2013 TrackChaser Report #35--Farwell Fairgrounds, MI
Less than 24-Hours after recording figure-8 track number 200, I was ready to begin the next hundred. After a late night show at Tri City Speedway, Pam and I woke up in Midland, MI on Saturday morning. There is a great walking path there, called the Pere Marquette Rail Trail. It starts at "The Tridge", which is short for Tri-Bridge. It's a three-way wooden footbridge at the point where two rivers converge in downtown Midland. We walked about two and a quarter miles on the very beautiful rail trail, then turned around and walked back.
In the evening we headed to the figure-8 races at the Farwell Fairgrounds. This was a USA Demo Derby sanctioned event. For more than a decade, Allan Brown, Rick Schneider, Roger Ferrell, and Ed Esser have been telling me that this group has the best figure-8 races. Yet until tonight I had never seen one of their F8 events. In TrackChaser terms, I technically have seen a USA figure-8 race before as Mike Knappenberger and I did see a USA show at the Fowlerville Fairgrounds. That event was not considered a F8 race by USA, instead going by the no longer used "Enduro Derby" moniker and was for smaller four cylinder cars. For us though, it was listed as a figure-8 since it did include an at-grade intersection along with the small jumps and turns.
Although the guys tell me I missed this show in its prime, I still thought it was just about the best of any of the traveling fairgrounds F8 groups that I had ever seen. The main class is the eight cylinder big cars, but they are also smart enough to start developing a small car F8 class as well knowing that big car availability will continue to dwindle.
There were 30 of the big cars and ten of the small cars. Admission was a little high, with $12 for a ticket and $2 to park. I enjoy these events so much because there are no warmups, time trials, meaningless heats, unnecessary or intentionally drawn yellows, provisionals, lucky dogs, or any of a number of other examples of happy horseshit that has ruined a lot of weekly short tracks. They started right on time at 7:30. There were five heats for the big cars, each 15 laps, with only the winner to advance to the feature. If you finished fourth, fifth, or sixth; try again next time. Next was the 20-lap main event for the small cars, starting all ten of the four cylinders. There were two more qualifying races, one for all of the second place finishers and one for the third place finishers. The winners of the two last chance races rounded out the seven car feature. The defending champion finished second in both his heat and his last chance race, and watched the main from the pits.
They really race hard and there is a lot of contact, but these are not demolition derbies, they are 100% races without all the yellow flags. They do not have yellows, but they do have red flags for injuries, fires, or broken axles. I think they had three reds in the nine races. After the seven qualifying races and the small car feature, they had an intermission that lasted no more than 15 minutes. At that time, I bought the best fresh cut fries of 2013 to date. Then I bought some more. We had popcorn earlier, and canned pop that was just a buck. As we had gone out to eat in the late afternoon, we did not eat anything else at the track.
There are plenty of seats at the fairgrounds, not in one big grandstand but in quite a few sections of bleachers. They had an excellent crowd at the races, and with such an entertaining show, I can certainly see why. Allan told me he considers this a permanent figure-8 track and I can see why since they have permanent guardrail around the outside of the track and the inside tires appear to stay there. All the refreshment stands are located outside the track on the fairgrounds, and there were at least five of them in operation.
After the short break, they had the 25-lap big car feature. The show was fun from start to finish, and wrapped up at 9:30, a perfect two-hour show tailor made for families. As I've only added the state of Michigan to my HitList this year, I suspect I will see more USA figure-8 shows in the future, although probably not any more in 2013. I'm already looking forward to following their circuit going forward and visiting each and every one of their stops.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 21 / Pam 12
2013 Events-- Guy 34 / Pam 15
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 34 / Pam 16
2013 Additional new Non TC Tracks--Guy 1 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,498 / Pam 849
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