“Hey, what’s your favorite track?”
I get asked that question a lot. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve been able to visit a lot of tracks in my career and it’s no secret that I keep a personal list of my top 5 tracks, which is often in flux, but that’s not what I think of when someone asks me about my “favorite” track. That question triggers a cascade of thoughts through my mind.
I think of how much I like walking in through the front gates at Cottage Grove, underneath the giant pine trees, and how much I like sitting and touching the massive planks that form the grandstands there. That reminds me of how much I love standing on top of the tower at Lincoln Speedway with the trees at my back, all around actually, and the track sitting in the valley in front of me. In my mind I turn around to look at the trees and I end up thinking of my first visit to Ventura Raceway when I couldn’t stop staring at the ocean just off the back of the tower. That has to be one of the most beautiful settings for a race track. Ha! I remember a Midget driving up the fence and destroying one of our speed shots there which reminds me of the time I caught a Sprint banging off the armco right in front of our speed shot at Gas City. That’s such a cool, intimate place to watch races. It has that old school feel to it with the small, wooden stands and everything with a fresh coat of white paint.
Intimate reminds me of how much I enjoy standing on my little island of grass while running wireless cam inside of turn 3 at Port Royal with the cars racing past under my feet and that in turn reminds me of standing inside turns 3-4 at Marshalltown where the banking is so steep the cars running the cushion look like they’re up on the second floor.
The image of the cars at Marshalltown makes me think of the cars swooping down out of the turns at Lawrenceburg, which in turn reminds me of the scent of the distillery just behind the grandstands. Oddly enough, that makes me hungry so I instantly think of the bierocks at Rolling Plains Motor Speedway and the green chili burritos at the now defunct Southern New Mexico Speedway. I quickly perk up when I remember that Central Arizona Speedway now has the green chili burritos, that are just as good, along with those homemade sugar cookies with the checkered flag icing. Pie! That makes me think of pie and there’s that pie place right by Attica Raceway Park and man, I didn’t realize how racey Attica was until I visited. That sends my mind off to Kokomo and the slide jobs there which in turn evokes the mental image of cars banging the boards at Tulare Thunderbowl. The image of Tulare’s white walls reminds me of smoke and smoke reminds me of the vapor trails at Hagerstown Speedway during PA Speedweek. That’s the best vapor trails I’ve ever seen, other than that one time at… where was that?
My mind wanders. Was that in New York? Man, New York has some nice tracks. Weedsport is a beautiful facility with that crazy turn 1-2 where cars keep glancing off the wall and getting jounced around. Cars dancing their own jig reminds me of the wheelies at St. Francois County Raceway in Missouri. That is some of the craziest qualifying I’ve ever announced, winged sprint cars wheelieing all over the place! That uphill, downhill run there takes my mind to Bedford Speedway. That long pull up hill to turn 3 and then those Late Models come barreling down hill into turn 1. I love the grandstands at Bedford Speedway. They look and feel the same as they did when I attended my very first dirt track race there back in the day. Belleville High Banks has really cool old grandstands too and Jacksonville has that aura around their grandstands as well, that warm embrace of old timber grandstands that shiny new aluminum ones don’t have. I’m glad they kept the old grandstands at Eldora and holy crap is it cool watching cars fly around that place. That sound! But man, that’s nothing like the sound of the Little 500 at Anderson Speedway. Now that’s a bucket list event and the World Championship Snowmobile Derby at the Eagle River Derby Complex is another. Those sleds on that ice are sexy as hell. Silver Crown cars are sexy as hell too. I love watching them from the tower in turn 1 at Terre Haute. I… uh… I’m sorry. I started rambling there.
I think the point of this is; I don’t have a favorite track. I have favorite things at tracks and it ranges from racing, to food, to views, to the folks I see every time I visit. Each track has something special and to paraphrase Will Rogers, I’ve never yet met a track I didn’t like.