Story and Photo by Vickie Miller
Iâ€™m going to Kansas City, Kansas City, here I come!
â€œThatâ€™s the best racing I have ever seen,â€ was the exact text from my track friend. I will be honest, when I travel to the larger roval tracks, I anticipate by lap three, cars will fall into line and itâ€™s â€œfollow the leaderâ€ type racing. I also thought with no TV and few fans, the racing might be procedural in natureâ€¦but I was wrong. Yes, even I can be wrong once in a while. No one dialed it in! The drivers and teams battled like it was on ESPN with a full grandstand. I was very proud to see the display of heart and soul, all for the love of racing.
Kansas Speedway, like Daytona, is a banked oval headed into NASCAR turn one. Road course racing creates a new turn one which is a hard left turn into a long horseshoe turn and includes an exciting hairpin corner.
Iâ€™ve long been a fan of turn one at any track! Watching the braking and field bunch up after a fast front stretch is tops on my list. Many battles have been won or lost on a tight first turn.
All three Saturday races saw several cars go off track at the hairpin. Teams had the typical clutch, gear box, and tire issues with Rum Bum Racing losing their radio and coming in for a last minute gas splash.
With a bad drive shaft and grinding gear box, the racing with Ryan E and Charles Espenlaub was incredible! It came down to the last lap the last turn!
The PC class was divided into two segment races, each with one driver doing the full segment race with no driver change. The ending position of the first segment determined the starting position for the second segment or the â€œafter my bedtimeâ€ race. The finishing order from each segment was combined for the final results. Also, the PC series and IMSA Lites were on track racing at the same time. From my memory, this is the first time the two classes raced together. The IMSA Lites Series counted each round as a separate race. While Sean Rayhall took and kept command of the first PC segment, the battle was for second place. To me, the IMSA Lites race caught my attention. The first segment was intense and having to deal with the PC cars on the track added to the excitement.
One of the coolest parts to the weekend was the ST and GS podium ceremonies. It had been a long time (or the first for some) since these teams had seen a podium. The drivers were so excited, they seemed awkward with the procedure! It was very refreshing to watch!
Okay, hold tightâ€¦this will be a bumpy ride! Closed to the public on Friday! Here are the facts as I know it. The Kansas Speedway website sold tickets (more on this later) for Saturday which meant free admission on Friday. Also, race track season ticket holders would receive free admission. This sounded like a great deal. Last year fans could attend both days. On Wed, June 4, Kansas Speedway sent out am email stating in part, â€œThe parking lots will open at noon on Friday, trams to the Infield start at 1 p.m.â€. On Thu, June 5, a correction email was sent by Kansas Speedway, stating in part, â€œThere was an error in the email that was sent yesterday that indicated the track would be open to the public on Friday. Kansas Speedway will only be open to the public on Saturday.â€ So on Friday, I asked many people wearing IMSA shirts the reasoning for â€œno fan Fridayâ€ and the responses varied from â€œit was a track decisionâ€ or â€œI didnâ€™t know thatâ€. I welcome an official response from IMSA that I will be glad to include in a future article. (Included in this recap is a portion taken from the full track notification email. I have the full emails if anyone is interested.)
On Saturday, I was over in the grandstand for the start of the PC/Lites race when a gentlemen with â€œsecurity directorâ€ on his badge, said no one was allowed in grandstands and I had to leave. I complied but asked his understanding of â€œno fan Fridayâ€. He said the track was prepared for fans, workers hired for the gates and parking and security, contracts with food vendors had been pre-established to include Friday, and it was a surprise to him when IMSA said closed on Friday. Now for the rumor partâ€¦. Rumor one: IMSA didnâ€™t buy liability insurance for Friday which would cover fans at the track. Rumor two: IMSA didnâ€™t think enough fans would attend to offset the cost, making it cost prohibitive. Rumor three: It was the track decision to call off Friday. If any are true, why wait until the day before to call it off? If you have a negative attitude (no fans will come anyway) you will get negative results.
I decided on Saturday to ask fans if they would have come Friday and their opinion. I randomly chatted with 12 groups and 91% of those responding would have attended on Friday and several mentioned they had friends travel in from out of town for the sole intent of just coming on Friday. Whatever the reason I will admit that itâ€™s the weirdest thing Iâ€™ve have seen, next to no TV coverage.
I am very fortunate. I live close to Daytona, Sebring, Barber, and Road Atlanta. For fans in the Mid-West, the event at Kansas Speedway might be their only race to see in person for the year. How can teams obtain sponsors with no TV coverage and no fans in attendance?
I feel for the fans. Many years ago, I bought my flights, booked a hotel, reserved a rental car and was ready for a Thursday, Friday, Saturday GrandAm weekend at Barber! I was so excited! About 2 weeks before the big weekend, I decided to print an updated schedule only to see the words â€œpromoter dayâ€ added to Thursday. Being new to GrandAm, I emailed the office to inquire and received the response this meant â€œnot open to publicâ€. GrandAm admitted the schedule addition. I informed them of my disappointment and expense incurred to fly in Wednesday night (vacation day spent) so I could be at the track Thursday.
The next day I received the best email ever! GrandAm felt so bad, I received a VIP package including a Hot Pass, access to attend the media center for driver interviews, meet my favorite team and drivers, and more! Oh yea, I was interviewed too! Since that weekend, I have been a loyal GrandAm fan trying to promote the series however I could.
Race fan, Ryan, faced a similar plight. With family commitments on Saturday, he could only attend Friday. After hearing Ryanâ€™s disappointment, the Kansas Speedway track president, Pat Warren, treated Ryan to an event credential!
Ryan lives in Lincoln NE and Kansas Speedway is his home track. With admittance into the track on Friday, Ryan was able to meet many drivers he had only seen during TV coverage or followed on Twitter. The drivers Ryan met were Ryan Eversley (ST), Andy Lally (GS), Enzo Potolicchio (Lites) and Ryan Dalziel (PC). All the drivers were happy to meet Ryan, but then with no fans allowed, the drivers were just happy to meet anyone besides me! It was like â€œRyanâ€ day at the track! A big thanks from me to the track president because I got to meet Ryan too! At the time of this writing, Ryan is still waiting on a response from IMSA.
A big thank you to 8STAR Motorsports and Chuck and Susie Rayhall for letting me tag along with you and the team for the weekend! On a personal note, since I have started to write the recap articles, it brings me much pleasure when drivers mention they enjoy reading my view. I promise to include more real racing recap and less complaining from Watkins Glen!
Please remember Jordan Taylor is #TamingTheMullet and take a minute to donate athttps://rafflecreator.com/pages/2338/taming-the-mullet I bought my 15 tickets and I challenge each race fan to buy at least one ticket even if you are unable to attend the WGI race.
Thank you all for reading and I welcome your comments. I have no affiliation with IMSA, TUDOR, etc. just a fan. There are many blogs and websites where you will find statistics, results, and scoring from the race; this is â€œjust the way I see itâ€.
Got a response? Follow and tweet me @viclovesracing