"Rocky Mountain high, in Colorado…" sings John Denver. We definitely got our taste of what he was talking about. We stayed in Fort Collins for almost three weeks traveling north into Wyoming for a few dirt races and to the two tracks, one spoken of in last month's story and one featured in this issue. In between those weekends, we were able to explore.
I-25 Speedway lies along the I-25 corridor (duh huh) shown in the background lined with bi
I tell most people who ask, "How does it feel being gone from home for four months like we were this year and will be next year?" I say it feels like we're always on vacation and always working. The responsibility and the detachment from everything that is familiar, is always there.
Nonetheless, we do get out on our mid-week days off, having worked the entire weekend most weeks, and hit the back roads. I have a Jeep Wrangler we tow behind the motorhome and it comes in handy for back road, mountain trail driving. When we visited the Vail area, we found a third unpaved pass, across the great divide, that runs from the small town of Red Cliff over to I-70.
We ran the loop past Vail and Beaver Creek through the Glenwood Canyon on I-70, then down Route 82 past Aspen and through 12,000-foot Independence Pass. Then on to Leadville, the highest town in the U.S. and back to our stopping point in Frisco where we took a few days off while the bus was being serviced.
I can see why many people desire to move out here. The summers are very mild and the winters are very white. But we have work to do, so let's get going to the races. Just down interstate 25 about 120 miles lies I-25 Speedway, aptly named. Beyond that we travel farther down I-25 to Albuquerque and the NAPA Speedway, at what was previously known locally as Sandia Motorsports Park.
I-25 is located just north of Pueblo, Colorado, and is fairly remote. In fact, if you look around, you don't see much of any civilization. Nonetheless, racers do come here and love the place.
We were welcomed with this signage attached to one of the race cars. Everyone was excited
Note the used tires now being put into service as canopy weights. Half the tread is worn o
At many of the tracks we visited, we found some very nice examples of 1980s vintage cars.
On exiting the interstate, we turned left and carefully drove through a short, tunnel pass under the highway. The only way I knew the rig would fit was to watch big rig race trailers go through. Just on the other side was the speedway.
Perry White is the promoter here and is helped by his brother, Randall. They purchased the track 11 years ago as a project and have been putting their sweat equity into it ever since. It was extremely clean and the concession areas were all paved and had everything the fans would need.
My next door neighbor, Aaron Paulsen examines a new NecksGen head-and-neck restraint. He r
It's a track that is slightly larger than a quarter-mile with high banks. There was a good car count on this September Saturday night and I had quite a few talks with the racers. Our motorhome was allowed to park in one of the racers spots, so we were right there among our readers.
I saw wide use of head-and-neck restraints here. I was showing off a new version of the NecksGen device to a few of the drivers. One girl who was driving in a four-cylinder class really liked it. It seemed to fit very well for her and she showed it to her crew chief/father.
I had offered to loan it to them to use that night, but he deemed it too time consuming to fit to her helmet. I was disappointed. Heck, it takes maybe 10 or 20 minutes to fit one of these, but a lifetime to get over losing a child. Let's see, what choice should I make? Fortunately, she did not crash and therefore did not need protection, but the point is, it could have happened.
A few racers were well prepared for our visit having read all about our Tour and seeing that I-25 was on the schedule. So, Mike Bible scanned our CT logo and put in on one of the Sportsman cars.
The classes that run here during the season are the Super Late Models, Grand American Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks, Mini Stocks, Hornets, Charger Figure 8s, Legends, and CARC Vintage Modifieds. There were 79 entries on this night and a surprisingly large number of spectators.
The racers who frequent I-25 are really attached to the place. Not that that is a rarity, but some places seem to feel more like that than others. Maybe it is the small community attitude or the remoteness of the track, but something good was going on here and I could feel it in the air.
We really felt welcomed here and enjoyed all of the racing. The next morning we awoke ready to make the long awaited trip down to New Mexico and NAPA Speedway.
NAPA Auto Parts has become the title sponsor for the facility that used to be called the S
Although we came to see the stock cars run at NAPA Speedway, located just west of downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, there was so much more. Part of our effort and the goals of this tour involve studying racetrack promotion and management. We like to observe how tracks are run, if they are successful or not and why, and what that has to say to other tracks for educational purposes.
NAPA has a lot to say. Actually, this is a motorsports park and the NAPA paved oval is just one part of that. On this day, no less than four motorsports events were taking place. Overall, there are 10 different motorsports events possible at the Motorsports Park. Let's count them. They have stock car racing, with separate dirt and asphalt tracks, drifting on the asphalt track, motocross racing, road racing for vintage cars, motorcycles and karts, sand drags, a flat track, a quarter-midget asphalt track, a mud boggin' course, and an RC track all in one facility.
Jim Guthrie is the promoter and general manager here for our visit and he took an active role in all of what went on. In order for a large place like this to earn its keep, you have to be active, and we saw lots of activity.
This view of NAPA Speedway tells the story about remoteness. This track was basically cut
When we arrived, the drifters were out on the NAPA track and had their way until around 3 in the afternoon. Then they had to vacate the pits and the stock car teams came rolling in. From there on it was a typical race night if you forget that the road course and moto-X were still operating.
The numbers were not huge for the stock car classes, but the modifieds did put on a great show. In the street stock class, there was a provision to add a passenger seat and a fake steering wheel to the cars. We saw a couple of cars fitted that way. If your friends ever wondered what it was like out there, now they can go along and see first hand.
One Modified driver/owner also had his wife and son racing together in the Bandoleros class. Charley Wilson, the dad, owns Circle Burner race cars and demonstrated why his cars were setup right by winning his race. Mom beat out CJ, her and Charley's son for that class win.
CJ Wilson, the son of Charlie Wilson who owns Circle Burner race cars, hit me up for some
Earlier, CJ had come over to our bus that was parked inside the grandstand area and right next to the track and wanted to discuss sponsorship opportunities. I told him that we didn't really sponsor race cars as such. He came back several times until I caved and offered a $50, year long, sponsorship deal through a company I know of if he would run stickers on his and his mom's cars.
He went around the pits and showed the check and bragged to everyone and anyone who would listen. That kid's going far in racing. Getting sponsorship money is the hardest thing you'll do in racing.
The crowd was decent for the races and Albuquerque is a large city and should supply plenty of opportunity for drawing race fans. There were a lot of families in attendance both inside and outside the pits.
Maybe it is the small community attitude or the remoteness of the track, but something good was going on here and I could feel it ...
The track is under new management for 2013 and the whole facility is owned and overseen by a board. It used to be run by the board until it was decided that was a bad idea since everyone had a different idea of how to run the place. So, it was decided that one person would be designated to be manager and make the decisions. This year that peson is Charlie Fegan.
This team took up the colors of the track’s title sponsor. The lower classes ran a shorter
This car had a passenger seat that could be installed by rule and let friends ride along.
Just a short distance away a bunch of moto-cross riders were practicing their jumps on a N
New Mexico was much more than we had expected. Since this is a Tour and encompasses more than just going to the races, I'll tell you a little about what we experienced. We initially stayed in Raton, New Mexico, just across the border from Colorado for a week or so.
Bumpstops have definitely come to Modified racing. At NAPA, the track is super smooth and
From there we only had to travel a short distance east to view ancient volcanoes, one of which, the Capulin Volcano, you could drive around and up to, the crater. These things stick up across the vast flat territory of northeast New Mexico. The Folsom man was discovered nearby and he was then thought to be the oldest recorded human ever to live in North America, having lived from somewhere around 9,000 to 8,000 B.C.
To the west is the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. We traveled through Cimmaron and the canyon that is named for that town to a rocky four-wheel-only road leading up to the peak of Mount Wheeler, some 13,000 feet above sea level. There was a lot more to see including the wild life.
Out in the vast pastures you can easily see groups of pronghorn "antelope", although they are not really of that species. There are also prairie dog colonies scattered around Colorado and New Mexico. When passing through Cimmaron, we drove through "town," really just a few houses and a dirt street.
We have talked about security being needed at the racetracks and how things can go very wr
We rounded a corner and in front of a house inside a fenced yard that couldn't have been 20 feet deep was a full grown, antlered elk. It couldn't have been a pet, but there it was eating the grass and looking like it belonged there.
Right before the race date at NAPA, we camped at an RV park in Bernalillo, New Mexico, about 10 miles north of Albuquerque. Just north of us and within easy viewing were the Sandia Mountains and Sandia Peak that rises to 10,678 feet and has a ranger station and viewing area on top. It is very prominent and can be seen for many miles. Everything around this area is named Sandia something.
Having completed our most westerly event of our 2012 Tour, we now head northeast up through Kansas to a few dirt tracks before heading home. It's been a long trip and has provided a lot of information and experiences. But in just a few weeks we'll be back home in Florida sleeping in our own bed for a change.