HEDGER: The Long Look
THE VILLAGES, Fla. — As our time in cooler than usual but still sunny Florida nears an end, it seems to be an appropriate time for some observations.
One thing that always impresses us at Bubba Raceway Park and Volusia Speedway Park is the variety of concession stands offered. At Bubba’s we lived on pork tenderloin from the Indiana-based barbeque guys who kept their smoker fired up next to the pit gate, tempting all who entered. And at Volusia, while we generally chose the terrific pork chop sandwiches from the “Steak on a Stick” vendor, other choices included a variety of seafood, Chinese takeaway and even pulled pork barbeque in the pit area, with a pair of pigs rotating on a spit.
Compared to the usual choices of hot dog, burger or chicken chunks, the variety was terrific and obviously welcomed by racers and fans spending night after night at the speedway. And on the night at Volusia when it was uncomfortably cold, the glowing charcoal roasting the pigs was a Godsend for stiff hands.
While the Florida races don’t seem to attract a huge number of writers, photographers are everywhere, letting us interact with old pros Max Dolder, Al Steinberg and Gene Marderness among others. When it comes to Florida racing, they rank with NSSN’s Marty Little as having seen it all over the years and have some great stories to relate.
As for the racing, the opening night of the USAC sprints at Bubba ranks as one of the best races we’ve ever seen, courtesy of a race-long battle between Dave Darland and Bryan Clauson.
Like many others, we returned for the next two shows hoping for a repeat, but ended up disappointed and wondering what the difference was. The answer would seem to be the track surface, which looked a bit dry for the opener but never took rubber and let Darland and Clauson use the entire surface as they battled each other while lapping cars constantly.
The other two shows saw the track start out much wetter, which made everyone fast and passing difficult for most of the evening. But hot laps, with everyone backing it in, were a treat for everyone who doesn’t live in Indiana.