- I was able to take 2 trips over my traditional July vacation period, including races at 5 different tracks, of which 4 were new for me.
For the weekend of July 5-7 I headed north, stopping Friday night at Devil's Bowl Speedway in West Haven. My first visit to this location was on June 8, 1991, when I saw Bob Savoie win a CVRA 358ci modified feature. The track was dirt at that time, but switched to pavement a few years ago. With rain encountered on the way to the track, I was glad to see the first race getting underway a minute early at 6:29 pm.
With "Firecracker 44" lappers for both the dirt/asphalt 358ci mods and the late models, plus fireworks, there was a good crowd on hand for the $20. admission program. I think the dirt style mods look good on asphalt and the racing was decent. There were also races for 4 support classes, including a "Monza Style", 2-leg feature for the renegades.
With rain in the area, I was glad when they ran the modified feature before the fireworks, not after as was posted on the web site. With Todd Stone taking the checkers at 9:36, I was almost the only one leaving as an enduro and the fireworks remained. However, about 10 miles down the road I encountered some heavy rain.
Saturday morning I headed farther north, into the province of QuÃ©bec. After trying (and failing) to extract some Canadian cash from a couple of ATM machines along the way, I arrived at Ranch Gagnon in the town of La Guadeloupe. Admission for this round of the Obstacle Course Provincial Championship was $15. Canadian, but luckily for me, they not only accepted my US $20. bill, but gave me a Canadian fiver as change, resulting in a slight advantage to me.
Once through the pits, I had no trouble spotting Roland on the top row of one of the small sets of bleachers. I was glad to be able to spend a nice day out at the races with Roland and there was plenty of catching up to do. Little did we know at the time of the terrible tragedy that took place just hours earlier in the town of Lac-MÃ©gantic (I passed within 20 miles of there on the way to La Guadeloupe) where a number of oil tankers derailed and exploded next to a crowded nightclub.
This was a new location for these races, which were previously held a couple miles away at Domaine La Guadeloupe. I didn't realize this until a day or so before taking the trip. The layout was what I'd guess to be about a 700 meter dirt road course, which is quite large for junk car type races. The action commenced at 11:14 am with the first of 17 heat races, with anywhere from 5 to 11 starters in each race. There were events for 4, 6 and 8 cylinder cars, as well as a 4x4 heat. The only times the races were stopped were once when the leader barrel rolled in turns 1-2 and once when a 4x4 flew off into the weeds along the back part of the track.
I was glad that it remained overcast for most of the day, although the sun did manage to peep through occasionally. This kept it from being terribly hot; nonetheless, my ears, face, neck and especially my knees, were burned from six and a half hours of exposure.
After the heats, which concluded at 2:30, they went almost immediately into (I believe) 8 consies. The rough track really took its toll, with many lost wheels to show for it, not to mention some aggressive driving. It was alot of fun though and we both enjoyed the day. The first final took the green at 4:16 with 12 starters. We watched the first 2 finals before continuing our conversation a while longer in the car park.
At this point, Roland was off to find dinner, followed by the races at nearby East Broughton. As there were no "new" tracks I could reach that evening, I returned to the state of Vermont for a repeat visit to Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford. My first visit to this little dirt oval was on August 21, 1993, when I arrived in time to see a couple of features after coming from Nor-Way Pines.
The parking lot was nearly full for the holiday weekend program, which included a visit by the SCoNE 360ci sprint cars, as well as extra distance features. For some reason I was thinking they started at 7:00, but it turned out to be 6:00, so I missed more of the races than expected. Admission for this special show was $13., but I was only charged $10. I don't know if they took 3 bucks off because I arrived late, or because they gave me the $10. senior price, but either way I wasn't going to argue.
There was a good crowd on hand and they were under a caution in the 40 lap sportsman mod feature when I entered and took my spot, standing behind people on lawn chairs behind the seats at the 4th turn end of the track. It was as dusty as I remembered it from my 1993 visit, but it was good to see that the track seems to be doing well. There were at least 22 DIRTcar sportsman modifieds, 20 sportsman coupes and 16 SCoNE sprints on hand, plus 3 other support classes.
They have done a great job building up the sportsman coupes in recent years and I loved seeing the field of these beautiful cars in action in their 30 lap feature. They did have long turnaround times between features as they talked to the top 3 finishers in each one, which helped to drag out the show. The 25 lap sprint feature followed the coupes and ended at 9:57. I then headed out with 3 more features to be run. All in all I enjoyed Bear Ridge, despite the gritty dust.
Sunday I found myself in West Lebanon, NY, for action on the newest track at that location. Lebanon Valley Go-Kart Speedway is a small, highbanked, dirt oval situated at the east end of the property that also includes a 1/2 mile, highbanked, dirt oval and a 1/4 mile paved dragstrip. I had previously seen racing on those 2 tracks, as well as the paved oval that was located inside the 1/2 mile and ran legends cars in the mid 1990s.
Luckily the concession stand and announcing/scoring tower offer shade to the small sets of bleachers at the kart track, because it was a very hot day. Admission was $10. to the program of a myriad classes of karts and also slinghsots, which is what I came to see. Unfortunately the slingshot field, which I believe was as high as 9 this season, was down to only 3 cars this week. The best thing I can say about this place is I'm glad it's run by Howie Commander. He kept things moving through practice, drivers meeting and the start of racing. I was especially happy they ran the slingshots first.
It was a nice weekend overall, with the worst part coming when I tried to go home. A variety of traffic jams caused it to take me 2 hours longer to get home than it should have.
The next day, July 8, I was off to Philadelphia Airport for my quarterly flight to DFW. This visit to my girlfriend Michelle lasted 6 days and included a number of enjoyable activities. Unfortunately, the new track visit was not one of the more enjoyable among them.
On Thursday, a day in which we had Michelle's 23 year old son with us for the day, we went to Texas Motor Speedway for legends and bandolero races on the inner oval of the superspeedway. I'm always wary when they can't give you an actual starting time for the races. We did arrive earlier than hoped after failing to stop outside the track for dinner. With practice said to be around 6:30 we got there a little after 6. There weren't too many racers on hand (about 23 legends and 9 bandoleros), but they spent a lot of time practicing. I never understand why pavement racers like to spend so much time and money practicing every week.
With the temperature topping the 100 degree mark, sitting in the small bleachers in front of the superspeedway pit road got old pretty quick. By the time they finished practicing we were about ready to leave. Finally at 8:21 the first heat went green. We watched the 2 bandolero heats and the first of 3 for the legends before throwing in the sweat towel and heading for the exit. Since we had failed to get dinner beforehand, Michelle's son, who had beginner's luck at the casino that afternoon, bought us some hotdogs, chips and water at NASCAR prices.
So, we finally visited TMS and scored one of at least 5 countable tracks there.