As mentioned in my last Blog, I’d something special planned for this week .
Since my daughter, Carla moved, from Austin, Texas to Raleigh , North Carolina last year , it’s made things so much easier for me to see her and the grand kids.
So I made some plans for my fourth trip down there this year.
I was able to combine a family visit with a high profile racing trip.
On the same weekend as the World Short Track Championship in Charlotte, my grandson Benji was playing there in a Lacrosse Tournament.
The trip went something like this
Thursday 27th October.
I left home in Cornwall , Ontario at 5-30 am and within 15 minutes I’d entered the USA at my local border crossing.
There were no major delays and I made good progress until I entered Virginia at around 3-15 pm.
It’s always a long drag through that state until it crosses into North Carolina, Although I was on I81, the traffic was very busy and for many miles it was just a convoy of cars, RV’s and trucks, It became tiresome, and I didn’t fancy this for another two hours .
I decided to get off the I81 at Staunton and head across the Shenandoah Mountains into North Carolina. It was a lot nicer drive and more relaxing.
By 7-00 pm , I was in Lynchburg VA, where I parked up at the Comfort Inn for the night.
Friday 28th October
Lynchburg, was still a good three hours away from the Charlotte Speedway at Concord, So , with this in mind, I made an early start from the hotel so I could be at the track when the pit gates opened at 10-00 am.
The World Short Track Championships were a three day event, and this was day two. I chose to give the opening day a miss.
Things went to plan and I arrived just after the pit gate opened.
It was nice to reunite with Gina Fernez at the media ‘sign in’. She’s a World Racing Group and DIRTcar executive, that I’ve known for many years. She gave me my credentials wrist band and a pit parking pass. The latter was a much needed item for a place like Charlotte.
It was still early in the day and racing didn’t begin until 4-00 pm so I had time to relax at the nearby Panera Bread shop.
Once back at the track , I needed to find somewhere in the pits to park. I spotted one of my local Pro Stock drivers, Eric Jean-Louis from Casselman, Ont.
He had a space between his hauler and the perimeter fence.
That was going to be my Impala’s parking spot for the weekend.
Once settled , I had a quick look around to see who else I knew.
Close by, I found my good friends Carole and Stephane Lebrun from Gatineau , Quebec.
Another bunch of good friends from the Pro Stock division were Marc and Josee Lalonde from Plantagenet, Ont.
Then as I moved into the Sportsman section of the pits , I found Kingston, Ontario’s Jessica Power.
She was one of two Canadian’s in this division.
The other being Cole Perry from Belleville.
As mentioned, Friday was day two of the three day show and the program consisted of qualifying heats for Saturday nights finale.
The North East Pro Stocks and Sportsman that I’d come to see , were joined by a bunch of other divisions from all over the US. (UMP Modifieds, Limited Late Models. Street Stocks , Mini Stocks etc.)
Racing began at 4-00 pm prompt, so I took my place on the middle on turn three and four next to my ‘old buddy’ , AJ Yarbrody.
I stayed on the middle for a couple of hours , getting shots of what I’d come to see. (Pro Stocks , Sportsman and UMP Modifieds) before heading back to the car.
It was now 7-00 pm and I needed to check into my Hotel.
My bed for Friday night was at the Comfort Inn in Mathews, a Southern suburb of Charlotte, which is about 30 minutes away.
The reason I chose Mathews, was to make it easier for the next two days on my agenda.
Carla, husband Alex and the grandkids had traveled from their home near Raleigh for a two night stay, and their accommodation was also booked at a hotel in Mathews.
Saturday 29th October
First thing in the morning I met up with the family at their hotel and followed them to the nearby Mathews Sports Complex.
This was where Benji’s two day Lacrosse Tournament was taking place. I must admit I knew very little about the game but it was easy to figure out and I quite enjoyed it.
Benji had three games scheduled during the first day, so I watched two of them before heading back to the race track.
Like the previous night, start time was 4-00 pm , so I had plenty of time to spend with friends in the pits before things got under way.
There were 10 Canadian teams competing in the Pro Stocks division, so we organized a group photo session.
DirtCar official Cory Reed happened to be walking by so he joined in the fun. .
Opening ceremonies were at 4-00 pm, the same time as the racing began on Friday.
I chose to shoot the action from the pit gate this time, as it would be handy to get to Victory Lane for the pictures, which were done beside the V.I.P tent.
The nights racing consisted of about ten ‘last Chance Qualifiers’ for the baulk of the divisions, that were followed by the features.
The Pro Stocks and Sportsman didn’t need last chance races and went straight into their features.
Lucky for me, the Pro Stock race was up first and the Sportsman was second.
Josh Coonradt was the winner.
By the time we’d done the Pro Stock Victory Lane pictures, the Sportsman feature had already began so I returned to my pit gate vantage point.
This race was won by Kevin Ridley.
David Rogers , one of my local drivers, from Lafargeville NY came home third.
The rest of the nights features for the other divisions were still left to run, but I chose to make my exit.
Once back in Mathews, I relocated to another hotel (the Fairfield) which Carla and Alex had previously booked for me.
Sunday 30th October
On Sunday morning I was back at the Sports Complex to watch Benji’s final games in the Lacrosse tournament .
It was a change of colours for the kit in todays games.
The games were over by 1-00 pm, and it was time to leave Charlotte and make the two and a half hour drive to Carla’s place at Willow Springs (near Raleigh) .
Monday 31st October.
Of course, the 31st of October is Halloween and I wanted to see the kids having their fun.
Tuesday 1st November.
It was time to return to Canada ,
So after saying my good byes , I left Willow Springs at 9-30 am.
With the minimum of stops, for gas, toilets and coffee , I was crossing back in to Cornwall, at 1-00 am and then in my house a few minutes later.