

 

When I do have free time away from trackchasing the LAST thing I want to do most of the time is go see more racing even at places I’ve already been to. I just have too many things including my family, kids, grandkids, and other interests to spend any more time with racing.

 

 

In 2018 I went trackchasing a 98 separate days. I spent a lot of time getting too and coming back from those race locations. That amount of time spent toward auto racing is plenty for me. You will rarely find me spending a busman’s holiday at a racetrack. That’s no knock on racing. It’s just that I want to have as diversified of a lifestyle as I possibly can beyond travel, logistical planning and seeing racing at new tracks.

 

 

A trip to the Chili Bowl would be a worthwhile exception to my life plan as described above. Even though they race for six consecutive nights in Tulsa I would only come for one night. That would be enough. From Tulsa I would head on down to Austin to visit with family.

 

 

This morning’s wake-up call came at 3 a.m. By 3:15 a.m. I was in the car and headed up the 405 freeway some 65 miles toward the Los Angeles International Airport but not before a San Clemente gas stop.

 

 

The plan was to grab a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas. Once in Dallas I would rent a car and drive four hours up to Tulsa and then another four hours back the next day. From Dallas I would either fly or drive down to Austin, Texas for my family visit.

 

 

I’m always telling you about my trackchasing sponsors. I couldn’t do what I do without them. I’m very thankful to have these supporters and never take them for granted.

 

 

Before I hopped on the jet airplane to Texas this morning I stopped at the American Airlines Admirals Club at LAX. I had about 20 minutes to spare. That was just enough time to grab a complementary hot breakfast. I love hanging out in airline clubs but sometimes I don’t have much time.

 

 

My flight to Dallas was nearly three hours long. I watched the new Jane Fonda documentary. Whether you were a fan of hers or not I think you might like to watch the story of her life. That life has certainly gone in a lot of different directions.

 

 

After I landed in Dallas I ran over to the Club at DFW. They are another trackchasing sponsor. There I had a nice lunch. They were serving chicken salad sandwiches and pasta salad. To my credit I passed on all of the delicious looking chocolate chip cookies. From there I grabbed a brand new Nissan Ultima from National Car Rental and headed north to Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

 

I was about midway into my four-hour drive from Dallas to Tulsa when I realized I had made a serious error. I left my race ticket to tonight‘s Chili Bowl at home. In the midst of transferring all of the contents of one bag into another in preparation for this week’s ice trackchasing I had not transferred my race ticket!

 

 

Tickets for tonight‘s racing were hard to come by. Most people order their Chili Bowl tickets months in advance. My ticket carried a face value of $54 U.S. However, I am a master at getting good tickets at low prices. I paid just $31 for my ticket on StubHub. I did it all with my phone and paid for it with ApplePay. The ducat had been delivered a few days ago. I had a great seating location all the way up in row 31, section FF. It was an aisle seat. I couldn’t have picked a better viewing location if I had bought the first ticket available for sale.

 

 

However, at this point I didn’t have THAT ticket. What was I going to do? A few alternatives flashed through my mind. The best one seemed to be for Carol to take a photo of my ticket and then text that photo to me. I would then throw myself on the mercy of the court in the hopes that the people running the Chili Bowl would take pity on such a poor planning dumb ass.

 

 

Alternatively, I could buy a ticket outside the arena. There were a few being sold and at reasonable prices as well. If I bought a ticket under those circumstances, even if it wasn’t a good one, I knew that I could go up to the seat that I already had purchased and sit there.

 

 

Parking was free. It was cool and rainy outside but most comfortable inside the Tulsa Expo Center. Once inside the outer foyer I immediately went to where they were selling tickets. Those folks told me to go to the “event info” department. They were nearby.

 

 

Once inside that department I gave the lady my “story”. She was about my age. She didn’t seem to be too judgmental. She heard me out while her colleagues looked on waiting to see what she was going to do. Since she was a nice person and she judged me to be a nice person she told me there would be no problem. There was just one requirement. Each time I entered the secured area of the arena I would have to come back through the event office. I could deal with that. I thanked her profusely. I told her I would alert social media about the empathy and understanding shown by the folks running the Chili Bowl.

 

 

Let me try to set the stage for you. The Chili Bowl runs for six consecutive nights of racing. They start on a Monday and run through the final events on Saturday. I learned that the racers “move” into the huge arena on Saturday. That makes for a pretty long week.

 

 

Here’s what Wikipedia had to say about the Tulsa Expo Center:

 

 

“The Tulsa Expo Center, from 2007 to 2012 also called the QuikTrip Center, is the center of the Tulsa State Fair and one of the largest clearspan buildings in the world. The Expo Center provides 354,000 square feet (32,900 m2) of column-free space under a cable-suspended roof. The building spans 448,400 total square feet on two levels, connected by side ramps and stairs, allowing for a variety of show floor plans.

 

 

The Expo Center, originally called the International Petroleum Exposition Center (and often called the IPE Building), was funded by a $3.5 million bond issue in 1966, and upon completion became home to the International Petroleum Exposition. At the time of its completion, it was the world’s largest building under a single roof. Standing in front of the Expo Center is the Golden Driller which was added as a symbol of the International Petroleum Exposition in 1966. Weighing 43,500 pounds and standing 76 feet (23 m) tall, the Golden Driller has become the symbol of Expo Square and a Tulsa landmark.

 

 

The building hosts many events throughout the year such as the Tulsa boat show, the Wanenmacher gun show (the largest gun show in the world), and Daryl Starbird’s custom car show. During the Tulsa State Fair the largest facility is the Expo Center where vendors and exhibit booths line the entire floor, providing both educational and commercial services. The Chili Bowl midget car race is held each January in a clay track inside the center. The event attracts NASCAR and USAC drivers from around the country. Since 1998, the building has hosted the American Bicycle Association’s annual Grand National Championships, a major event for BMX bikers.”

 

 

 

 

There is no other track racing midgets in the middle of January anywhere in the world. That’s part of the reason, amongst many, that the chili bowl drew 355 entries this week. Folks, that’s a lot of race cars and race car haulers to put inside one arena!

 

 

Here’s how the format for racing works. The total number of competitors (355) is divided by five. That meant about 70 cars (9 heat races) would race each night. I had not remembered that each racer runs only ONE time during the first five days of the event. That doesn’t seem like a lot of action considering the fact their equipment needs to be parked inside the arena for about a week. When you add the cost of competition, hotels, meals, entry fees, race tickets/pit passes that’s an expensive situation for an event that is noted for not paying all that well. Why do they do it?  It’s a prestige thing!

 

 

Tonight was Wednesday night, the third night of the six-night series. The race program would include nine heats, four qualifiers, two C mains, two B mains and the A feature event of the night. That’s a lot of racing. They started at 5 p.m. and would ultimately be finished by about 10 o’clock.

 

 

The midgets would be racing on a slightly banked roughly quarter-mile dirt oval. The track might have been a smidge smaller than a quarter. In the past the fumes from the combustion engines were pretty bad. How bad?

 

 

I did hear one fellow saying he was admitted to the hospital this morning after breathing in the fumes from last night! I saw several people wearing those small paper face masks that cover the nose and mouth. I saw one fellow wearing a full on military gas mask! Wow! I had heard the building’s operators had added some new exhaust fans. Those did a pretty good job. The fumes weren’t as bad as I remembered but they were still noticeable.

 

 

The folks I saw near up in the grandstands were very friendly. I talked with one fellow from SoCal who was with his lady friend from Arkansas. The fellow sitting next to me was from South Carolina via Ohio. When they learned of my trackchasing they were interested in what I do. They, like many people I meet, kept asking me, “Have you seen this track? Have you seen that track”. The answer in every case was “Yes”! I haven’t seen ‘em all but I’ve seen most.

 

 

There were a few names that I recognized from national racing scene on the track tonight. The top two would have been Sammy Swindell and Rico Abreu. NASCAR’s Landon Cassel, Tim McCreadie and J.J. Haley were among the names I recognized.

 

 

I won’t tell you too much about the racing itself. For that I would recommend you check out my YouTube video and photo album.

 

 

One of the things I like about the Chili Bowl is their trade show. Can you imagine a building big enough for a nearly ¼-mile dirt track, space to park 300 racecars and tow vehicles and STILL house a trade show?

 

 

There were several items that caught my eye at the trade show. Probably most impressive for me were the racing simulators. If I had an extra $5,000 that I didn’t mind parting with I would probably buy one of those. I think they would be great fun.

 

 

I did buy a couple of high quality seat cushions for Carol and me. They’re huge. I’m not sure how easy they’ll be able to transport on a few planes between here and home. But, at seven bucks each, I couldn’t pass them up. I also made contact with some custom t-shirt makers. A few years ago I went through about 500 shirts. I haven’t made any sense.

 

 

When the races were finished at about 10 p.m. I had a nearly two-hour drive scheduled to get me down to the Holiday Inn Express and Suites in McAlester, Oklahoma. I got a great deal on that hotel from Priceline. McAlester was also on the way to Dallas where I would need to turn in my rental car tomorrow afternoon.

 

 

I only joined Facebook a couple of years ago. I find it useful for sharing information about where I’ve been on the long and dusty trackchasing trail. It’s also great for staying in touch with friends I’ve made over the years. Probably the most beneficial item of the entire Facebook experience for me is being able to use Facebook Messenger. I can stay in touch with people from all over the world. As a matter of fact, I got a text tonight from a friend in Bolivia. Manolo Chavez was recommending a race in what could potentially be trackchasing country # 83. We’ll see about that.

 

 

Somewhere along the Facebook line I met a young lady named Diann (yes, Diann) Berryhill. We hooked up on FB and became friends. I don’t mean “looked up” in that way! She simply became a Facebook friend and we stay in touch from time to time.

 

 

Diann and her husband live up near Calistoga, California. Their son Travis races wingless sprint cars all over the Indiana circuit. Tonight Travis was racing a midget. Diann had invited me to come down into the pits and say “hey”.

 

 

I was a little pressed for time but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to visit with Diann and her crew. As I searched for the Berryhill race team’s location I ran across the pit area for legendary Sammy Swindell.

 

 

Sammy is now 63 years old. Nevertheless, he’s just about as competitive as ever. He’s actually won the Chili Bowl more times than anybody else, five times. His wins came from 1989 to 2009. That’s a 20-year timeframe of being ultra-competitive. Beginning in 2010 his son Kevin Swindell won the event for four consecutive years before suffering a career ending injury.

 

 

From Sammy’s pit I moved on down pit row until I discovered the black car number 31 midget entry. I asked where I can find Diann Berryhill. Soon we were introducing ourselves even though we felt like we sort of knew each other through Facebook already!

 

 

For the better part of the next hour Diann introduced me to Travis her son, as well as her husband and their team’s car owners, pit crew and friends. What a nice bunch of folks. It was nice meeting and talking to everyone.

 

 

Travis works at John Force Racing in Indianapolis. He invited me to come by sometime and take a shop tour. I will definitely do that. I will combine it with the offer I received from J-F Thormann, president of Andretti Motorsport when we met in Saudi Arabia. They are headquartered in Indianapolis as well.

 

 

I don’t know how often I will get the chance to see Travis Berryhill race. I do know this. He seemed like a real nice guy and a very competitive racer. He actually won a preliminary A main event at the Chili Bowl a few years ago. I’m a Travis Berryhill race fan now.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

Coming back to the Chili Bowl had been a fun and worthwhile experience. I hope to do it again. One night or maybe two is plenty for me. It’s extra nice to know and meet some of the competitors.

 

 

When I walked out of the Tulsa Expo Center at nearly midnight it was raining. I had started my day at 3 a.m. California time. It had been a long but good day. I wanted to get on the road and down to my hotel as quickly as I could. I would have to sleep fast. I needed to be up by 8 a.m. in order to begin heading down toward Dallas and ultimately Austin, Texas to visit our daughter, son and all of the grandkids.

 

 

Good evening from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

 

 

 

Randy Lewis – 82 countries – 2,520 tracks.

 

 

 

 

Oklahoma

 

 

The Sooner state

This evening I racechased in the Sooner state, yes, the Sooner state. I hold the #1 trackchasing ranking in Oklahoma.  I’ve seen racing at 38 tracks in the state. I’ve seen 38 or more tracks in 20 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

Oklahoma sayings:  We chase and eat what other states run from

 

  

 

QUICK FACTS

 

 

LIFETIME TRACKCHASER COMPARISONS 

The threemost 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 685 tracks of my lifetime total.  Don’t blame me.

 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,520

 

 

Total Trackchasing Countries

The nearest trackchasing competitor has seen racing in 30 fewer countries compared to my lifetime total. 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 82

 

 

 

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

 

 

Racing action from the Chili Bowl!

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The Chili Bowl picture by picture:

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Click on the links below to see what the Chili Bowl looked like during my 2011 & 2019 re-visits

 

 

The Chili Bowl….from 2011.

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My third trip to the Chili Bowl. It was fun!

 

 

 

 

 


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