On the 1st of February 2024Â , I officially became a member of the ‘old fart club’ .
Yes , it was my 70th Birthday ,Â Jeez, I’m getting old !
Â AÂ Birthday Card arrived a few days early from my sister Anne in the UK.
She put a lot of thought into to it , so I scanned it .
My actual Birthday day was a quiet one , and not much different to any other day.
Nothing special was planned,Â as the good stuff was to start a few days later.Â
On Saturday the 3rd of February , I was out of bed at 7-00 am , and by 8-30 am , I had left home in Cornwall , Ontario , on a drive to the sun.Â
It was a beautiful morning and a perfect day for a road trip.
My eventual destination was the Sun Shine StateÂ of Florida , for a February feast of racing, but before that , I was dropping into North Carolina to visit Carla my daughter.
With such nice weather and no hold ups , I was makingÂ good time , so made the decision to do the drive in one hit.
Normally on the drive down to hers , I will break the journey up with and overnight hotel. I kept on driving and pulled in to her place in Willow Springs NC at 11-30 pmÂ
Sunday the 4th February,
Then after that we went to the stables to check out Lola, one of Carla’s horses.
Monday the 5th of February.
After I’d droppedÂ Sophia and Benji off at school at 9-00 am , I was off on a little joy ride.
My destination was Rockingham, N.C , and the home of one of the most famous Speedways in the history of Stock Car Racing.
Formerly known as the North Carolina Motor Speedway, it opened in 1965 and in the past, many big NASCAR races were held there.
I got there about 11-30 am,Â There was no rush , so I’d taken it easy and stopped off along the way.
Its located on the old Hwy 1 that crosses the state.
I was given the thumbs up so grabbed my camera and took a wander. It’s quite an impressive place , and steeped in history.
By 12-30 , I’d got my pictures and was starting to get hungry.Â
On my way to the speedway I’d passed through a town called AberdeenÂ .
With my family connections to the original City of Aberdeen , in Scotland, it just had to be the perfect place to stop. (my late father was born in Aberdeen) .
Judging from the tartan decor on the signs and murals around the town, they are stillÂ proud of their Scottish roots.
I found a nice little family style restaurant in the old town and sampled their mac and cheese.
Then it was back to Willow Springs
Tuesday the 6th of February ,
I joined Carla for a morning appointment with the blacksmith.at the ranch where Lee, her other horse, is stabled.
He was due for a new pair of shoes.
Wednesday the 7th February.
Carla and I took a morning drive to downtown Raleigh.
Bootlegging of moonshine booze , was how the sport of stock car racing began, so obviously I was interested in taking a look.
The Natural History Museum was located right next door, so we went in to check out the dinosaurs too.
After going back to Willow Springs for a few hours, all the family went out for supper at Napper Tandy’s in nearby Angier.
It was a lovely way to end the N.C part of my vacation.
Thursday the 8th of February .
I was out of bed early, and left Carla’s place at 7-45 , giving myself plenty of time for the second part of the trip to the sun.
I was heading for the All Tech Raceway near to Lake City in Florida.
It should have been a 7 hours 30 minutes drive, but things went a little bit wrong.
I made my first ‘gas stop’ at Bucci’s Travel Plaza near to Florence, SC.
Then it was panic time as I couldn’t find my credit card . Luckily I had cash to pay, but the thought of losing the card was very worrying.
I phoned Carla, and it was then, we remembered !
We used it the previous night , beside her lap top, to buy something on line.
She managed to find it , and to cut a long story short, we agreed to meet up half way , so I could get it back . I retuned northbound on I95 to the Fayetteville Speedway exit, where we made our rendezvous.
Not the start , I wanted.
Of course , the double back, put me behind schedule, and I arrived at the All Tech Speedway at 7-15 pm as the heat races were taking place.
Once I was signed in, I went straight to the middle and started shooting pics.
Then it was a short intermission while the re draw took place.
I then, had a brief wander around the pits to chat with some of the Canadian teams who had made the trip.
Following the Consi’s , the 35 lap Short Track Super Series feature for the Modifieds took place .
This turned out to be a great race , with Matt Sheppard and Larry Wight, trading positions throughout for the lead.
As checkers fell , it was Sheppard who took the glory. He had also got the victory the night before on the series opener.
Following them home , it was Bobby Hackel in third.
The final race of the night was the Sportsman Feature which was won by James Friesen.
It was over before 10-00pm and I was soon back on the road , heading for my pre booked hotel. The Red Roof in Gainesville, about a half hour drive away.
Friday the 9th of February.
I’d booked a room for three nights , so was able to chill out and relax for most of the day.
By mid afternoon, I was rested and ready for my second night at All-Tech.
This time I was there early enough to chat with friends at the Cedric Gauvreau hauler, and catch STSS director Brett Deyo conduct his pit meeting.
Stewart Friesen started on pole, and after an abundance of cautions Sheppard moved to the front.
He stayed in front, to claim his third win in three days.
The Sportsman feature followed and this was won by Payton Talbot
The night was all over by 10-30 pm and I was back at the Red Roof Inn at around 11-00pm .
The All-Tech was a new track for me, that I could add to my Track Chasing Totals.
Saturday 10th February
There was one more night of the STSS Sunshine Swing at All Tech , but I chose to miss this one and head to another new track.
About the same distance away in a southerly direction from the Red Roof Inn, the Bubba Raceway Park is located, near to Ocala. The USAC wingless Sprint Cars were on, with the added bonus of some of my UK friends being there.
Most people that know me, will be aware that I’m not the biggest fan of Sprint Car Racing , but let’s make things clear, that only applies to the ‘winged’ variety.
The wingless USAC Sprints are just too cool , I saw them last year in Winchester, Virginia and was impressed.
I could really get into them. I wish they raced a bit nearer to my home
I got there nice and early and while wandering the pits I met up with John Lawn and Jenny from the UK.
John was a former BriSCA F1 driver and they often visit the US to watch the USAC racing.
Tom , a former BrISCA F1 World Champion has his Sprint Car based in the US. He also competed in last months Chilli Bowl in Tulsa. Oklahoma.
Once the racing got under way I stationed my self on the middle.
After the qualifiers, the heats began and Tom # 84 won heat two.
USAC run a pretty slick show and we didn’t have to wait long for the Feature.
Luck ran out for my fellow Brit, as he was forced to retire when a tire went flat.
Justin Grant won the 30 lap feature.
A nice early 9-30 pm finish.
I just have to love that !
No annoying time wasting , just to sell a couple more Hot Dogs.
The Bubba Raceway Park became
TRACK # 256 on my TRACKCHASING totals
I then made the short drive back to Gainesville.
PART TWO of my February Trip to the Sun, will be posted soon.