Our annual trip to Daytona began on Saturday. The early morning rise to catch the Delta flight to Atlanta had begun. Got to the gate area and met some of Terry Ford’s former pit crew and we relived the glory days of I-70 Speedway. A short time later in sauntered a friend we met here in Daytona but a former longtime Lakeside Speedway terrace spot holder. Got to hear all about how that played out these past two years from raising ticket prices to requiring advance purchase of tickets. Right on time we were pushed off the gate and taxiing to Runway 19L.
We land in Atlanta about 10 minutes early, but the one complaint I had was we parked in Terminal E gate 1 and had to beat feet to Terminal B gate 1. For those who fly you all know the first place normally hit after landing is the restroom! That means a bit of a delay in this jaunt because gate 1 is the very end gate in both terminals. When I completed the survey for Delta this was my only complaint, because to switch terminals requires walking past 20 plus gates, down the stairs to the train, waiting on the train, taking the ride from E, stopping at D, then C, and finally B, disembarking, finding the super long, thank you God for super long escalators, riding it up and walking the next mile and a half to terminal B gate 1. Phew, tired and hungry when we get there only to learn, DELAY, President Trump was flying into Melbourne! Every new president and every new administration has to learn they are no longer just a citizen but their very actions create heartache for someone! And this is not just President Trump, former President Clinton got a haircut in Los Angeles that took an hour and a half, shutting down one of the busiest airports in the world. Former President Obama decided to fly to New York with the first lady for a date and this action shut down the busiest airports in that area. So therefore, to huff and puff to Gate 1 for a 12:05 flight only to find out it was delayed (1.5 hours when all was said and done) was somewhat a relief and somewhat a disappointment. Gave us time to grab lunch though, always a bright side!
After getting off the plane in Daytona the next part to the trip is the rental car facilities. Seems everyone on the plane headed to these lines and of course we had to stop first at the customary restroom break. This is where the racing world joins together though! We got to meet Ty Majeski’s Mom, Susan. Now how many of you are running to Google and searching for Ty? Here you go to save you the time, Ty Majeski is an American stock car racing driver from Seymour, Wisconsin. He started racing karts on dirt near his home. After winning several national championships, Majeski moved up to racing late models on asphalt. Ty’s mom is a very pretty lady and very proud of her son, reminded me of Jana Bowyer. Watching what he has been doing at New Smyrna Speedway he is someone the top racing series should be latching onto. He did compete in the ARCA race at Kansas Speedway and finished 11th and was 3rd at the Snowball Derby.
From the airport is was a quick trip to our timeshare to unpack, watch the start of the ARCA race on television, then head to the track to do exactly what we had done on our way here, hurry up and wait. Of course that is all history but the rains came and continued all night long. It was fun posting pictures of the dryers and having Jeff Miles post a picture back from one of the dryers. The Kansas City area has always been a hotbed for racing and now we have expanded not just to racecar drivers but dryer drivers and firecrew, Richard Christy, who are down this way.
Sunday we returned to the track to watch the Clash, which in person was a great race! Will tell you from the Clash the favorite to me is Brad Keselowski for the upcoming races. It was hot though, wearing shorts and t-shirt and already have my tan. So warm Diana had to take cover in the shade of the grandstands and we elected to forgo qualifying and head to the flea market then back to the room on the beach. So glad to see Clint Bowyer have a competitive car, I think he will make Stewart Hass racing very proud and will once again be the driver we all root for in the Kansas City area.
Will also say the drivers on the radio were most upset with another former local driver, the driver of car #1, because he continually was side drafting slowing down the other line knowing his car was not fast enough to win. Race would have been even more exciting if not for this driver’s actions. The things that are not picked up on television. Speaking of television and saw this on Facebook, but NASCAR racing is so much better during the day, wake up media and NASCAR.
Monday, for us, brought a day at the beach and dinner that night with Pat and Jeane Forbes who have created the race management software Speed Score One, which several USRA tracks will be utilizing this year. Also with them was Julian Lin, head of Westhold Race Timing Systems and Scoreboards. We had a fantastic dinner at Bubba Gump’s and Pat will be meeting with Kevin from NASCAR. We are thinking this will probably be our old buddy from the NASCAR days, Kevin Nevalainen.
This led to a great discussion amongst us, because for a programmer, understanding all the desires of all the race tracks and trying to make everyone happy starts to convolute the initial program. I worked with Jerry at Speednet as he fought this battle and now Pat is facing the same issue. He explained in the motorcycle racing world they pretty much dealt with only one organization. In auto racing though everyone has different rules, different sanctions, and different ways of doing of lineups. In 2003 when we began using Speednet we sent Jerry the form NASCAR wanted for us report the races on and Jerry incorporated this into the software. Pat is working with Janet Staley to create the same thing for USRA. This will probably be the same thing that will be discussed when he meets with NASCAR.
This led to the other part of our discussion. When NASCAR first came into the Kansas City market in 1982 having their sanction brought track improvements, scoreboards for example, and years later when Whelen took over as the primary sponsor for the Home Tracks, a new lighting system around the tracks. For years these sanction bodies have provided various things, some are guarantees for the racers, some are better insurance programs, some are better points funds, maybe it is time the sanction bodies return to supporting their tracks with better sponsorships, better equipment (race management software and/or a Westhold Timing System), and better safety equipment. This could even apply to touring series, maybe less money taken from the track operator and instead a portion applied to helping improve the infrastructure of racing (safety for example). Let’s face it, touring series come in to a track, provide race management for a race, pay out the purse, and then leave, having no responsibility for track maintenance (trash pickup for example).
It has been fun so far in Daytona, more to come as the week progresses. We may get to meet up with Ralph Lee for the Duals on Thursday, that will be fun! We have a great sport let’s all work to make it better for everyone!