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Saturday, November 14 - We awoke around 9 and started to discuss where we were going to venture to on this fine Saturday. We decided upon Galveston, the city made famous by Glen Campbell and Hurricane Ike. We started our trek south on I-45 and arrived in Galveston around noon. The city still shows many signs of the destruction that occured last September from Ike but they are rebuilding and coming back to life. We found a nice cafe called Olympis where we dined on fresh fish. My grilled shrimp were delicious and Pat’s bozza was very good also. We had a good conversation with two gentleman from South Africa seated next to us and also just enjoyed looking out onto the bay of Galveston. We toured a tall ship and took a short boat ride of the harbor before returning to shore and our car.
It was time to head north on I-45 and then north on Rt. 8 to our Saturday night destination of the Houston Motorsports Park, a 3/8 mile banked asphalt/concrete oval. We had to search for a Fiesta Mart, a Houston area grocery chain and on our 10 mile run up Rt. 10 we did not see a one. We drove about four miles west of the track over to the junction of Rt. 59 and still no Fiesta Mart. The reason we were searching for a Fiesta Mart was that they were selling discount tickets ($5 for a normal $15 ticket) for tonight’s racing. We finally gave up and drove over to the entrance of the speedway grounds. You pay as you drive into the facility and I voiced my displeasure to the ticket seller explaining that we were from Pennsylvania and could not find a Fiesta Mart anywhere. She did not know of any locally and could have used good customer service and offered us tickets for $5 but instead handed us a speedway card and suggested that we order our tickets off of Ticketmaster the next time. I tried to explain to her that there probably would not be a next time but all she could say was sorry. If we had ordered the tickets off of Ticketmaster their fees would probably have been more than the price of the ticket!! I found someone at the office and again registered my complaint and all they told me was that there were plenty of Fiesta Marts around and to have a nice time at the races. I was not a happy camper and with the additional cost of $5 to park the night would end up costing $35 instead of $15. No short track should charge to park on their grounds.
The facility itself is very nice with a long concrete grandstand the entire length of the homestretch with aluminum benches with backs on every other row. The pit area is located outside of turns one and two therefore the infield is kept open and viewing is unhindered. Racing got underway at 6:04, just 4 minutes off the scheduled starting time with the first and only heat for the bandoleros which numbered 8. They were followed by the eco stocks (street cars with roll cages and not much more in the way of modifications) who ran two heats for their 16 car field. They were one of the best classes if not the best of the evening. One heat of NASKARTS (go-karts painted like the Cup boys) with 12 ran quite fast and we thought were dangerous to be running on the big 3/8 mile oval with no form barriers or anything to protect them in case of a crash. The six limited modifieds ran one heat and the nine pro stocks also ran one heat. The pro trucks which produced the best feature of the evening numbered 10 and finally the late models ran one heat for the 13 competitors. During this heat Wisconsin’s Ed Esser arrived after his long ride from West Memphis, Arkansas the night before. All qualifying was completed in just over an hour with minimum cautions.
It was fan appreciation night and all the spectators were allowed to come down onto the track and visit with all the cars and drivers from all the divisons. We were aware of this ahead of time and expected about an hour delay. And that is what it was as after everyone who wanted to (about 2/3 of the crowd) took part in the festivities it was feature time. The bandoleros started things off with their 15 lap feature and most of the features were only so-so as the lineups were straight up from the heat finishes so therefore not much passing occured. The eco stocks and the pro trucks were the exceptions as they put on crowd pleasing races with lots of excitement and passing. In fact the pro truck feature had three passes for the lead from three different drivers. The late models were the last event of the evening and they ran 50 laps in good order with Brandon Bendele prevailing as the final checker waved at 10:56.
A well run program though five hours was a tad long for our taste but remember an hour was spent with the fan appreciation ceremony. The racing was nothing exceptional but it was still enjoyable to see racing in a new state and enjoy some of the local sights and sounds.
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