After a successful Adult Handler's Race on Friday night at Blue Mountain Speedway, I figured on Saturday I might as well go for another at West End. My previous two Handler's Races were also in October, at Keystone and Phoenix, back in 2009. That shouldn't come as a surprise, since Handler's Races are usually held on the last event of the season. Keystone was quite a TC gathering, as joining me that day were Mike Knappenberger, Gordy Killian, Will White, Pam Smith, Virginia Schuler, Paul Weisel, and Russ Currie (Did I miss anyone?) Currie is the King of the Handler's Races to date, having seen them at Garden State, Sandstone, Norlebco, and Oaklane, in addition to Schnecksville. Big Metz has a Dorney Park Handler's Race track dating all the way back to 1958!
I had mentioned earlier that West End had Handler's Races and that I had yet to make it to see one, and I decided that this weekend would be as good as any. So it became Handler's Race weekend for me. West End actually had five of them scheduled for this season. I don't know that I've seen any track have more than one before this year at West End. It seemed like a slam dunk, but in TrackChasing, that is often not the case. I contacted Kris, the club secretary, who told me that of the previous scheduled four, only one was held. But she felt confident that this being the season finale, they would have another. The week before the race Kris emailed me and told me that they had 8-10 that had signed up for the Handler's Race the following weekend. That seemed safe.
It's almost a shame the two Handler's Races were this weekend, as previous Handler fans Pam Smith, Paul Weisel, Gordy Killian, and Bing Metz were all out of state. We did assemble a TC group that consisted of myself, Rick Schneider, Edward Corrado, Mike Knappenberger, and Jeff Sands. Russ Currie was with Bruce and Pat Eckel over at Borger's, and hoped to make it to West End in time for the Handler's Races. Will came out for Blue Mountain the night before, but was fighting a cold and decided to rest up for Sunday's track.
The races were scheduled for 4:00 and got started about 15 minutes late. There were nine classes of Quarter Midget races, but unlike the night before at Blue Mountain, they did not run features only on "Ghosts and Goblins" night. As always, admission was free. They ran one heat for each of the nine classes and then it was intermission.
They announced that the intermission would be an hour, so that the kids could all go trick or treating in the pits. That was all Jeff could take, and he flew out, giving up the West End track and canceling plans to get another new track the next afternoon. I commented I should go to Dunkin Donuts for a coffee run, and that lit up Edward enough to bribe me to make the run and bring back coffee for everyone. I didn't try any of the food, but Edward had a "West Ender" that looked amazing.
The nine Quarter Midget features were next, and after eight of the nine, it started to rain. We were quite deflated at the prospect of being there over four hours and not get to see the Handler's Races. But luck stayed with us and the rain stopped and racing resumed. The final Quarter Midget feature was in the books, and we thought it was finally time for the Handler's Races.
Although the announcer had confirmed to Mike earlier that there would be two Handler's Races, one for moms and one for dads (like at Blue Mountain the night before), she and the scorer packed up the microphone, turned off the public address system, and headed for the pits. Again cause for concern. The club VP came over to us and assured us the Handler's Race was still planned, but first they had to have a final "Graduation Race" for those kids who by next year would be too old for Quarter Midgets. I thought they should have just graduated them right to the Handler's Race, but for some reason they didn't ask me for my opinion. Lou, the VP, went off in search of whatever was necessary to get the p.a. system working again, as another rain cell closed in.
The Graduation Race was finally completed, and we confirmed that Russ Currie was still at Borger's, who also had a rain delay. He would not make it to West End this year. The VP called all the Handler's who were racing out to the track for their race, but when 11 responded they sent the moms back in and returned to the original format of having Twin 20's.
To make an already long story short, both Handler's Races beat the rain and us four TC's were the only four people left in the stands when the final race was run. Two weeks ago, Pam and I came to West End for the Quarter Midget show and the entire show was over in an hour and 45 minutes. This week, the Handler's Races were run in the sixth hour. It's all part of the game.
As soon as the show ended I headed for home. Less than a mile from the track, the road was soaking wet. It was obvious that a hard shower had passed within sight of the track, while still missing it. We all got lucky again. I have one more Handler Race track on my HitList at this time, the Norlebco track that Rusty had visited first and that Mike and Jeff visited this year. They had their Handler's Race not at the end of the season, but in the middle in July. I opted for Tennessee and Kentucky that weekend. I sort of regret it now. Hopefully next year for Norlebco, and hopefully next year another Handler's Race at West End with Pam. A long night, but I always enjoy Quarter Midgets, and spending this one with TC friends Edward, Rick, Mike, and for awhile Jeff; made this a very good day, even though we felt bad that Rusty didn't make it.
2013 Guy & Pam Smith Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 56 / Pam 41
2013 Events-- Guy 84 / Pam 51
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 87 / Pam 55
2013 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 6 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,533 / Pam 878