Day 23 – Crandon, WI (At the track)
Date: 06/24/2016 Friday
Starting Location: Crandon, WI
Ending Location: Crandon, WI
Starting Odometer: 11840
Ending Odometer: 11958
Mileage Today: 116.5 Miles
Mileage Total: 5105.1 miles
Today’s MPG: 43 mpg (Riding back roads instead of interstates improves mpg significantly)
Total Average MPG: 41 mpg
Good Morning America
Waking up in Crandon, WI evokes a certain Midwest mindset in me. Feeling the humidity, and the air warming as the morning breaks feels just like what i would expect the Midwest to fee like.
Understanding the schedule for the weekend
Apparently I did not do enough research about the weekend schedule, and on Friday morning, I found out that the racing at the track would not start until about 4PM, when the various classes began to practice. So, I had several hours until the track opened. That seemed to be fortuitous, and luck came my way.
Old friends, new day
As I was getting up, and organizing my day, I received an email in response to an email that I had sent just 30 minutes before. I sent the email to Dan and Mark, two old friends that I was planning on meeting on Sunday night, when I arrived in the Chicago area.
The email was from Mark, who said that he and Maureen were unpacking things in their new home, which was located just 52 miles North of me, In Crystal Falls, MI. So, since I had some time to visit, I decided to hop on the bike, and head up to Michigan.
I got dressed in my riding gear, and hit the road to Michigan. Once again, I felt Bob Seger close-by. This time, even closer. Bob was born in and lived in Michigan for many years, and the Great Plains, and cities throughout Michigan are the basis for many of his songs.
With Bob Seger in my ears, and on my mind, I headed to Crystal Falls, MI.
Mark’s new home is located about 1 mile down a gravel driveway, in what can be described as the middle of somewhere. Now, I make the distinction carefully, not wanting to call it the middle of nowhere, for fear of offending, but more importantly, this home is somewhere. It’s located on a beautiful little lake, which is part of a series of lakes that are quiet, tranquil, and will be Mark and Maureen’s new home as they enjoy retirement.
We had a really nice time talking about old times, and kibitzing about our old friend Dan, who has always been a character, and who is a pretty extraordinary individual in his own right. Tomorrow night, I’ll be having dinner with Dan and Mark in the Chicago area, and we’ll no doubt have too much wine, and too much fun. Thank goodness that Dan is picking me up at the hotel.
The Big House – I’m finally here
The Crandon International Raceway is known as “The Big House”. I don’t exactly know why, but it is clear that this track is generally longer than most of the off-road courses that are called “Short Courses”. The schedule for the weekend has some practice on Friday afternoon, with racing on Saturday and Sunday. So, the track does not charge you to enter the track and watch practice on Friday. So, I entered the grounds, parked the bike, and began to change out of my suit, into clothes that were more comfortable.
Walking through the paddock
As an avid technology nut, and a devout racing enthusiast, I love to walk through the paddock, talking to the teams, watching them prepare their cars and trucks. I asked about a process that is unique to off-road racing, which is called cutting the tires. In off-road racing, the time manufacturers deliver tires which have some grooves cut in them, but they are mostly generic. Based on the composition of the track, and the weather, they get out their tools, and cut into the tread to remove additional blocks of rubber in order to tune the tires, to the track. It’s a somewhat mundane process, which I personally find fascinating.
Finally, some racing action
So, at about 3PM, the practice sessions started, and I had a chance to watch the racing. The first several classes were the sportsman classes. These are amateurs who have trucks that look similar, but are (as I would discover) much less capable than the professional classes.
Watching the sportsman run the track you get a feel for the track, but it’s not until the pros take to the track that you start to see the intense speed, and outrageous engine roars of the professional trucks. The pro classes allow for engines that are as much as 900 horsepower. Try to imagine racing with 900 horsepower. Indy Car has cars that are about700 horsepower, and the IMSA and FIA prototypes are 750 or so horsepower, although there are rumors that the LMP1 cars now produce as much as 1000 hp, when you add the combustion engine to the hybrid systems on the cars.
Nevertheless, 900 hp in a truck is a hell of a lot of power, and I was watching these trucks literally rip apart the track. In fact, the trucks have so much power that the course can only last about 30 minutes of use before the road graters have to come out and groom the track.
I’ll capture some video of the trucks today, and you’ll see it in the next blog post.
A little more about Bodie
While at Bodie, I learned about a movie that had been filmed in Bodie, in 1929. I finally had a chance to look it up,and found a four minute video on YouTube that is an excerpt from this movie. Enjoy. The Move is below
What’s in store for tomorrow?
I’ll be at the track all day, enjoying the racing. Can’t wait.