So, we now know why Gillette exists. And it is better off than the rest of the country as far as income. The average mean income for an individual in Gillette is around $70,000 and the average family income is over $78,000. Compare that to the U.S. averages of $47,000/$65,000 and we can see where there is a lot of money flowing from the ground in this isolated city.

Gillette Thunder runs under the rules packages of the Wissota AMSOIL Dirt Track Series but most of the officials wore IMCA shirts—ironic I know. Teams who run here on Saturday night also run at Casper Speedway, a Friday night track. With so few tracks around these areas, that makes it nice for the racers.

Notable classes that run here include the Mod-4 class of Modifieds. This should be a growing class due to the low cost and availability of the engines. There were only about five Late Models, but a good many Modifieds this night.

There must be a shortage of water here because the track was one of the dustiest tracks we have seen, anywhere. As the night went on, it became less noticeable, but early on, I was thankful that the winds, which can get very high here, were coming from our backs while sitting on the pit grandstands along the backstretch.

That might explain the low crowd count in the regular grandstands. I only counted about 250 fans, or less. If the dust could be controlled more, they might attract more fans. The prevailing wind carries the heavy dust right over the main grandstands.

As far as the racing, it was great. A track like this with the wide open layout, medium banking and wide turns produces great competition with many lead changes. The racers who run here seem to really like the way it is managed and they feel accepted and welcomed.

Casper Speedway

Almost 200 miles away to the south of Gillette lies Casper, Wyoming and the dirt track by the same name. This track sits way up on a hill overlooking a wide area, and is subject to some high winds at times. We parked our motorhome right in the pit area next to the track where our exposure, both visually and weather-wise was high.

This too is run like a club where they have elected co-presidents to manage it. Benji Bayne and Jennifer Borud held those positions at the time of our visit and they were aided by Lisa Herr who is the promoter. For 2013, Benji is the sole president.

I think these tracks are run this way because they only exist on car counts, not unlike most tracks truth be known, and the racers at some point in time realized if they did not control things, the track would just up and blow away, maybe literally.

Benji is from back east, Concord, North Carolina, to be exact. While there, he learned a few things about running a racetrack and making racers happy. He brought this knowledge all of the way west to Casper and it seems to be working fairly well.

Although the car count at Casper was not something to write home about, I got the distinct feeling this was not as much about the racing as it was about the socialization. These teams really interacted and had a ton of fun.

The racing seemed to go on forever mostly due to the large, nine class structure here. They included the Rocky Mountain Hardtops, Mini Stock, Hobby Stock, Mod 4's (a class Benji competed in), Midwest Modifieds, IMCA Modifieds, Dwarf cars, Super Stocks, and Late Models.

There are three sanctions that various classes run under which are the Wissota AMSOIL Dirt Track Series, IMCA, and CLMA or Championship Late Model Association out of Colorado. When I added up all of the drivers in all classes who have raced here in 2012, the total number came to 116. On this night we would see 51 teams competing.

The reason for the difference is because tracks have big, high paying events that draw racers from other areas on a special night. That is good for everyone because it does several positive things. It introduces new racers to your facility, it gives the local racers new and greater numbers of competitors, and it provides more competitive racing for the fans.

Remember that this area is the high desert of the Midwest and it is a different life out here. The people who race here work hard and they play hard. There's not much else to do in these sparse surroundings and most make the best of it when they can, while they can. Winters can be very harsh out here, not only for the cold, but for the high winds and blowing snow.

We enjoyed our visit to Casper and were welcomed with open arms. Lisa put a big ol' sign out front by the entrance fence stating, "Welcome Circle Track Magazine." The racing was very competitive, there was a good bit of fellowship, and everyone went home happy, something we like to see more often. I have learned that the club concept seems to work very well in certain situations.

Next we travel on to our next KOA campground stop at Fort Collins, Colorado, and from there visit Colorado National and I-25 Speedway, two competing asphalt tracks that are promoted heavily. But first, we will detail our unique experience at Montana Raceway Park in Kalispell, Montana, a few weeks earlier. We have some very different and excellent promotional ideas to explain in our next installment. Stay tuned.

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