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Race City USA, Hermiston, Oregon - Track #521

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  • Randy Lewis
    Greetings from Hermiston, Oregon, TRAVEL/PEOPLE NEWS People! Yes, people. When you travel the country and the world and spend some time talking to people it
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2001
      Greetings from Hermiston, Oregon,


      People! Yes, people. When you travel the country and
      the world and spend some time talking to people it
      makes life very interesting. After the tragedy of
      September 11 traveling is likely to be much different
      and a lot more inconvenient. People will probably be
      a little different as well.

      This race trip started with a 7:45 a.m. flight from
      the Orange County (John Wayne), California airport. I
      don�t know if you�ve flown since September 11. Carol
      and I were told we needed to arrive 2-2 � hours before
      scheduled departure. We only live 30 minutes from the
      airport. Normally we arrive 30-45 minutes before

      We decided on a 4:30 a.m. wakeup call. We were out of
      the driveway at 5:15 a.m. We arrived at the airport
      at 5:45 a.m. Upon entering the airport parking garage
      all cars were searched by the police. The policeman
      looked in the interior of the car and then had us pop
      the trunk. He asked us where we were going and I
      said, �Portland� and then realized we were really
      headed for Seattle and quickly changed my answer to
      �Seattle�. I�m sure this didn�t sound too impressive
      but it was 5:45 a.m. in the morning! He let us pass.

      Next stop was the Alaska Airlines ticket counter. The
      lady there asked for our identification and asked us
      the typical questions plus a couple of new ones
      including were we carrying any guns, knives, etc.
      Thinking quick on my feet, I answered, �No� to each
      question. While she was asking Carol and I the
      questions I was busily making last minute preparations
      to my checked baggage. I was standing about 8-10 feet
      from the ticket agent. The ticket agent then
      commanded me to stand closer to her so she didn�t have
      to �yell� the questions. So who got up on the wrong
      side of THEIR bed this morning? Anyway, the gate
      agent portion only took 5 minutes.

      Next stop was the metal detector. The Orange County
      airport only has 14 gates. It�s the most traveler
      friendly airport that I know of. But on this morning
      there were more than 200 people lined up to go through
      the metal detectors for just one half of the airport.
      This process took a little longer, maybe 15-20
      minutes. They did make me put my laptop through the
      machine by itself and then did an explosives test on
      it. They wanded Carol.

      The final stop was boarding the plane. This involved
      a third ID check. The terrorists all had IDs and they
      got on the planes. What�s the point of ID checks?
      What�s the point of no curbside checkin when the gate
      agent does exactly the same function? None of these
      particular actions can stop terrorists but they can
      provide a sufficient amount of hassle to the traveling
      public to make them think they�re being protected.

      Once on board the plane there were no special
      references other than the normal announcements. We
      were served our breakfast with plastic serrated
      knives. Carol was served a lemon slice on an 8-inch
      plastic skewer. I thought they were supposed to
      eliminate this stuff?

      We arrived without incident and made it down to the
      Sleep Inn in the Oregon capital of Salem. When we
      checked in I asked the young woman at the desk if she
      could direct me to a golf driving range. Her response
      was, �That�s like where they hit golf balls and
      there�s no golf course right?� My reply, �Ah, yes
      that�s right�. Amazingly she gave me some airtight
      directions to the Cordon Driving range.

      The Cordon Driving range is right out of the movie,
      Tin Cup. It was pretty run down but when I entered
      the loosely named, �Pro Shop� I noticed some brand new
      yellow range ball neatly stacked in three buckets
      labeled �small, medium, large�. When you go to a
      driving range you have to guard against getting golf
      balls that were used before World War II. It looked
      like I was going to be getting brand new range balls!
      I gladly plunked down $6 for a large bucket. At that
      point the lady reached below the desk and produced a
      large bucket of the raunchiest driving range golf
      balls in the state of Oregon if not the entire
      Northwest. �What about the brand new yellow range
      balls you have in the buckets on the counter�, I
      asked? Oh, �those are just for display, no one likes
      to hit yellow range balls�, she said. As she smiled
      sweetly and pocketed my six bucks she reminded me to
      read the long list of rules on the wall behind here.
      Have a nice day! Tiger Woods couldn�t hit one of
      these balls 200 yards. After struggling to hit the
      first few I gave the remainder of my bucket to the guy
      hitting next to me. He seemed pleased.

      We had one more stop on our entertainment agenda
      before getting to Race City USA. We would stop at
      Reser (aka Beaver) Stadium to see the 10th ranked UCLA
      Bruins play the 19th ranked Oregon State Beavers.
      Sports Illustrated had ranked Oregon State #1 in the
      pre-season polls before they lost their opener to now
      11th ranked Fresno State.

      The game was sold out and we didn�t have tickets. Not
      to worry I had my �magic dime�. My magical dime was
      found early this morning during my morning workout
      that included a 30-minute power walk (125-130
      heartbeats per minute) along the streets of Salem. I
      find a lot of money this way and always stop to pick
      it up. I'll have more on the magic dime in just a

      Oregon State�s colors are orange and black. They have
      rabid fans that support their team strongly. Last
      year they went to a BCS bowl game and mauled Notre
      Dame. Oregon State University has almost no parking
      near the stadium that does not require a special
      parking pass. We found one lot at a guy�s house where
      he was selling parking spots for $15 a piece. He
      could park about 20 cars and he had two spots open. I
      was negotiating to get the one spot of the two that
      would not block us in so we could get out after the
      game quickly and on down the road to Hermiston. At
      about that time a second car pulled into the lot.
      This was a car with four UCLA Bruin fans decked out in
      Bruin wear. The guy running the parking lot wouldn�t
      let Bruin fans park in his lot because they were the
      �enemy�!! Although the UCLA guy pleaded his case he
      did not get to park in this lot. About the time I saw
      this I had Carol discreetly hide here UCLA jacket and
      blue hat. I then continued with my best persuasive
      selling techniques and we got the space we wanted but
      with our Bruin identification secretly hidden away.

      Next stop was to get tickets. In small towns there
      usually aren�t as many people selling tickets. At
      Yankee Stadium or Charlotte Motor Speedway there are
      tons of sellers. Usually the scalpers are the �green
      tennis shoe� guys. This observation is compliments of
      longtime friend, Gerry O�Reilly. We immediately came
      across a scalper who had two 50-yard line seats for
      $75 each. In scalper lingo a �50 yard line seat� is
      normally at the 10-yard line. I asked him what was
      the face value of the tickets was. He said $22. He
      then stated that the face value was irrelevant because
      of the demand for this game. There was some logic to
      his point. Since it was a beautiful 70-degree morning
      and there weren�t many ticket sellers I made an
      immediate offer of $50 for each ticket. This was high
      by Oregon standards but mere pocket change for a
      Californian. Another scalper stood nearby observing
      the negotiation. He also had two tickets to sell.
      It�s a scalper etiquette, which is strictly adhered
      too, that one scalper does not infringe on another�s
      deal until it is certain the first scalper�s deal is
      not going to happen. My scalper reduced his price to
      $60 a piece. I told him I would flip him for the
      right to buy the tickets at $50 or $60. He agreed. I
      told him I wanted to use my, �magic dime�. When he
      saw I also had a quarter he told me to use the
      quarter. I insisted on using the �magic dime� for the
      tiebreaker. This time he agreed if he could flip the
      coin. I agreed, but insisted I would call the coin
      heads or tails. He agreed and stated the coin would
      be allowed to hit the ground. I agreed. The flip was
      on. He tossed the coin up two feet above his head and
      as it turned end over end I yelled, �heads�. He bent
      down to see the result and my magic coin had come
      through, it was heads! 50 bucks a ticket. My magic
      dime had created a 200 times return in my first day of
      ownership! We found our seats that were 31 rows from
      the field on the 45-yard line. People in Oregon are
      like the folks in Iowa and Minnesota. They�re just
      too nice and the typical scalping rules of
      exaggeration don�t apply to them.

      I�m happy to report the Bruins dispensed of the
      Beavers by a 38-7 score. The thing I�ll remember most
      about the game is that I sat next to Mel Counts. Some
      of you older sports fans, maybe Bud or Paul, may
      remember Mel was a star at Oregon State University
      where he graduated in 1964, went on to be part of the
      Olympic team (Bill Bradley was a team member) in Tokyo
      and then enjoyed a 12 year career in the NBA. The 7
      foot Mounts was a terrific guy and I enjoyed talking
      sports with him. He�s been selling real estate in the
      Oregon area for the last 24 years. If you need a
      house in Oregon I�ll give you his number.

      Well, if you�ve stuck with me this far you know that
      this was really Carol�s fall football trip more that a
      racing trip. But just to show you what a great wife I
      have she�s agreed to make the drive to Hermiston after
      the game. It turned out to be about 75-80 degrees at
      the game and we were in the direct sun the entire
      game. We got a lot of sun. The game ended at 4 p.m.
      Hermiston is 275 miles from the game in Corvallis,
      Oregon. How many wives/spouses would be up for a
      275-mile drive after being out in the sun all day? My
      wife would. I�m lucky to have �the little
      conservative�!! The drive to Hermiston finishes up
      along I-84 and directly parallels the Columbia River
      Gorge. It�s one of the most beautiful drives I see in
      all of my trackchasing exploits.

      We�ve now driven 561 miles, it�s 7:56 p.m. and we�re
      still about 40 miles from the track. The races start
      at 7 p.m. but the track�s phone contact said their
      racing goes until 10:30 or 11 p.m. We should arrive
      in time to see plenty of action. Carol is driving as
      I dash off these notes.


      Trackchasing is never easy as evidenced by our
      entrance into Hermiston. The town is relatively
      small, just 13,000 residents. It was dark. We were
      following NSD directions and saw a lighted facility in
      the direction of the fairgrounds. Like moths we
      headed for the light. Upon arriving we saw a large
      Super cross motorcycle show in progress. This was not
      what we were after tonight.

      Going on down the road a bit further we did come
      across Race City USA, which is a � mile, asphalt oval.
      At 9:11 p.m. we paid the $7.50 per person admission
      price. As we entered they were just introducing the
      drivers for the first feature of the night, the mini
      stocks. The track was racing three classes and each
      class was scheduled for a 30 lap or 30 minute,
      whichever came first, feature event.

      The facility at Race City is a bit run down. The
      entire joint reminded me of the Oregon Trail Speedway
      in Gering, Nebraska. The old time wooden grandstand
      had just 9 rows. Temps were now cooling off at about
      60 degrees with a slight breeze. I was the only man
      we noticed wearing shorts. The PA system was strong
      and told us about �the clown� who came onto the track
      during stoppages to entertain the crowd. The clown
      pretended to let the air out of competitor�s tires,
      poke holes in the car�s radiators and actually did tie
      balloons onto the car�s spoilers. It was a very rural
      crowd and they seemed to enjoy the clown�s antics.

      With the green flag to the 23 car mini stock feature I
      had my 521st career track and Carol her 102nd. Of
      course Carol has her eyes set on getting to 200 so her
      track list can be posted on the official trackchasing
      web site at www.trackchaser.com.

      Since we hadn�t eaten anything put peanuts and popcorn
      since breakfast it was time to chow down at the Race
      City USA concession stand. You might imagine that a
      rural track wouldn�t have the best of racetrack food.
      For the most part you�d be correct. Carol ordered a
      sausage dog and hot chocolate. The matronly order
      taker immediately yelled at the top of her lungs,
      �Sausage dog and hot chocolate!� just like they do at
      the Waffle House. My first impression was that they
      were going to make this to order. Unfortunately when
      the staff produced Carol�s order in a record three
      seconds I new we were not getting �fresh� product. My
      request for a large diet coke with little ice was
      greeted with a smile and a quick grab of the large
      diet Coke that had been sitting �in line� waiting for
      a taker. Sometimes it�s just hard to get good
      customer service. Well, most of the time it�s hard
      to get good customer service. Most of the time
      people don�t want to pay for good customer service and
      that�s one of the reasons they don�t get it.

      Later in the evening I did need to raid the concession
      stand one more time. As I was entering the place I
      looked down and, to my amazement, a crumpled dollar
      bill was lying on the ground. With no one else around
      I bent down and picked it up. Rather than trying to
      make it grow by 200 times like I did with my �magic
      dime� I invested the dollar in a bowl of chili. The
      order taker wrote �b of c� on my food ticket. I then
      gave the ticket to the matronly lady. She said,
      �What�s this?� I replied, �bowl of chili!� You know
      the drill by now, again at the top of her lungs she
      yelled, �Bowl of chili�. In another three seconds I
      had a bowl of chili!

      The remaining two classes were the super stocks with
      11 cars and the late models with 6 cars. Not too much
      to report with these races. Race City does have a
      traditional asphalt figure 8 track but they were not
      using it tonight. I�m not sure when it was last used.

      The races were over at 10:25 p.m. and Carol and I
      headed off into the cool Oregonian night. The
      odometer showed 603 miles. We�d had a fun day and
      have the sunburn to prove it.

      Remember, if you don�t want the economy to sink around
      you with the corresponding job losses for you and your
      family or friends, then buy an airline ticket, rent a
      hotel room, go to a movie, a game, a race. If you
      pull in your horns not only will you be letting
      American down but also you�ll be missing out on the
      fun things in life. Money is for spending so go for

      Restaurants of the two days: We had to stop at
      Burgerville and have a Colossal Burger as well as a
      Oregon blackberry shake. Although this restaurant
      sounds like it�s out of a Chevy Chase Vacation movie
      it�s very good. Sort of like a northwest version of
      the cultist In n Out burger chain in California.

      Rental Car update: The National Rental Car racing
      Buick Century proved to be a good road car throughout
      the trip.

      New racetracks visited in 2001
      467. Laughlin Event Center, Laughlin, NV (no web
      468. Loc Moran, Mont Carmel, Quebec
      469. Circuit Jacques Rainville, Vanier, Quebec (no
      web site)
      470. Pauline Davis Pavilion, Red Bluff, CA
      471. The Pavilion at the Fairgrounds, Chico, CA (no
      web site)
      472. Baton Rouge Raceway, Baker, LA
      473. Mississippi Motorsports Park, Long Beach, MS
      474. South Alabama Motor Speedway, Opp, AL
      475. Nashville Super Speedway, Smyrna, TN
      476. Beech Bend Raceway (oval track), Bowling Green,
      KY (http://www.beechbend.com)
      477. Beech Bend Raceway (figure 8 track), Bowling
      Green, KY (http://www.beechbend.com)
      478. Soggy Bottom Speedway, Morgantown, KY
      479. Buttonwillow Raceway Park, Buttonwillow, CA
      480. Speedway 90, Beaumont, TX
      481. 105 Speedway, Cleveland, TX
      482 Savannah Speedway, Savannah, MO (no web site)
      483. Winston Speedway, Winston, MO (no web site)
      484. Stuart Speedway, Stuart, IA
      485. Barberton Speedway, Barberton, OH
      486. Eriez Speedway, Erie, PA
      487. Anderson Dry Lake, Lucerne Valley, CA
      488. Perris Auto Speedway-(figure 8 track), Perris,
      489. Dixie Motor Speedway � (figure 8 track), Birch
      Run, MI (http://www.dixiemotorspeedway.com)
      490. Dixie Motor Speedway � (oval track), Birch Run,
      MI (http://www.dixiemotorspeedway.com)
      491. Grand Prix of Cleveland, Cleveland, OH
      492 Painesville Speedway � (oval track),
      Painesville, OH (http://members.tripod.com/pspeedway/)
      493 Painesville Speedway � (figure 8 track),
      Painesville, OH (http://members.tripod.com/pspeedway/)
      494. Angola Motor Speedway, Angola, IN
      495. Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, GA
      496. Dixie Speedway, Woodstock, GA
      497. Rome Speedway, Rome, GA
      (http://www.dixiespeedway.com/) Rome uses the same
      web site as Dixie Speedway.
      498. Holland Speedway (oval), Holland, NY
      499. Holland Speedway (figure 8 track), Holland, NY
      500. Freedom Raceway, Delevan, NY
      501. Allegheny Mountain Raceway, La Mont, PA
      502. McKean County Raceway, East Smethport, PA
      503. Bradford Speedway, Bradford, PA
      504. Ventura Raceway, Ventura, CA
      505. Winnebago County Speedway, Pecatonica, IL (no
      web site)
      506. Boone County Fairgrounds, Belvidere, IL
      507. Slinger Super Speedway, Slinger, WI
      508. Steele County Fairgrounds, Owatonna, MN (no web
      509. Viking Speedway, Alexandria, MN
      510. Princeton Speedway, Princeton, MN
      511. North Center Motor Speedway, Brainerd, MN
      512. Golden Spike Speedway, Sauk Rapids, MN (oval)
      (no web site)
      513. Golden Spike Speedway, Sauk Rapids, MN (figure
      8) (no web site)
      514. Portland Speedway (1/2 mile dirt oval),
      Portland, OR (http://www.portlandspeedway.com/)
      515. Evergreen Speedway (figure 8), Monroe, WA
      516. Evergreen Speedway (3/8 mile oval), Monroe, WA
      517. Kent Raceways, Agassiz, British Columbia
      518. Louisville Motor Speedway (3/8 mile oval),
      Louisville, KY
      519. Louisville Motor Speedway (figure 8),
      Louisville, KY
      520. Plymouth Speedway, Plymouth, IN (no web site)
      521. Race City USA, Hermiston, OR

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