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Auto Tire and Parts NAPA Race Park, Benton, Missouri - Track #679

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  • Randy Lewis
    Greetings from Benton, Missouri, PEOPLE/TRAVEL NEWS Many times, I think the trackchasing hobby is more about driving up and down the highway than actually
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 30, 2003
      Greetings from Benton, Missouri,


      Many times, I think the trackchasing hobby is more
      about driving up and down the highway than actually
      seeing new tracks. I enjoy driving. However, there
      are times when you know you have a long drive and the
      reward at the end may not be worth it.

      When I left the track in Freeport, Illinois on
      Saturday night, I had two Sunday afternoon options.
      Ft. Wayne, Indiana was 297 miles away. The forecast
      there was for 50 degrees and a 50% chance of rain.
      That 50/50 option did not sound too good. Why not go
      to a place where the temperature forecast was 65
      degrees with a zero chance of rain? No, I�m not
      talking about San Clemente! Of course, the way it
      works in trackchasing is that the better weather
      option is always further away. Why is that? The good
      weather option was at the track in Benton, Missouri
      and the driving distance from Freeport was 453 miles.
      Both tracks planned to start at 2 p.m. In addition to
      the weather advantage I had a commitment to visit my
      grandfather in Evansville, Indiana on Monday so I
      chose the Missouri option.

      I got out of Freeport a little after 9 p.m. I wanted
      to get some driving done on Saturday night so the
      Sunday drive would be easier. I made it down to La
      Salle, Illinois, which reduced the 453 miles to Benton
      drive to just 357 miles. I found Daniel�s Motel that
      was introduced to me by a state highway road sign. I
      took the exit and wound my way about three miles into
      the small town of La Salle, Illinois. If you go to La
      Salle Speedway someday (which is a great track), I�m
      not sure you should try Daniel�s Motel. Yes, it�s
      cheap, just $34 for the night. They say that long
      after the sweetness of a good price has faded in your
      mind the memory of poor quality will remain. That
      would be the case with this motel. The motel has
      about 30 rooms all on one level.

      The first thing I noticed were the cricket noises when
      I got into the room. Where was Carol when I needed
      her? When we go to bed at home and hear crickets, she
      gets up and sprays for them. Then I noticed the
      temperature of the room was too cold. They did have a
      thermostat but turning it up didn�t seem to have any
      effect whatsoever. I must admit the window air
      conditioner looked like it could cool Wrigley Field
      but I wouldn�t need it tonight. Again, I missed
      Carol. When it�s too hot or cold in San Clemente, she
      gets up and changes the thermostat. Of course, if I
      knew how to operate our thermostat I would get up but
      she keeps that information secret from me. I woke up
      in the morning in a sweat. I figured that maybe the
      thermostat on the wall was actually connected to a
      furnace after all. I picked up my sweatshirt from
      the floor. The shirt had been protecting the biggest
      cockroach you could imagine. He ran for the exit but
      not before a size 13, Nike came raining down on his
      head ending his frequent stayer program. This would
      never happen at home. Carol picks up my clothes and
      kills the bugs when that�s needed. Finally, upon
      leaving the hotel on Sunday morning I noticed the
      thick green slime that populated the outdoor swimming
      pool. It reminded me of our pool when we lived in
      Phoenix. I would come home from a business trip see
      the pool water was starting to turn green. We needed
      to test the PH balance of the water. They offer test
      kits for this chore but I had a much simpler method.
      I would have Carol bend over by the side of the pool
      and stick her hand into the water as far as it would
      go (it took all of my willpower to resist the
      temptation to give her a slight nudge sending her into
      the olive green sludge. Of course, I would never do
      it but it made for a nice fantasy). If I couldn�t see
      her hand because of the discoloration, it was time to
      add some chemicals to �shock� the pool. When we were
      building our house, the contractor asked if I wanted a
      workbench in the garage. I said absolutely not. I�m
      retired I don�t do that type of work. Of course,
      Carol insisted we have a workbench. In reality, the
      workbench becomes sort of like an end table. We lay
      every tool we�ve ever owned on the workbench along
      with paint cans, sandpaper, etc. Then when we really
      need a tool, it becomes a 15-minute frantic search to
      find it. My idea of a workbench is to have a very
      small toolbox located in one corner of the garage.
      The toolbox has only one item in it��.a Visa card.
      That tool can get all the work you would ever want
      done. That assumes Carol doesn�t do the work for
      free. Of course, all of this is meant to say that I
      miss Carol for more than just the obvious reasons. I
      think it�s time to forgive her of her sins and move
      on. Relatives and close friends reading this report
      know that there is very little exaggeration in this

      I spent the evening at the Super 8 Motel in Grayville,
      Illinois. This was a brand new motel and reminded me
      of a full service Marriott hotel in quality. But, we
      were out in the middle of nowhere and I was surprised
      at the $62 per night rate. I mentioned this to the
      desk clerk and she said, �Lots of people say that�.
      OK. This Super 8 did have one feature I have never
      ever seen in more than 3,000 nights of hotel/motel
      staying. They had their own waffle-making machine!
      Now the $62 seemed like a bargain. Usually Super 8
      �free breakfasts� consist of a few stale bagels and an
      out of orange juice orange juice machine. The waffle
      machine worked in three easy steps. First, take a cup
      of pre-measured waffle mix and pour it onto a waffle
      iron. Second, close the lid and rotate the waffle
      iron. This starts a timer. Thirdly, when the timer
      emits a tone in two minutes open the waffle iron and
      get your waffle. This waffle was delicious. It was
      better than the Waffle House and almost as good as
      Carol�s. If the operation of all household machinery
      was as easy as this I would definitely be more
      trainable and more helpful to Carol around the house.
      But, alas I do not appear to be trainable which keeps
      Carol in a job at least.

      I don�t get to visit my grandfather in Evansville,
      Indiana as often as I would like. He�s actually my
      step-grandfather. He was married to my grandmother
      for 46 years before she passed away in 1990. My
      grandfather is 88 years old. Of all the things I did
      and people I visited with this week, I must say I was
      looking forward to this meeting the most of all. I
      think everyone should spend the day with someone 88
      years old. There�s so much to learn just by
      listening. My grandfather has lots of opinions about
      today�s world and great memories about yesterday�s
      world. His advice to me in retirement��Keep busy�. I
      plan too.

      As luck would have it my one-day visit to Evansville
      coincided with my grandfather�s quarterly visit to the
      county jail to share the words of the bible. He made
      special arrangements for me to go with him. A local
      minister and two other men who also work to share the
      word of God joined us. The Vanderburgh County Jail
      houses inmates with sentences of up to one year as
      well as people awaiting final sentencing to the state
      penitentiary. I�ve always had a fascination with
      prisons. Carol and I actually took a corrections
      class in college together. (Note to cynics: No, she
      was not preparing me for married life!) The class
      offered a field trip to the Joliet maximum-security
      state prison in Illinois. We�ve also taken the
      Alcatraz tour in San Francisco several times including
      the newly offered night tour. It�s always a little
      creepy when they should the doors behind you.

      Tonight�s meeting started by having us sign in with
      the guard at the prison�s entry point. We were
      ushered through a couple of different security points
      each with its own large sliding jail bar gate. That
      clanging sound is hard to forget. Tonight the four
      men I was accompanying would minister to four
      different groups of prisoners.

      The first group was made up of 18 women. They were
      all wearing orange prison issue coveralls. The racial
      make-up was about 60% blacks and 40% whites. Except
      for a couple of hard core looking women these people,
      mainly in their 20s could easily be mistaken for
      students in a local college. Each of the four
      ministers had a part in the presentation. My
      grandfather, John, had a religious song on cassette
      tape to play. During each presentation, I was
      introduced as John�s grandson visiting from
      California. It�s been a while since I�ve been
      introduced as a grandson. The women were very
      attentive and several followed along in their own
      bibles when different scriptures were read.

      The next three groups were male prisoners. In total,
      there were about 50 men. These fellows were decidedly
      less clean cut than the women were. The haircut
      styles varied from large ponytails to shaved heads.
      Many had crude and homemade looking tattoos. Many
      also had bulging forearms and huge biceps. I think
      weightlifting may be the prison sport of choice.
      These men wore prison issue orange coveralls. Some
      wore blue shirts. I was told these were prisoners
      that held special status based upon their behavior.

      The ministers, in addition to my grandfather, also
      brought their own individual flair to the meeting.
      Al, a 77-year-old man had picked up my grandfather and
      me at my grandfather�s house. If you remember the
      movie, Cool Hand Luke, and the prison warden who made
      the phrase, �What we have here is a failure to
      communicate� famous then you know what Al looked and
      sounded like. Al believes that prisons are to punish
      and not to rehabilitate.

      Roger was another minister, who at age 52 had received
      Christ in his life 28 years ago. He told the inmates
      of his drug and alcohol use as a young man and how he
      had given his life to God and straightened everything

      Finally, Wayne was a minister of a local church.
      Wayne was thin six foot tall black man dressed smartly
      in black slacks and turtle neck sweater with a grey
      sport coat. Wayne preached in the �fire and
      brimstone� style that I�ve always admired. He had
      nine children and said that everyone in his house
      dislikes him because he�s so strict with his children.
      Between groups, the five of us had a few minutes to
      talk and discuss the effectiveness of the ministry
      with the inmates. In the short time we had together
      you could also figure out where everyone was coming
      from in their personal beliefs, sort of like talking
      to Gordy :>) I think it�s great talking with people
      like this because you may or may not like what they�re
      saying but at least they are being real and honest.

      I did find out from Wayne, the minister, that his wife
      was concerned about the satanic rumors that have
      surrounded my old company, Procter & Gamble for years.
      According to Wayne, she won�t buy any P&G products
      because of this concern. He also held some very
      strong beliefs about diversity feeling that companies
      and governments support of gay people was hurting the
      black community. I promised to send him some
      information regarding the federal court decisions
      against those who have perpetuated the P&G Satan
      rumors. I�ll also send his some info around P&G�s
      diversity efforts, which are pretty much unsurpassed
      by any large company in America.

      Overall, it was a very stimulating evening and the
      fitting touch to a long trip. The trip to the jail
      was definitely the highlight of my trip that had many
      highlights. Only a late night encounter with the
      Illinois State Police on my part would somewhat mar
      the entire trip.

      Carol picked me up on Tuesday evening at the Orange
      County Airport. Yes, I know she�s quite a wife to do
      all this things for me. Of course, like most spouses
      she can make you pay when she needs too. However, in
      totality, I guess no price is too much to pay for the
      privilege of being married to her. Yes, I�ve been
      away from home too long!

      Nevertheless, our first stop after baggage claim was
      to visit our mortgage broker and sign our loan
      documents for our new house. We ended up with a
      5.125% interest rate fixed for 10 years on a VERY
      LARGE loan amount. Yes, Carol does most of the chores
      around our house. The only thing I do is manage the
      finances. By the time I�ve finished doing that I�m
      usually exhausted and ready for bed. So far we�ve
      been able to stay ahead of the debt collectors.

      Editor�s note: I hope by now that readers of these
      stories know that much of what I say is tongue in
      cheek. You must admit the stories are different than
      most of the email you get.

      Car mileage when I entered these states/provinces
      during the trip:

      Chicago O�Hare Airport � trip begins
      Indiana � 32 miles
      Illinois � 536
      Iowa � 767
      Illinois � 785
      Wisconsin � 1,418
      Illinois � 1,741
      Missouri � 2,200
      Illinois � 2,372
      Indiana � 2,517
      Illinois � 2,595
      Chicago O�Hare Airport � 2,952


      This is one of the few short tracks that have sold its
      naming rights for sponsorship money. The Auto Tire
      and Parts NAPA RacePark is my 679th track to visit. I
      had called in advance and was told that racing started
      at 2 p.m. I always want to believe people but with
      racetrack starting times, you should almost always NOT
      believe them. Two exceptions that come to mind are
      NASCAR Winston Cup races and Eldora.

      I left the �Bates Motel� at 7 a.m. and drove fast to
      Benton, Missouri. I whipped off the 357 miles in good
      time arriving at just after 1 p.m. I took this early
      arrival opportunity to catch some shuteye in the
      track�s parking lot. I could hear the announcer
      clearly, so I knew I wouldn�t miss any of the show.
      To make a long story short they didn�t start at 2 p.m.
      They finally started the first heat around 3:30 p.m.

      There were five classes running today including: two
      person cruisers, mini-sprints, late models, modifieds
      and dwarf cars. The general admission charge was 10
      dollars. The weather was as advertised at about 65
      degrees with clear blue skies and white puffy clouds.
      This is Carol�s very type of weather. When I entered
      the track, the elderly security guard asked me if I
      had a video camera in my bag. Although I have seen
      signs in the past, banning such cameras this is the
      first time I can recall being directly asked about it.
      I told him that yes I did have a video camera but
      would not use it. He said that would be OK but that
      he would be watching me closely throughout the day.
      This would not be too difficult for him since there
      were only about 100 people in the large grandstands.
      Now that I am out of Missouri, I can safely invite you
      all over to San Clemente to view my video.

      I watched the single cruiser heat race, three
      mini-sprint heats, two modified heats and three late
      model heats before retiring to the car for rest and
      relaxation. I could keep up with the dwarf heats and
      B mains via my race scanner and the public address
      system. I went back in for the start of the
      mini-sprint feature. They started about 24 cars and
      it was a good race.

      Although this was a daytime dirt track on a sunny day
      the track was not dusty. It did glaze over and became
      quite slick. The 23-car late model feature was a
      disaster. They had four restarts before I said
      enough. It was 6:30 p.m. and the show was scheduled
      to start at 2 p.m. Four and one-half hours was plenty
      of time to amortize my $10 admission fee. Like most
      daytime shows on dirt they tend to disappoint.


      This racing trip is going to end up adding nearly
      3,000 miles to my rental cars. That�s a lot of
      driving but I got to have 11 days of fun and saw lots
      of important people. Except for one weekend in
      mid-October EVERY weekend between now and the end of
      2003 is taken up with UCLA football, UCLA basketball
      or relatives visiting. Not much more trackchasing for
      me this year. Once it gets cold, I don't like to go
      back to the Midwest or east.

      That�s all the news that�s fit to print from San
      Clemente where the women are strong, the men are
      good-looking, and all of the children are above

      Remember, when there�s not enough government someone
      will steal your strawberries, when there�s too much
      government, the government will steal your

      My past trackchasing stories are available on the
      following websites:

      http://uk.geocities.com/trackchaser2001/ (photos from
      my racing trips are also available on this site)

      www.trackchaser.com (currently updated through 2002)

      New racetracks visited in 2003

      623. Penton Raceway, Lafayette, Alabama, April 4
      624. Heart O� Dixie (oval), Sayre, Alabama, April 5
      625. Heart O� Dixie (figure 8), Sayre, Alabama, April
      626. Virginia International Raceway, Alton,
      Virginia, April 27
      627. Bowman Gray Stadium, Winston Salem, North
      Carolina, April 27
      628. Oak Level Speedway, Oak Level, Virginia, April
      629. Elko Speedway (3/8 mile oval), Elko, Minnesota,
      May 23
      630. Elko Speedway (1/4 mile oval), Elko, Minnesota,
      May 23
      631. Elko Speedway (figure 8), Elko, Minnesota, May
      632. Deer Creek Speedway, Spring Valley, Minnesota,
      May 24
      633. Dodge County Speedway, Kasson, Minnesota, May
      634. Trollhaugen Ski Area, Dresser, Wisconsin, May
      635. Eagle Valley Speedway, Jim Falls, Wisconsin,
      May 26
      636. Path Valley Speedway, Spring Run, Pennsylvania,
      June 6
      637. Gambler�s Raceway Park, Clearfield,
      Pennsylvania, June 8
      638. Speedway 95, Hermon, Maine, June 11 (CPL-131)
      639. Beech Ridge Motor Speedway, Scarborough, Maine,
      June 12 (CPL-132)
      640. Wiscasset Raceway, Wiscasset, Maine, June 13
      641. Riverhead Raceway (oval), Riverhead, Long
      Island, New York, June 14 (CPL-134)
      642. Riverhead Raceway (figure 8), Riverhead, Long
      Island, New York, June 14 (CPL-135)
      643. Muddy Acres Raceway, Enfield, New York, June 15
      644. New Egypt Speedway, New Egypt, New Jersey, June
      645. Fergus Falls Raceway, Fergus Falls, Minnesota,
      July 11
      646. Jamestown Speedway, Jamestown, North Dakota,
      July 12 (CPL-137)
      647. Nodak Speedway, Minot, North Dakota, July 13
      648. Estevan Motor Speedway, Estevan, Saskatchewan,
      Canada, July 14 (CPL-139)
      649. Williston-Basin Speedway, Williston, North
      Dakota, July 15 (CPL-140)
      650. Southwest Speedway, Dickinson, North Dakota,
      July 16 (CPL-141)
      651. Dakota Speedway, Mandan, North Dakota, July 17
      652. Cresco Speedway, Cresco, Iowa, July 18
      653. Jones County Fairgrounds, Monticello, Iowa,
      July 19
      654. Echo Valley Speedway, West Union, Iowa, July 19
      655. Nordic Speedway, Decorah, Iowa, July 19
      656. Redwood Speedway (1/5 mile oval) Redwood Falls,
      Minnesota, July 20
      657. Redwood Speedway (1/2 mile oval) Redwood Falls,
      Minnesota, July 20
      658. Chenango County Fair (figure 8), Norwich, New
      York, August 5
      659. Chenango County Fair-South (figure 8), Norwich,
      New York, August 5
      659. Canandaigua Speedway, Canandaigua, New York,
      August 6
      660. Bradford Speedway, Bradford, Pennsylvania,
      August 7
      661. Black Rock Speedway, Dundee, New York, August 8
      662. Lancaster Motorsports Park (inner oval),
      Lancaster, New York, August 9
      663. Lancaster Motorsports Park (outer oval),
      Lancaster, New York, August 9
      664. Lake Erie Speedway (oval), North East,
      Pennsylvania, August 9
      665. Lake Erie Speedway (figure 8), North East,
      Pennsylvania, August 9
      666. Glad Rag Raceway (asphalt), Saratoga Springs,
      New York, August 10
      667. Cobleskill County Fairgrounds (figure 8),
      Cobleskill, New York, August 10
      668. Hawthorne Centennial Speedway, Hawthorne,
      Nevada, August 15 (CPL-143)
      669. Lassen Speedway, Susanville, California, August
      16 (CPL-144)
      670. American Valley Speedway, Quincy, California,
      August 17 (CPL-145)
      671. Winnemucca Regional Raceway, Winnemucca,
      Nevada, August 22 (CPL-146)
      672. Battle Mountain Raceway, Battle Mountain,
      Nevada, August 23 (CPL-147)
      673. Antelope Valley Fairgrounds, Lancaster,
      California, August 29 (CPL-148)
      674. Camden Raceway, Camden, Indiana, September 19
      675. Putnam Park Road Course, Mount Meridian,
      Indiana, September 20
      676. Miami County Speedway, Peru, Indiana, September
      677. U.S. 24 Speedway, Logansport, Indiana,
      September 20
      678. Freeport Raceway Park, Freeport, Illinois,
      September 27
      679. Auto Tire and Parts NAPA RacePark, Benton,
      Missouri, September 28

      Planned new racetracks for 2003

      FRI 10-Oct Karts countable? Riverside Raceway Park
      Mayodan, NC
      FRI 10-Oct JM Production figure 8s Winston-Salem, NC
      FRI 10-Oct Backup plan Harris Motor Speedway Harris,
      SAT 11-Oct SCCA Summit Point Raceway Charles Town, VA
      SAT 11-Oct Call to confirm may race Sat in October
      Beckley Speedway Beckley, WV
      SAT 11-Oct Backup plan Virginia Motor Speedway Saluda,
      SAT 11-Oct Backup plan, call to confirm Old Dominion
      Speedway Manasass, VA
      SUN 12-Oct Modified Special Friendship Motor Speedway
      Elkin, NC
      SAT 8-Nov Special Irwindale Speedway** Irwindale, CA
      THR 13-Nov SCRA Sprints Perris Auto Speedway** Perris,

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