As of this writing, in about three weeks we will embark on the second phase of our four-year-long U.S. tour of racetracks. This year we’ll be visiting a number of venues in the Northeastern United States and, because of the distribution of states involved in our four-year plan, we’ll be including Ohio which is, in reality, a Midwest state.

Where To?
As was the plan last year, we will divide the 2011 Tour into two parts, the first covering tracks in Maryland, Ohio, and all of Pennsylvania and a race in New Jersey. In the second half we’ll be moving up the East Coast through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and into Maine.

We’ll be hauling a lighter load this year as we’ll leave the 28-foot trailer behind. In going over last year’s travels, it seems that the one thorn in our sides, continually, was that trailer. It carried our Jeep Wrangler and some promotional material. This year, the Jeep will be towed behind the motor home and we’ll store the material under the bus.

As far as our plan of attack and what we will be focusing on this year, it’ll be basically the same as last year, just new turf. It’s a fact that regions of racing have their own special trends and ways of doing things. It’s our intent to monitor, record, observe, analyze, and report on the class structures, how the promoters promote, car counts, and generally test the health of oval track racing in the Northeast region.

Unexpected Results
We never knew when we planned out our four-year tour of the country what we could, or should, accomplish. One of the surprises that came after our last installment was an email and call from the promoters of West Virginia Motor Speedway.

It seems they read my input on racetrack design and how some tracks were too fast and long and the racing ended up single file with no possibility for passing. I spoke with Lynn Chapman who helps manage WVMS and he told me they were planning on redesigning their track for much the same reasons.

He wanted my input on the new design and because of the importance of that input, I decided to consult with several others in the sport who were experienced enough to have good ideas. I ended up talking first with Earl Pearson Jr., a multi-time national Dirt Late Model champion, then Scott Bloomquist—no intro required—at the PRI show, and also my friend Dewayne Ragland who is a field rep for Allstar Performance and someone who is right on top of everything happening in dirt track technology.

All three of these experts agreed on most of the items needed for a competitive track design. Scott spent a lot of time with me drawing out on my Day Timer page what he thought would be essential elements of the perfect dirt track. I took those comments along with the others and developed a sketch to present to Lynn.

So, the former 1/2-mile-plus length track is now going to be close to a 3⁄8-mile track with a special design for the shape of the inside of the track that should allow better passing both going into the turns and coming off the turns. It also will sport two different track banking angles, not too high, and no outer walls except along the grandstands.

The design of racetracks is just one of the issues we get into with this Tour. If we can observe and analyze various aspects related to good competition, and influence the sport in a positive way, then this whole U.S. Tour thing will have been a huge success. And that’s why we’re doing this and what we’re hoping for. Only time will tell.

Where We’ll Stay
In between weekends, we are staying at various RV parks in Ohio, Pennsylvania (east and west), New York, Vermont, and Connecticut. We experienced a few very nice parks on our 2010 Tour and that gave us some idea of what to look for this year.