LaCrosse Speedway

LaCrosse and Hawkeye Downs are very similar tracks in their layout. Both have two tracks in one. Promoter for LaCrosse, Chuck Deery, is proactive as well in providing activities for the fans and kids. And, LaCrosse is a NASCAR–sanctioned short track.

LaCrosse first ran races in 1957 and a lot of well known racers have run here over the years. Steve Carlson, who has had so much success in this region over the past 25 to 30 years won his first Hobby Stock feature on August 18, 1976. He went on to win his first Late Model feature in 1982 and was crowned Late Model champion in 1984.

Dick Trickle won the track championship in 1977, Rusty Wallace won his first Late Model feature in 1979 and Mark Martin set the track record in that same year. Dale Earnhardt even raced here in 1987. Other successful racers who have left their mark on this speedway include Joe Shear, Butch Miller, Junior Hanley, Ted Musgrave, Eddie Hoffman, and Brian Hoppe. It seems that to earn respect in this region, you must have success at this track and a win here. There is also a big fall race that goes a long way toward earning that.

Oktoberfest is a four day, end of the year event that is known all over this rich region of racing as the must see, must compete race of the year. Started in 1970, it now brings more than 500 cars to compete in various classes and many thousands of spectators make it an annual must do.

LaCrosse is a somewhat different layout for a racetrack. Turns 1 and 3 are long entry shapes where the driver can carry a lot of speed into the turns, but coming off of Turns 2 and 4 the layout changes. The turns tighten up quite a bit and if a racer is not ready for that, the wall comes up very quickly.

Looking at a Google Earth view of the track shows exactly what I'm talking about. If you follow the curve of the racing line shown by the dark pavement created by the tires, following that arc takes you right into the wall at those two turns. Added steering must be applied just before the straights on both sides of the track, front stretch and back stretch.

The classes that run here include the NASCAR Late Models, Sportsman, Thunderstox, Hornets, and Outlawz. As with Hawkeye Downs, the two top divisions ran the larger half-mile track while the other classes ran the smaller track.

The one thing that happened during my visit that made a lasting impression on me was when they had the kids ride along experience before the nights racing began. The parents could bring their kids down to the track along the front stretch and track officials would help the kids get into one car at a time to ride around the track, at a slow speed of course.

I stood and watched as a good number of teams provided their cars for this event and many dozens of kids, faces lit up with big ol' smiles, waved to the crowd as they made their way around the track for a couple of laps in a real live race car. It was great and I wished more tracks could do this for the younger fans.

Both of these tracks provided important information for us to contemplate. First off, Hawkeye Downs is coming back from near extinction due in large part to responsible management techniques and a commitment by the promoter to make it work no matter what needs to be done.

With LaCrosse we see a track with a long history of success and where the promoter is not sitting still, but constantly looking to improve the experience for both racers and fans. His attention to the families that come to watch the races helps keep them coming back weekend after weekend. The plan isn't brilliant, it just makes sense and it works.

The next installment of the AMSOIL Great American Circle Track Tour takes us to our title sponsors home town of Superior, Wisconsin, and the AMSOIL Speedway in the first of a three track run all in the same weekend. These three tracks will be the first dirt tracks we will visit for this year's Tour and I can say, it's about time after all of those tarmac tracks.

SOURCE
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