Archive for the ‘Scott Wiederholt’ Category

   

Hazel Green, Wisconsin, is where Warped Speed Racing calls home. A little shy of two thousand, this is the typical size town in this area. There are only 3 dirt tracks around our area that are within the gas budget that we can go to. One of them is the Grant County Speedway, located in Lancaster, Wisconsin.

In a small town like we live in there really isn’t much to do on the weekends during the summer. Growing up, I have always been a racing fan (Jeff Gordon of course), but then my dad had found a cheap car in the four-cylinder division for sale. Not being old enough to race, my older brother Eric had gotten his opportunity to race. Three years and plenty of cars later, I have finished racing my second year at the Grant County Speedway.

Members of the Warped Speed Racing team are my dad, Dale, my mom, Karen, my older brother, Eric, my younger brother, Neil, and me, Scott. If you haven’t guessed, our whole family makes up this team. Each has a special purpose in it also. Neil is an ambitious 13 year old that helps Eric and me load, unload, and fix our cars. My mom helps fund the operation and also helps the drivers sign in at the front windows every weekend. My dad is the vice president of the racing board and he also helps the track by putting forth his ideas and opinions. My brother Eric and I are the main mechanics and overseers of the week to week conditions of our cars.

The track is a 3/8 mile dirt track consisting of an exterior pit area. Recently it was worked on to push the washed out dirt back up the corners to make for faster and more exciting racing. Eric, my dad, and I were there to help clean up the track of all debris left there over the winter.

Our way of getting up to the track is definitely not the most normal way compared to a semi and trailer or a truck and small trailer. We use a moving van with a hitch on the back to pull a trailer. The box on the moving van is 12 feet so even Eric’s Dodge Neon can’t completely fit in it. In order to get Neon up into the van, we needed to weld ramp brackets onto the back of the frame to set down the ramps. Here is a diagram to help you see what we have to do:

ramps1

ramps2

When Eric’s car is up in the ‘Pack Van’ as we call it, we have E-Track inside to strap in the car. We use five straps, four to hold it in and one to create pressure by holding it back. With the box of the Pack Van only being 12 feet and the car being 13’7”, the trunk of the car hangs outside the back. In order to make it look more ‘normal’ we close the rolling door down on top of the trunk and use bungee straps latched onto the bottom of the door and pulled around the trunk of the car to hold the door down. Now that Eric’s car is loaded, my car needs to be loaded up onto the back trailer. We move the ramps back to the end of the trailer and load it up. When the car is on the trailer we even it out on the trailer tires for a smoother ride. For my car, we have four chains and chain binders that are used to go up under the car and get hooked to each of the four corners. Then we use the chain binders to tighten down the chains making sure the car doesn’t move. My mom also takes up her car because there’s only four seats in the pack van.

car3Now every driver has a race suit, but that’s not all that we have to take to the track to make sure that we can run a whole night of races. We usually have a checklist of what we have to take and consists of: Race Jack, extra oil, water, transmission fluid, antifreeze, spare tires, and a wide variety of tools that we fit into 2 portable tool boxes. That does it most of the time, but our favorite fix-er-up is the zip tie. These cars aren’t what you normally think of out on a NASCAR track. Aerodynamics is a laughing matter with these cars so all we do if the body of our car is falling apart, zip tie it to something sturdy and take it out on the track. We also take a cooler of water or some kind of beverage to keep us hydrated as we come in from the track.

Our route that we take up to Lancaster is simple, go out the driveway heading north, go out of Hazel Green and 5 miles later pull into Cuba City. Drive through Cuba City and go north again for eight miles to Platteville. It takes a little to go through Platteville because it’s a bigger town than Cuba City and Hazel Green combined. After that is the stretch of driving from Platteville to Lancaster for 10 miles. Then we take a right onto the truck route instead of going through town as it’s faster. We go for about 2 miles and take a left onto the road the fairgrounds is on. Then we turn into the pit driveway and pull up to the pits.

If our cars are low on fuel or the Pack Van needs a little, we pull into the Kwik Trip in Cuba City to top off and keep going. While we’re there we also check the chains and do an overall check of the load. Then we take off once again. In Platteville we may stop at the McDonald’s there to eat depending if we are hungry enough and most times we stop just because races go till late and we only pack fluids in our cooler.

When we arrive at the track, we stop at the pit shack to sign in. There are three windows for signing in, one for the drivers, one for the crew members, and the last one for employees that work in the pits. The employees are just volunteers so they don’t have to pay to get in anyways. The drivers and crew members sign a waiver saying any injuries are not held against the track, etc. Then we have to pay twenty dollars to get in and receive a special wristband that has the name of the racetrack and a different color for each week to make sure that nobody gets in free. The gate keeper (which is my dad) checks for wristbands as the trucks roll into the pits with their cars.

Before you get confused, here is a doodle of the pits and the track along with it.

track

We usually park by the line up area in between the two dirt paths. Then we unload the cars, mine then Eric’s as we go backwards from loading up. After we wait for a little and more cars show up we go out on the track backwards to pack down the track to make it nice and smooth, at least for the first set of hot laps. We don’t take our race suits with us as we go slow to make sure we pack down the track and not pick up the dirt with our tires. Pack down takes about 10-15 minutes.

There are 6 race classes (Listed from smallest to biggest by payouts): Four Cylinders, Economy Mods, Limited Stocks, B-Mods, A-Mods, and Limited Late Models. These 6 classes all run a Hot Laps session, Heat Races, and a Feature race every race night. The running order, or list of which the classes run alternate so that one class isn’t always first and one isn’t always last. Hot laps is where cars (only cars in the same class) go out on the track in no particular order and test out their cars for 3 laps. After all the cars have gone out and done their laps, there is a driver’s meeting by the entrance of the track to talk about recent issues and safety updates.

Then after the driver’s meeting, the lineups for each class’s heat races are posted by the track to let the drivers know where they have to start. Before the races, the cars line up in the line up area and wait for the lineup employee to give them the green light. All the cars go out in a single file onto the track then rejoin into the normal 2 file start. It usually takes at least one go-around before the heat is ready to start. Heats are five laps except for the 3 highest classes and they’re 7 laps since they’re faster. Four cylinders are the only ones that almost have a guaranteed of 2 heats every night since they are the most common dirt track car in small communities. The winners of each heat get 3 points towards season points, 2nd gets 2, and 3rd gets one.

Lastly, the moment that every racer waits for all week is the feature race. That’s where all their hard work does or doesn’t pay off. The feature is where all cars go out and race a normal race. The line up is the same as the heats, just more cars added to the grid. When the cars first come out onto the track, they go around once and the next time they come around all the drivers wave to the crowd. Then going into turn 1 & 2 the lights flicker to tell us it’s going green, then they go out. Going down the backstretch you get close to the car in front of you because when they go, you go. Four cylinders, Limited Stocks, and E-Mods have a 10 lap feature where as the B-Mods have 15 laps and the A-Mods and Limited Late Models have a 20 lap feature to go for the checkered flag. After the race, you leave the track except for the winner and the other four drivers that finished in the top five to get inspected while the winner gets pictures taken.

After our feature, we wait till all the races are over or close to over so that when we load up we can leave right away. When we leave the pits we head out over to the grandstands to receive our checks. Then we head straight home without stopping unless it’s a special occasion like when Eric won the feature in May 2009, we stopped for some good extra-extra-extra cheese with sausage pizza and root beer from our favorite pizza place in Cuba City. When we get home we’re too tired to do much so we just park the Pack Van and our mom’s car and head inside to take a break, talk about what went on and strategize our plans for the week to fix the cars if they got broken or need repairs.

Then later in the week we fix up the cars and repeat next week.

More coming soon!

Copyright 2009. Scott Wiederholt. All rights reserved.