Eli vs. Crowley’s Ridge Raceway

With Labor Day weekend approaching, I’d decided that I would give the boys an “end of summer blowout” kind of weekend where we would go do something special.  I expected them to want to go to Memphis or Little Rock or somewhere that we’d have to stay in a hotel because they like to do that.  

Instead, Eli surprised me by announcing to me on Thursday night that he wanted to have his “surprise” be a trip to Crowley’s Ridge Raceway on Friday night.  Apparently he saw a billboard for the racing and he wanted to “go see race cars.”  Eli loves racing so it was a no-brainer to go.  (When I take them home from weekend visits, Eli’s not happy unless we’re listening to the NASCAR race on the radio as we drive back.)

His brother wasn’t feeling well (I think he had IDontWantToGoAlongitis) so it was just Daddy and Eli for a night at Crowley’s Ridge Raceway.

Happy Eli on the way to Crowley’s Ridge Raceway for their Labor Day special.

Eli was fired up all day, sending me messages from his iPad about it and even sending a picture of him smiling from excitement.  So while I was a bit disappointed big brother wasn’t going along on the adventure, I was happy for Eli because now I could focus entirely on him and making sure he had a great time.

He was looking to the side because someone was pulling into the parking area
towing their race car for the evening.

I was a little concerned the crowd would be so big that it might bother E, but he seemed to be OK as we bought our tickets and made our way inside.  He walked to the fence near the concession stand that overlooks the pit area so he could see the guys working on their cars before the racing started.  (He wanted to go down in the pits so he could sit in the cars but I told him that it was too close to race time.)

He decided he wanted to sit right in the middle of the seating area near the start/finish line.  He walked down and found a spot that wasn’t right up against other people and provided a small buffer area.  I think he was starting to realize there were a lot of people around him and he found his own little pocket of space. 

This guy is ready for some racing action!

I was happy that we bought Eli some earplugs because even with them in I could tell at times the engines were a little loud.  (He would put his hands over his ears when certain cars passed us.)  He didn’t complain about it, though, which I took as a good sign that he was going to hang in for a while.

He hung in for two and a half hours!  (They didn’t have an intermission for some reason so there was no stopping the show.)  I was rather impressed that he wanted to stay as long as he did because I could tell he was being overstimulated by the racing and people walking all around him.  

I kept asking him to pick winners for each race and he would pick someone but he wasn’t really enthusiastic about any of the drivers until he saw the car in the video below…

When he saw the picture of Scooby-Doo on this guy’s car, Eli was hooked and said that it was “his driver.”  I don’t know the guy’s name but E was quite happy to watch “the Scooby guy” go around the track.  I think he even won that particular race.

That favorite of his didn’t last very long, however, because in the next race he saw “The Jesus Car”…

I didn’t get the full name of the guy in the car (Philip something) but once Eli saw “Jesus saves” on the car he said that this was his favorite driver.  (Eli’s loves to go to church, and he really loves Jesus, so it didn’t really surprise me that he would point out a car with Jesus on it.)

E was pretty disappointed that his guy didn’t win the race.  (He finished 3rd.)  As soon as the race was over, Eli told me that he wanted to leave.  I was impressed he lasted as long as he did…two and a half hours sitting on concrete like that is a lot for E!

Overall, we had a really great time. 

Note that Eli had to get a bag of popcorn for the road…

The only bad thing tonight?  Some jerk in the parking lot.

We parked at the very edge of the parking lot near the entrance gate.  I pulled in behind a guy’s truck (my Prius is tiny) and when we went inside there was ample space between us and the vehicles around us.

We come out and there’s a guy sitting in a black pickup truck that pulled in behind my car.  I don’t know what the guy was doing…sitting in a truck in the dark in a parking lot…but he had a full car length’s space in front of his truck.  It was going to be a tight squeeze to get my car out from where he had parked me in…

AND THEN THIS JERK BACKS UP TO THE VERY BUMPER OF MY CAR.

I’m not kidding!  I get into the car with Eli, turn on the ignition and then look in the rear view mirror to see this guy against the back of my car with his backup lights on.  Fortunately I had enough space with the truck in front of me that I could move back and forth enough to get out of the parking spot.  

There was part of me that wanted to pull around and find someone with security and report this guy just sitting there in his truck in the dark, but E wanted to get home. 

As we pulled out, Eli said “This fun.  I love you dad.”  He told me that he wants to come back to Crowley’s Ridge Raceway sometime.  

Jason Written by: