We are about to conclude our 2013 Tour with a visit to two Arizona racetracks. In between we'll be taking a short break and seeing the Grand Canyon in all of its glory. Not only is this the end of this year's Tour, this marks the end of our entire U.S. Tour. This western states run has been a very long one and to say we are a bit burned out would be an accurate diagnosis.
Our stay in Williams, Arizona, some 60 miles south of the southern rim of the Grand Canyon, was met with a white fluffy substance falling from the sky at midweek. Luckily, it all melted away before we made the trip north to see one of America's truly most spectacular sights and a monument to the force of nature.
The GC was closed during our visit. The sequester and resulting government shutdown in Washington had closed all of the national parks and we barely avoided that situation when we were at Yosemite. So, our plans to take a train from Williams to the rim and see it that way disappeared. There were two options, go west to the Hualapai Indian Reservation and walk the famous glass bottom skywalk, cantilevered over the canyon, and/or take a helicopter ride over the canyon. We did both.
This piece is not a travel guide necessarily, although we are traveling and we do guide you to various racetracks. But to deny that we saw much more would demean the adventure completely. I'm just saying here that if and when you do travel with your race cars to distant venues, do take time to see new sights and create new adventures beyond the racetrack. It'll add a whole new meaning to your life in racing.
So, while we are leaving California, we have made a slight change to our schedule. If you paid attention, the Auto Club Speedway in Irwindale, California, was on the schedule, but due to the management needing to avoid a conflict with its oil sponsor and asking me not to bring the AMSOIL Tour bus to the track (something no track in America had asked us not to do before), I decided to replace that show and move on to visit a very cool racetrack just over the border in Arizona. Here is my story.
Havasu 95 Speedway
This ASA–sanctioned track located 130 miles south of Las Vegas in mid-eastern Arizona is warm in the winter. That is why so many people move there or have winter homes they stay at rather than weather the snow storms in places like Montana for instance. The track runs a winter season and we were attending the first race of that season on October 5. The season runs through April 26, 2014. How cool.
Bill Rozhon is the promoter here and he is a promoter's promoter. Of all of the various persons who run the racetracks we have seen on this entire U.S. Tour, Bill is one of, if not the most, savvy of all of them, and we've seen some very good ones. And the task is not an easy one. One of the track sponsors is the popular company Lucas Oil. That didn't keep Bill from welcoming us to visit. He could see beyond the names and realize the value of having Circle Track include him in our schedule.
This track lies in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, with a population of just over 52,000 and there's not a big city anywhere around. In fact, you have to go more than 200 miles to get to Phoenix to the east, or north the two hours to Las Vegas. Finding enough race teams to make a show is difficult, but Bill has done just that.
The good thing is that Lake Havasu City is growing. This oasis in the desert town has added 10,000 people to its population since 2000 and it continues to grow. It's not because of the addition of the London Bridge, reconstructed and opened in Lake Havasu City in 1971, but because this is, like we said, warm in the winter and it is an aquatic playground with the 25-mile long, dam created, Lake Havasu running through it.
The track installed this concrete curb to curb the practice of running off the asphalt ont
Who says a short track team can’t attract a major sponsor. I like how the crew has on the
As is usually the case, we are camped right in the pit area at Havasu 95 where we have eas
The racetrack is very clean and Bill has special events here to go along with the racing show. On the night we were there, a bunch of hot rods and cool cars were on display. Both the kids and the adults loved that.
Everyone at Havasu 95 seemed to really like coming here to race. And they got along well. We talked to many of the participants and found a very friendly atmosphere and a sense of camaraderie.
Bill had recently installed a concrete curb around the turns that he had hoped would keep the cars from clipping the inside of the asphalt and kicking dirt up onto the track surface. It worked just like it was supposed to and the problem was solved.
The racing was competitive and the crowd was pleased to be here, I could tell. All night Bill worked hard to make sure the show went well and finished at a decent hour. That is something that we find important to families who bring the kids and who need to get home around 10 p.m.
The next morning we took a ride in Bill's coupe hot rod down to the race shop of Gene Price and met up with Greg Pursley, the 2011 champion of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. The trip down south to his place was very interesting as we rode the highway alongside Lake Havasu. It told us all we needed to know about the areas growth potential. I think Havasu 95 Speedway will be just fine.
Central Arizona Raceway
This track will be known as the Central Arizona Speedway in 2014, due in part to the overall results of a management change the week we arrived for our final racetrack visit of the entire U.S. Tour. Little did we know, the brothers Chad and Alex Ayers would be unexpectedly hosting us and for the first time, managing the program at CAR.
The track is a 3/8-mile dirt track located at the Pinal County fairgrounds outside of Casa Grande and is built with no walls or guardrails in the turns. It is fairly high banked and retains moisture well.
There was a bit of chaos going on. The brothers had to find personnel to run the concessions, gates, and more. The previous promoter, Benji Lyons, was not around for reasons we could not determine, and the Ayers brothers were now in charge. It was interesting to watch the drama unfold.
Throughout the afternoon and night, everything seemed to run well. There were enough workers to get the jobs done and the racers and fans came out in good numbers. On this night there were non-Winged Sprint Cars, Mini-Sprints, Modifieds, and Late Models running.
Since that time, the promoter status has been finalized for Central Arizona and Jonah Trussel, the founder and promoter of Arizona Speedway that is located just 30 miles north of CAS, has taken over the duties for this track. For 2014, both tracks will have sanctioning by IMCA.
The track at CAR has no wall or guardrails around the turns, is high banked and retains mo
The Modifieds are a big class in this part of the country, and in many more parts of the c
Our last AMSOIL dealer participant ran a very nice display at CAR. They have been a wonder
Jonah will be combining points between the two tracks for certain classes to establish one champion for each division running both tracks. That way, a team can run one or both and still gain points toward the season championship. He made a lot of changes and improvements to Arizona Speedway early in 2013 and we expect him to do what is takes to make CAS equally successful.
When so many tracks are in decline, it is refreshing to see a promoter make a success of not one, but two racetracks. Jonah first started at Arizona Speedway with motocross racing, his passion since he was a kid, and then installed a mud boggin' course that drew over three thousand spectators the very first day it was open.
That success led him to build the dirt track there outside of Phoenix and it was equally as successful. And the two crowds were not the same people. So, diversification seems to work in some areas and other promoters should take that into account when wondering how to maximize the usefulness of the property around the racetracks.
The Long Haul Home
We left home this year on June 11, and the morning after the races at Central Arizona the date was October 13. It has been four months and about 10,000 miles distance and we are ready to go home.
The trip back will take a full week and cover more than 2,000 miles. Along the way we will get real familiar with I-10 getting on it in just 15 miles from the racetrack and getting off when we hit I-75 in Florida.
The entire western U.S. Tour was fantastic. We will dedicate an entire wrap-up article in the next issue of CT highlighting the whole four-year Tour. We'll tell you what we saw that was done right, and what we think could be improved as to how promoters promote, how racers race, and a little about what could make our sport grow in the coming years.
For now, we'll take next summer off for a change having worked nearly every weekend of the summer months the past four years. We, as a magazine, will regroup and focus on what we do best, and that is provide cutting edge technical information, enlightenment on racing issues that affect us all and working to enhance and expand the interest in circle track racing worldwide.
It's been a blast and an adventure unparalleled in scope and influence. I'm so proud of my team and the support they have given me throughout this endeavor. And thanks goes out to the many racers, track owners and promoters, fans and companies who supported us along the way. It's a great crowd to represent.
Don't forget to check out the rest of our series on The 2013 AMSOIL Great American CT Tour!
Atomic Motor And Rocky Mountain Raceways
Meridian And Stateline Speedways
Wenatchee and South Sound Speedways
Skagit and Deming Speedways
Evergreen, Douglas County, and Coos Bay Speedways
Southern Oregon, Calistoga, and Silver Dollar Speedways
Petaluma, All American, and Battle Mountain
Ocean, Madera, and Kern County Speedways
Havasu 95 and Central Arizona Speedways