Firebird International Raceway-East Course, Chandler, Arizona - Track #705
- GREETINGS FROM CHANDLER, ARIZONA,
Before I tell you about today�s adventure in Arizona I
wanted to wrap up some unfinished business from last
week�s Birdsboro, PA trip. Good friend, Gordy Killian
(the Breadman) writes the following about that trip.
So glad you enjoyed your sojourn in the heart of
eastern bias. I do feel the
need to help you with regards to the local cuisine.
The bologna at Mahoning
was ring bologna, a fine, lightly smoked sausage
product. However, please feel
free to remove the outer casing before eating your
next piece. It wasn't meant
for consumption. There are many local, small meat
packers in the area that
make the stuff, with Hippey's being my personal
favorite. You were almost correct
about the meat in the bean soup, as it's ham, not
pork. My wife makes a
wonderful version using a ham butt and package of 12
assorted bean types. Pierogies
aren't stuffed potatoes. They are two slices of dough
with a potato based
stuffing put in the middle before sealing around the
edges. Cheese and/or onions
are often added to the mashed potatoes for the
stuffing. They are then deep
fried making them very Atkins unfriendly but tasty.
You've hardly scratched the
surface of the many different local concoctions
available here. Having now
tried some of them for yourself, you may have a better
idea how I've accumulated
my girth. The people at Pagoda may scare you with
their fatigues, but their
club is heavily involved with children's charities in
the area. Many of the
members do have a military background, possibly
explaining the fatigues. Their
annual Christmas ride for kids always has around 500
motorcycles in the procession
led by Santa Claus��..
Let me know if you choose to come this way again.
I nominate the Breadman as official food taster of
Now back to Arizona�..most of my trackchasing runs are
part of a race trip. Today�s track is being visited
because of a wedding trip. That�s right, our good
friends the Moody�s, Wes and Jill are celebrating the
wedding of their son Brian to Melissa. Carol and I go
to UCLA football and basketball games with the elder
Moody�s. Our favorite trip is to the Bay area to see
our Bruins compete against either Cal or Stanford. We
can all laugh and talk the entire 500 miles each way
on our fun trips.
The wedding is being held in Scottsdale, Arizona
because Melissa is from the Phoenix area. I�m not
sure when Carol and I attended our last wedding.
Maybe niece, Sarah? I have a hard time remembering my
own wedding to the littlest trackchaser (not counting
Natalie Ritter!) some 32+ years ago.
Today�s wedding was held in a huge Catholic church.
Everything went perfectly for this couple and the
ceremony lasted about an hour. It was then off to the
reception where Carol and I and the rest of about 200
people danced the night away. Well, maybe we didn�t
exactly dance the night away but we did opt for a
couple of slow dances. I know that all in the
trackchasing community will want to wish Brian and
Melissa a long, happy and healthy marriage. They are
a super couple.
The metro Phoenix area is also home to my brother,
Mark. He and I went to a race back in January (not a
new track) at the Central Arizona Speedway. Carol and
I met up with Mark and his roommate Rod for a pre-race
breakfast at the Cracker Barrel. Of course, while we
waited to get a table a quick Tour Tempo discussion
and demo was held, complete with a 7-iron and MP3
player in the parking lot.
I do a lot of driving during my trackchasing trips.
For the most part, I don�t mind it a bit. There is
one time when the driving does seems longer than
usual. That would be for trips that begin from San
Clemente. I don�t know why driving 1,000+ across the
Midwest seems like a piece of cake and driving 400
miles from S.C. seems to take forever.
Carol and I share the driving duties on long trips.
She�s a good driver. She did make a pit stop
calculation she would end up regretting. We were out
in the middle of the California dessert when we came
upon an interstate rest stop. Carol needed to make
the pit stop (for comfort) and I didn�t. As we were
about ready to make the rest stop exit, a sign popped
up stating the next rest area was in 45 miles. Carol
decided (with no input from me) that she could wait
for 45 miles. About 5 miles down the road we came
across a highway accident that stopped traffic
entirely. Traffic was stopped in front of us for as
far as the eye could see. To make a long story short,
Carol was extremely uncomfortable. There was
something said about, �Back teeth floating�. Since it
was 100 degrees and we were in the middle of the
dessert, I offered her a frosty bottle of water. Lots
of frowns met my offer (actually some modified
expletives as well). We were delayed in this traffic
problem for nearly an hour. It was then another 40
minutes to the next rest stop... Trying to be
helpful, I recommended Carol use the natural
facilities of the dessert but she didn�t think the
cactus provided much privacy. Finally, we did reach
the next rest area and Carol was able to benefit from
the generosity of the California taxpayers who
provided the Edwin J. Monroe Memorial Rest Area.
There won�t be any trackchasing for me for the next
couple of weeks (Ed, this is your chance). Carol and
I will be in New York City next weekend and can be
seen on the finale of Survivor (CBS � 10 p.m. PDT �
Sunday) as guests of Jim Sabo. I hope all of you
mothers out there have an awesome Mother�s Day this
CUMULATIVE DRIVING DISTANCES:
San Clemente, California � trip begins
Chandler, Arizona � 445 miles
San Clemente, California � 927 miles - trip ends
TRACK ADMISSION PRICES (U.S. Dollars):
Firebird International Raceway � $20 (three people)
The Firebird International Raceway East Road Course is
my 705th track. Firebird is quite a facility. This
venue has three different countable road courses (none
of them is connected in any way). They also have two
ovals, a drag strip and a lake for boat racing!
Here�s a description of the East road course today
from the track�s website: �1.2 Mile Road Course with
10 turns, a 1/2 mile straight-away and 2/10th of a
mile barrier pit lane makes it the perfect test track
for Formula and Indy Cars. Also used by the Bondurant
School for their advanced students and by Ride & Drive
Carol notched her first new track of the year. This
is her 149th new track of her trackchasing career. My
brother Mark is a resident of Chandler, Arizona where
Firebird is located. Mark will be coming up with his
track total soon.
There are not many racetracks close to San Clemente
that race on a weekly basis that I have not seen. My
closest regularly scheduled Friday track is 702 miles
away in Gallup, New Mexico. Las Vegas is my closest
yet to be seen Saturday night track, which is 306
miles away. Finally, Sunday tracks are a little
harder to come by. I believe the track in Rawlins,
Wyoming is my closest yet to be seen Sunday choice,
which is a crisp 1,023 mile one-way drive. There are
many other tracks that run on an occasional basis that
are a bit closer to me. The Firebird track is 445
miles from the city by the sea. I�m glad I was out in
this area for another reason because the racing at
Firebird today would never justify a separate trip.
General admission was simply a donation. I gave them
a lot more than the racing turned out to be worth.
The first admission gate we encountered on this
massive property was for the boat racing drags.
Patrons to this event would be paying $22 each. The
boat people directed us to the East course location.
After making our donation, we waited for the current
practice session to end. When the racecars pulled off
the track, we were allowed to drive our car across the
race track and into the pit area. Did I tell you it�s
starting to get in the warm, bordering on hot season
in the �Valley of the Sun�? Today�s temperature was
98 degrees. That�s actually pretty cool for Phoenix.
The city will have more than 100 days of the year
where the thermometer will exceed 100 degrees. On the
drive home, it was 102 degrees in Palm Springs at 7
We arrived at the track at 11:30 a.m. The first
countable race was scheduled to begin at 12:50 p.m.
That gave us 90 minutes to look at the race cars in
the pit area. In reality, it would only take us about
20 minutes to look at the cars. This left 70 minutes
to stand in the very hot sun waiting for the �Yellow
group� to have a 30 minute race.
The pit area is totally flat. The asphalt road course
provided a border for the pit area. The cars were
parked on more asphalt and there was a gravel parking
lot for spectators. Restrooms were of the porta potty
variety. The concession area was one carnival type
food trailer with a very limited selection of goodies.
I would estimate there were 60-70 racecars at the
track. Nearly have of them were spectator type cars
without racing numbers. Drivers of these cars were
allowed to take passengers out on the course and
everyone was required to wear a helmet.
The competitive racing today was sanctioned by
ProAutoSports (http://www.proautosports.com). These
folks have scheduled races later in the year at the
Firebird West and Main courses as well as at the St.
John�s Grand Prix in Arizona.
They had a large mixture of different types of cars.
The Bob Bondurant School of high speed driving is
located at Firebird. The Bondurant cars are Ford
Mustangs all painted a bright orange. There were a
few legends/dwarf cars, formula vees, Indy cars, some
mini-Coopers and several late model asphalt stock
cars. It was a real pot pourri.
There were 11 cars that started the 30 minute �Yellow�
group race. The ProAutoSports web site has a succinct
description of what makes up the Yellow class: �Open
wheel race car and Sport racers group. For licensed
race drivers only�. The Yellow race today had several
open wheeled Indy/formula vee cars as well as a couple
of dwarfs and a Can-Am looking car.
They have a longer description of their �damage� rule:
If a car is out of control or is attempting a pass
and causes damage to another car, the driver of that
car is suspended until a satisfactory agreement is
reached with the owner of the damaged car as to
restitution. Once that is done, the offending driver
is put on probation. Another incident while on
probation is reason for permanent suspension.� Tony
Stewart are you reading this?
Shortly, after waiting 90 minutes in the scorching sun
for the pretty boring 30 minute race we felt
comfortable in getting out of Firebird for the ocean
breezes of San Clemente. The west is in a heat wave.
It was still 79 degrees when we pulled into the Lewis
compound at 10 p.m. on Sunday night.
RACE TRACK FOOD:
We ate before we got to the track. Our only purchase
from the food trailer was for three bottled waters. I
was amused by the U.S. educational system that
required our server to use a calculator to figure our
change. Is it that hard to subtract $8.50 from 20
RENTAL CAR UPDATE:
No rental car on this trip. I�ll be driving the Carol
Lewis leased, 24 Hour Fitness sponsored Jaguar Racing
S-type. Carol�s lease is up in just 8 months. We are
way under the lease mileage so it seemed to make since
to drive her car rather than mine. This is my first
trackchasing trip of the season that I�ve driven too.
The previous five trips were all via the air route.
The Jag is a nice road car and performed flawlessly.
ED ESSER UPDATE:
As of today, I�m at 705 tracks and Ed remains at 657.
This proves the power of prayer as Ed�s racing trip to
Michigan was hampered by rain and he did not get any
countable tracks. I�ll probably lose a few tracks to
Mr. Esser over the next couple of weeks. Does anyone
think I should suggest to Carol over Mother�s Day
weekend that we catch the slingshots at the somewhat
nearby Poughkeepsie Speedway in upstate New York
rather than seeing a Broadway play? Naw, I didn�t
think so either.
You can keep track of Ed at, www.2arace.com .
#1 Trackchaser living west of the Mississippi
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
My past trackchasing stories are available on the
http://uk.geocities.com/trackchaser2001/ (photos from
my racing trips are also available on this Scotland
Official trackchaser standings can be viewed at:
Racetracks visited in 2004 (** not the first time to
visit this track)
705. Firebird International Raceway � East Course,
Chandler, Arizona, May 2
704. Pagota Motorcycle Club, Birdsboro, Pennsylvania,
703. Mahoning Valley Speedway, Lehighton,
Pennsylvania, April 24
702. Shellhammer�s Speedway, Leesport, Pennsylvania,
701. Hill Valley Speedway, Orbisonia, Pennsylvania,
700. Thunder Alley Speedpark, Evans Mills, New York,
699. Belle Vue Greyhound Stadium, Belle Vue, United
Kingdom, April 12
698. Buxton Raceway, Buxton, United Kingdom, April 12
697. Brampton Raceway, Brampton, United Kingdom,
696. York Autograss, York, United Kingdom, April 12
695. Sheffield Stadium, Sheffield, United Kingdom,
694. Blyton Raceway, Blyton, United Kingdom, April 11
693. Hunmanby Raceway, Hunmanby, United Kingdom,
692. Skegness Stadium, Skegness, United Kingdom,
691. Silverstone, Silverstone Circuit, Silverstone,
United Kingdom, April 10
690. Mildenhall Stadium, Mendenhall, Suffock, United
Kingdom, April 9
689. Bovingdon Circuit, Bovingdon, Hertfordshire,
United Kingdom, April 9
688. Sunshine Speedway (figure 8), Pinellas Park,
Florida, April 3
**Sunshine Speedway (oval), Pinellas Park, Florida,
687. Lubbock Motor Speedway, Lubbock, Texas, March 21
686. Thunderbird Speedway, Crandall, Texas, March 20
685. Kennedale Speedway Park, Kennedale, Texas, March
684. Texas World Spdwy (Road Course), College
Station, Texas, March 20
683. Heart O� Texas Speedway, Waco, Texas, March 19
**Central Arizona Raceway, Casa Grande, Arizona,
Planned new racetracks for the remainder of 2004
21-May Regular Program Warren County Speedway-Oval
21-May Regular Program Warren County Speedway-Fig 8
22-May Regular Program Jackson County Speedway
23-May Blackhawk Farms Rockton, IL
23-May USMTS Modifieds Raceway @ PowerCom Park Beaver
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