...I went to the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway to watch some live racing! After experiencing the 2008 Daytona 500, I thought nothing would ever top that. Then, just over a year later I went to the reopened Rockingham Speedway and thought nothing would ever top that. Now I've been to the first stock car races at North Wilkesboro since 1996 and I've come to the conclusion that it just keeps getting better! The short track in the small North Carolina town may not have had as much three wide racing or hype as the Daytona 500 or didn't have Andy Hillenburg's rejuvenation and the speed of Rockingham, but it was the best overall race weekend atmosphere I've ever witnessed. Great food, great competitors and most importantly a great turnout of great fans were on hand and that's all North Wilkesboro needed to make it a successful first weekend back. Smiles were on everyone's faces throughout the entire race day. The only minor complaint I had was the old scoring pylon was not operable and it was a little hard to follow how many laps were complete during green flag racing. Initially I thought the old NASCAR Winston Cup Series painted walls were going to make the place look a little run down, but it along with the old 76 gasoline ball on pit road gave the track a very nostalgic look that you just don't see at almost any race track anymore. I literally cannot wait to go back for the 300 lap Pro All Stars Series Super Late Model race in April 2011! Photos from my trip can be found at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2061668&id=37801386&l=5ec159c551 (you do not need to be a Facebook member to view the album). Videos from the racing action can be found on my YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/ajcrdstr24.
And now...it's time to wind down for the next few months. I've been paying a moderate amount of attention to the NASCAR ranks, but haven't had a chance to watch or listen to any races from green to checker. Speaking of which, does anybody else mute their ESPN/ABC TV broadcast and listen to the MRN radio broadcast instead? In the news, I saw that Justin Allgaier has been set free by Penske to seek other options. How can Roger Penske do this?! Allgaier has proved that he is the most talented stand-alone Nationwide Series driver and has proved he is quite the versatile driver winning the ARCA championship a few years back with wins throughout his short career on short tracks, intermediate tracks, superspeedways, dirt tracks, road courses and even Pocono! If someone doesn't sign this rising star for 2011, something is completely wrong with NASCAR and I will be completely baffled about what can be done to save the future from going down the tube. Hopefully he doesn't go the same route as talent like Stephen Leicht and virtually disappear from the sport. On the other hand, I hope he doesn't go the Landon Cassill route and take one-race start and park rides with underfunded teams. Good for Landon getting his name out there, but there has to be a better way although I'm not sure what that could be. Auto racing has something that no other sport or competition experiences. Sure you need to have a bankroll if you want to aspire to be a professional at just about anything, but the bankroll needed for a professional racing career is astronomical when you compare it to just about anything else. Maybe that's what makes it so fascinating yet frustrating at the same time. It might be too early to be worried about this entire subject, but I sincerely hope that I'm not the one saying I told you so at Daytona in 2011.
Like I said before, I will pretty much be winding down getting into a bit of a save mode. I have one major poker tournament coming up in October where approximately the top dozen players will get invited to another tournament in Atlantic City where various prize packages will be offered. After that I'll be counting down the days until I get to fly down to Pensacola, Florida for the 43rd Annual Snowball Derby! More details about this upcoming trip to follow...
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