HEDGER: The Long Look
THE VILLAGES, Fla. — With pro and overall SuperFans champion Eddie Reichert and amateur titlist Kevin Babcock finishing up their victory lane photos with SuperFans sponsor Tim Frost of the National Speedway Directory, it’s time to wind down the ticket buyers’ finishing order.
Bruce Carley, Bob Litton, Ben Trask, Ron Oswald, Marshall Kern and the “entry” of Dale and Brenda Matthews trailed Babcock, with Kern, Dale and Brenda all turning in counts of 101 races, completing the group of fans over the century mark.
Ninth in the standings at 86 shows was Aaron Krup, of Grand Rapids, Mich. A longtime employee of the famed Berlin Raceway, Krup moved to the other side of the fence with a management change and got out to 32 speedways in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. He logged some 15,600 miles, spending $1,600 for admission, $1,800 for food and lodging and $3,600 for gas, probably the most limiting factor for SuperFan travel across the board.
Krup names Berlin, Eldora and Hartford, Mich., as the nicest, most modern facilities before adding “the remaining 29 speedways should be embarrassed by the outhouses they consider restrooms and need to look no further as to the reason for their empty grandstands.
Aaron cites the two and three-wide action at the WoO LM race on the dirt-covered Berlin as the best he saw all year, followed by the same group at Winston Speedway in Roxbury, Mich., and shows at Winchester and Toledo.
He also liked the inaugural DIRTcar big-block modified event at I-96. The low point of his tour was the Lucas Oil LM show at Portsmouth, Ohio, where “after multi-lane racing in the B mains, the final 50 laps of the A-main had zero passes for position with the leader unable to pass lapped cars when he caught the tail of the field. Not a single pass anywhere for 50 laps.”
Reta Litton, of Iowa City, rounded out the top 10 in the amateur division with 84 races, a number sure to be higher in 2013. According to husband Bob, our third-place finisher, she “finally retired at the end of June,” meaning they will both get a full-season in together this time around.
Eighty races at 36 speedways in five states put another Iowan, Kevin Trittien, in 11th place. With his computer in sickbay for most of the season, he lost track of his mileage and expenses but not his favorite events.
The best, he declared, was a battle between Darrel DeFrance and Jeff Aikey at the April IMCA Deery brothers LM show at Dubuque, though he also loved the Wissota 100 he caught in South Dakota and the October LM Showdown at Kansas City’s Lakeside Speedway.
Omaha, Nebraska’s Jim Harris, another longtime SuperFans supporter, checkered 12th, logging 77 races at 20 tracks in nine states. All but six of Jim’s races featured sprint cars with the others midget shows.
After driving 14,888 miles and spending $2,400 on motels and another $2,200 at the ticket window, Harris says the Chili Bowl topped the list. But close behind was a show at Little Rock “running two complete shows with more than 100 cars in one night” and both the 360 and 410 Knoxville Nationals.
On the downside, he declared, “The September ASCA/WAR show at Wheatland, Mo., was the stinker of the year. Track prep is such that it never lasts the night. Too wet the first night and rubber down the second. Didn’t look like they did anything to it before the second night, then had to rework the track, which didn’t last.”
A close second in Harris’ opinion is Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Mo., of which he says, “Right now this is the leading dump in the country as far as I am concerned.”
Thirteenth on the payoff sheet carried the name of Jack Miles, of Des Moines, on the strength of a 75-race season that saw him visit 26 different speedways. He had a lengthy list of favorites, topped by East Bay Raceway Park and Volusia Speedway Park during his annual Florida Speed Weeks trip. He also liked Kevin Gundaker’s Tri-City Speedway in Illinois, and both Buchanan County Speedway and Adams County Speedway in Corning for good racing and their excellent food.
Other places he praises include Joe Ringsdorf’s Hancock County Speedway, Deer Creek in Minnesota and Lakeside in Kansas City, while on the other side of the coin his only complaint is that on cold nights, promoters should know enough to speed the show up a little and drop the long intermissions.
Former champion Dave Garrison battled through yet another battle with cancer that took a big chunk out of his planned 2012 schedule. But after surgery in September and a half-dozen chemo sessions, Dave did get back out, ending up with 58 races. He then headed for Florida to start over, so we expect another big tally from Dave when this season concludes.
Along the way, he rated the Chili Bowl as “so-so” due to the dirt not cooperating with the track crew and loved Damion Gardner’s win at Bubba Raceway Park, a Rico Abreu score at Belle Claire Raceway and Jonathan Hendrix’s win in the Dick Gaines Memorial at Lawrenceburg. We won’t go into his negatives, all of which revolved around dust and late, ineptly run shows at a number of speedways.
Rounding out the 2012 amateur feature field was the longstanding “entry” of John Cross and Carolyn Kessler, who enjoyed 41 races at 17 speedways. They especially liked Pennsylvania Speedweek, highlighted by a visit to Williams Grove and a stroll around the famed “beer hill” area.
Back home in Ohio, the duo proclaims Attica (Ohio) Raceway Park as “always the best show, with full fields of 410s, 305s and whatever the support class is for the night. The track crew does a superb job of maintenance and it’s not very often that the track gets dusty. Fremont runs the same show with the same cars the next night and is always way too dusty. Goggles for all! And the promoter seems a bit greedy, as the gate price is steep and, even worse, he charges $18 to camp at a regular show.”
Other praise went to Waynesfield Motorsports Park and the Dayton Auto Race Fans club, whose discount plan saved the couple $120 through the season.
That’s it for the 2012 rundown. Keep track of your races, expenses and other highlights and lowlights and we’ll do it again next year.
And thanks, as always, to the National Speedway Directory for the winner’s trophies.