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Firebird International Raceway-East Course, Chandler, Arizona - Track #705

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  • Randy Lewis
    GREETINGS FROM CHANDLER, ARIZONA, PEOPLE/TRAVEL NEWS Before I tell you about today’s adventure in Arizona I wanted to wrap up some unfinished business from
    Message 1 of 1 , May 3, 2004


      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
      Trackchasers Inc.

      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


      San Clemente, California � trip begins
      Chandler, Arizona � 445 miles
      San Clemente, California � 927 miles - trip ends


      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
      promotional companies.�

      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.


      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


      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.


      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 .

      Randy Lewis
      #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
      following website:

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

      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,
      April 25

      703. Mahoning Valley Speedway, Lehighton,
      Pennsylvania, April 24

      702. Shellhammer�s Speedway, Leesport, Pennsylvania,
      April 24

      701. Hill Valley Speedway, Orbisonia, Pennsylvania,
      April 24

      700. Thunder Alley Speedpark, Evans Mills, New York,
      April 22

      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,
      April 12

      696. York Autograss, York, United Kingdom, April 12

      695. Sheffield Stadium, Sheffield, United Kingdom,
      April 11

      694. Blyton Raceway, Blyton, United Kingdom, April 11

      693. Hunmanby Raceway, Hunmanby, United Kingdom,
      April 11

      692. Skegness Stadium, Skegness, United Kingdom,
      April 10

      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,
      April 3

      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,
      January 20

      Planned new racetracks for the remainder of 2004

      21-May Regular Program Warren County Speedway-Oval
      Indianola, IA

      21-May Regular Program Warren County Speedway-Fig 8
      Indianola, IA

      22-May Regular Program Jackson County Speedway
      Maquoketa, IA

      23-May Blackhawk Farms Rockton, IL

      23-May USMTS Modifieds Raceway @ PowerCom Park Beaver
      Dam, WI

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