As I type this, it is my last night in Las Vegas prior to an early flight home in the morning and I thought what could be a better time to wind down and share my experiences via this blog post. I will always be partial to traveling to the south, but there is nothing like Las Vegas. Initially it was quite the overwhelming feeling, but after a day or so the city starts to grow on you. The trip didn't go entirely according to plan both financially and logistically, but I am already thinking about my possible return next year. I had the chance to do some things that I have been dreaming about for the last seven years, including playing in a tournament at the World Series Of Poker held at the Rio Casino and Hotel. It was only a daily deepstack tournament rather than a multi-day bracelet event, but I lasted until there were about 200 players remaining out of a 1,100+ starting field. I didn't make any cash, but the experience was well worth it. For anyone that hasn't been, there is so much more to see and do than gamble in Vegas. Even the flight was interesting; seeing parts of the country for the first time in the air. I would recommend traveling there to anyone in an instant.
In addition to my adventures in Las Vegas, I drove into California to see the SRL Southwest Tour at Madera Speedway. My initial reaction was disbelief that this track was still open. It is surrounded by shopping centers, but I suppose it stays in business because it is part of the Madera Fairgrounds. The local fields were small but competitive, and SRL had a great turnout with 26 Legends cars and 22 Super Late Models. The Southwest Tour race saw a last lap pass for the win when former two time NASCAR Southwest Tour champion Jim Pettit II worked his way past Derek Thorn, who set a new track record on the recently repaved surface, amidst lapped traffic. It definitely was an entertaining night, and it was nice seeing some regional racing in another part of the country.
Earlier in the month of June I made two other trips to some short tracks. The Pro All Stars Series race at South Boston Speedway was a little low on car count, but once again not low on competition. Saturday's Kentucky winner Brad Keselowski won his first race as a super late model owner when Landon Cling held off a number of veteran drivers in the closing laps. The following weekend I made my way across my home state of Pennsylvania to Motordrome Speedway to see the Super Cup Stock Car Series and five local divisions. Kevin Kromer led the 50 lap Super Cup race flag to flag, but during much of the race you could throw a blanket over the top four cars. Kromer's story was interesting as they blew a motor in the shop during the week leading up to the race and had to borrow one from Peck Motorsports, the team that got Todd Peck into victory lane at Motordrome the year before.
I did not go to any races the weekend after due to preparation for the Las Vegas trip; however, I did pay close attention to a doubleheader that took place for late models in Pennsylvania. The fairly new TBRA Late Model Series hosted 100 lap races Friday night at Motordrome and Saturday night at the reopened CNB Bank Raceway Park in Clearfield. Both races had an impressive turnout with over 20 late models. Colt James came up from North Carolina and won the Saturday night feature. I am hoping they do this again next year so I can check it out. Also, I am glad to see a positive outlook for late model racing in this portion of the country.
You would think after a busy month of June that I would be taking some time to settle down a little bit. That certainly will not be the case. While I do plan to spend July 4th at home, the day after will be spent traveling up to Shangri-La II Motor Speedway in Tioga Center, New York to see the Must See Racing Xtreme Sprint Series. This will be an interesting show to see, which will be my first time witnessing these blistering fast open wheel sprint cars race on the concrete surface. The last time they competed on concrete, they set track records at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The following weekend I will be going to CNB Bank Raceway Park to see the NASCAR K&N East Series compete there for the first time since 1987. I have a feeling there might be a smaller field than some past races, but it will be interesting to see how the talented and possible future NASCAR stars react to a track where they do not have much or any experience at. It should also be a perfect track for these types of cars on the 5/8 mile oval.
The weekend after that will be a stop at the Old Dominion Speedway for the second year in a row to see the Youth For Tomorrow 150 benefitting the Joe Gibbs Youth Home in Bristow, Virginia. It doesn't look like the show will be as big as the previous year, but NASCAR drivers who have been announced to compete in the show include Mike Skinner, Travis Kvapil, Landon Cassill and David Reutimann. The local late model drivers will be vying for the win against these guys for a $10,000 1st place prize. Capping off the month of July will possibly be an annual stop at the close to home Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway to see some Micro Sprint racing.
Photo galleries and videos will be forthcoming and can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/ajcrdstr24?sk=photos (if you have trouble viewing photos, I will gladly accept your Facebook friend request) and http://www.youtube.com/ajcrdstr24. Hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day!
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