Edinburg Veterans Memorial Park (figure 8), Edinburg, Illinois - Track #954
- GREETINGS FROM EDINBURG, ILLINOIS
TRIP ENDING SUMMARY
As predicted, this trackchasing trip did not come off totally as planned. As you can see below, the National Sweet Corn Festival tripped me up. Other than that glitch, the trip was an outstanding success.
My final trip of the summer trackchasing season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) yielded seven new tracks for both Carol and me. This 99-day period provided 94 new tracks in only 83 overnights. My 2005 season total now stands at 145 new tracks. You cannot get much better than that.
My streak of not having a trackchasing day rained out continued throughout the entire summer season. That streak now numbers 114 new tracks and 76 days of trackchasing without a single trackchasing day rained out. If I am rained out for the next 10 days straight, I will still be ahead of the game.
The Spam Museum tour and visiting central Illinois family were the two highlights of this trip, but not in that order. Increasing gas prices were everywhere along the trip but not something that is likely to affect my trackchasing in any way at all. Availability of gasoline could be another story.
I drove, with Carols help, 2,632 miles on this trip. The National Rental Car Racing Chevy Malibu V6 got 29.4 M.P.G. We used 89.5 gallons of fuel and paid an average of $3.01 per gallon. Fuel availability was not a problem anywhere we traveled. The most popular price for regular unleaded fuel seemed to be $2.99 per gallon.
Now that Labor Day has passed and children are back in school the number of mid-week trackchasing opportunities decreases a good deal. In addition, the trouble experienced along the Gulf Coast will affect racetracks in that geographical area. Those tracks traditionally race longer into the year because of their mild weather but that might not happen this year.
I also have an update on the Trackchaser Cheese Challenge. Each time I do have new news on Ed Essers progress I will share it with you near the beginning of the Trackchaser Report. When I have no update I will keep the cheese challenge results near the bottom of the report.
Do I think Ed will make it to 128 tracks? Right now, I dont think so. I know I would have a difficult time seeing 33 new tracks from this point forward. Well see how Ed does. Carol keeps asking me where we are going to put so much cheese.
Now that the main season for trackchasing has ended, it is time to play some golf. Unbelievably, to me anyway, is the fact that I have played only 27 rounds this year. I will remedy that situation as soon as I can.
TRACKCHASER CHEESE CHALLENGE 2005 PACE OF THE RACE REPORT BROUGHT TO YOU BY FRONTIER AIRLINES
This is a comparison of how many new tracks Ed Esser has seen in 2005 and how many tracks I saw through the same date in 2004 on my way to seeing, at then a record, 127 tracks. In order for Ed to win the Cheese Challenge, he must see 128 new tracks.
Through September 6 - Ed 95 tracks Randy 88 tracks*
*Note: To properly evaluate Eds chances, remember I added six new tracks on and after December 26, 2004 in Australia. At this point in time, Ed has never trackchased outside of the United States. He will have a difficult time finding U.S. based tracks in late December. Net, he needs to stay 6-7 tracks ahead of my pace of last year through early December in order to win this challenge.
Prize: If Ed sees more than 128 new tracks in 2005, he wins a round-trip domestic airline ticket to anywhere Frontier Airlines flies. If he cannot see at least 128 new tracks then I win 10 pounds of the Wisconsin cheese of my choice.
I still have my weather streak going. As I planned this trackchasing trip, there was a special circumstance that I thought could jeopardize the streak. As you know, if I see bad weather at or near a track, that was part of my original plan, I will try to go in a different direction where the weather is better.
Today, September 4, searching for an alternative if the weather is bad wont be possible. Before I tell you why that is the case, I will say the weather here is California perfect just as www.weather.com said it would be. I cant recall seeing so many days in the Midwest this nice in a row ever. The near term forecast for the next several days is also perfect. Now if we could just get those Midwesterners to take off their baseball hats when they are eating indoors.
Carol and I are sticking with the races in Edinburg, Illinois come hell or high water (probably a poor choice of words). You see we are visiting family today in East Peoria, Illinois. Well be able to spend the day with my sisters Becky and Lynn. If Edinburg had weather problems, we would not have searched for a trackchasing alternative.
For some reason I refer too people in my family and Carols family by their relationship to our children. Therefore, sister Becky, becomes Aunt Becky, her husband is Uncle Bob, etc. I think this is a carryover from getting our young children to respect their elders by calling them by their correct family relationship name, or something like that!
We had a pretty good turnout of Illinois family. We rendezvoused at Aunt Lynns house with her two children, Cousin Carley and Cousin Elliott. Aunt Becky came down from Dekalb, Illinois with her husband, Uncle Bob and daughter, Cousin Jennifer. Then Aunt Beckys other daughter Cousin Sarah came down from Silvis, Illinois with her four children Second Cousin Kyle, Second Cousin Abby, Second Cousin Katie and newly arrived last month, Second Cousin Aunica. Cousin Sarahs husband, Dan or Just Dan couldnt make the trip.
We all had a lovely time. It was special listening to 15-year-old Carleys current dreams and plans to move to L.A. some day. It was also great to be around small children who hold up their fingers each time they are asked how old they are. Elliot has such a positive attitude. When I told him tonights late model feature paid $1,000 to win, his comment was, Thats not bad money for having fun!
I wanted to give special thanks to Aunt Lynn for hosting everyone. Shes just been in her new home for a month and I know how tough having company is in that situation. In addition, kudos to Cousin Jennifer for her weight loss and Cousin Sarah for her financial acumen. It was great seeing everyone.
Carol and I are considered the adventurers of the family. Were the ones that were willing to move away from home. We ultimately landed in California. California is made up of a large number of people who came from the Midwest or the East seeking sunshine and opportunity. Most of my friends in California originally came here on their own from some faraway location. More times than not, they are the only person in their immediate family to have taken the plunge.
This may be why, generally, Californians are a little more into risk-taking and adventure. When we travel the world, we are much more likely to come in contact with other Californians than folks from any other state. Part of that might be because California has a larger population than most states, but the real reason is Californians took that risk to move away from home. They see life as an adventure and moving around the country and the globe somehow seems easier for them. I am not saying that makes Californians better. I am saying that makes Californians different. Of course, this doesnt apply to everyone. It simply applies more often than a statistician would predict it would.
RACE TRACK STATS:
EDINBURG VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK, EDINBURGH, ILLINOIS TRACK #954
The Edinburg Veterans Memorial Park is Carols 15th track to see in Illinois. The track increases her career trackchasing total to 216 tracks.
This evenings figure 8 track in Illinois is my 66th countable track to see in the state. I am in 3rd place in the Illini state and have seen seven new Illinois tracks in 2005. I still have 18 countable tracks to see in Illinois. Ed Esser leads the state with 79 tracks.
RACE TRACK NEWS:
EDINBURG VETERANS MEMORIAL PARK, EDINBURGH, ILLINOIS
Just before we left East Peoria for the races, I was explaining to Uncle Bob and Cousin Elliot how I use the www.weather.com site for my trackchasing planning. I was pointing out the hour-by-hour detail and the fact that there was only a 10% chance of rain in East Peoria at this hour.
They were impressed. It was time for everyone to start heading out for the rest of his or her Sunday evening schedule. Several were going to see other relatives nearby, Aunt Lynn had to get some sleep before reporting for work at the police station and we were heading for the races. Everyones cars were being packed and last minute hugs exchanged. At this point, it began to rain. It rained hard.
Uncle Bob returned to the house soaking wet after packing his trunk. He was heard to mutter, Who runs that weather.com company anyway? I went back to the computer and saw lots of green on the map near Peoria and the Quad Cities. Fortunately, for us we were headed about 60 miles south. Just five miles south of East Peoria the weather cleared to perfectly blue skies and the temperature increased from 69 degrees in the rainy area to 92 degrees. I am one lucky trackchaser when it comes to the weather.
Tonight was my most enjoyable figure 8 race in recent memory. Before I tell you about it, let me say that I got the official word from the Edinburg Lions Club, who promote this event, on the tracks name. They have been racing demo derbies in Edinburgh for some 30 years. I dont know how long figure 8 races have been held here.
I am frequently critical of county fair type figure 8 racing for these reasons. Many times the speeds are so slow (10-20 M.P.H.) that it doesnt seem like racing to me. Often the turns of the figure 8 track dont leave enough room for more than one or two cars to make it through at the same time. This causes jam-ups and sometimes during a jam-up, there are no cars moving forward on the entire track. Often when I attend these figure 8 races, there is little or no contact at the X. Finally, many of these shows are stopped far too often for debris, such as bumpers, axels, etc. For these reasons, I really do not find much of the county fair figure 8 racing entertaining and consider them more of a demo derby than a race.
Does my critical point of view mean that I wont be attending these events in the future? Absolutely not! While I would like to be entertained when I see a new track, it is not a requirement. The main reason I am at the track in the first place is too add a new track to my career trackchasing total. Of course, I want to have fun and be entertained. If the track is one of the worst ever, I still have my fun when the green flag drops on the very first countable race and the track was in the bag.
Tonights figure 8 races were both average and unusual at the same time. The car count was nothing to write home about. There were 20 compact AKA small car figure 8 racers. They ran three heat races and an A feature.
Also on the card was the Tuff Trucks. There were only four of those. Yes, it crossed my mind that the tuff trucks might run some type of countable course, other than a figure 8, but they didnt. Each truck ran a timed lap over some manmade dirt jumps. None of the trucks raced together as they completed their three timed runs. They did get some air time going over the jumps and the announcer made it interesting.
There was also one monster truck in attendance and a car/truck. The car/truck was a Buick auto body fixed to a monster truck type chassis. These two machines attempted, somewhat successfully, to crush a helpless Honda Civic type used up demo car. The crowd enjoyed the big machines as they tried to get a tire over the small car so it could be crushed. Hey, were in the heartland of America on a holiday weekend. Everyone is looking for his or her own kind of fun!
The distance between the two figure 8 markers was only about 15 yards. That would make it one of the shortest figure 8 courses I have seen. The markers that figure 8 cars race around are normally huge tractor tires. Tonight one marker was one of the tuff truck dirt mounds and the other marker was simply a pile of dirt about three feet high. Thats about as rural as it gets for figure 8 racing.
The first car on the track for the first heat, turned out to be the feature winner later in the evening. The car was sponsored by Willies Pork Rinds. There was also a huge wooden sign on the roof of the car that said, Student Driver. To top off this drivers appearance he was wearing an open-faced racing helmet that he may have stolen from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Racing Museum. The driver was also my age or older. I am sure he presented quite a promotional package to the Marketing Director of Willies Pork Rinds.
The races had all the things that most county fair figure 8 races do not. The track was dry, but not dusty, so the front wheel driver cars could get some speed. Even though the markers were only 15 yards apart, the cars made the apex of their turn far beyond the markers. They probably reached speeds of 30-40 M.P.H. There were no stoppages for debris. They did have one red flag for a flipping racecar.
There was plenty of space in the turns so the cars didnt get jammed up while navigating the ends of the eight. Finally, and most importantly, these people loved contact. They loved contact at the X and everywhere else. Occasionally, drivers went out of their way, demo style, to hit another driver. I like high-speed demo style hits in figure 8 racing. I dont like the slow motion sumo wrestler style demo action in figure 8 racing.
The entire figure 8 program reminded me of a good banger race in the United Kingdom. In banger racing, the cars are trying to complete a number of laps while at the same time trying to knock their competition off the track. Contact is encouraged.
It is amazing to me how much abuse these figure 8 cars can take and still keep running. The feature event lined up 18 cars for 25 laps. Normally, no more than 10 cars start any kind of figure 8 race. They did have a couple of jams at the X but there were always several drivers willing to drive their cars at speeds approaching 40 M.P.H. directly into the pile. There were fires, the flip, the first BMW I have ever seen in a figure 8 race (a 528i). One driver even had to return to the pit area to get his helmet!
Overall, the program was able to overcome each objection I have for the normal figure 8 county fair shows. To be fair, not all county fair figure 8 shows fail on all four of my performance standards, but many fail on several of them. The tuff trucks and monster trucks added to the evenings enjoyment.
I did get a full mention from the track announcer. While he was reading my trackchasing press release, he wondered, How will $3.00 gas affect his travels? He invited me up to the booth and we talked trackchasing while the tuff trucks prepared to come onto the track.
Carol had a fun time at the fair. She was impressed by the number of car fires at the races tonight. One of the drivers jumped out of his burning car wearing a t-shirt and shorts! She noted the fans were really into it and liked the countdown to each races start. While I was up in the press tower, Carol spent time talking to the man behind us in the stands. His tie-in to San Clemente, like many folks we run into, was being stationed in the Marine Corps at nearby Camp Pendleton. The flagman was a rather unusual woman. Ill just leave it at that. Carols favorite car was the student driver guy and he ended up winning the feature event.
NATIONAL SWEET CORN FESTIVAL
I had planned to see the figure 8s race at the National Sweet Corn Festival on Labor Day afternoon on September 5. When we arrived at the well-attended festival and paid our $3 admission fee, we immediately ran into fellow trackchaser, Ed Esser of Madison, Wisconsin. Ed was chowing down on a six-pack of sweet corn.
Race time was 2 p.m. It was 2 p.m. There were no engines sounds. Ed didnt see to be in a hurry to get into the grandstands. Eds next comments were not what I wanted to hear. Theyre not running today. They only had five cars show up, so they gave them there entry fee money back and sent them home.
That wasnt good news, but I was happy on a few other accounts. First, driving over from Springfield to Hoopeston, Illinois wasnt much of a drive. Without the figure 8 races this afternoon, we would be able to get over to the Peoria Speedway in time for the start of the 6 p.m. program. Since Ed couldnt add to his total I got a little bit closer to enjoying some fine Wisconsin cheese. Nevertheless, I would still have preferred to see this afternoons competition.
Since I was promised a race and didnt get to see one, I am considering litigation against the National Sweet Corn Festival organizers. I was out my time and gas money and somebody should pay.
Additionally, it might be a good idea to name trackchaser commissioner Will White in the lawsuit. You see Will was the first person to announce this event to the trackchaser group, so he might be partially responsible for my incremental trackchasing expenses. However, I must confess that I knew about this date before Will shared it with the group, so I guess naming Will as a defendant might not be on the up and up, so he is safe for now.
Ill be back to the National Sweet Corn Festival someday to see those figure 8s race. Its hard to pass up a Monday afternoon program in the Midwest.
RENTAL CAR UPDATE:
It looks like gas prices are going to reduce driving by many people in the country including some trackchasers. Here is one way to look at the situation. Lets say that you think $2.00 per gallon is a normal gas price. Gas is now closer to $3.00 per gallon. If your car gets 30 M.P.G. then the cost per mile at $2.00 per gallon is about 6.7 cents per mile. If gas increases to $3.00 per gallon then your cost per mile is about 10 cents.
A 1,000-mile trip costs about $67 with the lower gas price and about $100 with the higher gas price. Thats a difference of $33. Some can reduce their expenses in other areas such as motel expenses or food expenses to cover the increased gasoline expense. There is no doubt about it, higher gas price can eat up more of your disposable income. I prefer to look at it from the incremental expense point of view. High gas prices dont cost me $100, they cost me $33 more than I would have been willing to pay anyway.
LIFETIME TRACKCHASER STANDINGS UPDATE:
These worldwide trackchasers are within 100 tracks (plus or minus) of my current trackchaser total.
1. Rick Schneider Bayshore, New York - 1,036
2. Allan Brown, Comstock Park, Michigan 1,020
3. Guy Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania 997
4. Any Sivi, Clairton, Pennsylvania 993
5. Gordon Killian, Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania 978
6. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California - 954
7. Jack Erdmann, DePere, Wisconsin 872
44. Carol Lewis, San Clemente, California - 216
2005 TRACKCHASER STANDINGS
1. Randy Lewis, San Clemente, California 145*
2. Ed Esser, Madison, Wisconsin 95
3. Roland Vanden Eynde, Vilvoorde, Belgium 72
4. Paul Weisel, Orefield, Pennsylvania 60
5. Guy Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania 52
6. P.J. Hollebrand, Webster, New York 49
7. Roger Ferrell, Majenica, Indiana 47
8. Carol Lewis, San Clemente, California 47
9. Pam Smith, Effort, Pennsylvania 30
10. Allan Brown, Comstock Park, Michigan 26
* Trackchasing New Tracks in One Season record
Thanks for reading about my trackchasing,
Trackchasings #1 trackchaser of the 21st century
Randy Lewis is a freelance writer, who winters in San Clemente, California and frequently flies in economy class.
CUMULATIVE DRIVING DISTANCES:
Chicago OHare Airport trip begins
West Allis, Wisconsin 83 miles
Proctor, Minnesota 677 miles
Putnamville, Indiana 1,433 miles
Sparta, Kentucky 1,624 miles
Shelbyville, Indiana 1,749 miles
Edinburg, Illinois 2,120 miles
Chicago OHare Airport 2,632 miles - trip ends
Orange County, CA Chicago, IL 1,726 miles
Chicago, IL - Orange County, CA 1,726 miles
Total air miles for the trip 3,452 miles
Total frequent flyer miles for the trip 6,908 miles
Total rental car and air miles for the trip - 6,084 miles
TRACK ADMSSION PRICES:
Milwaukee Mile inner oval - Free
Proctor Speedway - $16
Lincoln Park Speedway - $10
Kentucky Speedway - $5
Shelby County Fairgrounds - $8
Edinburg Veterans Memorial Park - $8
Total trip track admissions charges About $47
My past trackchasing stories are available at:
Official trackchaser standings can be viewed at:
Upcoming new racetracks
September 9 Eagle Park Fairgrounds, Eagle, Michigan
September 10 Figure 8s, Richmond, Michigan
September 10 Sandusky Speedway, Sandusky, Ohio
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