2013 TrackChaser Report #11--Birch Run Expo Center, MI
Last Saturday Pam and I went to the fifth and final race in the first season of the Midwest Indoor Racing Series. In their five race series, they visited four different indoor venues in Michigan. We were going to go to the Birch Run Expo Center in December, but predicted bad weather on the way caused us to decide not to risk it. Luckily for me, that this was the one location that had a second race this season.
With Pam on Spring Break, we left as soon as I got home from work on Friday, going as far as Mercer, PA that night. On Saturday we made the second half of the drive to Birch Run.
Heats began at 3:15, with the doors opening only 15 minutes earlier. We arrived just in time for the first race. Admission was $12, with parking an additional $5. The track was an odd shaped trioval for the first race, and that did not work out well. So for this event they redesigned the track into a circle, and everyone said the racing was much better. In fact, one official told me he thought it was the best track of any of the five.
The set up was pretty cool. Upon entering the building, there was a ticket counter to the right, and a snack bar straight ahead. To the left was the South Arena where the races were, and to the right was the North Arena where the cars were pitted.
Car counts were down a bit, but still over 100 total entries. There were ten Mini Sprints. All ran wingless, and nine ran with the wings. There were six Mini Cup cars, five Champ Karts, and only four Legends/Dwarf Cars. Of course there were the usual plethora of flat karts, mowers, and quarter midgets.
We did not see anyone else from the TrackChaser group there, as Allan Brown, Nancy Brown, Dale O'Brien, Roger Ferrell, and Rick Schneider went to the December race.
The Mini Sprints started the show, and it was quite loud in the arena. I knew that wouldn't be a problem for most of the classes, but the fumes were. The arena was not designed for events that needed this level of ventilation. There were small paddle fans on the ceiling, and only a couple of doors that could be opened. The fumes were pretty bad, and I initially thought that it would be a short night at the races for us.
However, when we bought our tickets I saw they had upstairs seating for just $6 more. They said it was in the "suits". The main point was that it was behind glass. That should take care of both the noise and fume problems. I went to the ticket counter and asked if I could upgrade my tickets, and they had no problem with that. So after paying the additional $12, we headed upstairs. There were only 50 tickets available for the upstairs seating, and I was surprised that for the heats there were only about a dozen people up there. The crowd in the main grandstand was very good, almost full by feature time. For that small price difference, the experience was much, much, more enjoyable.
The heats started and finished right on time. We headed out at that point to find some dinner. We usually like to try local restaurants, and picked Tom's. Little did we know that it was famous, having been featured on the Food Network's "Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives" show. Apparently their BLT features a pound of bacon, and their banana split has a half gallon of ice cream. We had neither, but the pork chop dinner and the fish and chips were very good. Next time I want to try it for breakfast.
Back at the Expo Center, the features began right on time at 7:00. There were still only about two dozen people watching from the much more comfortable upstairs location. There were a total of 18 features. I enjoyed the wingless Mini Sprint race, which had only two early cautions then 30 straight laps of the three top cars racing through traffic. The winged Mini Sprint race was the last race of the night and the season, ending just minutes after 11:00.
I am sure that if we had stayed in the main arena, the fumes would have driven us out much earlier in the program. They announced the first three races in next season's schedule. The first is in Flint, the one arena of the four that I have not been to. So I'm planning on making that race at the end of October, and will hope that they add another arena or two to fill out the planned eight race schedule.
On Sunday we drove from Birch Run to home, both having to go to school and teach our scheduled classes Monday morning.
Mike and I are planning to go somewhere for the Easter weekend, but our planned track canceled on Monday. So we are revamping our plan. Looks like we will likely end up at the wingless sprint race at Brownstown, as neither of us have been to that track.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 7 / Pam 4
2013 Events-- Guy 11 / Pam 5
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 11 / Pam 5
2013 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 1 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,484 / Pam 841
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