Let’s go racin’, boys…

That is former NASCAR driver (now TV commentator) Darrell Waltrip’s signature line which he delivers at the green-flag start of every NASCAR race broadcast he is involved with.

For this post it should include “… and girls” as there were many female drivers listed on the roster.

When I got to within a mile of my destination in the little town of Calhan, Colorado I drove past the El Paso County Raceway, a 1/4 mile dirt racetrack.  There were several trailers and race cars in the parking lot/paddock area and it was clear to me that they were gearing up for some good ole Saturday Night dirt track racing!  These type of events are held in many parts of the country and are where many NASCAR drivers got their start.  Some drivers, like mostly retired driver Kenny Schrader LOVE to race and will fly their private planes all over the country to find a good race venue on which to compete.  Sometimes Schrader, and former driver Bobby Allison, would race somewhere every night of the week before competing in their big NASCAR marquee event on Sunday.

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This track is at the county fairgrounds and can also host rodeos and any number of other activities throughout the year.

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The track was being “groomed” for tonight’s events.  They were actually supposed to race here Friday night as well but huge thunderboomies covered this area east of I-25 Friday afternoon so those races were postponed until this afternoon (they were hoping to have a double-header today).  They cancelled the afternoon races because the track wasn’t quite ready (it may have been TOO wet).  They have water trucks to add water to keep it from being too dry but they don’t want to race in mud, either, or the cars will flip over.

Here were some of the vehicles I saw in the paddock area.  At an event like this the races are all fairly short (probably 25 laps or less each, and often include qualifying heats of only 8-10 laps) and involve many classes of cars and trucks.  I’m not familiar with all the classes (late models, modifieds, Legends cars, dwarfs, micros, etc) but the main event here was to feature Sprint Cars, which have wings (a spoiler) over the top of the car.  Sammy Swindell, a World of Outlaws champion, was the featured guest driver and tonight’s event was part of the Lucas Oil National ASCS (American Sprint Car Series) touring series.  It may have even been broadcast on MavTV (or taped for broadcast at a later date).  To the folks who race, this is a really big deal and their lives pretty much revolve around it.  The stands are usually packed.  Tracks like this in North Carolina and New Jersey often have overflow crowds.

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I’ve only ever been to three events like this, one in Flemington, NJ, one at Orange County Speedway near where I now live in Durham, NC, and one in South Boston, VA, not far from Durham.  After the race in Flemington (where I sat close to the track coming off turn 4) when I got back to my car I took my glasses off to clean them and noticed that I had two clean “rings” around my eyes (like a reverse raccoon) and the rest of my face was matted with dirt from the race cars.  I had enjoyed it so much I had no idea I was being pelted with small dirt fragments during the race.  Dirt track racing is a hoot!

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