North Central Arkansas Speedway, Yellville, Arkansas - Track #551
- Greetings from Yellville, Arkansas,
Trackchaser.com commissioner, Will White, told me upon learning of this week�s trip that it must be the first time a trackchaser has ever flown on two consecutive weekends to see races in Arkansas. I confess it�s true.
I landed, uneventfully at the Little Rock National Airport. I�m assuming from the name you cannot fly anywhere outside of the USA directly from Little Rock. It must be the end of winter and the start of spring since the radio announced the last hockey game of the local season was being played between the Arkansas Riverblades and the Mobile Mystics. I won�t be attending a hockey game today because I�m bound for the North Central Arkansas Speedway in Yellville, Arkansas. Yellville is 135 miles north of Little Rock. This track is my 550th all-time track.
Why am I going to Arkansas for two consecutive weekends? Well, it turns out Carol is meeting her mother and sister for a weeklong tour of her girlhood home of Downers Grover, Illinois. That being the case I thought I might as well hit the road. As a matter of fact, I will leave on my next racing trip to the Carolinas the day before she returns. All in all, we will be apart for 17 consecutive days. This will be the longest we�ve been separated since our honeymoon ended and I reported back to the Marines in Jacksonville, North Carolina for three months some 30 years ago. Of course, I will miss her!
The only place I could visit that had a track that was running on Easter Sunday was in Arkansas. This is doubly surprising since I saw as many churches as I�ve ever seen along the Arkansas highways and on Sunday they were packed. With any luck I�ll meet up with Gordy Killian and his wife Susan on Sunday. Gordy is the #3 ranked trackchaser in the entire world. Looking forward to that, although the weather is threatening.
Gasoline in Little Rock is $1.24 per gallon. In California right now it�s $1.73 per gallon. This weekend marks the final three days of my 84-day Body for Life program. So, it�s Burger King grilled chicken sandwiches (no bread allowed) and Wendy�s plain baked potatoes washed down by some delicious ice-cold water. Ya� just can�t beat it.
The state highways in Arkansas are a sight to behold. They are extremely hilly and it�s rare to have more than 100 yards of straight pavement without at least a 45-degree turn or more. It�s just like the Malibu Grand Prix back home. I�ve got to believe the highway fatality rate is high in the Razorback state.
A special theme at the racetrack for the night was the children�s Easter egg hunt. They had about 50 kids 12 and under looking between the grandstand and the track for Easter eggs. One child found the �golden egg� and received an unnamed �grand� prize. I was always looking for the goose that laid the golden egg more than the golden egg itself.
Following the race I drove the crazy highways of Arkansas and arrived at the country music entertainment capital of the world, Branson, Missouri (Nashville might dispute this claim). I don�t recommend doing that at 11 p.m. at night anymore than you have too. This is deer country. At one point when I was out in the middle of nowhere all by myself I noticed some �eyes� shining in my lights off to the side of the road. I stopped the car and turned to the right and there stood five young deer not more that 15 yards from the car. I gazed at them for a few seconds until they ran off. I drove a little slower after that, knowing that a close encounter with a deer friend could be just around the next Arkansas mogul.
Nevertheless, I checked into the Payless Inn of Branson and paid just $27. Hotels are pretty inexpensive in this town. More on the unusual things that I ran into in Branson in my next track race report.
I arrived at the track without incident. General admission was $7 and a pit pass was $15. I chose to buy a ticket for the main grandstands. The price difference between a regular ticket and a pit pass used to be very small. In England, at most tracks, you can simply walk into the pit area from the grandstands for no additional charge. U.S. promoters make their many off the �back gate�. The back gate is the pit area where the drivers, pit crew and others are. This is the only sport I know of that charges its competitors an entry fee/admission charge so they can entertain the paying public.
This track was a pretty good facility overall. There were 15 rows of bleachers that lined the frontstretch. All of the bleachers had backrests and plenty of legroom. They had a well-lit racetrack, a scoreboard and an announcer that you could hear without straining.
Temperatures were in the mid-60s and it was comfortable.
The management ran a very efficient program with one race right after another. They ran IMCA modifieds (18), Mini Stocks (10), Hobby Stocks (18) and Cruisers (17). The track, a one-quarter mile clay oval, was smooth and dust free. For some reason the races were not all that exciting. They didn�t have any dramatic races for the lead, crashes or controversy.
A new feature of my race reports will be a separate section on the refreshments offered at the track. I�ll list the least and most expensive items offered as well as unusual items.
Most expensive: Chilidog with cheese - $2.75
Least expensive: Popcorn � 75 cents
Most unusual: Pickles - $1.00
As you can see when you go to the races you�re going to spend less than when you go to your favorite French restaurant.
RENTAL CAR UPDATE: This weekend I�ll be driving the Alamo racing Mitsubishi Gallant ES. I�ll tell you right now it�s the best rental car I�ve had in several months. This car was prepaid after a successful bid on www.priceline.com.
New racetracks visited in 2002
547. Beebe Speedway, Beebe, AR (http://www.beebespeedway.com/.)
548. North Alabama Speedway, Tuscumbia, AL (no web site)
549. Pike County Speedway, Magnolia, MS (http://hometown.aol.com/racecentrl/index.html)
550. North Central Arkansas Speedway, Yellville, AR (http://www.northcentralarspeedway.com/)
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