2013 TrackChaser Report #94--Pocono Mixed Rallycross Circuit, PA
On Friday night Pam and I were again in the stands with her brother Bruce as the Catasauqua High School Rough Riders blew out Northern Lehigh 40-0 to go to 9-0 for the season. One more to go for a second straight undefeated league season.
On Saturday morning, Pam and I headed 15 minutes north to the Pocono Raceway, for our fifth different TC track at the facility. It was actually the 7th different Pocono track where I have seen racing.
The event was the first European Rallycross sanctioned by American Rally Cross. As per rallycross tradition, this was a mixed surface course. At 1.4 miles in length, they made the same mistake made at New Jersey Motorsports Park; the course was too darn big. I think they wanted to incorporate a part of the Superspeedway so they would have a chance to drive it, but it would have been better had they stayed on the infield portion of the South-East Road Circuit. They did have a dirt section that also included the Joker, another staple of Euro Rallycross.
There was a large TrackChaser group turnout. Joining Pam and I were Will White (and his mom), Paul Weisel and Bing Metz, Virginia Schuler, Mike Knappenberger, Edward Corrado, Russ Currie, Chris Tyrrel, and Rick "The Champ" Schneider. Out of the 11 TrackChasers that I saw, I think we came in nine different cars, as only Pam & I, and Paul & Bing, drove together.
Of course getting a new track so close to home was nice, but overall the event was disappointing. The entry list only showed 12 cars, and on race day only ten were in action. There were four classes: Limited Two Wheel Drive, Super Two Wheel Drive, Limited All Wheel Drive, and Super All Wheel Drive. The car counts for the above classes were 5, 2, 1, and 2.
The schedule showed practice at 9:00, qualifying at 10:00, the first round of four heats at 11:00, the second round of four heats at 12:00, lunch hour at 1:00, the third round of four heats at 2:00, last chance races at 3:00, and the main event at 4:00.
Pam and I showed up a bit before 10:00, so we would be in time to see the qualifying. Admission was $10. Our plan was to watch the eight heats before the lunch break, then head to Bloomsburg U. for their game vs. Cheney. Despite the low number of entries and the detailed advance schedule, the show was way behind schedule. It was quite cold, but we did enjoy a breakfast sandwich from the Pocono cafeteria. After going to this track for 40 years, it was the first time I was ever inside.
The track was so cold (Late October in the Pocono Mountains, duh!) that the timing loops wouldn't work. They had to use blowtorches to warm up the track in the area of the loops. Then they had some slow drive-around-the-course laps. Next came three practice sessions, during which time Will and I headed out to the "VIP Spectator Area" so we could get a good view of the dirt section of the course. There were some stands in the regular spectator area, but you could see almost none of the dirt section as it was at a lower elevation behind a hill.
Nobody knew what was going on, so after the practice I headed to the garage area to ask. The drivers didn't know either. In fact, they didn't even know before the practice if it would be practice or qualifying, since they were so behind schedule. One of the drivers told me they would find out when they got out on the track. The drivers asked for the qualifying to be two laps, but were overruled by the organizers who said it must be five. Instead of grumbling, the drivers should have all just pulled in after two laps. Guess they didn't think of that.
They combined classes, and planned two races per round instead of four. The scheduled 20 races was now ten, and our planned eight before lunch break was now four. Most of our group moved into the infield VIP section, while a few of us stayed in the main spectator area. I had already taken pictures of the dirt section during warmups, so I decided to video the heats from the bleachers. I was running back and forth to the garage to try to find out what was going on, telling all in the spectator area and calling Mike to report to those in the VIP section. An official told me that the heats would be three laps, and they were still planning on running the first two rounds before lunch break as planned. Neither happened.
They lined up five cars and took the green from a standing start for the first-ever Rallycross race at Pocono. They headed down the Superspeedway straight and into turn one and two. They exited the Superspeedway onto the South-East Circuit, then left the tarmac onto the dirt section before returning to the South East pavement and then back to the 2.5 mile oval. The race was pretty good, with some decent battles. It ended up being five laps, not three that I was told as the cars were lining up. The second heat had the other five cars scheduled, but one didn't race so there were only four. One crashed on the first lap and blocked a chicane set up on the Superspeedway, so after one lap the race was red flagged. The other three lined up for a restart, but when they realized it would take time to clear off the disabled car, they decided to forget about the restart and break for lunch, sending the three back to the garage.
At this time it was 1:00, the scheduled lunch break time. Apparently that was the one part of the schedule they decided had to be adhered to. Pam and I, as well as others, headed for the exit at that time. Instead of seeing eight races out of 20 before lunch, we saw one complete race (plus one lap of the second). By the second round they were down to seven total cars, and by the third round they were down to six. Obviously, no last chance races were needed, and there were six cars for the main event, four of which were feature winners in each class.
It didn't go as well as hoped, that's for sure. But I'm not sure if it was enough to try to build on and have another next year, or if European Rallycross was a once and done event at Pocono. This was my 198th track in PA. Could 200 tracks in a single state be possible next season?
We made it to Bloomsburg only four minutes into the game, and the D2 Nationally fifth ranked Huskies made easy work of the Wolves of Cheney to move to 8-0. A big test for Bloom this Thursday is a nationally televised game against Shippensburg, who eliminated Bloom from the playoffs last year. I'm looking forward to that. Ironically, both towns have active speedways.
On Sunday Pam and I, as well as Mike, were the guests of "The Impresario" Jeff Sands at "his table", for a Peter Wolf (J. Geils Band) concert at the Sellersville Theater. Outstanding evening. Thanks so much for taking us, Jeff. This coming weekend, Jeff is sponsoring The Tubes at the same location. For me last weekend: Football, race, football, concert. Another great one spent with Pam.
This week is move week for mom. I've been working very hard to make that happen and happen as smoothly as possible for her and my aunt. With the move this week, I'm taking the coming weekend off for an old-fashioned "boys night out" road trip to the south with The Man of Steel. Looking forward to it, because when we get home it's back to work cleaning out the Allentown house and getting it sold as soon as possible. I think my next overnight trip and new track after this weekend will be The Bahamas in December with Pam, Roland, Will, and Edward. In the meantime, looking forward to more football games and a few local races. It's a beautiful fall in the Pocono Mountains.
2013 Guy & Pam Smith Summary
2013 New Tracks--Guy 59 / Pam 43
2013 Events-- Guy 87 / Pam 53
2013 Total Tracks-- Guy 91 / Pam 57
2013 Additional Non TC Tracks--Guy 6 / Pam NA
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,536 / Pam 880