The preseason taste in Arizona has been wrapped up, the National tours have kicked off in Florida and hopefully the temperature is rising wherever you’re reading this from. It’ll be time for the ones of us that can’t get the time off of work or refuse to donate a kidney to go to the aforementioned events, to get the fresh scent of racing fuel in your nostrils and to feel the thunder in the stands. And this year, perhaps you’re due to take some time away from your weekly home track during the season.
That may sound ridiculous. After all, those tracks are ones that die hard fans go to every year and have been going to for years. They’re the places where we see familiar friends week in and week out and make beer bets on the feature winners. They’re the tracks where you know what you’re going to get from a car count, surface quality and racing quality standpoint. Why would you want to get out of your comfort zone in the first place?
Look, I’m not for one minute saying that you should take an entire year off from your weekly stomping ground, far from it. But one thing I do know to be true, is that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and since so many take to social media to bash their own track in many cases, perhaps they should just try taking some time off and travel around a bit.
Let me define traveling though as it applies to the context. I’m not talking about places you already know. If you have three or four stops you make at different tracks before your track opens up, and then another three or four at season ending bashes in September or October, those instances will not count as a true traveling night. No, what I’m talking about it simply looking up tracks you’ve never been to and taking a leap of faith. Places with new drivers you’ve either never heard of or have never seen race before.
You see, a road trip to a new location is great for the dirt racing fan’s soul. To see how other people enjoy the sport, how they arrange the program and observe what they do differently, makes for a special night of memories. And every good memory made at a track, is truly the stuff that keeps us warm in the wintertime. One thing to keep in mind, wherever you go, it needn’t break the bank. Sometimes, the best nights are just a regular show at a place you’ve never been to.
Okay then, so where should you go? That’s totally up to you, but here’s some good advice. Make sure there’s something you can’t get just anywhere. If it’s a really familiar regional series at a track you‘ve never been to before, make it a tertiary target for a night when you need the weather to be spot on. Keep the prime target a track or a show that you’ve always wanted to get to but hadn’t been able to before. Keep the weather in mind and perhaps talk to some folks who have been there before about their rain commitment history. Make no mistake though, if there’s a 50/50 chance of showers, bit the bullet and go. You may be disappointed if it rains out, but you’ll be kicking yourself harder if you stay on the porch and find out that they ran.
Don’t listen to any naysayers that claim that whatever you want to see at the track you want to go to won’t be all that you thought it would and you’re better off not going. Make your own opinions.
There are few things you need to remember to take in, with as sharp a set of senses as possible. Firstly, the path you take to get there. Getting to the track is half the fun. Check out the vistas and turns in the road, the scenery and open the windows if possible. There’s nothing quite like discovering a new part of America on the way to a new experience at a race track. Find some new places to stop along the way if you’re hungry, stuff you can’t get back home. Personally, If there’s a Waffle House on the way, I’m probably making one stop there to or from. Once at the track, opt for a pit pass, it’s a time to splurge after all. Talk to some drivers and maybe find a rare tshirt you’ll never be able to buy anywhere else. Once you’re in the stands, check out how the night runs. See what they do differently to the surface, how they handicap the fields, and how deep the fields are.
Make 2019 a year to take things off your bucket list, you’ll be glad you did. And odds are, you’ll have a new appreciation for the track you call home weekly, while gaining some rich memories at the same time.