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Friday, August 5 - We decided to attend a county fair in Martinsburg, West Virginia and take in a figure 8 race there. We arrived around 6:30 and made our way into the fairgrounds after paying our $5 admission price which also included the evening’s events on the track area. We secured a seat in the long 13 row high aluminum grandstand running the length of the dirt straightway setup and wandered out into the fair checking out the goats and other animals. Then we each visited different food stands where Pat purchased a chesseburger and beef/cheese fries while I indulged in a polish sausage sandwich with peppers, onions, cheese and sauerkraut. All the food was judged delicious and throughly enjoyed. The International Demolition Derby organization would be presenting the program this evening and they started out on the wrong foot by starting over a half hour late from the scheduled starting time of 7:30. Most motorsports groups that stage racing at a county fair try to move their program along as quick as possible so people can watch the show and still be able to roam the fair afterwards. This group was not one of those as the completion time of 11 PM matched the closing time of the fair.
By race time the long grandstand was filled and people were milling around on the sides and sitting down in front of the stands. In total I would guess that there were 3000 to 4000 people attending this night of racing. That is a great crowd and I know a lot of the oval tracks today would love to have such a large crowd in attendence. I don’t know if the fans in attendence were oval fans or not but they enjoyed their night of figure 8 racing as many yelled and screamed most of the evening. The night started out with timed two vehicle runs over a course set up on the straightway with two sets of dirt mound jumps to add to the excitement. Classes that participated in these runs were 4 cylinder and 6 cylinder cars, 6 cylinder and 8 cylinder trucks, motorcycles and quads. This took over an hour to spin off and then they brought out several tractors and front end loaders to prepare the figure 8 track.
At 9:30 the double figure 8 racing finally got underway with the first of three heats for the good 18 car 4 cylinder field on hand with 2 cars advancing to the main event. This was followed by the three car 6 cylinder car feature with one of the three breaking down before making the starting grid. David Beesaw won this thriller. A 4 cylinder consie was needed before the 20 lap 4 cylinder feature would line up. By 10:45 the feature was ready to go and off the seven car field went. It was more a demo derby than a figure 8 and no one was able to make the full 20 lap distance. Mike Smith completed 18 laps and was declared the winner when neither him nor the second place runner could fire their cars in the sixty second probation period. So the final checkered waved at 11 and the long night of racing was in the books.
The county fair type figure 8 races are the weakest of the figure 8 division with the ones on the permanent courses at an existing oval especially in Florida and Indiana are the best. To each their own but the figure 8’s for us are not really our cup of tea. Give us a well manicured 1/4 mile dirt bullring and we are happy.
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