Half of our four day run of races in Wisconsin is over and we head across the state westward to the NASCAR sanctioned Elko Speedway located in Minnesota just 30 miles south of Minneapolis. That takes care of our Saturday night races, and then we get up Sunday morning and travel all the way across Wisconsin east to Slinger Speedway, some 265 air miles away. Of course, we aren't flying, so our journey is longer.
Both of these tracks became significant in their own way. I had never been to either, but heard stories from racers who contacted me over the years. I was especially anxious to see Slinger with its ultra-high banks, but the show at Elko surprised me. And this four day trip proves out something we said earlier, that in the state of Wisconsin and just across the borders, you can race nearly every day of the week.
Elko Speedway is one of the NASCAR Whelen All American weekly Series tracks and is a first
Our trip to Elko from Madison took a while, but when we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. This NASCAR Whelen All American Series sanctioned track was very modern and reminded me of places like Bristol and Martinsville, professionally laid out, but not huge.
There was a lot to like about this track and the way it was managed. First off, the fans had lots to keep them entertained. Before the races got started, they could dine and relax in a very large bar and restaurant area located under the grandstands and the entire area was air conditioned. There were large screen TVs, tables, bar seating, a stage for bands, and even a cash machine in case you ran out.
For the kids, there was a bicycle stunt show put on, a live animal exhibit and a large and complete playground. This attention to the younger crowd is something we highlight in our reviews of racetracks because when the kids want to go to the races, the parents are more than willing to go along.
The track had available Skyboxes and Trackside Suites for groups and both were climate controlled. This helps bring sponsorship to the track from local businesses and through the offering of these suites, the businesses can entertain clients or treat the employees to a special night.
As the stands filled up, and they did almost fill completely for this show, a thrill show was performed where one school bus crashed into another that was stood on end. It reminded me of the shows Humpy Wheeler put on at Charlotte for years. And they also had the popular Figure 8 races.
Elko had much to entertain the fans besides the races. This bus was crashed into by anothe
The classes run at Elko were the Mini Stocks, Power Stocks, Thunder Cars, and Super Late Models. The track is 3/8-mile in length and medium banked. I say medium where the track publishes high banked. But we were about to travel to Slinger the next day where the banking is truly high at around 18 degrees.
Adam Royle won the Super Late Model race passing three wide out of turn two to take the lead and hold on till the end. I noticed how well balanced the car was and it didn't appear to be tied down, but running a more conventional setup. After the race I was cruising the pits and came over to Adam where he was signing autographs and talking to the fans.
He noticed me and we began to talk. He opened up about his setup and although I can't provide details for obvious reasons, I discovered that he was running a soft conventional setup with no tricks, just very balanced and consistent. He won by being fast the entire race where some of the cars faded at the end. That was cool to see because we often promote those types of setups.
Overall, Elko was no doubt the nicest and most modern NASCAR weekly track we have visited on this Tour. We haven't seen them all, but this one rates very highly. After a good rest, we are up the next morning at dawn and off across the state to the next and final race day of our four day effort.
A view from the pit side looking at the end of the grand stands shows the size of the stan
Looking inside the enclosed entertainment area under the stands we see the popular bar, th
I forgot to mention the monster truck, looking like a scorpion, that did jumps and spun do
I have spoken to many racers over the years who run at Slinger. It is a high banked (but not as high as some might think) racetrack that is hard to get a handle on. In our observations, we noted a few characteristics that once indentified might help racers setup for the track.
Dale Sr. is still very popular with some racers and fans. This retro No. 3 car is painted
Slinger first opened in 1948 and celebrated its 65th year in operation in 2012. In 1974, the track was changed into what is now known as Slinger Super Speedway, the "World's Fastest 1/4 Mile Oval". Wayne Erickson was instrumental in getting that transformation done and now owns and promotes the track. And his promotions are many as he has reached out to the community by supporting the Scouts and other local groups.
The track has set up a Kids Club, free of charge, for children ages 4 to 11. With the membership, the youngsters are included in the weekly raffle, get a free prize each week and are include in kids events each Sunday night. Now that's what we are talking about.
The track is in reality about 18 degrees average banking in the turns, but it is banked high on the straights as well. Not as much as the turns, but there is a good ten degrees of banking down the backstraight. That causes a condition of the car wanting to roll left while going down the straights due to the banking. Then when entering the turns, the car obviously quickly rolls to the right. This flip-flop can be upsetting for entry into the turns.
The other strange thing I saw, and I have spoken about this condition, is that the cars climb the track coming off of Turns 2 and 4 to get onto the straights. This is caused by the banking being created not by raising the outside of the track, but by dropping the inside of the track. So, the outside wall stays relatively at the same elevation while the inside changes elevation with the middle of Turns 1-2 and 3-4 being below the inside line of the straights.
This transition onto the straights causes the right front to dip and the left rear to rise up at the point of transition. Shock settings can either help with this change, or hurt the car if not set up properly. High amounts of rebound on any corner could cause redistribution of the loads on the tires at this point and cause a loose off condition.
This Figure 8 “truck” sitting ready for Slinger’s Figure 8 race is made up to look like a
We saw this four-cylinder car that was nicely painted and with some accessories. We did a
The pit-side concession was as nice as we’ve seen in our travels. Usually the pit food sta
The way that happens with too high a rebound in the shocks is this. The RF tire is not allowed to follow the contour of the racing surface and the LR is not allowed to rebound to stay in contact with the track. This reduces cross weight percent and the car goes loose. Drivers have described being loose off at Slinger and I couldn't imagine that happening with the high banking until I saw the track. Now I understand.
Slinger is an older facility that is somewhat showing its age. The track surface was repaved in 2002 though, so the racing is always good. It has a very loyal following too and the competition is fierce. I get the feeling of being at a true icon and a place of reverence. To race and do well here means a lot to Wisconsin racers and that is the reason some come to try their skills, and some stay away.
Slinger draws good crowds of both fans and racers. Let's face it, the racing is exciting and they even run the Figure 8 races. I'm glad I came to Slinger and came to understand its attraction and some of its uniqueness.
In our next installment, we venture out of Wisconsin for a day to Hawkeye Downs Speedway for a Friday night race and then back into Wisconsin to LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway for Christmas in July on Saturday night, July 14.