The challenge of weather. Yes we got in two nights of racing at Lakeside Speedway, but what a challenge it was to prepare the track! Rain on Sunday and Monday requires drying time to work the track on Wednesday but then rain on Wednesday and Thursday makes that impossible. Drying time is shortened and basically down to Friday. After 5 inches from various storms during the week Mike Knight and Mike Johnson worked their magic to provide a track for racing on Friday evening. But if you think that was a challenge, just wait, on the way to the track with the equipment it was discovered a tree had fallen across the track exit behind the turn 3 wall and snapped a wooden pole carrying power to the pit lights. Now on top of track preparation it was also emergency repair time. Call Bob May to get electrical assistance, move the tree and push the pole out of the way, then work on the track, led to a successful Friday evening of racing culminating in wins for Nick Bidinger, Tim Shields, Chad Clancy, and John O’Neal, Jr.
Now for challenge number 2, a second day of racing, the World of Outlaws, with rain forecast overnight into the morning. Immediately after the conclusion of the Friday night races, Mike Knight climbed onto the grader and began working the track, a real challenge as the moisture tends to come back up as the night progresses. This moisture coming up creates a challenge for the racers, particularly the final class of the night the USRA A Modifieds. It took several tries to get through lap 3 before this race could be completed. Anyway, Mike gets the blading completed at 2 a.m. A quick check of the radar showed the storms a couple of hours away.
Sure enough the rains arrive overnight, for the World of Outlaw officials, it is their call to race or not, of course with input from track management, Mike Johnson and track prep, Mike Knight. While it is raining Boy Scout Troop 271 arrives to pick up the trash from Friday night. Working in the rain is not easy to clean and dump trash, yet this group turned it on and got it done. Thank your boy scouts for their efforts. Shortly after 9:00 the decision is made to race, while it is still raining in most of the city and the storms are still moving northeast towards I-35 Speedway. This decision must be made early as fans are leaving their homes in surrounding states (Oklahoma, Iowa, Arkansas, Illinois) headed to Lakeside.
I-35 Speedway cancels the Saturday race program at 1:00 P.M. as the rains continued until 3:00 P.M. hopefully the only rainout of the year. Again drying time was not enough with the rain moving out so late. Back at Lakeside the sun has come out, the hospitality tents have gone up, and the trash pick-up is complete.
Challenges are not done, the track is a challenge, the support class turn out is a challenge, the timing of the flyby becomes a challenge, but through it all solutions are worked out, a testament to the track staff, the officials, and our local support class racers. Let’s begin with the track challenge, getting it just right for sprint cars led to drying, packing, watering, rolling, more water, and stock cars running two hot lap sessions to get the slop off the track. The flyby of the KC Flight Formation Team was scheduled at 7:29 and had to be moved back to 7:39, this caused the team to contact Kansas City Approach Control obtain a Class B Clearance, and continue to circle. They successfully made their time over target to a standing ovation, another challenge conquered.
The support class was the Stock Car class, what a golden opportunity to compete in front of a huge crowd, defend your home track, and have some fun. Fun was had but only by six drivers, Brett Heeter, Justin Seifert, Anthony Whitham (who went home and got his car), Vernon Keever, Phil Snodgrass, and Larry Waters. Even though guest announcer Mark Merrell kept calling Larry, Walters. Our responsibility as a track was to have two heat races and a feature, these six drivers volunteered to race two heats, the first by the draw and the second by a complete invert of the first heat race. Then to insure the fans received a show, the drivers elected to start the feature with a complete invert. Yes, drivers wanting to show what the fans wanted to see!
Driver introductions for the support class led to a round of applause from the large crowd for each of the drivers. The 12 lap feature was an exciting race from start to finish. The racing was superb and noticed by the world of outlaw officials and several fans as several very nice comments were forwarded to track management at the end of the night. Thank you to the six drivers for making this a successful night.
The World of Outlaws put on their normal exciting show to complete a very successful weekend, but what a challenge it was for track staff and management.