Contoocook Lake in Jaffrey, NH, Track #298

This weekend I wasn’t expecting to go to any races because I had some work-related things I wanted to do. However, as it turns out, I got most of the things I wanted to get done by the end of the day on Saturday and my Sunday was freed up. I decided to see some ice racing in New Hampshire. As far as I can tell there are three groups that run automobile ice races in New Hampshire and they all run there regular shows on Sunday and all start between 12:00 and 12:30 pm. I checked with each group and they all were running. After some hemming and hawing, I decided to go watch the Jaffrey Ice Racing Association race on an oval on Contoocook Lake in Jaffrey, NH. The main reason why I choose this club was that it was an hour closer to where I live than the others.

There were 3 divisions of racing and the scheduled called for each division to have two 6 lap heat races and a 10 lap feature heat race. While you could watch for free on the road, I paid $3 to walk onto the ice. Another option would have been to pay $10 to drive onto the ice. The weather was a bit warm for ice racing (40 degrees) and rain was on its way so I appreciated that they started on time. They probably could have taken a little less time between heat races though with rain in the forecast and on its way. In the end, they managed to get 5 of the 6 heat races completed before the rain and warm conditions made the event organizers call off the rest of the racing at about 1:30 pm. Besides being the first ice race I’ve seen in New Hampshire, this was my first oval ice race. I really did enjoy the oval ice races and hope to get to another one this year but with ice racing being so weather-dependent that may or may not happen.

PS: I didn’t write up a report for last weekend when I went to Georgia, but I saw two new tracks that weekend.

New Track since last report:

Albany Motor Speedway, dirt oval, Albany GA (dirt late models): 01/25/2014
Watermelon Capital Speedway, paved oval. Cordele GA (paved super late models): 01/26/2014
Contoocook Lake, ice oval, Jaffrey, NH: 2/1/2014

2014 Stats:
Total Tracks: 6
New Tracks: 6
States I saw new tracks: 5 (Georgia, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia)
Countries: 1 (USA)
Total Races: 6
Total lifetime TrackChaser countable tracks: 298

Bethel Motor Speedway Opening Saturday, August 2

Bethel Motor Speedway is a 1/4 mile paved oval track in White Lake, NY built in 1959. The track was previously known as White Lake Speedway, White Lake Raceway, Catskill Mountain Speedway, Kauneonga Speedway, and Sullivan County Speedway. In the past 10 or so years, the track has been closed and opened a number of times. After the 2006 season, the track closed and was eventually sold to new owners. The new ownership team plans to race every Saturday night n august and September with the first race being thi cming Saturday, August 2. I already have plans for the next few Saturdays, but I hope the track does well enough to run regularly again and I do plan on attending at least once this year.

Scott Kalitta died in crash at Englishtown

I am pretty bummed out to here that Scott Kalitta died in crash at Englishtown. Although I don’t follow drag racing closely, I always like the Kalitta’s (probably because his cousin Doug Kalitta was a USAC Sprint champion in 1994used to race on oval tracks. R.I.P.

New Egypt Speedway in the New York Times

It is not often that local short tracks get a nice article in “main stream” newspapers, let alone big city papers like the New York Times. However, that is what happened for New Egypt Speedway today. The article, At Small Tracks, High Fuel Prices Put Racers in a Pinch is really more about the effects of the high price of fuel on the racers than the actual racing itself, but still an interesting read.

Rolling Wheels Raceway, May 26 2008

Continuing my Open Wheel racing weekend, I went to Rolling Wheels Raceway on Monday night for a World of Outlaws Sprint Car race. I haven’t been to a World of Outlaws Sprint Car race in a long time. While I think the drivers are excellent and the cars are the fastest things on dirt, I have typically found the races unexciting. The reason being is the handicap system generally has the fastest cars starting up front, thus there is not much passing. This night proved to follow this mantra and Steve Kinser won leading every lap after starting on the outside of the front row. He pretty much dominated although in the middle of the race Shane Stewart (who started on the pole) and at the end of the race Jason Meyers closed to within 10 or 15 car lengths. However, this was probably more because Kinser was not taking unnecessary chances in traffic during the 25 lap non-stop race. Because of the lack of cautions we did get to see some of Kinser’s driving skill getting through lap traffic. I’m not a big fan of Steve Kinser, but there is no denying there has been no better winged sprint car driver over the last 25 or so years.

Also on the card was the DIRT Sportsman Modified tour. While the Sportman are obviously slower then the full-blown big block modifieds, they still got around the 5/8th mile track really well. I was impressed with the 52 sportsman that showed up and how clean they raced (very few yellows even though there was close racing). The feature was really good, with the #66 of Dan Wiesner taking the victory. Wesiner started in the 10;th spot. I was surprised how many Canadians were racing – in fact in one of the three consolations races, the top four starters where all from the same city in Ontario (St.Catharine’s). In fact, I think a total of 8 drivers were from St. Catharine’s. The race was real good and while I probably won’t drive a long distance to see the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified tour, I would definitely go see them again, especially if they normally put on a race as good as this one!

Kudos should also go to the track management. The track was in great shape, the races starting on time, and they din;’t drag out the show. I stayed until the end of the races and was on the road by 10:15. A early finish is necessary when people have to work the next day. All-in-all, I was quite happy with the races at Rolling Wheels, although I would have loved to see what Steve Kinser could have done had he started 10’th were Wesiner did.

My 2008 race chasing stats following Rolling Wheels are:

Races: 10
Tracks: 9 (2 new)
States: 5 (0 new)

ARDC Midgets – Memorial Day Weekend

On Memorial Day weekend the ARDC midgets were scheduled to run Penn Can Speedway and Five Mile Point Speedway. These two tracks are two of the closet tracks to my new job, so I decided to stay up north and watch them. First up was Penn Can on Friday night. I’ve been to Penn Can about 4 or 5 times before and always had a good time. This night was no exception. The show was run well, and the racing was good. The only downside to the night was a 10:00 PM rain shower during the ARDC midget feature that caused over an hour delay in the show. However, you can’t blame the track for that – there wasn’t even any rain in the forecast. After the rain delay the modifieds went on the track for there feature followed by the rest of the ARDC event. Scott Zipp won his first ARDC feature event ever. I was quite happy with my trip to Penn Can and plan to go back a few more times this year.

On Saturday night it was off to Five Mile Point for ARDC and I. I’ve been to the track once before for a sprint car show (I think it was ESS sanctioned show) so this was my second time at the track. The racing started off well and the track officials were doing a good job keeping everything going. The midget feature was the second feature and it was a really good race with Billy Pauch Jr. and Frank Polimeda battling most of the way for second right behind eventual race winner Andy Martin. I think Polimeda, who finished second, was just as strong as Martin, but he could catch him once he got past Pauch Jr. After the midget race, I think the track officials went to sleep or something as the night went down hill from there. First thing they did wrong was scheduling the modified feature last. With many people traveling long distances to see the Midgets, they should have also been able to see the modified event in a timely manner. Someone sitting next to me had a 4-hour ride home and was hoping to catch the modified feature but decided to leave when he heard it was last on the schedule. The next thing they did wrong was not moving the show along. I don’t know what caused the change (maybe they figured they needed to keep us there to 11:30 or we would feel gypped?). Finally, they had an over 30 minute delay between the end of the second to last feature and the start of the modified feature. To be fair, the delay was used to water/prepare the track to make for better racing and since the racing in the feature was good, it probably worked. However, they ended up not finishing to 11:23 PM, which is only 7 minutes before the curfew. That is cutting it close considering there was not many caution flags I the feature. Five Mile Point, like a number of other tracks, has been getting complaints from neighbors. Having such delays that cause the night to go on until just before curfew doesn’t help make good neighbors. If I ran Five Mile Point, I would have ran the modifieds early for a few reasons: 1) So that people who traveled far distances would be able to see them, 2) Families with young kids could see the main event and get their children to bed, 3) to stagger the amount of people leaving the track at one time, and 4) To be a better neighbor. By being a better neighbor, I mean that the modifieds are the loudest cars, and much louder then the 4 cylinders. The louder cars mean more things for the neighbors to complain about. I know that Five Mile Point is now the oldest weekly track in the Northeast, and that since they were there longer, the neighbors shouldn’t have a leg to stand on. However, even if that should be the case, we have seen at tracks around the country new neighbors causing trouble for tracks including having some shut down. Track operators really need to be cognizant about this and do everything they can to be good neighbors. This rant excluded, I liked the track and the racing was quite good and this may have been an anomaly so I plan on going to Five Mile Point again this year.

My yearly racing stats after Five Mile Point:

Races: 9
Tracks: 8 (2 new)
States: 5 (0 new)

North Carolina Racing Trip

My friend Walter and I went down to North Carolina the first weekend of May to see the re-opening of Rockingham Speedway. The track has been closed since NASCAR allowed the Winston Cup series date to be moved to another track. Late last year Andy Hillenberg bought the track at auction and announced that he would re-open it. As soon as I heard the news I knew I was going to go and I paid close attention to the track to see when tickets would go on sale. It paid off as I am now account #19 and I got a pair of great tickets for the ARCA race and the Hooter’s Pro Cup race in November.

On the way down to Rockingham we decided to stop at Bowman-Gray Stadium. This was the first time for me at the track. The track is basically a 1/4 mile running track like you would see around a high school football field that has been paved. This makes for some tight racing. The reason why the track is called a stadium is because it is a stadium. Currently the Winston-Salem State University football team plays their games at the stadium, which is right next door to their campus. Previously, Wake Forest played there. The stadium holds about 17,000 fans and it was at least half full for the races. They probably had almost 10,000 fans in attendance. Not bad for a short track! We happened upon a 200 lapper for the modifieds that was rescheduled from the previous week. While the winner lead the whole race, it was still interesting the strategy he used. The first 80 laps he went rather slowly but no one was trying to pass him. You could tell how slow he was going because the whole field was in line. After that, he sped up slightly and you can see some cars towards the tail of the field drop off. Once he was about to catch the lapped cars he slowed down a little as to not catch them and lose the led in traffic. Then finally he ran as hard as he could for the last 50 laps. It was definitely a chess match on four wheels. I really enjoyed the track despite the tight conditions and hope to get back some time – maybe for a Southern Modified tour event.

On Sunday it was off to Rockingham. I never seen a race on the one mile oval, but I did see a SCCA race on the road course previously. As mentioned earlier we had great seats. The weather was also great. There were 50 cars starting the event and one that just dominated the other 49. Joey Logano just crushed the field in his Joe Gibbs Chevy. In fact, while I think four or five cars finished on the lead lap that was only because of the Lucky Dog award. He actually lapped every car in the field. The only car to show a little competition was Ken Schrader when he had new tires, but that only lasted about 15 laps. And fan favorite Schrader had to settle for second.

My yearly racing stats after Rockingham:

Races: 7
Tracks: 6 (2 new)
States: 4 (0 new)

Early Season Racing Update

I haven’t been very good at reporting my trips to the races lately, so here is a quick recap of my season thus far. As a matter of fact, of nine nights at the races, I’ve only reported on one night – I didn’t even report on the final day at the Chili Bowl.

In January I went to the last two nights of the Chili Bowl by myself. As always, the Chili Bowl in was a great race and everyone who is a race fan needs to go.

The third race I went to was the season opener at Bridgeport on April 5. It also happened to be the first race of the new Bridgeport-New Egypt Speedway challenge. I would have liked to see a few more New Egypt cars on hand, but they did send seven or eight, which was nice. It is good to see the only two oval tracks left in the state cooperating like this, and the fans rewarded the Bridgeport Speedway management with a really nice crowd. I’ve never been a huge fan of Bridgeport because the track is so big and fast that the cars typically get strung out and the racing suffers. While this race was enjoyable, it wasn’t great. The most memorable thing was a really nasty crash in the Sportsman that saw a number of cars flipping and ending up on top of each other. While a lot of equipment was hurt, none of the drivers were, so that is a good thing.

The fourth race I saw was a regular show at Big Diamond Speedway (I believe it was April 18, but I’m not positive). This was the first time I was at Big Diamond since the new owners took over a few years ago, and they did a great job making the place look a lot nicer. They also did an excellent job running the show – the show was ran smoothly without any unnecessary days and we were out of there at a reasonable time which considering my almost three hour ride after the race, I really appreciated. It also looked like the fans appreciated it since there was a packed grandstand. Assuming the show is always ran like that, I recommend every short-tracker owner in the area either attend a race there or give them a call to see how they do it.

The fifth race was opening night at New Egypt Speedway. This was also part of the eight race new Bridgeport-New Egypt Speedway challenge.  This race wasn’t run as well as Big Diamond, but the track did have a lot of fans in the stands. I assume that had a lot to do with two things: 1) Wall Stadium closing, and 2) The challenge series. The track wasn’t in the greatest shape, but these things happen. I won’t kill the track on the first day for not getting the finicky track just perfect, but they really should have ran the show better. They had a great chance to impress a lot of fans but missed the opportunity. I really hope the new owners in the second year figure it out. I know they are trying and they love racing, but so far they haven’t managed to impress me with either track preparation or how they run the show.  That said, what they do a good job of is getting some top drivers like Billy Pauch to race at the track, so it is still worth attending once in a while. I haven’t been back this year yet, so I don’t know how the crowds have been for a regular show. I hope they are able to draw a good crowd weekly, but I think they need to re-evaluate how they run the show to do that. The shows are too long. Sure, the hard-core fan doesn’t mind, but the occasionally fan does and there are a lot more of them. Also, if they ran the show better, the racing would be done earlier and maybe the neighbors would have less to complain about.

I’ll report on my trip to North Carolina for the ARCA race and a regular show at Bowman-Gray soon. I also will have a report on this weekend’s races at Penn Can and Five Mile point as well. My yearly stats after New Egypt were:

Races: 5
Tracks: 4 (0 new)
States: 3 (0 new)

IndyCar and Champcar unify for the 2008 season

A press release on the IRL web site and various news stories say it is a done deal that the IRL and ChampCar will unify for the 2008 season. No real details have been released yet, but at least it is done and we won’t have to hear people complain about a split series anymore. It will be interesting to see what the schedule looks like in 2008, and even more interesting to see what it looks like in 2009.

States I’ve seen a race in

Back in June of 2005, I created a map showing the states I’ve seen a race in. Well, in the last 2+ years, I’ve seen races in a number more states, so I decided to update the map. Basically, I have 7 states more to see a race in: Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, and Washington. Here is my map:


If you want, you can create your own map

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