When I moved to Beaver Dam in 2009 it was a move based on family and quality of life. Homes were at a price our family was comfortable with, we were getting the most square footage for our dollar, and taxes that were fairly reasonable. The amenities and services the city offered were a great fit for our lifestyle, and my wife’s family would always be close by. Little did I realize, as a race fan, I had just moved to the ideal location to continue my track chasing dreams. Beaver Dam is located about 30 minutes north of the “east” side of Madison, 60 minutes northwest of Milwaukee, and 90 minutes south west of Green Bay. If you draw a triangle between the big 3 cities you’ll find 43% of Wisconsin’s short tracks fall within this zone. With Dells Raceway Park (60 min), Tomah Sparta Raceway and Golden Sands Speedway (just under 2 hours) a reasonable drive away, that puts over half the short tracks in Wisconsin within reach each and every week. If you go to racingin.com, Beaver Dam is the only two track city on the map. The home base of all home bases, we picked a great location to give me the opportunity to support my local network of race tracks.
Of the 18 tracks located in the triangle network of race tracks I have only been to 7. Yes 7, not even half. Growing up on asphalt, I have not spent much time with the dirt boys. I quickly am realizing that there is something I am missing there. There is a reason dirt tracks out number asphalt tracks 2 or 3 to 1 in most parts of the country. They put on a consistent show every week, car counts at many tracks are high, and there is excitement in every race. It has always been a long term goal of mine to attend a race at every track in Wisconsin. In order to accomplish that however you sometimes need to do things a little different than before. I may need to miss a few shows I normally would not miss. Some tough decisions ahead, we’ll see if I can knock a few off that list this coming summer. With one scheduled event at Dodge County Fairgrounds on August 7th and 2 or 3 more on the watch list, 2015 may be a year of change.
MAY AS WELL BE THE MOON
Spending the first 25 years of my life in Milwaukee we did not venture too far from the city, but we did log some miles to go camping, vacationing, and of course go racing. When everyday conveniences are just a stones throw away, a drive outside of the city sometimes felt like it took 3 times longer than it really did. As a child, driving to and from Madison International Speedway was agonizing, and most nights on the way home I was sleeping before we got out of Madison. To this day I have family and friends that live in the city that Beaver Dam is the moon to them. I don't quite understand how driving 45 min to go 10 miles away, but driving 45 minutes to an hour to go 50 miles away is so difficult for city folk to fathom. Maybe this city boy is slowly turning into a country boy after all. I never thought it could happen, but I don't hate it. The greatest part for me, living in Beaver Dam, is that I have the best of both worlds. Just enough stores including a Walmart and the basics for restaurants, a quick 5-7 minute drive gets me anywhere in town I need to be. If you want to have a little fun, however, you have to log a few miles to get it. Now, those tracks like Tomah, Kaukauna, Oshkosh, Plymouth, and many more don’t seem so unattainable anymore.
We have 2 official meetup events coming in the next 2 weeks. Some of you may be asking yourself “what is a meetup event?”. Every race I attend is and will be posted on the Upcoming Events page of our website. This lets the other members know where I’ll be if they want to “meet up”. As the founder, webmaster, blogger, and social media guru for United Race Fans of Wisconsin, it is also an open invite for any race fan out there that would like to be part of our group to join and meet one of their fellow United Race Fans. Going forward I’d like all members to submit their upcoming events to the page, and as our group hopefully continues to grow this season we will look at changing the format of the page so we can all see who is going where. There are many ways to join this group, contact us via facebook, twitter, email, join page on the website, or attend one of many meetup events. There is only one qualifier to join, go support your local network of short tracks and attend a race. Seriously…attend a race and let us know via the many outlets just mentioned you attended and you’ll have a member number and be part of the group, its that easy! Then let the participation and comradery begin! Lets see how many events we can collectively attend in one season and keep the sport that we love growing. Our next events are at Beaver Dam Raceway Saturday April 25th and Madison International Speedway on Sunday May 3rd. We’ll see you at the races.
The long off-season is just about over. Being a sports fan sucks the life out of you sometimes. The Packers and Badgers gave us a lot to look forward over the long winter and early spring. For that I am forever thankful. But man....doesn’t get much rougher than that. Race season 2015 is here, and I can’t think of a better way to recoup from a fun, emotional, gut-shot after gut-shot filled off-season. There are lots of rivalries in sports and as a true Wisconsin sports fan if my team does not win it hurts, bad. One of the reasons I love the sport of auto racing at the local levels is that you can get excited about a race, but don’t necessarily from the fan perspective have to ride those waves and take those hits to the gut year after year. Many have their favorites, but we are all Wisconsinites, and we all believe in this sport and our place in it regardless of who ends up in victory lane.
As the 2015 race season schedule starts to take shape I also start to look at what goals I am setting for myself and my family. Part of the struggle each year having a young family and working in a career that takes up half my weekends each month is balance. Balance is the key to ensuring the job, kids, and most importantly the wife are happy every day. We are long away from the days of mid-week specials and all-star events. For me, running off for a weeknight show is almost never a problem, but weekends are more valuable than gold in the summers of Wisconsin. Like the many regional touring series laying out their schedule around weekly shows, holiday weekends, and other touring series, the die-hard race fan in me has to look at the entire season and decide what are the can’t miss, what are the maybe’s, and how can I fit as many events in as possible without disrupting that balance.
We currently have 5 scheduled events with intent to adding many more. Round 1 for United Race Fans of Wisconsin is the ICEBREAKER 100 at Dells Raceway Park on April 19th. There are currently as I write this today 43 cars entered for this event and one of the deepest fields I have seen for any one event in recent memory. If you would like to become a part of our group or just want to talk some racing do not hesitate to say hello. Info on becoming a member can be found here.
Round 2 will be at the Joe Shear Classic 100 for the ARCA Midwest Tour at Madison International Speedway on May 3rd. A side note, if you didn’t catch it on our facebook or twitter feeds, I just want to say thanks again to Madison International Speedways new owners Gregg and Angie McKarns for the personally signed thank you letter for pre-ordering tickets to the ARCA Midwest Tour event May 3rd. Class at its best. Upon hearing the rumors about a potential sale of the track for non-racing use, it was one of the few gut-shots you have to deal with in racing. As it turned out, a victory for Wisconsin much sweeter than any Packers or Badgers championship.
Mr. and Mrs. McKarns, I can’t say thank you enough, you have our support, and nothing but the best.
I still don’t know if I am doing this thing blogging thing right. Sometimes I feel like I am just brain-dumping and hope it comes out legible. I started this blog so I could share my passion, with that, I will be introducing a mini-series for this season called, “I love this track”. I couldn’t think of a better way to promote the mission statement of our group and I can’t wait to get started. If you or anyone you know would like to contribute to this mini-series and tell the world why you love your favorite track(s) please contact us here.
Good luck to all the drivers, crews, car owners, track owners, and sponsors. We’ll see you AT THE TRACK.
For more information on becoming a member of United Race Fans of Wisconsin please visit our membership page by clicking here.
Rich Zimpel has been attending local race tracks for the past 30 years.