2013 TrackChaser Report #51--Sand Lake, MI
On July 4th, me, Mike, and Jeff "The Impresario" Sands woke up in Ohio. We had seen a good 360 Sprint Car race the night before at Waynesfield. Our plan for Thursday was the MTQRL TQ Midget event at Rushville. I had been planning on going to this race all year. Unfortunately, the weather did not look good. The hourly forecast called for rain in early afternoon, then clearing. In the evening, the chance of thunderstorms was 60%, climbing to 80% overnight. With the waterlogged tracks in Indiana being forced to cancel for wet grounds so often this year, Rushville seemed risky in several different ways. We did have a backup plan in that direction. An hour and a half to the west, USAC Sprints were running at Lincoln Park. Both Mike and I had been there, but it should be a great show, and Jeff had not been to that track. The rain did not appear to be that far to the west. We could go to Rushville and if they rained out, head to Putnamville for USAC where Bruce and Pat Eckel could save us seats.
However, with no new tracks planned for the weekend for either Mike or me (I to Williams Grove and Pocono, Mike to Watkins Glen, Fulton, and Pocono) we decided to play it safe so that we would be sure to see at least one new track for the week. Instead of heading to Indiana, we turned north to Michigan, where UMS was having an off-road derby at the Sand Lake 4th of July Celebration. Of course, they did get the TQ race in at Rushville, but it just leaves me that one for another time so no worries.
The race at Sand Lake was scheduled for 6:00. With such an early start, we thought we might be able to catch the second half of another race somewhere later that evening. Mike put it out there on Twitter, but there didn't seem to be any other tracks running in that area of Michigan, so we were at Sand Lake for the duration.
Both parking and the festival were free, and admission to the races was $10. There were bleachers available, but only three rows high. There was also ample (or so we thought initially) room for lawn chairs and blankets. We got in the top row of the bleachers. Also in the top row was Rick "The Champ" Schneider, who welcomed me in joining him in the 1500 track club. The general admission area got so packed, that they invited anyone that wanted to sign the pit release and go over to the bleachers and hillside on the pit side of the track at no additional charge. This type of racing is absolutely flourishing.
The track was a flat dirt oval, probably about a 1/7th or 1/8th mile. They had two classes, the small cars which are the main division, but also the big eight cylinder cars. They had about ten of the big cars, but over 30 of the four cylinder cars. The show started with a stupid burnout competition, where local yokels ruin the tires on their street vehicles for a chance to win $100. The grease monkey sitting in front of us, exploded a $200 tire on his camaro, then raced around the dirt on the expensive rim, but took home the first prize and the trophy so it was all worthwhile.
The first race was a combo race for women and rookies. That one was 13 laps, with the winner earning a spot in the feature. Then came four heats for the small cars, followed by two heats for the big cars. The small car heats were ten laps, the big car heats 13 laps. The non qualifiers from the rookie and women's race could also run in one of the heats. After another stupid event called "spectator games", where people drive their street cars one at a time around the track blindfolded while a passenger directs them, they had consies, followed by Tuff Truck, the two features, and fireworks. The small car feature paid $1,000 to win for junk cars. How many Modified drivers are racing for less than this on a weekly basis? Thousands!
The most interesting race was a big car heat that had a 70 year old driver. He jumped the initial start, and not only did they make him start AT the back, they made him start BACKWARDS! He still came back for second though. We later found out he is the father of the man in charge of Unique Motor Sports.
After we were finished at the races, we headed back to the carnival. Mike and I had one of the tallest ice cream cones ever, which of course Mike put on Twitter for all of his "fans" to admire. We had a good time at Sand Lake. Well, I'm not as sure about Jeff, as this was his first off road derby. I told him after a hundred or so, he would learn to love them. That expression was priceless! And so it goes, Mike and I did get one new track for the week, and I had a good time on my first trip with Jeff. Our traveling team just got stronger. Again. On Friday we would head for home, another great trip in the books.
Guy & Pam Smith 2013 Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 35 / Pam 22
2013 Events-- Guy 49 / Pam 26
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 50 / Pam 27
2013 Additional new Non TC Tracks--Guy 4 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,512 / Pam 859
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]