The other day someone asked me what my favorite track was. It was such a simple question, but I didn’t know how to answer it. Since I started racing full-time in 2004, I have traveled the country and have raced at what seems like a million different tracks. When I first got into the sport, I would ask veterans like Kevin Varnes about a track he might have raced at and I was baffled when he sort of forgot what the track was like or if he even raced there. It was crazy to me that you would race that many tracks in your career, you would simply forget about one of them. Well, I am at that point where.. Same.
I sat down this morning while Cruise was napping and put together a list of my Top-10 favorite race tracks I have raced on over the course of the last decade or so.
Again, this is MY list, so even though you might hate some of these tracks, it doesn’t mean I hate them. If I put together my Top-10 list of tracks I dislike, you would probably be baffled at some of them because a good handful of the ones I despise everyone seems to like.
Here we go:
10. Mid-Carolina Speedway (Neeses, South Carolina) – You could be a half-mile away from this track in the heart of South Carolina and you still might feel as if you are lost. It’s a hidden gem for sure. Many racers from across the country have ridden at this track as it was an extremely well known testing facility prior to Daytona Bike Week. I first heard about it from Chris Carr. When the track is prepped nice, it’s easily one of my favorite tracks. It’s a very fast quarter mile with a dirt/sandy cushion surface. When it starts to dry up, it changes drastically, but I still enjoy it. I have ridden this place from sun up to sun down on many occasions and have went through dozens of tires here (It eats up tires!)
Fun Memory: One year on the way to Daytona, we stopped here to test. I was a young & dumb Pro-Sport rider and I was extremely eager to ride my motorcycle. I woke my Dad up (Who drove all night to get us there) to unload the bikes and start testing. We had a brand new engine in my CRF 450 and it needed to be broken in. My Dad told me to go out and ride around the track slow to break in the motor. I got out there and did one lap slow, but the track was PERFECT so I dropped the hammer. Well, when I came around after a couple of laps, the hammer was literally dropped (thrown) at me. Yeah, my Dad was so pissed off that he launched a hammer at me while I pitched it into turn one and it smacked off the side of my bike. Impressive throw. Let’s just say I didn’t ride many more laps that day and I learned my lesson.
9. Renner TT (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) – I wanted to include a TT on this list somewhere and this one came to my mind first. This track might be more well known for it’s short track, but they also had a TT built in the center. What made this track so much fun is that it had two lanes you could choose from once as you entered the infield. Both of the choices were pretty equal, so you could literally change a lane mid race to try and attempt a pass. I rode here in 2007 on the way to Sturgis Bike Week and the prize money for the winner was $750, which isn’t a bad day for a rookie expert rider.
Fun Memory: I was late to staging for the main event. Well, I wasn’t late to staging, but I wasn’t there two races prior like I guess we were supposed to be. The track officials sent Kevin Varnes, Robert Pearson and myself to the third row. I was an angry child and I got extremely heated. I remember doing burnouts on the front straightaway throwing a hissy fit about the whole deal. Eventually I lined up on the third row. I was so angry; I forgot to put my goggles on when the light turned green. There were 18 riders and I think I was in second by the third or fourth lap. I have never raced more pissed off in my life. I quickly caught the leader and if I would have calmed down, I would have passed him no problem within the next lap or so. Sure enough, being young and stupid, as soon as I caught him I attempted to slam into the side of his number plate and highsided myself into outer space. I couldn’t get my bike started, so I sat in the infield, watched the rest of the main event and finished last. Fun times.
8. Mototown (Hartford, Connecticut) – This was a huge indoor riding facility not far from Coolbeth’s house. I would go up there every winter and ride with Kenny. They had a motocross track and a sweet little dirt short track. The short track was shaped like a paper clip. The dirt always stayed nice and it was a lot of fun. They hosted a couple of races and almost everyone from the Northeast showed up. I think one year we had 40 riders in the Pro classes. I never won, but I never finished worse than second. The last I heard, the roof collapsed on this building and the facility is no longer there.
Fun Memory: As I mentioned above, I have a bunch of second place finishes here. Coolbeth usually beat me, but one time he wasn’t able to make the race. Although there were a couple dozen fast guys there (Robinson, Shayna, PJ Jacobsen, Yoder, Raun Wood, Shane Narbonne, Varnes, etc.) I felt like the guy to beat. I got off the line in first place, only to get passed by Gary Conklin coming off turn two. I will never forget this, but as we came off turn two on the first lap, Conklin started first bumping down the back straightaway with 11 high caliper GNC guys right on his tail. Talk about moxie. Sure enough, Gary won the race and I finished second. Gary passed away a couple of years ago, but I have a lot of fond memories of racing with him. This one is my favorite.
7. Black Hills Speedway (Rapid City, South Dakota) – The first time I raced here at a GNC national in 2009, I hated the track. I disliked it so much that I actually qualified last place in the GNC Twins class. Yeah, I was sucking. I ended up making the main event that night before it rained out. Over the past couple of seasons, I have really grown to like this place. It’s a big, banked clay half mile. When the sun goes down, it’s one of the fastest half miles we race at all season. The only downfall is there are rocks big enough to shatter your front number plate, so it’s key to try and avoid those.
Fun Memory: This place has rained out twice while I was there. When it rains, IT RAINS. One year it rained so bad that we got stuck in the pits for almost 24 hours. The next time it looked like rain, the AMA had us pit on the outside of the track. Smart move.
6. York Fairgrounds (York, Pennsylvania) – This track is only about 35 minutes from my home and has a special place in my heart. I first raced here with my Dad in 2008. I won a couple of races and finished second in the big money class. In 2012, Steve Nace had the first ever Randy Texter Memorial at this track as part of the AMA All-Star Series. I won the Singles main event. I never felt better on a motorcycle in my career than I did that day. I got 3rd in 2013 and won both the Twins and Singles main events in 2014. It’s a cushion half mile, but it gets brushed off and becomes really technical. We don’t race there anymore because the neighbors complained about the sound of the bikes. Lame.
Fun Memory: So many good memories at this track, but my favorite is winning the first ever RLT Memorial there in 2012. It might be my all time favorite race memory.
5. Mama Tried Indoor (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) – This place is awesome. Concrete indoors are my favorite type of tracks. For some reason, I have so much fun at these events. It creates aggressive racing and everything is so unpredictable. You can easily be the fastest guy there and finish last place for one reason or another. The Mama Tried race has an atmosphere like I have never seen before. We race inside the same arena the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team plays in. There were probably 10,000 people in attendance last year. The track is coke syrup based, but they don’t soak it down like some tracks do, so it is very fast and fun. We also had a 35-lap main event, which was a bonus.
Fun Memory: Jared and I had a really good battle here last year. He won and I finished a close second after slamming into each other a couple of times. Some of the photos are epic. I was later docked a full lap after jumping the start (Red flag next time with a complete restart, hopefully) and was credited with 5th.
4. Trail-Way Speedway (Hanover, Pennsylvania) – My first ever race was at this track in 1992. I got lapped about three times. A lot of people dislike this track, but it has always been one of my favorite places to race. I won the AMA All-Star race here in 2012. It’s a banked, usually rough and tacky, clay short track. The straightaways are banked as well as the corners. I’d race here more, but the payout for the Expert class is terrible. I’ve won a District race here with 30 riders signed up and had $125 in my envelope. However, as far as Pennsylvania tracks go, this is my favorite one to ride at.
Fun Memory: A lot of fun memories at this track. The last time I lost a race here was in 2010 when I shattered my arm in a heat race. This crash took me out of racing for almost the entire 2010 season. It was my fault though. I jumped the start and rode like an idiot trying to pass people. On the last lap, I slammed into a slower rider and found out how much that clay dirt hurts.
3. Oglethorpe Speedway (Savannah, Georgia) – This track is so rad. It’s hands down the fastest half mile I have ever raced at. It reminds me of a miniature Springfield Mile. I have been racing here every season since 2006 when I was Pro-Sport. It’s red clay and stays relatively smooth. When the sun goes down, the groove gets fast and you can just hammer down. I’ve had a lot of success here in the past and it’s just one of those tracks where I am constantly smiling the whole time I am there. It’s also fun because when we go there, I get to ride a twin and a single on the same day. Both are equally as fun around this track.
Fun Memory: So many awesome memories here. I have a handful of Fall Sideways in Savannah race wins here, but I finally won the AMA All-Star race at this track on the twin earlier this season.
2. Middletown Indoors (Middletown, New York) – Another concrete indoor and another race track that is no longer around. Keith Jacobsen put this series on every winter. Growing up, this was the only racetrack we competed at every year. We were busy playing other sports, but always found the time to drive up to New York for these races. It was a really fast concrete indoor. Most of the time, these indoors are paper clip shaped, but this one was shaped more like an oval. A lot of fans attended. Quads raced here, so there were often a lot of fistfights in the pits after the races. Good times. This place felt like home.
Fun Memory: One year in the Pro class, PJ Jacobsen was leading, I was in 2nd and Coolbeth was in 3rd. With two laps to go, I went into the corner and slammed into PJ. He crashed and I drifted wide. Going into the next corner, Coolbeth slammed into me causing me to crash, and he cruised on for the win. I thought it was funny, but PJ was young at the time and hated me for a couple of weeks.
Here is another race that I found on YouTube from that track:
1. Springfield Mile (Springfield, Illinois) – Would there be another choice at number one? I don’t know a rider who doesn’t love riding this track. We go 140mph on the straightaways and 100mph in the corners. Usually the track is pool table smooth and the grandstands are always packed. This is our Daytona 500. If I was trying to persuade a fan how great our sport was, this is the race I would tell him/her to buy tickets for. I have been coming here since I was a baby and it easily tops my list of all time favorite tracks.
Fun Memory: Finishing on the podium here in 2016 and being in contention to win was a great memory. I’ve always felt I had the speed to make it happen at this track and I was finally able to showcase that last fall. The best part of it all was doing it on my own personal twin and pitting out the back of a van.