Night number 2 of the weekly racing series at I-35 Speedway brought 98 cars into the pits to compete in the various classes. This kept the girls at the sign in gate extremely busy, the officials checking for safety equipment extremely busy, the officials responsible for parking extremely busy, the announcers preparing for the night of entertainment extremely busy, the gas man Gary extremely busy, the track prep guys were busy getting the track watered and ready, all this busyness keeps the adrenaline flowing.
Let’s go behind the scenes for just a bit and explain all that happens at the racetrack before the racecars take the track. Drivers and their crews arrive at the pit sign in. This has been going on for years. To keep the line moving at I-35 Speedway we take a driver’s license of the driver of the tow vehicle and he can go park, everyone else must get out and proceed to the pit sign in window. The driver collects his or her driver’s license when he/she comes up to the pit sign in window. Drivers form one line to meet with Jamie Powell, our Head Scorer, she takes their entry fee, ensures their paperwork is correct, and enters the information in the Speednet Direct database, and conducts the pill draw. The pill draw determines where a driver starts in the heat races. All other crew must sign in at the windows staffed by Becky Kaster or Cassy Kelly. We could not get all this completed without their great help!
While the cars are coming in our track officials are doubling as technical inspectors and early in the season our primary concern is safety. Mike Oskvig, Bob Ingham, Randy Reber, Chris Barnard, and our newest official, Jeff Campbell travel through the pits checking on helmets, firesuits, drivers shoes, gloves, seat belts, etc. ensuring they have the correct dates and the safety equipment is up to date. As the season progresses we will move towards checking other items required within the rules of each class. While doing all the safety checks these officials may be called upon to assist in finding parking as the pits fill up with cars. Again we could not accomplish all we do without these gentlemen’s help.
Rick and Allen Staley, our father/son announcing duo, are crisscrossing the pits meeting with drivers and gaining the information they can present during the races to our fans. During the week Rick and Allen work with families as we do tributes to our fallen racing family. This past week we honored Janet Billings and her family. This sport is a family sport and we do not want to forget those who have gone before us.
Gary Clark, arrives at the track and brings along his chair, yes we allow him to sit, because he is the gas man. As racers need fuel to make their powerful horsepower machines run they get their fuel from Gary. If you know where the fuel pumps are located you also know Gary does not see much racing, but he hears all the stories about how great the racing is at I-35 Speedway so naturally he gravitates towards the track occasionally.
Now at 6 P.M. the driver’s meeting takes place, Competition Director Bobby Lopez leads the way. The Driver’s Meeting starts with a prayer just like we do on the grandstand side as we remember our racing family in need. Bobby then leads with any announcements, the racing event order, and ensures everyone is clear on the various items discussed. New drivers to the track are held over for a short orientation, where to get on the track, where the lineups are posted, where to get off the track, how to pull into the infield if mechanical situations occur. While this meeting is ongoing, some of our track officials jump into the track pack trucks and begin the process of ironing in the track for hot laps.
All this occurs before the first car takes the racetrack and provides the racing we all love to see. As for week 2, ninety eight cars, leads to 24 racing events on the track. All the people mentioned above work behind the scenes to orchestrate the night’s events.
As for the racing recap, congratulations to Dennis Elliott, Eddie Schwope, Jr., John Brown, Buz Kaster, Tyler Clark, Dean Wray, and Shane Wilson on your wins. To all those who work behind the scenes each week – THANK YOU!