July 27, 2012

Hotter Than a Pepper Sprout

Maquoketa, Iowa – A three-day racing weekend for yours truly started on Thursday night with the annual Jackson County Fair race special.

Seven divisions were showcased this evening, including IMCA Late Models, Modifieds, SportMods, and Hobby Stocks in addition to Outlaw Super Bombers, 4-Stocks and the ever-popular Legends. As an added attraction during intermission, school buses entertained the fans.

The main reason for making the trip was the opportunity to meet up with world-renown track chaser Randy Lewis of San Clemente, Calif. The 3/8-mile dirt oval was one of the few Iowa tracks Randy hadn’t crossed off his checklist yet. He had attempted to catch the racing action there earlier in the season only to rained out after only a few heat races.

What the hell is a rainout?

"And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

As with most county fairs, racing is a huge part of the overall atmosphere and Jackson County is no different. A near-packed grandstand and bleachers added to the ambience and a pit full of racing-type machines showed up in an attempt to garner the extra coin that was being shelled out for the occasion.

It had been a few years since my last visit to the track that the Timber City Racing Association built in the mid-1960s and not much has changed. It’s still the dry-slick, dusty dirt oval that I remember.

The one class that caught my eye was the Outlaw Super Bombers. Before my arrival, I didn’t have a clue what this division was, so by the time I arrived, my curiosity was peaking. Upon seeing them roll out onto the track, they appeared to me as an unsightly stock car or a foul looking street stock, depending on what part of Eastern Iowa you hail from.

However, after three heats and a 20-lap feature, I came away impressed…

These men and their machines are a competitive bunch and put on a lot of great side-by-side racing with a little bumping and banging thrown in for good measure. Disturbing looks aside, it’s an entertaining class and seeing the reaction from the fans in attendance, an extremely popular attraction there. I wonder if they still go through post-race inspection even though their “Outlaws?”

As always, I enjoyed my visit with Randy during the evening’s festivities. Topics included the state of auto racing in general, racing in the Hawkeye state and of course, no visit is complete without us both reminiscing about our favorite racing hero of all-time, Darrell Dake.

Randy told me that he has but only one or two tracks left in Iowa to attend but his love for Iowa grass roots racing will keep him coming back year after year. “Iowa racing is still the best around,” he said. That remark comes from a guy who has seen auto racing in all 50 states and probably 30 or 40 different countries from around the world. That’s as good as a compliment you can get from someone who has seen racing from all angles.

With Randy and I, there’s never enough time to cover it all and even though I look forward to his yearly visits, when we part ways, I always wish he would stick around for a couple of more days, but there’s always another track somewhere on this vast earth calling his name.

As entertaining as the program was, seven divisions of racing takes up quite a bit of time and with work beckoning early Friday morning and three more features to go, I cut my evening short and headed home.

Thanks to the Jackson County Fairboard for a decent night of racing and as always, special thanks goes to Randy Lewis for once again including me on his racing adventure to the state of Iowa.

PS – To the creepy guy who approached me before the races and asked me, “Do you wanna hang out tonight?” No means no….

PS - To the 16-year-old girl in the Daisy Duke shorts eating the corn dog (with extra ketchup and mustard) by the concession stands….Nicely done young lady….you’re going to make some young man very happy down the road.

Thanks for picking us up,