2014 TrackChaser Report #40--Hopkins Co Fairgrounds, KY
After a race in Indiana on Thursday (original plan Kentucky), and a race in Illinois on Friday (original plan Arkansas), we needed to choose a Saturday track. The original plan was Mississippi, a new state for Jeff. But with Mike not feeling well and Jeff not on the trip, we looked for something closer. We could have stayed in Illinois, followed Dave to Missouri, or went closer to our Sunday destination in Tennessee, but we ended up in Kentucky.
After seeing a good bullring TQ show on Thursday at Rushville, we went with another TQ bullring two days later. The Rushville show was a Midwest TQ Midget Racing League event, while Saturday was a Terry Eaglin King of the TQ Midgets show. We were originally scheduled to go to one of their shows on Thursday, but it was canceled. So I was a little leery of committing to them on Saturday, but I called Corey Eaglin on Saturday morning and he said the show was on. Besides, we had the Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway as a good backup plan just an hour away.
I sure didn't know much about the location, the Hopkins County Fairgrounds, As far as I recalled, they had not had oval track racing there in the past, just a figure-8 race during a demo derby during the fair about five or six years ago. We found a flyer for the event on line, and it did say that this would be the "1st Time" for Midget Auto Racing there.
Wondering if they would have enough cars to race, as this was the only division racing, (the only other event being three classes of kid bicycle races), we arrived in town and drove to the fairgrounds. We were pleased to see at least ten TQ's already in the pits hours before race time, one parked out by the road, and the marquee advertising the races that evening as well as a movie in the events center.
Feeling confident, we again locked into a room, knowing that worst case we would head to KY Lake an hour away. After the worst Ponderosa dinner ever, we returned to the track at 6:30 for the 7:30 start. I was initially happy with the number of cars in the parking lot, until realizing they were all coming for the movie. There were now a dozen TQ's with number 13 soon arriving, but no fans. After talking to a couple of the drivers and having them assure me they would be racing no matter the crowd, I bought a $10 ticket and headed inside. The guy selling the tickets said he didn't even know about the race until the night before when they asked him to sell tickets, and he is on the fair board. That's sure not a good sign.
The track was a nice 1/6th mile flat oval with long straights and tight but wide turns. It was paperclip shaped. There was a large aluminum grandstand on the frontstretch, with the pits being on the backstretch. There was great lighting and a great public address system. The Boy Scouts had set up a refreshment stand with dogs for a buck, and burgers and fried bologna sandwiches for $2. I so wished I would have skipped Ponderosa and been able to support the Scouts more, as I am an Eagle Scout myself.
The King of the TQ Midgets schedule for 2014 changes often, but currently shows 20 events at 11 tracks in four states, not counting those that have been cancelled, to be determined at a later date, or TBA whose dates have already passed. They raced the night before at Chandler, IN. This coming week they are racing in North Vernon, IN and Roger said he was planning to go.
Although they advertised racing at 7:30, that is when they started warmups. The cars were split into two groups, and each group got two hotlap sessions for a total of four. This was indeed the first race ever on this track. I think they had just built it that morning. But they did a great job, thanks to the help from the TQ guys, as it was a very racy little track.
The show consisted of hotlaps, qualifications, two heats, a dash, and a 20-lap feature. The paid attendance totaled nine, and that included Mike and I. No kids showed up for the bike races. I would say it might not be looking good for future races, although I'm sure if they raced during the fair they would do much better and introduce the sport to a lot more people. After the two heats, the ambulance was called away and that led to a delay. At that time, two of the nine fans left.
The 20-lp feature paid $500 to win and as the announcer said, "national points". The Thursday race being canceled, this was the only Kentucky race of the year for the group so it was also for the "Kentucky State TQ Midget Championship". The feature race was real good, with three different leaders and two lead changes under green. Four days later the group website has not been updated with results, but I think the winner's name was Matt Hedrick, the last car to arrive.
The race ended just before 10:00. I enjoyed the nearly "private showing" race event as our second stand-alone TQ Midget race of the weekend. But no way it should have taken 2.5 hours for two heats, a dash, and a 20 lap feature.
Sunday we headed to Memphis for the USAC Silver Crown race on the Memphis International Raceway, and the NASA Sports Cars across the street on the road circuit. On the way, we learned that the USAC race was rained out but figured the road racing would run rain or shine. We didn't realize the record amount of rain and flooding that they had in Memphis. We got to the track and found flooding everywhere on the grounds, including several of the entrances. There would be no racing this day. Too bad, as the entire trip was planned around seeing the USAC Silver Crown Series, my favorite. Oh well, try again next time.
At the halfway point in the year I am still not halfway to my goal of 50 new tracks this year, so I finally might not make it, being ten tracks behind last year at this time. I still owe Pam seven new ballparks before worrying about my own new tracks. And it should be a very busy fall at school.
This weekend Pam and I are headed to New Jersey, New England, and Quebec for baseball and racing, but the majority goes to the baseball games this trip.
2014 Guy & Pam Smith Summary
2014 New Tracks--Guy 24 / Pam 14 (Goal 50)
2014 Events--Guy 36 (2 tracks at Salem, 3 at Toledo, 2 at Skyline) / Pam 23
2014 Total Tracks--Guy 39 (2 shows at Sun Bank Arena) / Pam 25
2014 New Rinks--Guy 7 / Pam 7 (Goal 7)
2014 New Ballparks--Guy 5 / Pam 6 (Goal 13 for Pam)
Lifetime Total Tracks--Guy 1,562 / Pam 894