After finally getting out of the house on Friday, I met Pam in New Tripoli as the Catasauqua Rough Riders attempted to end their regular season undefeated and get the top seed for the district playoffs. In a statement win, Catty led 57-0 at halftime before calling off the dogs. On Saturday we were in storm ravaged Bethlehem as the two Bethlehem public high schools played for the city championship. The school where I teach led the whole first half, but got blown out in the second half, ending their season. The high school season now enters the playoff homestretch.
On Sunday, Pam and I headed to Birdsboro, PA for the fall junk car race at the Pagoda Motorcycle Club. They have the car races twice a year, once in spring and once in fall. I have been there a few times, but this was Pam's first visit since the first race back in February of 1992, over twenty years ago. One of the reasons we went was so that I could get a November race in the books, my 311th straight month of seeing a race. Another reason we went was to see Brian Hickey. Bruce and Pat Eckel texted me that they sat with Brian on Saturday at Susquehanna so we knew he was in the area. However, we did not see Brian on Sunday. Of course the third reason for going to Pagoda is that I'm still a race fan!
The track continues the tradition of this sort of racing in the area that dates back to the 1930's and the Baumstown Jalopy Track. That track, located in Baumstown and also known as Kupp's Speedway, ran Model T's and jalopies in 1939 and 1940. Baumstown is only about a mile from Birdsboro.
The Pagoda website said that the races were at 10:00, but when I called the track Saturday to confirm that they were running the message said the racing would start at 11:00. We timed it to arrive right at 11:00. The main parking lot was full and we had to park in the auxiliary lot down the road. Admission was $10.
A huge crowd was on hand for the show. They say they have seating for 700, and the seats were pretty much full with many, many fans overflowing to just about any other area that you can see the track. The announcer said the only time they ever fill the seats is for the junk car races.
The track is much nicer than it was in 1992. It's a small dirt oval, about 1/8th mile. In 1992, they pretty much bulldozed a track on race morning. Now it is a permanent track that is also used for flat track motorcycle racing throughout the year. In 1992, the public address system was one speaker that a guy had plugged into his car. Now they have a permanent set of speakers that can be heard throughout the grounds, as well as a permanent announcers booth and scoring tower. One of the big announcements made at the race is that for the spring race, for the first time, it will be run in the evening under the lights.
The track now has a nice refreshment stand. They sell breakfast sandwiches in the morning, chili and fresh cut fries, and for the junk cars they even had a barbequed chicken dinner on sale for $10.
The turnout of cars was solid, with 46 cars in the big car class, and about 16 or 17 I think in the small car class. We did not see the single small car race. For the big cars, there were seven heats of either six or seven cars in each, with the top three advancing to the feature. There was a dash with nine cars that put up $20 each and which paid $180 to win. There was only one consie that transferred three more cars to the feature. Imagine 24 feature starters on a 1/8th mile track. To be honest, the heats have the best real racing.
One thing this show has is entertainment value. They started about 25 minutes late, but kept the show moving well. This is contact racing, and there are no yellow flags, only reds when absolutely necessary. Thus, the races are run in enduro style, but are short in duration like normal short track racing. Why were the grounds packed with a thousand people when many weekly short tracks can't draw more than a couple hundred? It's all about entertainment value. They have meaningful heats where some advance and some don't. And what they don't have are endless yellows for every little mishap, followed by the endless slow circling of the track while track officials talk amongst themselves trying to figure out a restart lineup, and the fans sit there like idiots. I don't know about you, but I'll take 46 cars trying for 24 feature spots, racing without the endless yellows, and two classes instead of six, seven, or eight. In addition, they keep the track nice and wet so there is no dust whatsoever.
As many people know, the entire facility is supposed to be moving a mile down the road, as the adjacent landfill takes over the property and from what I understand is paying for the relocation. The announcer gave an update on that situation yesterday. He said the new facility will be forty acres, or double the size of the current facility. He also said they should be racing there in 2015, so there are two more years to see the junk cars race at the current facility.
One last note: When Russ Currie submitted his track list, which does not yet appear on the website because it was determined he was five tracks short of 200, he submitted two tracks for Pagoda. According to Russ, in 2001 only, besides the two junk car races, they also had a September karting race that included the Senior Champ Karts are was run on a different track, a larger track than they used that year for the junk car racing. He didn't know in advance there would be two tracks, and returned later to see the junk cars on the smaller track. Looks like we all missed that second track possibility at that location. It was chilly, but a nice late November morning and afternoon of racing.
I've got no new track plans once again next week, as high school football is in the works for both Friday night and Saturday. On Sunday I was planning on going to Hagerstown, but that race has been postponed until next year. If the weather is nice enough, I might head over to Path Valley for their show, but that is no guarantee as it's a three hour drive in each direction and I'll likely be pretty tired by then. With Pam heading to Atlanta for four days the next week, she is staying home on Sunday to get ready for that trip. We will see about Path Valley.
Guy & Pam Smith 2012 Summary
2012 New Tracks--Guy 56 / Pam 47
2012 Event-- Guy 82 / Pam 49
2012 Total Tracks-- Guy 86 / Pam 52
2012 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 6 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,474 / Pam 834
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