After a busy several weeks of summer travels, I took a couple off from the racing world. Now I will be gearing up for a couple more weeks on the road before waiting patiently for a couple major short track events to conclude the year.
The initial weekend of August meant an annual stop to Pocono Raceway for the Saturday portion of their race weekend, which included NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series qualifying and race and the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race. As was the norm in this area weather was an uncertainty, but the ugly stuff held off just in time for the victory lane ceremonies for the ARCA race that concluded the afternoon. It was very enjoyable to see two first time winners, Joey Coulter and Chad Hackenbracht in the Truck Series and ARCA respectively. The quality of racing was as usually expected at the 2.5 mile tricky triangle, which resulted in some spread out single-file racing. However, the restarts were quite the show with a couple altercations in the Truck race and Coulter making quite the maneuver for the eventual win. The ARCA race was a little more exciting, also as expected despite there surprisingly being only one caution. It was neat to see the Hackenbracht crew roll the dice and steal away the win from June winner Brennan Poole and the experienced and always hard to beat Venturini Motorsports crew. I left the track feeling satisfied as the rain began to pour down.
Driving away from the storm, I made the decision to head an hour west to Mountain Speedway for an annual stop at the 1/3 mile track for some Saturday night racing. My first time attending a race at this track was in 2007, a late model race which had a turnout of 28 cars. Fast forward to 2012 and the same amount cars turned out across five divisions, including a "race" with one Bandolero. The main event for the night was a 75 lap, double points, $1,500 to win Sport Modified cone race which had a nine car field. Despite the low car counts, the racing was as good as it could probably be. The four car late model race was probably the most interesting of the night and the open-wheel TQ Midgets always put on a show. Unfortunately, it's kind of simple to tell why the competitors and the fans (there had to be less than 200 in the stands) have been slowly dropping off over the years. When arriving at the track nearly a half hour after gates were scheduled to open, there was a line because no one was available to work the ticket booth. Apparently there was an accident on the highway that caused a few of the workers to arrive late, but you would think there could have been some kind of backup plan. In addition, the food seemed a little excessively greasy and the spiders and their webs appeared to make a home for themselves in and around the restroom facilities. I don't like to talk negatively about tracks normally especially as long as they are still in operation and since I am aware that it takes a committed team of staff and mostly volunteers to keep a short track going from week to week, but it's sad to see such a promising place a few years ago in a slightly discouraging condition it is in today. If I don't hear of things improving, I probably will not return next year.
I am kind of glad I bypassed attending Pocono the day after, since the weather was very uncertain and the Cup race ended up being shortened. Seemed like a very dangerous situation that mother nature brought before everyone, and I was saddened to hear about the unfortunate events following the race. Still would have been neat to see the race to the rain and I would like to see Jeff Gordon win a race in person someday before his career is over.
The following weekend I made my first trip of the year to Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton, Pennsylvania. I do not understand why it always seems to take me so far into the year before I head out there, because this is probably one of my favorite tracks. The 1/4 mile circular bullring produces sub-10 second laps for most of the modified field as well as ongoing side by side racing, which is better than Bowman Gray in North Carolina's quality of racing in my opinion. The triple 25 lap modified races produced three different winners, the supporting local divisions put on some great races and once the first feature started the show kept moving. First year track promoter Floyd Santee and the staff there have certainly done an exceptional job making this place enjoyable for the fans and competitors. I am definitely going to try my best to make it back up there at least once or twice more this year.
The last couple weekends I spent some time away from the track, but now it's time to get back at it again and the schedule I have planned surely will make up for it. My Labor Day weekend will consist of three races in four days (weather permitting), starting with a trip down to Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, North Carolina for their Friday night ASA-sanctioned local divisions. Defending ASA Member Track and former NASCAR Winston Racing Series national champion Barry Beggarly will be among the competitors in the field for the twin 50 lap late model stock car features. On Saturday, I will make the short trip to one of my personal favorite tracks Orange County Speedway to see the CARS Pro Cup Series, the Allison Legacy Series and the Rolling Thunder Modifieds. All three series have somewhat struggled with car counts this season, but have produced some good racing and this weekend should be no different. Pro Cup has recently signed Rev-Oil as their series sponsor and looks toward a bright future with that announcement. After a short break on Sunday consisting of some other sightseeing, it will be back to Ace for their Labor Day event. The Madhouse divisions will be on hand including some of the top southern modified racers as well as the USAC Eastern Ignite Midgets.
The weekend after will be an event that I was not originally planning on attending, but from discussions in recent weeks I will finally be attending my first Piney Lasky Memorial race at Motordrome Speedway. I will have the chance of meeting and doing anything I can to assist the Super Cup Stock Car Series for their 50 lap season finale as a guest of Joe Schmaling and the supporters of the series. Four drivers have a shot at the title: currently winless Indiana veteran Jimmie Crabtree, June Motordrome winner Kevin Kromer, two-time defending champion Jody Harrison and his uncle Harvey Harrison. I'll also have the chance to witness the 100 lap TBRA Late Model Series race, which should feature over 30 cars including points leaders George Skora III and Matt Barndt, veteran area racer Glenn Gault Jr., defending Piney winner Jimmy Carter from Ohio, track points leader Neil Brown and North Carolina invader Colt James. I'm really looking forward to and thankful for this opportunity, and perhaps there is the potential for some more of the same in 2013!
Next month I will be putting together a post a little different than the usual. It will be a preview for the Pro All Stars Series All American 400 at the legendary Nashville Fairgrounds, but will be a summary of several statistics I am compiling regarding the teams that will be expected to be competing. I plan on being their the entire long weekend, and can't wait to cross this historic track off my bucket list.
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