I had the opportunity to attend both Friday and Saturday night's races at Manzanita Speedway. The weather could not have been more cooperative over the past few days. The race on Friday didn't have as many fans as I expected but I understand that the activities on Thursday night may have accounted for that. I picked up reserved seats right at the start finish line in the main grandstand 10 rows up the day of the race. I was told that they didn't start the races until very late on Thursday because of some back gate issues that kept all the teams from getting into the race track in a timely fashion. Bud looked dominant in his heat race and I expected him to challenge for the win once again. As the feature wore on passing became a bit difficult and unfortunately he was unable to move up. Northern California drivers Robert Ballou and Brad Sweet looked pretty good on the big half mile track. All in all, it was an enjoyable evening at the track and it was nice to go to the races with my mom for the first time in a couple of years.
Saturday night was a different story. It seems that every time I attend a race on Saturday night at Manzanita, they never start on time. Last night was no different than any other occasion. Robin and I predicted this and we went out for a nice dinner before heading to the track. We arrived just before the national anthem and settled in for a great night of racing. Track conditions were different on both the big track in the small track Saturday night. The high line was the way to go and a slide job was the only way you were to get a pass in. The 360 event was entertaining as Cory Kruseman held off Jeremy Sherman for the victory. Yellow flags worked out well for Cory and we got to see very little lapped traffic passing.
Brad Sweet won the C main event and transferred into the feature after a 10th place finish in the B. Ballou looked good in the semi finishing runner-up to Hines. Hines was driving in place of the injured Johnny Rodriguez. Bud started fifth in the feature and picked off a few cars in the early laps by using the low side in one and two. That was the only time all evening I saw anyone pass low in one and two. He got up as far as second and then got lose coming out of turn two and Clayton slipped by. The fast way around was the top and for some strange reason I tire wear did not seem to be an issue for anyone. The feature ran nonstop until lap 37 when the red flag came out. Josh Wise had 2 lap cars behind him and pulled away for a three second win at the finish.
Although I appreciate the effort that the Manzanita staff makes to create an event, I think they're missing the big picture. Race fans don't want to rollout of the track at 12 and one o'clock in the morning. This is especially true for people who might be attending the NASCAR races over the weekend or families with children. It shouldn't take five hours to run six races unless some sort of unforeseen safety issue forces the matter. I think taking for granted the fact that there are no mufflers and there are no curfews required by the county is living dangerously. Each year a new housing development creeps closer and closer to the area. By next spring we will have three dirt tracks operating in the metropolitan Phoenix area I hope the competition will encourage tracks to consider more fan friendly schedules.