Wow what an awesome weekend of racing! This race was a historical event for Lakeside Speedway as 200 racecars competed on the famed dirt. Mother Nature did her best to challenge the event, having two major thunderstorms converge and merge into one storm at the track on Wednesday night during the B Mod second B feature. Thursday she decided she did not want any racing by raining most of the day and turning the weather into sweatshirt, coat, and long underwear weather. She created numerous challenges for the Lakeside Speedway staff from track prep to pit parking to food ordering to track clean up. Maybe instead of a racing recap this should be retitled so you want to own a racetrack?
Wednesday, the weather was beautiful, the track was prepped and ready, and the grounds were dry. Parking all the various size rigs which come with a national event became a challenge. The track staff (Mike Johnson, Randy Reber, Bob Reber, Chris Barnard, and myself) worked the jig saw puzzle and packed in a 135 racecars and haulers into pits originally designed for haulers of 1989. Thanks to the crews mowing and cleaning more area there was plenty of room for everyone….until the rains came. The Sunday before this event the track crew planned for more cars by setting up a temporary fence for additional parking taking up part of the fan parking. The best laid plans of mice and men can easily be interrupted by Mother Nature.
Thursday – wash out. But the behind scenes thing do not stop for the track crew – they have to contact everyone and get the word out. Officials need called, ambulance needs advised, concession workers need informed, answering machine message needs changed, one lost night changes the food order (from warm season to cold season more hot chocolate less beer – good job Kyle Johnson), clean up from racing Wednesday needs to be accomplished, and plans need to be made – one day show, two day show, move the entire weekend, etc?. Refunds for 4-day tickets need to be made (thank you Diana Green and Janet Staley). Even an off day is really not an off day.
Friday – Mother Nature decided to leave 5 inches of wet weather on the grounds at Lakeside. Now what do we do? The track is wet, the pits are wet, the weather is now cold but sunny, what will dry, what will we have to work around? Track management and USRA officials meet and begin work on making the event happen. The decision is we will race, now how we do the best we can for our racers and fans? We call around looking for equipment with flotation tires to pack the track. USRA Driver Mark Hoover from Maryville, Missouri has a Big A he can send down, will take about 3 hours to send our way but he has a driver willing, we accept and away comes the equipment. Mike Knight takes the water truck out onto the track, hmm, harder than we thought, the wind and sun are working but it will be to choppy. Out comes the grader and work begins. The Big A arrives and owner Mike Johnson is given a crash course in driving it and it is used to pack – thank you Mark Hoover!
The pit area and overflow pit area are covered in water, where are we putting all these big haulers that are coming; our first plan is not going to work. The track crew moves the temporary fence, rock is ordered for a couple of spots, and the pit area is further expanded to include the concrete area behind the grandstands. Pete Howey brought hay bales to soak up some of the wet spots in the pits. Rick and Allen Staley, Bob Reber, Chris Barnard, Debbie Bergman, and Becky Kaster help organize and work on parking everyone. We need vehicles moved and those in the pits which owned these cars were more than willing to help out and provide area for the racecars and their haulers to pit. What a great team effort!
Racing was a challenge that evening, the track would get rough and racing would stop so the track crew and especially Mike Johnson and his tractor and box blade could cut the ridges off some of the ruts. This was especially appreciated by the racers. They knew the track was going to be rough, they sat through the rain, but several came to me thanking me for all the track crew had done to make the track as smooth as we could in these trying conditions. Not only was this challenge but the Wednesday races had to be completed before we started the Friday night racing. Racing started at 6:30 and early Saturday morning.
Saturday, a bit warmer, a lot dryer, and was a great day for racing. Working on only a few hours of sleep the track prep crew was out early blading, grading, and sheep’s footing the track. For the Nationals we wanted only the best. Meanwhile track clean up from Friday was ongoing, trash pickup (Turner Sports and Willie Harmon), restroom cleanup, suite cleanup, food pickup, food delivery, food stocking, phone answering, reserved seats retagged (yes someone pulled off the tags for seats which were sold – thanks Diana Green and Nicole Noll for resolving this situation), and suite catering had to be prepared. All this work was being accomplished simultaneously with the great track crew at Lakeside Speedway.
The Nationals begin and cars are competing on the super smooth racing surface. The track prep crew has once again provided the racers with a great racing surface. One issue remained – the tires designating the inside of the track. Racecar drivers are notorious for taking every inch they can, that includes the moisture on the inside of the track. The Late Model drivers were driving over the top of the tires creating hazardous debris on the race track from the rough mud clods to the tires themselves. Turn 4 official Bob Reber was hit in the head with a mud clod from this action and had to be assisted to the ambulance for some care. Track owner Mike Johnson suggested we grab the cones at the ticket booth (no more races this year) and try them instead of the tires, maybe the drivers could see them better. When we entered the track with them and the fans observed us replacing the tires with the cones a huge ovation could be heard, obviously, the fans were tired of the kicked up tires as well.
Sunday – Trash cleanup was huge from this event. Boy Scout Troop 165 is to be commended. Normally when they work they arrive at 6:30 a.m. and work to be done by 10:30. After four days of racing the facility was full of trash. The troop left at 2:00 P.M. having stuffed as much trash as they could into the dumpster.
What a fitting end to a great weekend of racing, to those on the Lakeside team that worked as a team to put on this event for the fans and racers – THANK YOU for another GREAT JOB and GREAT RACING SEASON.