Those who have known me for years know of my love for motorsports. I don’t care if it’s dirt track, concrete, asphalt…NASCAR or ARCA or late models or F1…if it’s auto racing, I’m there.
I’ve been very blessed over my life to have lived across the country so that I’ve seen racing from Pennsylvania to New Mexico and all points in between. I’ve lost count of the number of dirt tracks I’ve visited across our fine nation.
Tonight I was very thankful for my GPS because Crowley’s Ridge Raceway is not exactly on the well beaten path.
It is, however, well into hidden gem territory because of the way it’s off that beaten path.
The guy at the ticket booth looked at me like I asked him if he had a third arm growing out of his head when I said I’d never knew they were there before tonight and asked about what classes were racing. I think perhaps it’s because there’s a real “family” vibe to this place where all the racers and their families know each other, so an “outsider” like me was more the exception rather than the rule.
That’s not to say they were rude or stand-offish…actually quite the opposite. I had all kinds of folks talking to me, talking up the drivers connected to them as family or friends and generally acting like I was someone they’d known for years rather than a complete stranger. It was one of the warmer experiences for me visiting a track for the first time alone.
Of course, that was the only thing warm…there was a seriously cold wind blowing through what feels like a little valley where the track is actually placed. After a 75 degree day I went there in shorts and a light shirt…which was a major mistake. I hung in as long as I could but eventually it was just too cold without a jacket!
And there were no chairs. It was a series of concrete steps (and not really even ones) where most of the folks sat in lawn or camping chairs. It would have been nice to know this ahead of time so I could have arranged to borrow someone’s camp chair but I found I wasn’t the only one who ended up sitting on the concrete.
Now, as for the racing itself, I was seriously impressed by this place. The staff ran as smooth a show as I’ve seen anywhere in the country. In fact, I would say this place put on the most efficient dirt track racing experience I’ve seen in my over three decades as a racing fan. I don’t know if they’re this smooth every race night…but they clicked on all cylinders tonight (pun intended) and from all accounts it was their first race night of the season.
And the track is beautiful. One of the best setups I’ve seen. I really hope that someday I can get the opportunity to go out there on a race night with my professional camera gear and do some shooting. Maybe be able to get a pit pass and shoot some of the guys getting their cars ready for the show.
The pictures in this blog were with my iPhone which isn’t anywhere near as clear or crisp as you’ve seen from my other shoots…it would have been awesome to get quality shots of that car on fire tonight. (I doubt I’ll be able to do one since they have their own track photographer…but BOY would I love a shot at doing some photo work out there.)
Having done track announcing in the past, I appreciated the job from the guy did tonight. He was more laid back then I usually am when I do it but he had a keen sense of humor and knew just how to slip in the little one liners in a way that only the annoyingly sensitive in the world would be bothered by it.
Now, I do have a little (sarcastic) nit picks. First, they played Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” during the intermission. Really? Where’s the David Allan Coe or Waylon Jennings? Where’s a little “East Bound and Down”? When I think of racing, I don’t think of Elton John.
The other was my nachos from the concession stand. I paid two bucks extra for the nachos with chili on them (because I prefer chili, not cheese, on my nachos.) They didn’t even put a whole spoonful of chili in my order! I had all the chili eaten using only two tortilla chips. If you’re paying double the price of regular nachos, you should get more than two chips’ worth of chili!
Seriously, though, this place gave me one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at a local dirt track. When I go back, and I plan to go soon, I hope the experience can measure up to this incredible first impression.