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Warner’s Lake Ice Track

 

 

Greetings from East Berne, New York

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From the travels and adventures of the 

“World’s #1 Trackchaser”

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Warner’s Lake Ice Track

Ice road course

 Lifetime Track #2,536

 

 

The EventVideo PlusPhotos

 

 

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

 

 

Friday, March 8, 2019.

This trip got wilder by the minute. First of all, I wasn’t even sure I was going to do any trackchasing this weekend.

 

 

On Wednesday afternoon Carol had arthroscopic knee surgery. She went into the hospital, had the surgery and was leaving about six hours later. We had agreed to assess her medical situation on Thursday night.

 

 

I’m happy to report that after her follow up appointment with the doctor on Thursday afternoon she was feeling pretty good. There was nothing a trip to Yogurtland couldn’t cure.  She told me I was free to head out on the long and dusty trackchasing trail this weekend. I could see that she was feeling much better after having constant pain in her knee prior to the operation. I was confident that she was doing well and would just as soon like to relax over the next couple of days on her own.

 

 

I usually have two or three potential trackchasing plans for each weekend. That way if the weather or a track cancellation or whatever comes up I can go to Plan B or plan C. I had originally planned to go trackchasing in Louisiana this weekend. I was thinking about preceding the Louisiana portion of the trip with a stop in Oklahoma.

 

 

However, the weather in first Oklahoma and then Louisiana was cold and rainy. Oklahoma ended up canceling. One of my two tracks in Louisiana canceled. The other one ran and actually featured Tony Stewart racing a winged sprint car at their small somewhat rural track.

 

 

All of that meant that I would not be getting three new tracks in Oklahoma and Louisiana this weekend. There was going to be a big indoor show at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse, New York, also this weekend. They were racing on both Friday and Saturday nights. However, I didn’t really want to fly all the way across the country from Los Angeles to New York to see one indoor race.

 

 

 

I follow the Adirondack Motorist Enthusiast Club (AMEC) via social media. This group has been racing on the ice since 1954. This was the second weekend in March. Normally ice racing is history by this time of the year. The 2019 AMEC race schedule had “TBA” as the track location on their schedule for this particular weekend.

 

 

They filled in that blank spot on their ice racing dance card with the name “Warner’s Lake”. Wouldn’t you know it? I had never ever seen any ice racing on Warner’s Lake. To top it off Warner’s Lake was only two hours from the indoor race in Syracuse. To top that off because of a snowy forecast for Sunday they moved the ice race to Saturday. To top all of that off that meant the ice racing would take place starting late morning on Saturday and the indoor racing would take place at 7 p.m. that evening just two hours away. Now I could run over to the East coast from the West coast and catch two tracks in one day that were only two hours apart. I could leave on Friday and be back on Sunday. I truly was a lucky duck.

 

 

Most people who decided to go see the ice racing on Warner’s Lake and/or the indoor TQ midget racing in Syracuse, New York probably left their house an hour or two at most before race time. Some might have to drive a bit further. However, I had to leave the day before! I had to fly nearly 3,000 miles and then rent a car and drive another 600 miles or more. Maybe I was making just a little bit bigger commitment than 99.999% of the fans were in attending this weekend’s racing?

 

 

The flight from Los Angeles to Boston was noneventful. Those are the best kinds. I had an aisle seat with an open middle next to me. I did some of my trackchasing work on the plane and watched some movies. I highly recommend the movie “Rid of Me“ starring Katie O’Grady. In some ways it was a strange movie but all the while entertaining if you like dark comedy and I do.

 

 

I landed in the Boston Logan International Airport at about 6 p.m. on Friday night. During all of my travels cities like Boston and Chicago have offered the very worst big-city traffic. Since it was Friday night it wouldn’t hurt a thing to hang around the airport for another hour or two. I did just that.

 

 

I stopped at a restaurant in the airport called Jerry Remy’s Sports Bar and Grill. I’m pretty sure that Jerry Remy was a local Boston Red Sox baseball star who now owns the restaurant.

 

 

I have a sponsorship with Priority Pass. They would let me eat in Jerry Remy’s place and the first $28 was covered by my PP. That’s a good deal. When I finished dinner I looked at my pedometer on my iPhone. If I walked about a mile and a half inside the airport I could knock off the balance of my 4-mile requirement for today. I did just that.

 

 

I would be using Avis Rent a Car for my transportation needs on this trip. After taking the bus over to the rental car center I noticed that Avis had my name on a big electronic board. My car was in stall D5. The car in that space was a Ford fusion. Avis does that for me. They pick out a car, tell me what stall it’s in and all I have to do is get in and drive away after showing my driver’s license. If I don’t like the car they gave me I can get something that I might prefer more.

 

 

I will be staying at the Quality Inn on Central Avenue in Albany, New York for two nights. The hotel is going to be a three-hour drive from the Boston airport. I’ll be telling you soon why staying in Albany was a good logistical idea. At this point traffic had slowed down just a little bit on Friday night. I elected to take the toll roads. The East Coast is famous for toll roads. They’re expensive.

 

 

Someone once said that it never pays to be greedy…. unless you can get away with it. I don’t know if I’m greedy. However, I will try to negotiate the last dollar out of every deal. Tonight I tried to do that with Priceline.com. Mistake! I had a great hotel picked out at a very low price. I tried to get another five bucks off the rate and through the intricacies of the Priceline system ended up with a secondary hotel which wasn’t nearly as good as the first where I had planned to stay. I made a mental note to try a different approach next time. I made another mental note, which I probably won’t stick to, which says don’t be TOO greedy.

 

 

 

 

Saturday, March 9, 2019

This weekend was the ninth consecutive weekend that I’ve hit the trackchasing trail during January, February and now March. This will also me my ninth consecutive weekend where I have seen racing on an ice track. Those are probably all records for me.

 

 

This morning, beginning at 11 a.m. the Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club or AMEC was having an ice race over on Warner’s Lake in East Berne, New York. Then at 7 p.m. I had an already purchased ticket for the TQ midgets, slingshots and senior champ karts indoor racing at the New York State Fairgrounds. They would race inside the newly constructed Exhibition Center building.

 

 

I will throw in a quick reminder that I was nearly 3,000 miles from home. However the number of people that I ran into today, some of whom I have known for years and some of whom I’ve just met, was absolutely astounding given the fact that I’m from California and I was in New York today. I’ll run through the names of the people who came into my life and made today one of the most enjoyable I’ve had in a very long time. Almost all of these people come from different “directions” as well.

 

 

 

Jim Dolan

 

 

 

Mike Knappenberger

 

 

 

P.J. Hollebrand

 

 

Jim and Pat Smith

 

 

Blu Metz

 

 

 

Tommy Wilcox in absentia with Syracuse Microd Club members holding down the fort

 

 

Carl Crawford

 

 

Graham and Glenn Shirton

 

 

 

Paul Weisel

 

 

 

It is true that I know a lot of people. Trackchasing introduces me to people associated with racing all over the country and the world. When I get a chance to reunite with those folks that I’ve met at one place or the other it’s really a lot of fun for me. I hope it is for them as well.

 

 

I love driving through upstate New York. It’s extremely rural and very quaint. A good house paint salesman could do real well up here.

 

 

 

THE RACING

 

 

Warner’s Lake Ice Track – East Berne, New York

It was easy to find the ice racing location on Warner’s Lake today. When I arrived I simply pulled the Avis Rent a Car Ford Fusion down onto the lake. The lake was covered in snow. That was a good thing…..for spectators. One can walk on snow without falling on their butt a lot easier than they can walk on a frozen lake with glare ice and no snow.

 

 

Maybe I’m lazy. I WAS going ice trackchasing for the ninth weekend in a row. For the first eight of those weekends I hauled my size 14 work boots/ice trackchasing boots more than 40,000 flying miles. I expected today to be reasonably warm for ice racing. I decided not to bring those big heavy boots. That freed up a lot of space in my carry-on luggage as well. I would be going with my New Balance power walking shoes.

 

 

I might make one correction. I referred to my boots as “work boots”. That might seem to imply I do some work in the boots. I do not. I don’t really do “work” in the traditional sense. However, it does sound sort of manly to say that I, as a suburban slicker, have work boots!

 

 

The New York ice racing group, AMEC, has had a rough time with the weather over the past couple of years. In 2018 they hardly raced at all. Today was only the fourth day of the year when they’ve raced in 2019. Contrast that with the idea that I’ve seen ice racing at 16 different tracks during the same timeframe.

 

 

I get the group’s emails weekly. If it’s not one thing that is canceling their ice racing plans it is another. For the first couple of weekends they didn’t have enough ice. That’s common during the early portion of the January/February ice racing season. Then during the third weekend it snowed too much. They couldn’t plow the track in time. The next weekend it rained too much. When there’s too much water on the ice that’s a problem as well. Ice racing is a very fragile sport!

 

 

When I get their messages, which almost always lead in by saying we worked real hard…we tried real hard but for whatever reason we are not racing I feel like screaming into my laptop, “Come on guys! This is not new news. It’s been happening for years!”

 

 

I have a recommendation for AMEC and every other ice racing group that had to cancel more than 50% of their shows this year. What is the recommendation? Get a friggin land-based track as a back-up when racing on frozen lakes doesn’t work or can’t work.

 

 

I use, as a poster child example the Winnipeg Sports Car Club. They are an ice racing group that races on frozen lakes up in Manitoba, Canada. This year they had a back-up track which was normally used by snowmobiles racing on an oval configuration on….wait for it…..land. They could use that track if the lakes didn’t have enough ice or if the ice they did have was covered by snow or rain. All these normally rural ice racing groups need to do is find a farm pasture. A snow and ice covered farm pasture or even a dormant, during the winter, dirt oval track resting from the summer’s activity will often be raceable when frozen lakes are not for the various reasons I’ve mentioned previously.

 

 

Come on people. Don’t let your entire ice racing season be scrubbed by the fickleness of mother nature. You can do this. But, you can’t do this is you don’t think you can.

 

 

Every ice racing format for the fans is a little bit different. Today there was no admission price. There was also no PA system. I didn’t see any bathroom facilities on the ice nor did I see any food concessions available. However, a restaurant and bar called “Maple on the Lake” was just offshore. I didn’t stop in there because I’m usually on the run. Those places can serve some very good food at times.

 

 

Today’s ice racing configuration was that of a road course. I was told it was almost one mile in length. Spectators could only stand and watch at one end of the track. That meant that by the time the cars were racing at the other end of the track they were pretty far away.

 

 

Today’s ice racing situation was a little bit unusual in one regard. At one point in time there were three countable tracks in operation on Warner’s Lake. AMEC was racing on the nearly one-mile long ice road course with cars. Some motorcycle racers were competing on about a 1/5-mile oval track on the ice mere yards from AMEC. Finally a group of youngsters were racing quads on a much much smaller oval also within yards of the two other tracks. In one video clip I panned across all three tracks that were in action at the same time.

 

 

Of course, the two ovals today didn’t count because quads and motorcycles are not a countable or acceptable class of racing as dictated by the ten white men who made up trackchasing’s founding fathers.

 

 

The track’s themselves could count. The “child” drivers would not count. Of course, the quads and bikes would not count either. I’ve had my lawyer look at all of this from a constitutional point of view. This all meant I would only get one countable track on Warner’s Lake today.

 

 

The highlight for me was seeing a 1950s/1960s Saab ice racing machine. This car raced amongst all of the late-model sports cars and sprint cars on the lake today. The Saab carried the car number 188. From what I could see the driver was decently competitive throughout the day.

 

 

When I pulled up to the lake today I got as close to the road course as I possibly could. This was much closer than anybody else had parked today. I figured if they didn’t like it they could ask me to move. Soon another fellow pulled up, parked his car next to mine, got out of his car and came over to say hello. That seemed a bit unusual.

 

 

I was just about ready to meet Mr. Jim Dolan. I would learn that Jim lived nearby. He was intrigued by the fact that I was driving a Ford Fusion with a Georgia license plate at an ice race in New York. He wanted to know why I had come all the way from Georgia to see the races today. When he learned I was actually from California he was even more taken aback.

 

 

I have met so many people at the races. When I choose a grandstand seat during most track visits I sort of visually checkout the people who I think might be interesting to talk to. I guess this is truly a form of “profiling”. More often than not I am satisfied with my judgment. However today, Jim Dolan picked me I didn’t pick him.

 

 

In the space of the next 30 minutes he and I became fast friends. We talked about all manner of subjects. Buying new cars, the price of housing on the lake, my trackchasing and a lot of other stuff. It was a pleasure meeting Jim Dolan today. I gave him my card like I do most people I meet up with at the track. If you’re reading this message right now there’s a good chance that you and I first met at one of our nation’s or actually worldwide racetracks.

 

 

While I was talking to Jim Dolan a fellow by the name of Mike Knappenberger came up to say hello. The people parade for the day was just beginning. I first met Mike maybe more than 10 years ago. He and I met up at some indoor racing in Virginia.

 

 

While sitting in those Virginia grandstands I encouraged Mike to get his track list together and submit it so he could be an active trackchaser. At first Mike was very hesitant to do this. He told me at the time that the leaders of the trackchasing group had never given him “the time of day”. I assured him that if he sent in his list it would be accepted and he would be enjoying the fruits of the trackchasing hobby. It wasn’t long before Mike did as I had suggested.

 

 

There have been times with Mike has been one of the most competitive trackchasers in the hobby. As a matter of fact, Mike won the trackchasing championship in both 2008 and 2012. I finished second to Mike in both of those years.

 

 

Have you ever checked out the “Trackchasing Champs” list that dates back to 1969? It’s available on my website at www.randylewis.org. Here’s a link if you want to see it now.

 

 

Lifetime trackchasing champs….from 1969 to today

 

 

 

I guess Mike has decided that trackchasing at an elite level year after year after year isn’t exactly what he wants to do. He’s moved over into the photography end of the racing business. Now he takes photos for the Area Auto Racing News. He doesn’t travel nearly as much as he used to when he was a chauffeur to first Gordon Killian and the Guy Smith. I know Mike is a competitive guy. I remember him telling me how much he enjoyed coaching youth baseball and letting his competitive urges manifest themselves in that hobby. Nice seeing Mike today.

 

 

 

AFTER THE RACES

When I had seen all of the ice racing that anybody needs to see on a Sunday morning/afternoon on Warner’s Lake in East Berne, New York I headed off the ice. I was headed to Syracuse, New York.

 

 

If all worked well I would be seeing my fifth different racetrack at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse this evening. New York is a huge racing state. I don’t know if racing is more popular in New York or Pennsylvania. I would have to say the most rabid fans in the world come from these two states.

 

 

In the meantime if you would like to see what the update New York environment looked like I recommend my SmugMug photo album. If you want to see what the AMEC ice racing on Warner’s Lake was like, check out my YouTube video. You’ll find links elsewhere in my report.

 

 

 

 

Randy Lewis – 82 countries – 2,536 tracks.

 

 

 

 

New York

 

 

The Empire state

This morning/afternoon I saw racing at my 83rd lifetime track in the Empire state, yes, the Empire state.  I’m not even ranked in the New York top ten because this is “Dreaded East Coast Trackchaser” country. I’ve seen 83 or more tracks in eight different states. No trackchaser can match that stat.

 

 

 

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

New York sayings: Don’t make me go all Brooklyn on your ass.

 

 

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

 

 

  1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California – 2,536

 

 

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

 

 

Click on the link below to see the video production from the racing action today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click on the link below for a photo album from today’s trackchasing day.  You can view the album slide by slide or click on the “slide show” icon for a self-guided tour of today’s trackchasing adventure.

 

 

 

Ice racing from upstate New York on Warner’s Lake and what it took to get there

 

 

 

 

 


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