Although we call it a typical weekend it hardly was typical for us. If you recall last November we traveled to California and got snowed in up at Big Bear Lake. We managed to get in a few races but missed four due to the weather. The last day we were there was a Sunday and the races were cancelled due to the weather. We had nothing to do so like so many other times while travelng we stopped at an RV center and walked through motorhomes. But this time was different because we bought one. A 2007 31 foot Fleetwood Jamboree with only 10,450 miles. Problem was we were going home and we did not want to drive it across the country during the winter. So for 6 months it sat in sunny California awaiting our return. This past weekend we traveled to California to bring our new family member home. We arrived at midnight in the Ontario, CA airport and the next morning at 10:00 we were getting a quick briefing on how to use this new addition. We stopped at the Walmart next to the RV Center to pick up a few items we needed that did not fit into one of the three large suitcases we brought with us and by 1:30 Bruce pulled out onto Interstate 10 to bring this baby home. Of course you knew it was not going to be without stops. Bruce did an excellent job of driving and at 7:40 we pulled into the first track of the trip.
Saturday, June 4 - After Manzanita Speedway was closed in Phoenix, AZ there was no real reason to come see a wingless sprint race in Phoenix but then a new track was born and it’s name is the Arizona Speedway. A 1/3 mile semi-banked clay oval that is part of ET Motopark in Apache Junction located southeast of Phoenix. Luckily they did not start on time as the 20 minute lateness gave us time to park, not as easy as it used to be, and get into the stands. There was a huge crowd on hand for the three division show and we missed the first of three heats for the mod lites. There were three heats for the 22 mod lites, two heats for the 13 wingless sprints and three heats for the 23 bombers. The temperature was still 102 degrees when we entered the speedway and the track was dusty and the wind was blowing in our face.
The heats were run off quickly and even though the car count was low for the sprints you could tell that was what the vast majority of the fans came to see. During intermission the announcer remarked how great it was to see this many fans at a track in the Greater Phoenix area. The 20 lap mod lite feature was up first and the 23 cars took the green at 9:28. Twenty minutes and four cautions later Mike Martin was standing in victory lane with Steve Marairty and John Priest following in second and third.
Now came the event we were all there to see, the 25 lap main for the sprints. Even though there were only 13 sprints participating in the event it was, well lets say it is the quality of the race not the quanity of the cars. Lately back home I have seen some strung out events, but then they do have wings. Tonight I watched some drivers, whose names I not real familiar with but they ran side by side and put on one heck of a battle for the 25 laps. In the end Shon Deskins took to the outside and passed R.J. Johnson for the win. It was a real exciting finish with Bob Ream Jr, Josh Pelkey and Nathan High rounding out the top five. In the end the fans were left with exactly what they came to see. They would not be talking about the fact that there were only 13 sprints or that the track dried out in the 100+ degree heat. They would tell their friends about the fantastic finish and they would be right in doing so.
It was only 10:15 but are bodies were telling us it was 1:15 and we had only a few hours sleep the previous night so we decided to drive over to our next destination, park the motorhome and sleep for the night. But when we arrived the gates were locked so we headed 15 miles down the Interstate to sleep in a rest area among the noisy tractor trailer trucks. It is going to take a while to used to this new hotel on wheels.
Sunday, June 5 - We arose early as 15 miles up the road the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) of Arizona was hosting day two of a two day meet at the Firebird East Course located on the grounds of the Firebird International Speedway. This road course is located right alongside I-10 with the traffic rolling down I-10 toward Tucson looking like they were racing the sport cars down the homestretch. This course is not a small one either measuring 2.75 miles with 11 turns in the circuit. NASA decided to complete their program early this morning as the temperature was suppose to top out at 102 degrees. That was fine with us as we had a lot of ground to cover over the next four days before arriving in Indiana. The first race was scheduled for 7:45 AM and went off at precisely at the scheduled starting time. That is one big thing that road racing has over its oval counterparts. They publish a schedule and stick to it. No twenty to thirty minute late starts like the oval lot but on time like the stick and ball sports.
The first of two races was for the small bore class in a 25 minute timed event which ended up being 19 laps in distance. Norm Hamden in his #99 Porsche 944 spec jumped off the front row and led the entire distance. The race for second through fourth was good with Darren Griffith also in a 944 spec trying to track down Hamden but never got closer than 3 seconds to the leader. Dave Hauck held off another challenger in his 944 spec to nail down the third podium position. The checkered waved on this one at 8:10. Next were some timed runs for individual cars and at 8:40 the second race of the day featuring the big bore cars went green at 8:45. Their 25 minute timed run produced 21 laps with Mark Alger in his Dodge Viper cutting through the field like the proverbial hot knife through butter. He made shambles of the field winning handily over the Porsche 911 of Ricky Johnson and the Audi of Bryan McCormick with the checker falling at 9:05 AM. We viewed the action from a small hill separating the East course from the lake where they race boats and were able to view the entire 2.75 mile course with ease.
It was a great way to start the day and by 9:30 we were on the road again toward our next stop of Albuquerque, New Mexico where we would stop at our first RV park of the road trip from coast to coast.
Monday, June 6 - Today was going to be a long, long drive starting in New Mexico then passing through Amarillo, Texas before ending up in Meeker, Oklahoma for the evening. Brill Motor Speedway was our destination for the second night of the SMP modifieds (IMCA type modifieds) running a seven race series dubbed the Longhorn Speedweek. We hustled our way across three states passing on the NCAA Women’s College World Series in softball in Oklahoma City to attend the racing at Brill Motor Speedway. We arrived at 7:45 to find an empty facility and could not figure out the reason why as a call to the track phone yielded no answers as it only rang and rang with no one ever answering nor any recording playing to inform the fans of the situation. Later after we bedded down in Chandler, Oklahoma I logged onto the Brill Motor Speedway web site and found out the reason. Two days after printing out the material off the website it was updated on Sunday informing everyone that the grader broke on their normal Friday night of racing and they were unable to secure the necessary parts to repair it so the special Monday night race was cancelled. I was like the greyhound chasing the rabbit all day long and had the rabbit snatched away at the last moment. This one was a tough one to take but life goes on and we are headed for Indiana and five straight nights of USAC midget racing at some of our favorite race tracks in the country so if the weather cooperates my mood should improve over the next several days. So check back over the next five days or so to get updates on the happenings at USAC midget speedweek with the wingless sprints on the undercard. It don’t get much better than that!!