2013 TrackChaser Report #2--Kellogg Arena, MI
During the winter, it's always good to plan extra trips, as the weather usually causes some to be canceled at the last minute. In December, Pam and I planned to go to race #2 of the Midwest Indoor Racing Series, held at the Birch Run Expo Center. Bad weather intervened, and we decided not to make the trip. So we set our sights on race #3, at the Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek, MI.
It was a warm week in the northeast, not good for the ice racers but good for traveling to Michigan. Pam is still off for her semester break at university, so she was keen on going along. What could be better than a weekend on the road with my best love? As soon as I got home from work on Friday we hit the road, traveling as far as Mercer, PA where we stayed for the night.
On Saturday we completed the drive to Battle Creek. If the best thing about the TrackChasing hobby is Pam and I being on the road together, the next best thing is traveling with friends or in this case, meeting up with them at the races. We arrived at 3:00, just as the heats were scheduled to begin, and found Indiana's Roger Ferrell and New York's Rick Schneider already there. With Pam and I from Pennsylvania, we were soon joined by home-stater Allan Brown and the five of us sat together to make for a four-state TrackChaser group for the evening. As the show stretched for more than seven hours, we were thankful to have good friends to sit with and "bench race", to use a term that drives Pam batty. Missing from this race after having attended the previous series event in December were Wisconsin's Dale O'Brien and Nancy Brown, who was on vacation in the northern part of the state. Allan came home a day early for his third consecutive indoor new track.
The track was a tenth of a mile flat concrete oval. Admission was $12, with parking an additional $5. All seats were on one side of the track, and a large crowd was on hand. They originally had the bottom six rows roped off for safety, but when the crowd got too big all of a sudden rows 4, 5, and 6 seemed safe enough and they moved the rope down three rows. The frontstretch came too close to the seats to be able to see from anywhere, and it was quite annoying to not be able to see the start/finish line.
Heat racing started pretty much on time, with the features starting twenty minutes late. The adult small car classes included wingless Mini Sprints (about 15), winged Mini Sprints (also about 15), Legends (six), and Mini Cup cars (7). There were also various classes of flat karts, quarter midgets, and lawn mowers. In all, they had 128 entries, which made for a lot of racing.
The Mini Sprints had a dash and two heats for each class, with the wingless group running a last chance consie as well. With the two features, it made for a total of nine Mini Sprint races on the night. The Legends and Mini Cups both had a heat and a feature. The flat karts ran two sets of heats. There were two intermissions during the show. Food selection was somewhat limited and expensive. I had a Pepsi and a popcorn for $8.25, a slice of Hungry Howie's pizza for $4 that was not all that great, and some cinnamon almonds for $7.
The racing was OK, better than I expected. Rick said he thought it was the worst of the three tracks so far in the series. We watched every race for seven hours, missing only the final race of the night, the feature for the winged Mini Sprints in hour eight. We headed out at the beginning of their 50 lapper to beat the crowd out of the parking deck and earning the evil eye from "Four Oh" Ferrell. :) And seven plus hours of racing was not enough for Roger, who was headed to BMI Indoor Speedway the following day.
They announced that race #4 of the series would be on February 2 at the Delta Plex in Grand Rapids. Having been there, if I go indoor racing that weekend it will be the boss' show at the much closer Atlantic City Boardwalk Hall and not the Delta Plex.
Sunday was an easy drive home in the warm weather. The audio book of choice for the trip was "Secrets to the Grave" by Tami Hoag, although we didn't get through too much of it, spending most of the time listening to the NFL playoffs on satellite radio. We were home by 6:00, which gave me an evening of relaxation before starting another full work week.
It was another wonderful weekend spent together with Pam. I loved every minute of it. The Kellogg Arena was my first new track of the year, and the best thing about it is I'm hoping to do it another 49 times in 2013. I love the hobby just as much now as I did 30 plus years ago and still have that boyish enthusiasm for the travel, the friendships, the new tracks, and the racing. I can't wait!
But I will have to wait a little while, as that was the last race I have planned for this month. One of Pam's Christmas presents from me was Hershey Bears hockey tickets for the Outdoor Classic this coming weekend. Racing is not out of the question for the following weekend, the final weekend of the month, but I just don't have anything lined up at the moment. Perhaps someone will find something for us. If not, we will probably try another hockey arena and balance out the month with two race weekends and two hockey weekends.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 1 / Pam 2
2013 Events-- Guy 2 / Pam 2
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 2 / Pam 2
2013 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 0 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,478 / Pam 839
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