Kalamazoo Speedway

The Zoo, as it's sometimes called, was a regular Saturday night race event, but we came away from the night with a feeling that every night here is a big event. The track officials and all of the workers, as well as the racers welcomed us in a huge way.

Gary, the owner, and Donna Howe, who runs the operations, were on top of everything that went on here. Gary even loaned me a golf cart to use throughout the event and since the pits were both inside and outside the track, it got used quite a bit. This is one of the best managed, maintained, and operated tracks we've been to on the entire Tour covering half of the U.S., so far. The track is oval/egg-shaped with no noticeable straights, but is highly banked offering good side-by-side racing. Top drivers here for this event included NASCAR star Johnny Benson shaking down a new car, and the Bozell family including Andy, Phil, and Jeff. Fast time for the Outlaw feature was posted by Brian Bergakker, a multi-fast time setter at this track. The divisions run here include the Cyber Stocks, Mini Stocks, Pro Stocks, Super Stocks, and Outlaw Super Late Models. Interestingly, the Outlaw Supers must run the Hoosier 970 treaded tires with only two new tires allowed to be run each week maximum.

Many drivers complained about having to run these tires, but when I spoke with several, they all agreed that this particular tire was very repeatable in performance and one even said it was better the second week it was run. It's a $100 tire and makes this class of racing much more affordable. The track is very well kept and sports very clean facilities, a new catch fence, 43 sky boxes atop the grandstands, a Hospitality Village that can cater up to 500 people, Party and Hospitality Decks, and all paved pit areas both inside and outside the track. The safety crew is all firefighters along with paramedics. The safety truck is top notch and along the lines of what I've seen in NASCAR Sprint Cup and IndyCar racing.

Camping is allowed at the track in an area away from the grandstands and several patrons extolled Gary's policy of allowing tent campers to stay overnight without hassle. They can combine a camping experience with a night at the races, and that spells fun. All of the races were run on a tight schedule: Drivers meeting at 6:15, First Race to Frontstretch at 6:45, Invocation/National Anthem at 6:56, and so on. And I believe every segment was within minutes of that schedule. This track can be a bit slick, but Gary adds a sticky coating to the asphalt and that makes for two- and three-wide racing many times. I noticed that not many of the cars were running tie-down shocks and typical Big Bar and Soft Springs setups. Andy Bozell told me that he no longer runs the bumpstops and instead opts for a soft conventional setup that puts him up front at every event. All of the events run this night were exciting and the Outlaws put on a show. Passing is fairly difficult and it takes experience and patience to move ahead. This is a great learning track for young racers. If you can master the art of racing clean here, you can do it anywhere.

This is one of the most successful tracks we have visited to date and the grandstands, as well as the pits were full. When a promoter runs a clean show, complete with solid tech, a video review process for on-track situations, and affordable rules, including $100 tires, it all works.

Our next stops on the 2012 Tour include Grundy County Speedway and Wayne Lensing's newly acquired Dells Raceway Park, where the many innovations he has brought to short track racing will surprise and amaze you. Stay tuned.

The divisions run here include the Cyber Stocks, Mini Stocks, Pro Stocks, Super Stocks, and Outlaw Super Late Models. Interestingly, the Outlaw Supers must run the Hoosier 970 treaded tires with only two new tires allowed to be run each week maximum.

Many drivers complained about having to run these tires, but when I spoke with several, they all agreed that this particular tire was very repeatable in performance and one even said it was better the second week it was run. It’s a $100 tire and makes this class of racing much more affordable.

The track is very well kept and sports very clean facilities, a new catch fence, 43 sky boxes atop the grandstands, a Hospitality Village that can cater up to 500 people, Party and Hospitality Decks, and all paved pit areas both inside and outside the track. The safety crew is all firefighters along with paramedics. The safety truck is top notch and along the lines of what I’ve seen in NASCAR Sprint Cup and IndyCar racing.

Camping is allowed at the track in an area away from the grandstands and several patrons extolled Gary’s policy of allowing tent campers to stay overnight without hassle. They can combine a camping experience with a night at the races, and that spells fun. All of the races were run on a tight schedule: Drivers meeting at 6:15, First Race to Frontstretch at 6:45, Invocation/National Anthem at 6:56, and so on. And I believe every segment was within minutes of that schedule. This track can be a bit slick, but Gary adds a sticky coating to the asphalt and that makes for two- and three-wide racing many times. I noticed that not many of the cars were running tie-down shocks and typical Big Bar and Soft Springs setups. Andy Bozell told me that he no longer runs the bumpstops and instead opts for a soft conventional setup that puts him up front at every event. All of the events run this night were exciting and the Outlaws put on a show. Passing is fairly difficult and it takes experience and patience to move ahead. This is a great learning track for young racers. If you can master the art of racing clean here, you can do it anywhere. This is one of the most successful tracks we have visited to date and the grandstands, as well as the pits were full. When a promoter runs a clean show, complete with solid tech, a video review process for on-track situations, and affordable rules, including $100 tires, it all works. Our next stops on the 2012 Tour include Grundy County Speedway and Wayne Lensing’s newly acquired Dells Raceway Park, where the many innovations he has brought to short track racing will surprise and amaze you. Stay tuned.