Sunday, April 27, 2003
I just got back from an evening spent at the races at Evergreen Speedway in Monroe. This was one of their "extreme" racing nights they do about once a month or so during the season (there's racing there every Saturday night, but this is the first time I'd been out there) which includes events even more unsual than the usual short-track racing and figure 8's.
The main track there is a5/8 mile oval, although none of tonight's racing used the large oval. It's a small facility, but the bleachers weren't crowded, there wasn't any alcohol there (which, given the number of families with small children there, was a good thing) and the food they had for sale was priced reasonably (something I can appreciate after working at a concession stand at Safeco Field during a Mariners game, and watching people pay $7.75 for a beer, among other ripoff prices.) We got there a little bit after the racing had started, although about all we missed were a couple of sprint heats. They started out with a quick "preview" of the various events on the slate. I'll try to summarize each of the events below:
Figure 8s: This was probably the majority of the night's racing. It came in two divisions, regular and Extreme Contact, with the latter being somewhat less stringent in the number of rules. I imagine the first thing you'll think about when you think of figure 8 racing is big T-bone collisions at the intersection, but this wasn't the case. Since the drivers are racing for points, they're generally going to be trying to keep their cars in one piece, so they'll be more likely to slow down to let traffic pass than they are to just dive in between a couple of cars. Even so, there was no shortage of near misses and daring dives through passing cars, not to mention plenty of contact and more than a couple of spins in the turns. Given the tight nature of the course, if there's any sort of incident on the track they'll have to red flag the race to clear it up, although that just goes with the territory.
Hornets: This is a small series run by the track owners, and the cars weren't much more than straight-off-the-lot (Well, quite a bit off the lot) production 4-banger cars (read:mostly beater econoboxes)with rollcages and a few safety modifications added. Basically, it's a series designed to let people race on the cheap. here are the rules for the Hornet cars, which look pretty straightforward. As could be expected when all of the cars are painted an identical shade of yellow, it was kind of hard to follow the action, but there was a 1G DSM that was running in front for most of the feature, until it got passed in the last turn. As could be expected from a series populated entirely by amateur drivers, there were a few spins, and some bumping and grinding going on, and plenty of tire squealing.
School Bus Figure 8s: Now this is where it starts to get interesting. Sure you can run pretty good on the figure 8 in your V8 land yachts, but just try running it in an old schoolbus! Now when you start swapping big-blocks into those busses and running straight-pipe headers, you can actually get one of these things to whip around a corner at a pretty good clip there. Sure, there's the pesky issues of an annoyingly long wheelbase and wimpy suspension, but who cares? The buses even managed to spin each other out a time or two, and at the end of the race, the guy who won managed to lay the thing down and slam it into the wall pretty good, earning himself a nice little standing ovation. This part was pretty amusing.
Rollover contest: Just as implied, find something ugly and roll it. For the most part, Late 70s and early 80s Japanese econoboxes seem to be the preferred car for rollovers (maybe we shouldn't have gotten rid of the ugly '77 Corolla we had out in the driveway so soon...) Basically, whoever manages to get their car to roll the most times wins. Pretty cool stuff, but they only had about three or four cars entered in the rollover, so we didn't get to see much of it.
Double decker race: This was quite amusing. They take a couple of junk cars, stick a couple of other junk cars on top of them, and run 'em around the figure 8 track, and whoever knocks the car off the top of their opponent's car wins. Of course, the laws of physics generally indicate that if someone knocks that junker off the top of your car, the law of inertia means you're probably going with it. From the looks of things at the end, I imagine they probably just called it a draw and left it at that.
Demolition Derby: Finally, we have the demolition derby, which is saved for last for obvious reasons. I imagine you've all seen a demo derby before, so I'll avoid going into any significant detail, but it's a good way to wrap things up, just in case you haven't had quite enough carnage for one evening. A fireworks display followed the end of the derby, but by that time we were headed for the exit to beat the crowds.
All in all, we had a blast. Although I'm not quite the car nut that some of the people here are, it's still good to head out to the track every once in a while and get your US RDA of straight pipes, tire smoke and scrap metal. I took quite a few pics, and a Quicktime of one of the rollover contest entries, and I'll try to upload and post some pics tomorrow after I sort through 'em, although I don't have anywhere to host the video (about 3MB.)
Definitely recommended if you've got a free Saturday evening around here. You can find the schedule for these events at this site.