Discover Some "Mud Roots" Racing!
The car caught my attention right away, and not because it was pink; that’s hardly a fringe color in race-car art, anymore. What stood out were the Mylar balloons tied to the doorposts and fluttering above the racer. It was the driver’s 16th birthday, and her race car was decorated to help her celebrate.
The celebration was taking place at the Kingsdale Volunteer Fire Company Motorsports Arena, a mud bog facility with a (more-or-less) flat oval track around the mud pit. The oval was hosting a monthly session of “full-contact” junk car racing. Several hundred other race fans were sitting along small hills to watch the Junkers race and bang on each other. (Also on the program were lawn-mower races.)
Birthday Girl didn’t fare so well, perhaps because she’d watched too many NASCAR races and was used to the predictability-bordering-on-perfection available to Cup stars at the tracks they run. This particular Saturday at Kingsdale was different; they’d run the mud bogs the previous weekend, and turns 3&4 were still very wet. The first car that had ventured into 3&4 in the “fast groove” in practice had come to an immediate gloopy halt, and by the time the track’s “wrecker” (a front-end loader) finished dragging it out, that driver’s day was done.
Nobody seemed particularly disturbed by the water hazard. Racers just hugged the very narrow dry lane at the bottom of the track or took a loooong detour around the outside. The trouble with the former approach was that parts of the infield/mud pit were higher than the surrounding track, and if you hit one of those sections, you might roll your racer . . . like Birthday Girl did.
Oh, and I need to mention, too, that her boyfriend was riding shotgun in the race car. He crawled out the back window first. The car was rolled back over onto its wheels, and after a little repair work, got back into the racing, at least for a while.
I don’t remember Birthday Girl’s name, nor those of any other competitors, and I can’t tell you who won. I don’t have a t-shirt or cap for a Kingsdale driver or the track itself. But I can say that I remember more about that race than I do about the last Cup race I saw, because, frankly, it was more fun.
Here’s a shot from the
“full-contact” races at Arcadia Volunteer
Fire Company. Kingsdale’s races were a lot like these.
Part of that’s just me: I like minor league baseball, and the last concert I attended was in a converted small-town church in front of an audience of about 40. I really want to see Hanover’s Black Rose Rollers Roller Derby team.
I’m not criticizing the “spectacle” that surrounds big-time NASCAR racing; it’s not my thing, but if other people like it, why should I complain? It’s just that I like racing itself as entertainment, and all the glitter covering NASCAR doesn’t make it more entertaining for me. Mylar balloons on Birthday Girl’s Junker-racer score higher on my entertainment chart than Jumbotrons or miscellaneous country singers tackling the National Anthem.
I’ve banged the drum of my solutions to NASCAR’s issues often enough that I don’t need to fire all those shots again, but I’ll say this… there’s a middle ground between Daytona and Kingsdale that might make NASCAR more entertaining. Unfortunately, the charter system of ownership may have taken away the last opportunity to move in that direction again.
So I’ll just keep looking for my brand of entertainment/excitement and keep track of Cup races via Jayski’s Twitter feeds while I’m doing something else. Unfortunately, the Kingsdale option no longer exists: the promoters and the fire company couldn’t come to an agreement on the lease the year after my afternoon described above, and then the fire company went bust. The Arcadia Fire Company down in Maryland used to run these races at a much nicer facility, but now it seems they only do demo derbies. Maybe next year I’ll get to the Pagoda Motorcycle Club’s junk car races up between Reading and Pottstown. They’re the best-known and seem to have staying power.
Things get exciting at these
races. They’re also run on a budget: at Arcadia,
the guy with the red flag also was the race announcer.
Of course, short-track racing does just fine, too. When I get back to Lincoln Speedway next year, I’ll be looking for another finish like the night Danny Dietrich and Brian Monteith swapped the lead five or six times in the last two laps, or the time there were so many contenders on the last lap that the car I thought had finished fourth actually won.
I can see that kind of racing, buy a program, enjoy a pit beef sandwich, popcorn and a drink for less than $30 total, too. That in itself is kind of exciting.
With two races to go in the season and the Chase, I hope things end up with a lot of excitement, because NASCAR needs something to go right, but while that may keep up my interest in the sport, it’s probably not going to get me away from Lincoln (or Kingsdale, if another incarnation of that track appears). From my standpoint, they are where my money is most likely to buy something memorably entertaining.
(If you’re interested, there are videos of the Kingsdale races, as well as those from Pagoda Motorcycle Club, on YouTube. Take a look.)
In the Kingsdale videos, you'll notice that the cars are running clockwise, not counter-clockwise, as is the case with NASCAR ovals.
This is because the junk cars had no roll cages, only a piece of guardrail bolted onto the driver's door, and the logic was that running clockwise was less likely to have a spinning car's driver's side facing oncoming and the possibility of a hard impact at that vulnerable spot. Thoughtful.
[Editorial comment: The video shown here is but one of many. Just put “Kingsdale races” into the Search option on YouTube and you’ll find pages of them. Sure looks like a fun time to us!]