Will and Other Interested TrackChasers:
This past weekend was my annual long weekend on the road with Gordy. I said that I would go on the trip if we would go to Emo, Ontario on Saturday night. Gordy could plan the rest. Gordy agreed to those terms, and we were off.
I drove to Gordy’s house in Sinking Springs, then we drove to Philadelphia to the airport. The flight to Minneapolis was delayed over two hours, but it didn’t really matter as we didn’t have any races scheduled for Wednesday anyway.
I had no idea where we were going to the races, as I left it all up to Gordy. I figured we were going somewhere in Minnesota, but I was wrong. Gordy said we needed to go to North Dakota. Whatever. We ended up in the town of Wishek, where Tri County Speedway was having one of only seven races this year. This was the opening night of the fair, yet they had none of the fair operating yet?
We confirmed that they were racing and headed back into town and got a room in the only hotel. We had some time so we went to the restaurant next door for dinner. You know you are in rural country when the menu features “Gizzards and Toast” for $5.15. We each had steaks.
Race admission was just $8. They had Midwestern Modifieds, WISSOTA Street Stocks, and Legends. There were only 26 cars total. Ten legends, nine mods, and seven stocks. However, some of the best Street Stock drivers in the country were there. I know this because the announcer told us.
They had two legend heats of five cars each, and two heats for the other classes with all the cars racing both times. They also added a Legends trophy dash, but they had no trophy to give the winner.
The track was a neat little dirt oval, but high winds all day dried it out and it was dusty, blowing right into the stands. The racing was good and clean, not like that in the northeast. There were only three cautions total in all three features, and the show was over by 10:00. They had a good crowd.
We drove north through North Dakota. We stopped at Geographical Center, and took some pictures at the middle point of North America. I impressed Gordy by eating an entire pizza and order of wings at Pizza Hut. He didn’t think I could do it. Even added a DQ sundae to boot.
We arrived at Thunder Mountain Speedway in Bottineau at about 3:30. We looked at the track and then headed back into town. When we returned at 5:45 for the 7:00 start, the gate was now locked and the place looked deserted. Panic! We drove around to the pits and found them open and six cars on hand. Relief. They told us at the pit gate that we were too early for the spectator gate to be opened. Only 75 minutes before race time?
On tap tonight were IMCA Modifieds, hobby stocks, and bombers. Admission was $7 and there were only about 150 people on hand. However, to our surprise and delight, one of those 150 was our own Ed Esser. We had a nice time sitting and chatting with Ed.
This was one of only eight shows at the track this year. This was also the first track I have ever been to outside of Alaska that runs night shows and has no lights. I guess that is why their season ends in mid August.
Car counts were small. There were only 15 cars total; six bombers, five IMCA Modifieds, and four hobbies. Each ran a heat, the top two classes ran a dash, and each ran a feature. The track was nice again tonight. We all thought it was going to be dusty but they knew what they were doing and it was very racy with no dust. There was only one yellow the entire night, and that with only two laps to go in the final race of the night, the modified feature. And even that one wouldn’t have been necessary as the car coasted back to the pits without assistance. The entire show was over by 9:00.
We headed north to Canada, crossing the border at Peace Gardens.
We got an early wake up call and after the obligatory stop at Tim Horton’s, headed north in Manitoba to Gimli, where the Winnipeg sports car club was running at Gimli Motorsports Park. Admission was $10. These guys have it figured out much better than the go kart guys. Where the kart guys want to practice three times, then qualify, and only race once; these guys do the opposite. They practice once, qualify, then race three times. That was lucky for us, as it meant they had the first set of races before lunch break.
The track is nothing special, as it’s a fairly flat road course. There is also a drag strip. One good thing is that we could see the entire course from the stands. When the races started, Gordy and I were the only ones in the eight sections of stands, and even Gordy came along grudgingly. The sports cars had two classes, IT and GT; but they raced together as the Closed Wheel class. There were about 14 cars in that race. The open cockpit class raced second, and they had seven cars. We left after one set of races, since we had a long drive to Emo.
We arrived at Emo about two hours before race time. Emo is the only one of the three tracks that used to exist in the far western part of Ontario that is still active. Emo has beautiful and large grandstands. Admission was $10. They had three divisions: WISSOTA Modifieds, WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, and street stocks. The car count was 33, with ten street stocks, 11 midwest mods, and 12 mods. For the third night in a row the track was nice, although they didn’t get a real good bite on the dirt. Still, it had several usable grooves and no dust. They started a half hour late, and stopped all cars after each yellow, which led us to believe it would be a long night. Thankfully, it was not. Once again the racing was clean and good. The first two features went non stop, and the modified finale had only three yellows. For the third straight night, the show was over by 10:00.
After the races, we crossed back over into Minnesota at International Falls. Yes, all good streaks must end someday. Emo was my 96th different Canada track. That’s a lot of trips to Canada. And this was the first time ever that I was stopped at the border and searched. I didn’t really mind, as I have nothing to hide and am glad to put up with a little hassle to help ensure that our country is safe. However, I do have a bit of a problem that they stop and search the cars of people with proper ID and passports that are entering the country from the north; while at the same time doing little as 12 million undocumented aliens cross into the country from the south.
As my goal for this year was to get to 100 tracks in Canada; I hope to finish that off before going back to school at the end of August. Four to go.
We had a five hour drive back down to Minneapolis. Mike Knappenberger gave us a Jennerstown ISMA report via cell phone. Our flight back to Philadelphia was a little late, the baggage claim took a little longer than normal, the shuttle to the parking lot a little longer than it should have, and the stop at the Wendy’s in Reading took a lot longer than it should and resulted in a Gordy and I being accused of “coping an attitude” by one of the ace employees. Heavy rain after dropping off Gordy slowed me down more, and I didn’t get home until midnight.
There were not a lot of cars at the four tracks, but the three dirt tracks were all good ones and the racing was good, something that doesn’t seem to happen nearly enough anymore. At the four tracks, we saw a total of eleven features, and they had only seven total yellow flags. Try that at Grandview or Middletown. It was special for me to get Emo, as that was the only TrackChaser countable track in the National Speedway Directory in Ontario that I hadn’t been to. The Gimli track was a nice bonus, and put me one closer to the season goal of 100 tracks in Canada. In all of Canada, I have now been to more different tracks than there are active tracks that I have not been to. Pam and I are still the only TrackChasers to have seen races in every Canadian Province. I love Canada.
One of the things that I find most enjoyable is traveling with fellow TrackChasers. Emo was my 30th new track of the year, and only two of those have I gone to alone. And they were both home and back tracks with no overnight stay (Hornet’s Nest and Farmersville). I’ve traveled with Pam, Gordy, Will, and Mike Knappenberger to the other 28 tracks. I almost got racing with Bruce, but I couldn’t accept his offer to travel with him to Summit Point. It’s great to have friends to travel with and share your passions.
It was good spending Friday with Ed Esser. In addition to the people that I have traveled with, I’ve spent the new track time this year with Ed, Roger and Brenda, Allan, Norm, Rick Schneider, Rick Young, Andy Sivi, and Bruce and Pat. I couldn’t be having a more excellent year in both TrackChasing and in general. Thanks to all that have shared track time with me for making it that much more so.
Congratulations for taking over the TrackChaser State Championship lead in Utah. I believe it's your first state title.
This is my annual summer DECA week, which means that race plans are limited. I have two roles in DECA. I am on the board of directors for the state association, and we have one of our three annual board meetings on Thursday and Friday. I also am a chapter advisor, and have two young girls that are my students who are state officers. They have three days of officer training this Wednesday through Friday at Seven Springs Resort. So that makes race chasing almost impossible, and I will lose the chance to get two or three new tracks, ones that always run only this same weekend. Notice I did say almost impossible. There is a slight chance I can sneak away for one race. I will try.
Since I can’t go to Ohio on Tuesday for the figure 8 race because I have to take the two students out to Seven Springs early Wednesday morning, Pam and I will be heading to see Ringo Starr and his All Star Band on Tuesday night. My motto has always been: “Never Pass Up a Chance to See a Beatle”.
Since I will be basically staying home this weekend, it should be a good chance to get to the new Wyalusing Valley track. I also looked at Fairlane Acres this morning for Saturday possibilities. But after having countable racing for six straight weeks, the last week they have results posted for they did not have any Champ Karts in competition. There are no results posted for the two most recent weeks. I don’t know if I want to run all the way down there and maybe have no countable cars. If not, I’m sure I will head to a local race somewhere.
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