Kentucky Preview to My Race Weekend

After starting no less than three articles since Friday, placing them all in the burn pile, and staring at a blinking cursor attempting to stave off the mail-it-in syndrome, I figured I would give into to myself. I am too focused right now about my upcoming trip to Kentucky Speedway this weekend. I’ll be honest, although being unhealthily drawn to racing and indycars in particular; I have never seen a race on a track outside of my local racing scene. Anderson Speedway, Indianapolis Raceway Park, (Ed: Note to the out of town readers, It will always be Indianapolis Raceway Park, The Hoosier Dome, and Deer Creek Music Center, all locations that have corporate sponsors now.) the dirt oval at the Indiana Fairgrounds, and Indianapolis Motor Speedway of course.

My local Indy 500 group has kicked around the idea of attending an out of state race for quite a few years. Mid-Ohio, Chicagoland and even the Mile have all been destinations we have looked at, one time or another. The usual excuses are made year in and out, and we continue to pretend to be hardcore fans but only catch the series live and in person once a year. Since the drop of the checkers last year at Chicago, I have regretted never seeing them there and this last winter I promised myself I would check out another facility when the time was near.

Every year we almost go to Mid-Ohio and in all actuality it would not have been to see the indycars. ALMS is the major draw for me to make the trek out to Lexington, Ohio. The awe inspiring, road course abilities of the current Dallara is just not enough motivation for me to plan a trip to a facility know for bad racing. It was always the ALMS that would seal the deal. Fast forward to this year and we have, basically, a non existing LMP field… easy decision to make. I can easily wait until the new chassis and engine package arrive next year to experience indycar road racing. The ALMS doesn’t even need to show up; I am already there.

We finally decided on the absolutely stellar facility in Sparta, Kentucky. Milwaukee was a bit too far for everyone to make it a weekend trip. Yes, I am still a bit sad we missed the finale at the Mile and will be for the foreseeable future. With Chicagoland absent this year, Kentucky Speedway will be a spectacular baptism for life outside of Indy. The facility is a scant two and a half hour drive from home, and we have created quite the camping weekend to compliment our race weekend experience that will include the full Saturday.

I often think about the dichotomy between IMS and any other oval. The most famous race track in the world, but at most you can only see three of the four turn at any single spectator point on the grounds. Repeatedly, I have been told; at Kentucky, you can see the entire track from row 25 and up. I have attended racing at a facility that does have full sightlines, but never big time racing. For the record, I do not count trucks at IRP to be big time racing. To be able to see the pits, and the entire race course will be a very nice change of pace. Years ago I thought that without video screens, I would have a hard time taking it all in, but at Kentucky, it doesn’t matter.

The ticketing office in Kentucky was great, very easily answering all of my questions pertaining to the race and the camping situation. In my experiences, that is not always the case. We opted to purchase spots in the Bourbon Street campground. The location is supposedly walking distance from the track with trams running throughout the day. As campers who create residence in the hole that is Coke Lot C each year for the 500, this sounds like just the right area for us. I have always believed that camping is the best way to connect to the true fans. I have camped next to groups that have been going to the 500 for 30 years. NASCAR always makes a big deal about their RV scene, hopefully the indycar tent scene will be right on par. Don’t get me wrong, hotels are always fun, but there is something special about sharing breakfast with your neighbors race day morning.

The weekend will be very good, and I am too excited to do much else than what any good indycar fan would do… obsess nonstop about the coming weekend. The weather looks clear and temperatures should stay on the mild side, if not a bit too cold. The ticketing office made it sound like there were not many campers so we could have the whole place to ourselves. I have heard not nice things about cell coverage in the area, but I should be accessible through the usual lines all weekend, come make new friends in the campgrounds! Into the Crystal Ball will run as regularly scheduled on Friday and next week’s Rearview Mirror will run on Tuesday. See you at the track.

Eric Hall

Note: 5 day camping passes with two Saturday and Sunday tickets can be purchased for $149, this is quite the deal. The coupon codes ANDRETTI, USAC, and INDY will all knock the price of the INDYCAR race tickets to $35. The coupon code USAC will drop truck race tickets down to $10 which will get you into the track for all Saturday events.

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