Notice the size of the corners...
Notice the size of the corners and the width of the track; this will be one racy place.
There were an abundance of smiles as the cars exited the track. The track is wide and there is plenty of racing room. There were some comments about the lack of clay but that was an issue whose solution was already in motion at press time. Jonah was negotiating with the same supplier of the clay that was used at Manzy. So, as the infrastructure to support the track was improving, so would the surface of the track be on its own improvement plan.
The overall comments from the racers were, "The track is fast," "It is wide and it is going to be racy." Overall, the racers were very enthused. Even with the lack of a significant amount of clay, the surface was starting to take rubber and it was still relatively smooth at the end of the day's practice. There was a good amount of track time given to each division so everyone had the opportunity to form an opinion.
But for the track to be a viable commercial entity you would have to have fans show up in a greater number than the racers. The first race was held on April 2, 2011. It was a clear day with very little wind and just a bit on the warm side. It would turn into a perfect evening for a race. It was a great show; the racing was close, fast, and just what the doctor ordered for a town still reeling from the loss of Manzy.
The pits on practice day were...
The pits on practice day were packed. There were four rows like this all packed with haulers and race cars from multiple divisions. The pits are fairly well lit and there was plenty of room to safely work on your car.
On race day, the track was buzzing with activity, and both on- and off-track action that ran right down to the wire. There was a crew of electricians completing the wiring on the lights and double checking everything to make sure that the lights would be operational. There was a crew following the electricians, they were aiming the lights and doing the final double checks. There was an army of staff members all over the track assisting the fans and the racers.
There were many questions to be answered and if a staffer didn't have the answer to a question, he or she was on the radio or a phone trying to get the answers needed to help a racer or a fan. In fact, the level of help and assistance that the staff was giving out made you feel right at home.
As I entered the track there was a woman named Stacy working the pit gate, who made sure that I had the correct press credentials and made sure that any questions I had were answered by the right people. There was a, "Hey, we are sure glad you came" vibe from all of the staff members. They all seemed to love that they were part of the first race night and they wanted to be sure that they were doing everything they could do to make your visit as positive as possible. It was very refreshing to be treated like company rather than just a paying customer.
Jonah Trussel is addressing...
Jonah Trussel is addressing the racers on the first practice day several weeks prior to the opening-day races. The first words out of his mouth were thank you for coming, we are happy to have you here. Jonah is a very approachable guy; you just have to catch him as he's moving around the facility at light speed.
The event was a huge success for Jonah and his team. The turnout was projected to be 2,000-2,500 people, but more than 3,300 people showed up for the night's racing. It was standing room only and the fans didn't seem to mind a bit. This was a great sign. There was obviously a hunger and the Arizona Speedway just might be the perfect menu item.
A key ingredient to a successful track is the food. And the food service folks didn't disappoint. They were serving up the standard racetrack fare—burgers, dogs, and beverages—but also had tri-tip and pulled pork sandwiches. And, they were giving out samples! The food was quite tasty.
While you were waiting in line for a beverage one of the food service staffers was walking the line and trying to help customers at the back of the line to help keep the process moving along so you could get back to watching the race and not miss any action. If you wanted to sit and eat, there were plenty of clean tables. This was the first time I had ever seen the food service folks at any racetrack be proactive and get the fans back to the stands quicker so they could watch the races. Nice touch.
Once the cars were given the...
Once the cars were given the green flag, the drivers wasted no time discovering the limits of the track and just how far they could push their cars. The attitude of the cars through the corners had the tail-out look that we've all become accustomed to when we see short track dirt racing.
When the Modifieds hit the...
When the Modifieds hit the dirt the line moved up the track and the cars got even more sideways. For the first time at the track the drivers were attacking the track like they had been driving it for years.
Monkey bars are where you...
Monkey bars are where you find them. Kids always seem to find some place play and give their moms fits.