HEDGER: More About SuperFans
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — This column wrapping up SuperFans was in the column when NSSN ceased publication. We thought we’d share it with you now.
While in Florida this winter, we had the pleasure of chatting with Amateur winner David Garrison, runner-up Ed Esser and Pro stalwarts Bruce and Pat Eckel at the Ocala USAC opener, where we found Garrison and Esser sitting about six feet apart without either being aware of the other’s presence.
Touching briefly on those out of the hard-fought top 10, we had Jim Harris of Omaha scored 11th with 86 races after driving more than 14,000 miles and spending $1,700 on admissions. He makes the 390-mile jaunt to Knoxville weekly, an option countless other SuperFans would love to have.
New Yorker Harold Brossman, who notes he’s been to 6,100 races since first going to the Fonda (N.Y.) Speedway in 1960, was 12th with 82 races. He’s a big RoC fan and loved the shows at Selinsgrove (Pa.) Speedway and Penn Can Speedway in Pennsylvania. Michigan’s Donald Cheryton caught 79 races at 37 tracks and says the dust made Port Royal (Pa.) Speedway the worst while nearby Lincoln was the most impressive. He also liked Nebraska’s Junction Motor Speedway and US 36 Racepark in Missouri.
Reta Litton was 14th while 65 races put Jack Miles of Des Moines into the top 15 as well. Jack loved the Lucas Oil shows at Tri-City and Wheatland in Missouri while also praising Magnolia (Miss.) Speedway, Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway and Adams County, Hancock County, Mineral City and the Independence Motor Speedway — all in Iowa.
John Cross and Carolyn Kesler ranked 16th with 63 races, worth some $2,374 at the gate, and sys the best, hands down, was the Chili Bowl. Pennsylvanian Ron Oswald caught 47 races to show 17th, with the Western World at USA Raceway in Tucson his choice for No. 1. The worst, he says, was the seemingly endless Turkey Derby at Wall Stadium in New Jersey.
The late entry from Lisa Hlauacek of Lake Forest, Ill., finally caught up with us in Florida. She had 106 races, which would have put her in the top ten, and says she drove nearly 60,000 miles and bought $2,500 worth of tickets. Her entry shows a broad spectrum of racing at mid-America’s most notable speedways and we’re hoping she enters a bit earlier in 2011.
We’ll wind up SuperFans by thanking Tim Frost and the National Speedway Directory for sponsoring the winner’s awards and reminding everyone to keep accurate records to send in at the end of the 2011 season.
This was our first winter in Florida and we greatly enjoyed shows at Volusia County and Ocala speedways. Both facilities are neat, well organized, offer great food and most importantly, are extremely racey. Both Volusia and Ocala will be in action weekly through the summer, with the former leased by the World Racing Group to one-time East Bay Raceway Park wner Stanley Kolan and Kenny Sands, formerly part of the Orange Co. Fairgrounds Speedway management team.
The Volusia surface was top notch, as expected, but we’d heard mixed reviews on Ocala’s “white sand” surface. The announcer described it as “swamp gumbo,” but whatever it was, it rolled out light colored and sticky as hell, with Damion Gardner and a few others using the bite to pull some very impressive wheelies in traffic.
We enjoyed chatting with Steve Beitler, a WoO traveler when last we met but now a 10-year veteran of promoting races at Washington’s Skagit Speedway. Some former drivers struggle as promoters but Beitler and New York’s Mike Perrotte, who still races when he has time, rank among the leaders in the industry.
If anyone had any doubts that modified racing’s newest superstar, Stewart Friesen, was for real, their questions should have been answered at Volusia County. The last-lap slide job he pulled off on race-long leader Brett Hearn to steal the Volusia modified opener was in itself worth the price of admission. The likeable Canadian won again and went on to claim the week’s point title before heading north.
Friesen, who won Syracuse and just about everything else in the Northeast in 2010, may not repeat those achievements this season, but he is definitely at the level of Hearn, Billy Decker and DIRT’s other long-term heroes.
We’ll close by commending Chris Dolack, Roger Slack and the rest of the World Racing Group staff for their efforts at Volusia, where things ran like clockwork whether the attraction was the All Star Sprints, the WoO sprints or late models, the DIRT modifieds, the UMP modifieds or the UMP late models. The fans take all that for granted but the guys behind the scenes are working day and night to make it all happen.