I am never ceased to be amazed at the number of new track opportunities that are always being discovered. Thanks to Brian Hickey for adding one more track in Florida to my HitList. It's mind boggling to me that after having been to over a thousand tracks, and it being winter, I STILL could have realistically gone to a new track EVERY weekend in both November AND December. Having reached my annual goal of 50 tracks, I concentrated on football and picked four of the nine weekends to get a new track. Unfortunately, questionable weather kept us away from the third of those four weekends, the indoor race in Michigan the week before Christmas. Hopefully we will get another crack at that one.
I always try to plan something interesting over the holiday break from school. One race I have never attended is the Chili Bowl for Midgets, as that is during the school year and it's hard to plan a trip to an event like that when I get only two days to take off the entire year. Some school districts allow the teachers to "bank" their personal days and carry them over until they can take an entire week. Ours does not. It's use em or lose em for our two. I still have both of mine to play with for this year.
Having heard nothing but great things about the track at the Tulsa Expo Center, I thought a great alternative would be to see the Tulsa Shootout, an event similar to the Chili Bowl but for Micro Sprints, Mini Sprints, and Limited Midgets. Both Pam and I were off during the week, so having to work was not an issue for this trip.
We left Thursday evening from Allentown, flying to Atlanta and then to Tulsa. Weather almost cost us to miss our connection. We had a two hour layover in Atlanta, but when the Allentown flight was delayed by two hours and ten minutes, it didn't look good. However, the flight made up some time in the air and we arrived at our gate to Tulsa with the passengers already seated and only four minutes until the doors closed. Close call.
On Friday morning we headed to Ponca City to see the Pioneer Woman statue and museum. My Oklahoma relatives took me to see it when I took my grandma to see her brother right after high school graduation, and I wanted to see it again for nostalgia purposes. On that trip, they also took me to Enid Speedway, which was my westernmost track at the time.
The three days of racing began on Friday evening with heats and qualifiers for two divisions. There were eight divisions total (one Midget, one Mini Sprint, three Winged Micro Sprint, two Wingless Micro Sprint, and one Junior Micro Sprint class for kids). An incrdible 990 drivers were on hand, a record for the event, which in its 27th year is older than the Chili Bowl. At one time the entries totaled over 1,300; but that is when the show included flat karts and quads. Thankfully that is no longer the case.
Surprisingly for me, I passed up scoring the new track on Friday and instead we headed to the Oklahoma City Barons AHL hockey game. The week before, when we decided not to chance the weather to go to Michigan for the races, we went to the Binghamton Senators hockey game and had a blast. Pam is slowly trying to turn me into a hockey fan, and it's working. Binghamton and OKC were hockey teams five and six for me, with Pam up on me by two. Back at the Expo Center, they had heats and qualifiers for just two of the classes, and it totaled 62 races.
On Saturday morning bright and early we headed to the Expo Center. Admission was $15. Everything about it is impressive. The size of the structure with no poles is mind boggling. The number of cars was amazing, as was the number of races. The show was impeccably organized, with the races run one after the other to seemingly infinity. And the track is fantastic. Not only is it easily the best of over 60 indoor tracks that I've ever seen, it's one of the best ever even including permanant outdoor tracks.
Racing began at 9:00 and continued all morning and afternoon. We had been warned by Allan and Roger that the fumes get pretty bad during the Chili Bowl, but they did not seem to be a problem for this show. Saturday had the heats and qualifiers for the other six classes that did not race on Friday night, and also the C-Mains for the two classs that began on Saturday. The Saturday race count was 110, bringing the total for the weekend for the first two days to 172.
For Pam, it was her 50th new track of 2012. We were kind of trying to get to 50 for both her and I, but after some bad luck in late summer (for example, three straight days of rainouts in Mississippi), it didn't look promising. But she made it on the third last day of the year.
I lost count at how many races we saw. We rooted for PA drivers, especially Mike Dicely, whose nextdoor neighbor is a good friend of Pam. Late in the afternoon, we headed out to the Rib Crib for some barbequed meats. In the evening, we saw our third hockey game in eight days, the Tulsa Oilers.
It was a busy two days in what is supposed to be a relaxing vacation before the second half of the school year. Just the way I like it. We would return on Sunday for some more racing and to meet up with a TrackChasing pal from the east coast.
Guy & Pam Smith 2012 Summary
2012 New Tracks--Guy 59 / Pam 50
2012 Event-- Guy 85 / Pam 52
2012 Total Tracks-- Guy 89 / Pam 55
2012 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 6 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,477 / Pam 837
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