Another trip in the books. As I write this, I’m on a plane somewhere over the ocean headed home from Australia! I got to go to two new tracks on this trip: Archerfield Speedway and Lismore Speedway. I also got to make three trips to Victory Lane with Bryan, so that made the trip even better. Racing down under is a little different than it is at home, so that’s what I’m going to talk about. Fans ask me all the time what it’s like and what’s different or what’s the same, so here it is.
The format is the biggest difference in the racing. That and the fact that they call midgets “Speedcars.” At both Archerfield and Lismore the format was the same. On the first night, there was qualifying, three rounds of heat races, then the B-main, and the feature. Not three heat races, but three rounds of heats. Everyone runs two different heats that are lined up by qualifying, fast time starts 10th in Heat 1 and 9th in Heat 5. After the first two rounds of heats, a third set of heats is determined by points (inverted). On the final night at both tracks there was a shootout, (think qualifying at Kokomo on a Sunday night) which determined the feature lineup. The top 4 cars in points would run the gold shootout – 4 laps of group “qualifying” and the fastest lap starts on the pole and so on. Clear as mud? Good.
Bryan used to ask me to go look at the track with him when we’d go to new places and he stopped asking after I said, “Let me guess… It’s round and brown?.” I mean a racetrack is a racetrack is a racetrack, right? I’ve obviously been to enough races at different tracks to know that’s not true. So for starters, we are very lucky in America! We have good tracks. And lots of them! Not saying that there aren’t good tracks in NZ or AUS, but we’re definitely spoiled with the number of nice racetracks across the country.
Archerfield is a 3/8 mile racetrack and it’s kind of similar to Lawrenceburg. Archerfield’s corners have a drastic change from the straightaways like Lawrenceburg, especially in Turns 3&4. It’s almost like going up a hill and then it shoots you back down it. Both nights are Archerfield produced decent racing, but the track got a little rough on Saturday. I think it’s because I leave the track with Bryan and I have to listen to him, but I’ve learned to like a slick track much more than a rough one.
I like to rate racetracks not only on the track itself, but also on the concession stand and bathrooms. I didn’t make it to the concession stand at Archerfield, but I did unfortunately visit the bathroom. It was like Terre Haute’s pit bathroom, but worse. In other words, it was a little scary.
Butt sweat. That’s the other thing I remember about Archerfield. It was so hot. 39 degrees Celsius. It was the hottest 39 degrees I’d ever been in! Bryan almost passed out in Victory Lane on the second night and me being the wonderful girlfriend I am sprinted back to the “chilly bin” in the pits to get him a water. I had to stop halfway back and take a drink of it myself!
Lismore Speedway is the second track we went to during this trip. Lismore was my favorite of the two, even though it was a longer drive by an hour or so. For starters, we stopped at a really good little Italian diner on our way to the track on Friday and I had the best meatball sandwich ever. I digress. Back to the track talk. Lismore was way out in the middle of nowhere, so we felt right at home. The scenery around the track reminded me of what we’d see around tracks in Pennsylvannia. Lots of trees and hills, really pretty. Lismore has a really unique shape, (and unique victory lane celebration, but I’ll get to that later) like a “D.” I stood and watched at what would be the backstretch normally, but there wasn’t really a straight part of the track. Turn 2 went right into Turn 3.
It was hot at Lismore, but not butt sweat hot, so that was a plus. The bathrooms were nice (for a racetrack), but the concession stand was a bit of a let down. I smelled the steak sandwiches on the grill and they smelled so good it got my hopes up. I got a steak sandwich and was less than impressed, but the hot chips weren’t bad. People laugh when I tell them about my concession stand critiquing, like you might be now, but when you visit 50+ in a year you can be picky!
Bryan won both nights at Lismore, which leads me to the one-of-a-kind Victory Lane celebration. Instead of just pulling into Victory Lane, Lismore decided to get creative and add something fun for the fans. On Friday when Bryan pulled into Victory Lane he was guided up onto a rollback truck. The truck then did a lap around the track with Bryan and his car (and The Voice of the POWRi World Midget Championship – Aaron Drever) on the back. On Saturday when he won he told his crew guys and car owners and myself to jump on and go for the lap with him. That was a first! But it was fun and the fans were into it, down by the fence waving and hollering.
That about covers it! Next on the racing schedule is the USAC Sprint Car Winter Dirt Games in Florida at Bubba Raceway Park and Eastbay Raceway Park. I’m looking forward to going to Florida, but I’m going to enjoy the next two weeks at home first!