Monday, December 5, 2011

Last Race I’ll See this Year

Got to Florida on Wednesday and picked up Goose at the airport.  We got up Thursday morning and went to the Performance Racing Industry Show.  You can see Goose’s coverage and my coverage both on the Writers and Photographers page.  The PRI Show is the greatest show in racing.  Opening breakfast was hosted by Dave Despain who hosted Wind Tunnel on the Speed Channel.  Robin Miller and Kenny Schrader were there.  There was standing room only; 3,500 breakfasts were served!  They need an option besides pork because people from all over the world come there to show their wares and to network and make friends. 
Thursday started three days of catching up with people you haven’t seen, making new friends, and networking your business.  At the end of the first day, Goose and I went out for supper at the West Side Bar and Grill.  To get there, take Exit 64 and go like you’re going up toward Disney world.  I had some of the best ribs that I’ve had from anywhere around the country!  We got up bright and early on Friday morning, headed to the show, and we got there about 15 minutes after the show opened.  Already at that time, the place was absolutely packed. Every isle was full of people.  Business, business, business.   And lots of walking and achy feet.  There is no way that you can cover that show in three days it’s so big. 
After the show on Friday, I dropped goose off and headed 65 miles over to East Bay Race Way.  It’s been three weeks without a dirt track – it’s almost too long in my life.  I was lucky this weekend I got to go to East Bay Raceway Park for the NE Smith Chevrolet Crate Nationals World Championship. $10,000 to win!  This is their final and is held every year in conjunction to the PRI Show in Orlando.  58 cars signed in from across the country up from 46 cars last year.  Such luminaries as Tim McCreadie, former winner of the event, and Steve Francis, past World of Outlaws Champion, were among the entries. 

The qualifying races were good. I love East Bay.  I’ve seen more races at East Bay than I’ve seen at any track in the United States – more than my home track at Macon.  Al Varnadore and Todd Hutto do an absolutely great job with the track. If I had to pick one race to go to for the year I would pick opening night with the Late Models at East Bay Raceway Park for the Winter Nationals.  Mike Vaughn’s NE Smith Chevrolet Series just keeps growing.  They’ve added 6 new tracks for next year in the last five weeks.  Check in at my home-away-from-home in Florida…the Days Inn Tampa-North.  I’ve been staying there 9 years. They have a racer rate for the Winter Nationals….$45 for two people!  Don’t tell me you can’t afford to go.  I was greeted by Dan Sanborn.  It’s just off 275 so it’s easy when you’re coming in.  It’s only one exit from University of South Florida and two exits from Busch Gardens so there’s plenty of stuff to do for your family in the daytime and racing at night during the winter nationals. 

I picked up Sunshine Cher on Saturday morning and she headed to the show with us.  Saturday was a busy day.  Around 1pm on Sat most of the people cleared out, and we had time to talk to some of the peeps in booths.  We asked them how the show was.  Everyone was excited about the show!  We talked to people it was there 1st time talked to people it was their 21st time and all are coming back next year. If I had one show to go to it’d be the PRI show.  Cher and I headed back to east bay after the show was over and covered a fine evening of racing.  They had antique Mods, and I thought they were just gonna put on a little display race but those guys were serious. Serious enough that they wrecked three of them!  I didn’t get the right angle; I should have left with a video for you, but I sure got some pictures. Then they raced old time Sprint Cars and Midgets.  Two didn’t have cages on them!  There are some silly people! 100-lap featured lined up with local favorites Mark Whitener and Devin Dixon on the front row.  Jonathan Davenport, the eventual winner, started inside of the fourth row so there was a lot of passing.  100-lap feature was over at 10:20pm so it gave me time to catch a good night’s sleep before I got up and drove 1,028 miles back to Dallas. 

Make your plans now to go to the Winter Nationals.  Call Dan at the Days Inn. 813-977-1550