The view from my couch
Any Given Saturday
by Ken Hutchinson
December 2, 2008
Sandusky, Ohio is known for the number one amusement park in America, Cedar Point. If you have been there, you have no doubt seen the highway signs pointing to Sandusky Speedway Motorsports Park as well. Tucked neatly next to soy and corn fields, is a half-mile gem of a track that NASCAR teams have found to be similar to Martinsville Speedway for testing. What started as a dirt track in 1950 is now the home of the presitigous HY-Miler Nationals for Supermodifieds.
1955 saw the track take on it's current asphalt configuration. Over the years many top drivers have passed throught the pit gates on the way to stardom. Gordon Johncock, Tom Sneva, Jeff Gordon, Tim Richmond, Terry Cook, Mark Martin, Alan Kulwicki, Dick Trickle just to name a few. In the heyday of the ASA series, Darrell Waltrip, Bobby and Davey Allison and Dale Earnhardt competed here.
These days you can find wiley veterans and young drivers with eyes on the bigger prize competing every Saturday night from May through September. The current line up of divisions includes, 305 winged sprints, E-Mods, Sportsman, Pure stocks, and 4 and 6 cylinder spectator stocks. The track also hosts AKA karting events and USAC Quarter Midgets on 1/8 mile dirt and asphalt tracks.
Kicking off the season every year is the New Year's Day Hangover Race. 3 divisions, Pretty much run whatcha brung. (tire rules) The event is held rain, snow or shine. 10 degrees or 50 degrees. The years it snows, the fans are encouraged to throw snowballs at competitors as they circle the track (under cautions only). If you make it victory lane, DO NOT take off your helmet for the winner's interview. You might as well just put a bullseye on it with flashing neon that says "HIT ME."
Wedged into the schedule is one of the "BIG" ones in the circle of supermodified racing, the HY-Miler Supermodified Nationals. This event draws 30-40 of the best short track pilots in the country for two days of methanol-burning, heart pounding action. The Fast Friday 40 leads up to Saturday night's show of 100 green flag laps. Camping starts to fill up the week before and on race day, you might walk a mile or so to get to the track if you dont get there early. Upwards of 7500 fans from over 30 states and Canada have packed the stands for this event.
Current track owners and promoters, Kevin and Bev Jaycox, have long been involved in racing as car owners. When the opportunity to take over as track promoters came in 2004, they jumped at the chance. Then in 2006, they purchased the track and the 180 acres it sits on.
On raceday, you can find Bev in the pit box office, or selling tires and fuel, or keeping Kevin in line. Kevin's mother, Sharon, fills in where she is needed. selling or taking tickets at the front gate or managing concessions. It is definitely a family that has a passion in racing. When Kevin is not at the track on race day, he is most likely to be found traveling as the President of the Midwest Supermodified Association to tracks in Indiana, Michigan or New York.
Race day starts at sunrise, making sure the facility is clean and safe for competitors and fans alike. The cool, collected owner does have the obligitory meltdown every now and then, but it's business as usual from that point on. Being close to the shores of Lake Erie, weather is often a concern and keeping in touch with the National Weather Service has become a daily race day routine. If the radar shows green, that means no green in the stands.
At the end of the day, around a campfire or in the speedway lounge with a beer and a few hundred fans and drivers, you can say that it was a good day, just like any given Saturday.
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