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When I moved to Iowa in 2005, I landed in Knoxville, a small town about 40 miles south east of Des Moines. What I didn’t know until I arrived is that Knoxville is the Sprint Car Capital of the world. The Knoxville Raceway is home to the Knoxville Nationals, a week-long (more if you count the 360 Nationals the weekend before) racing event that draws fans, cars, and drivers from all over the world. Okay, mostly the U.S. and a strong Australian and New Zealand contingent. I had never seen dirt track racing until moving to Iowa, so this was a new experience. I did not turn into a die hard fan, but I went to a few races a year, often with some of my coworkers who were completely obsessed fans (one had moved to Knoxville because of the track, and looked for a job after he moved). I learned about slidejobs, why the fans always booed Danny Lasoski, and just how important the track was to Knoxville’s economy. When the town population goes from 7,000 to several tens of thousands for a week, that’s a pretty big deal.

I left Iowa for Illinois in late 2008, so it’s been nearly three years since I’ve been to a race. I finally fixed that last Saturday night, meeting my friend Beth at Wilmot Raceway for a night of mostly midget racing. Now, my dirt track racing experience has all been at Knoxville, which, as far as dirt tracks go, is a Big Deal. The local county fair race track up in Wilmot? Maybe not so much. So, for the first hour I was there, I got to watch this thing go round and round and round, trying to work the track into shape.

Eventually, they got the dirt under control, and cars came onto the track for warmup laps.

No, the tractor wasn't racing.

And we finally started racing.

There's a racing explanation for that visor tag, I'm sure.

Emergency response to a flipped car, no injuries.

I had my camera with me, obviously, with the 45-200 zoom lens. But the Panasonic G2 I have isn’t known for having great low-light performance or very fast autofocusing. And I was trying to shoot fast-moving race cars at night, under artificial light. So, the pictures are what they are. I had to get some shots of the pace car, though. Beth swears it’s an old Subaru BRAT, and when she was at the track a month ago watching sprint cars (bigger, faster cousins of the midgets we saw last night, and the type of cars I’m most familiar with), it nearly caused a pileup as it couldn’t stay ahead of the sprints.

We finished up sometime after 12:30, and I was tired enough by that point to skip a post-race bar visit, and just come home and crash. Well, maybe talking about crashing isn’t the best thing to do in a post about racing…In any case, I had a good time, and am looking forward to seeing sprints on this track at some point in the future, perhaps in August during the Kenosha County Fair.

View more photos at my Flickr account over here.

  1. July 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm

    I enjoyed a night at the dirt track once…. til I realized how much dirt was coming off of me in the shower LOL! Great to see ya blogging! Love the photos.

  2. July 19, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    I like the visor tag.

  1. July 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm

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