Fourteen Days and Two Mopar Events.
couple months ago my wife and I decided to take our Trailer Toad Show on the road for a few weeks. We started at the NHRA Lucas Oil Points Race in Earlville, IA but that was only 75 miles from home so it didn't really count as being on the road. Then we set off for the first of two Mopar-only events, the Chrysler Classic promoted event at Summit Equipment Raceway Park in Norwalk, OH and then the Monster Mopar race promoted by S&S Productions at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis, MO. The following is a bit of a "journal" from that little so-called vacation. If you have traveled a lot you will understand the whole deal and if you have not done a lot of traveling..... I hope you find this column semi-informative or at least a humorous example of racing and road burn
First, before we got 60 miles from our Janesville, IA base we had to stop at Wrightway Trailers in Hiawatha, IA to get the rear door of the new trailer adjusted so one person could get it open and shut. They adjusted the rear spring and we were on our way in about an hour. Two hours later we were pulling into Cheyenne Camping Center to get warranty work done on our motor home. The water pump for the coach had quit working (Not the water pump on the engine)... the important one that lets us take showers. Three hours after pulling we were back on the road (yes, I bought a spare pump just in case) and now we were almost to Illinois. So far we have been on the road for 10 hours and traveled 200 miles.
Next up was a search for our favorite camping spot, Wal-Mart. Thanks to a Wal-Mart Road Atlas that lists their store locations and a Garmin GPS we have no problems finding our nightly parking spots. If you haven't camped at a Wal-Mart you need to get them on your list. Security guards cruising around all night, well-lit, level parking, no loud semis allowed to park there, Most stores are open 24-hours so you can get those "treats" after you park and of course you can get stocked up on supplies for the rest of the trip. We spent over $200.00 with Wal-Mart during the four nights we parked at their different stores. I am sure they have a darn good idea how much "Wal-Mart Campers" spend at their stores, that is why we are welcome.
Our next stop on the way to Norwalk, OH was the United Trailers factory in Bristol, IN for some warranty work. They had to repair the inner wheels and a few loose outer panels on the 26' United Trailers stacker we use to haul our Trailer Toads and dragsters around with. Seems the fender braces were too close to the tires and were rubbing the tires under heavy loads and on rough roads. We got there about 3 pm on Tuesday and rather than start on it late in the day they let us camp and plug-in at their factory parking lot. That was pretty darn nice of them and we appreciated it. They got our trailer in at 7 a.m. in the morning and we were back on the road by noon. Now all we had to do was empty our pockets paying tolls for some of the roughest roads I have ever driven on. Does anyone know what they do with the toll road money? It sure doesn't seem to make it to the actual pavement or repairs of the pavement. I guess it's just another "state jobs program."
We arrived in Norwalk, OH and, naturally, parked overnight at the Norwalk Wal-Mart SuperCenter. We got to the track Thursday and parked in the famous Linder's Lot. I had no idea of what or where it was but I did find this out; when you arrive you get a number written on the windshield and that will be your number in the order they let you in. Simple and effective, more tracks should do it that way. The Summit Equipment Raceway facility looked great from outside the gates but I was about to be VERY IMPRESSED once I got inside the facility.
WOW!!!!! I owned and operated a couple drag strips from 1979 through 1993 and together they didn't begin to compare to the facility we pulled in to. Attention to detail was everywhere. Flowers, perfect pavement, everything painted and in its place. Literally, a work of art in the opinion this former track operator. I know what it takes to keep a very basic facility functional and this place was MUCH, MUCH MORE! Beautiful appearance and as easy to get around at as any drag strip I have ever seen! A tip of the hat to Bill Bader, family and a great crew for an exceptional facility for drag racing and for actually treating us racers as CUSTOMERS!!! WOW, what a novel idea!
The Chrysler Classic Events race was to include a make-up race for the rained out Michigan event. Guess what? Hurricane Ike had other plans. The weather pushed up from the Gulf and absolutely soaked the event from late Thursday evening, all day Friday and it finally quit at 3 p.m. Saturday. They got the jet dryer out and time runs started at about 7 p.m. They got almost a complete round in, I think, by about 4 a.m. I was asleep at 1:30 a.m. so I am a little foggy on time. The Sunday weather was excellent and we were there displaying our Trailer Toad hitch assemblies. We watched a lot of great racing and the Max Wedge classes and Nostalgia Super Stockers are becoming my favorite classes to watch. Beautiful classic Mopars and some are just "bad-fast" with 4' wheelies! They concluded the race on time and in between handed out some car show awards in front of the grandstands and all in all I think it went well considering the weather. I am definitely planning on more Chrysler Classic Events for 2009. Their website is CCEvents.com if you want to see if they have a race near you.
We left Norwalk (reluctantly I must admit) and headed for Gateway Int'l Raceway Monday morning. I am so glad we decided to stay at Norwalk Sunday night. There were 60+ mph winds and a tremendous amount of wind damage just South of Norwalk down to Cincinnati. We were lucky and I hope all the racers who left Sunday evening made it home O.K.
A couple more Wal-mart camping stops and trip to Flying J to do laundry in the Trucker's Lounge (Barb thought I was kidding when I told her they would have a laundry facility!), a round of golf with Jeff and Matt from MoparMax.com and a quick (and profitable for the first time in a while) stop at the Harrah's Casino in St. Louis and we were ready for the Monster Mopar race at St. Louis. We had a great parking spot to display our Trailer Toads and we decided to join in on the fun with our 572" Ohio Crankshaft Wedge powered dragster. We qualified #6 on the Open Wheel side of the Quick 32 with a best run of 7.476 seconds. Our competition in the first round slapped a .000 reaction time on my .011 and then I did the thing I hate doing........ I followed him through and even though he broke out by .012 I was following him at .017 under making my fastest pass ever at 7.456. OK, that was it for my racing but we had a great time watching another couple hundred Mopars beat each other's brains out run after run. Johhny Laboose, Jr almost doubled up again but this time he settled for the Super Pro win and got runner-up in the Quick 32. The Monster Mopar events are a bit more spread out than the Chrysler Classic events. The circle track at St. Louis had the Swap Meet and Car Show in the pit area. You could grab a shuttle to go see the cars and parts and that was a pretty neat way to get over there. A fantastic turnout of Nostalgia Super Stock cars made for an excellent special show.
The one thing I got out of going to both events; the economy might be the subject of a lot of TV News programs and rhetoric from politicians but at the drag strip I would say the economy is doing just fine. Fantastic turn-out of cars and people. Some of the Quick 32 cars could win Best Engineered at any NHRA National Event and the No-Box guys outnumbered the Box guys about 2:1. I hope I can get more Mopar races on my schedule for 2009, we had a blast and met some great people and made some friends, what else could you ask for?