Speedway Friday

Speedway Friday

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Weber, Shannon

Sending out the week with some gas.

As we make our way to the grandstand, the red-blooded energy of the track comes alive. The smell of grilled burgers and hot dogs. The rumble of engines revving in the pits. We fidget in our seats in anticipation of our favorite drivers. One by one they complete their test laps and settle in at the starting line. More rumbling, more revving. A wave of the flag and they’re off! High-pitched whines fill the air as they scream around the track, dirt swirling and splattering fans in low-level seats. Fishtailing around each turn, the cars swerve and slide as they vie for position at the front of the pack.

Welcome to Friday night at the Gallatin Speedway. This year’s season began on May 26 and runs all summer long. Races begin at 7:35 pm. Several classes of cars race in the Gallatin Valley, from street stock (stock-production cars with few modifications—good cars to start racing with), to superstock (the next step up from street), to modified cars, which I call the big boys (most recognizable for their open fenders and wide-open rear suspension). The modified cars race in the last feature of the night at a much faster pace, in the range of 85 mph, compared with the street-stock cars’ average of around 60 mph. Each feature race is 20 laps, but the heat races are only eight laps.

Drivers race to earn points towards the track championship held at the end of the season on September 1. But every night is party night, and many fans hoot and holler, drink beer, and trade fun tickets on every race. To prepare for a night out at the Gallatin Speedway, you need lots of dollar bills (fun tickets), sunglasses for the dirt, and a koozie for the beer.

Every group has its own rules when it comes to fun-ticket trading. In our group, anyone can play, but no one can study the current standings sheet. The loser picks first in the next race, the runner-up loser picks next, and so on. The winner, after scooping up her bounty, buys more beer for the group. There are five ways to choose your car: 1) Pay attention to how well it drives in the heat race (this determines the lineup for main feature in each class), 2) Study how aggressive the drivers are when they come out of the gate, 3) Color, 4) Psychic ability, 5) Know who the top five drivers are by visiting gallatinspeedway.com beforehand (okay, you can look at the standings just once for this).

The races provide great Friday-night entertainment for all walks of life, while the drivers compete and ride the adrenaline rush for the big win. “Being at the races is about the camaraderie amongst the people involved in the sport and those who come out to see it,” says Dave Weisz, a Speedway promoter. “Not to mention it’s fun for the whole family.”

Be sure and come out for the racing season this year. Don’t forget your shades or greenbacks, and join in on the good times to be had on Friday nights at the Speedway.

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