Becoming a race fan is a process.
When people ask me if I have kids I tell them, ‘Yes. I have a son and a daughter’ one of each. If others have two children like me, I ask them if they have (a boy and a girl) or (a girl and a boy). The oldest comes first; that’s my rule. Let me extend this analogy to the process of becoming an auto racing fan.
My first live experience came at a dirt track. I sat in the stands with Dad watching race competitors, wearing only open face helmets and in their T-shirts and jeans, drive what is now considered vintage: modified stocks and sportsmen with white wheel rims and bumper bars, sporting fancy hand painted numbers and sponsors. They would fly around the short track, so fast, only three tires were ever in contact with the dirt, lap after lap. Flagmen were some of the bravest of the brave. They would stand down on the track with such persona, maintaining control of the heat-race or feature event. At times they would get so close to the action I would hold onto my seat with anxiety as the cars just missed them waving the checkered flag at the start finish line. After an action packed night of racing, in the pits you would see the cars being loaded onto open haulers to be trailered home. Eventually, we attended races on asphalt at the legendary Milwaukee Mile. We saw the front engine Offenhausers and what used to be real “stock” cars hit fantastic speeds around the mile oval. Slinger Speedway was still my favorite track, for one must be true to their nature; dirt track racing was in my blood. Unfortunately, after we attended the last dirt event ever at Slinger we stopped going to that local track and I didn’t discover the fastest quarter-mile in the world until years later. Since my earliest days of becoming an auto racing fan started at the dirt tracks, this would make me a “Dirt-Asphalt” guy (oldest memory comes first).
Rich and I began going to Slinger Super Speedway when he was just a toddler. We found the speeds to be unbelievable and I enjoyed many Sunday nights molding my son into the hard core short track fan he is today. Years later, we began taking the trip up to Unity once per year to see my cousin race his modified on a Friday night at what used to be called Monster Hall Speedway. At the time, this was the longest trip we would take to see a short track. Eventually, we stayed up North an extra night and attended the Saturday night show at Marshfield Motor Speedway. Excluding our trips to see the big-dogs race at Bristol and Chicagoland, we’ve made the trek to LaCrosse Speedway, State Park Speedway in Wausau and many others throughout Wisconsin in recent years. Today Rich’s indoctrination to local track racing is complete. His enjoyment of racing on both asphalt and dirt has fulfilled my son’s destiny of becoming an “Asphalt-Dirt” guy.
So allow me to ask, ‘Are you a “Dirt-Asphalt” or “Asphalt-Dirt” racing fan?’ This peculiar question may be misleading in that one might think I’m asking for a favorite. In that case the levelheaded question would be, ‘asphalt or dirt?’ I’m without a doubt a race fan with the proper balance of both dirt and asphalt. Where was your first auto racing short track memory?