Made the trek to "The Big E" on Saturday for the 50th anniversary USAC Sprint Show. Here are some general thoughts on the night.
1. Hadn't been there in a while, but what a terrific facility. You forget what a real cool layout and setting it has. The infield has that Bristol feel to it. Great vantage points. Love to see how that place looks/feels when its jammed packed and everyone isn't bundled up.
2. Very cold night though. More like a November night watching the Bears and Packers at Lambeau Field. Racing is supposed to be a warm weather sport, so it made it a little weird to be there with sweatshirt and winter coat on. Of course, I've been at Indy a few too many times in May in a similar getup... so maybe its not so unusual.
3. Nice to see 30 sprint cars showing up for a USAC national event. Most were really good cars too. Depth of dirt talent is strong. When Kyle Larson is never much of a factor the entire night, you know its a strong field. Wasn't as much passing as I would have liked in the sprint heats and feature. It appeared very few could run the bottom of the track. A few of the top dogs (Larson, Clauson, Jones, Windom, East and Schuerenburg had pretty quiet nights). Two of the "old-timers" (Hines and Darland) ran away and hid in the feature. Sometimes experience means a lot.
4. Nice to see the presentation that Eldora used to introduce drivers and start races. Intro'ing the top 10 in points and having their cars rolled up on stage is a nice touch. Even did interviews with a few drivers as well. Interviewed Clauson and of course, it was all about the Indy 500 ride. BC sounds like he's on cloud 9. No show or PR sound there. You can tell he is genuinely getting ready to fulfill a dream of his. Crowd gave him a nice ovation. Also the pyrotechnics and fireworks gave it a bigger time feel. And the video board is better then anything you see at IMS (which I think tells you that IMS needs to upgrade their videoboards/scoreboards).
5. Crowd wasn't particularly large (I'd guesstimate it at 3,000 or so) but again this was not a night that was particularly conducive to sitting outside for 4 hours. A few times late, I wish I hadn't been. It was pretty chilly. Not a bad turnout of campers though outside of turn 4.
6. The track was in great condition early in the evening with the proper amount of moisture in it, but as the night wore on and as the temperatures dropped, the track dried out and it got very hard and slick. Wish they could have put some water down on it at some point around dark. I guess the dust wasn't as bad as its been in the past few years, but it still got a little much during the sprint feature. They still need to work on this issue.
7. Most of the signage sponsors on the backstretch are Tony Stewart Racing sponsors. US Army, Toronado's, Mobil 1, Go-Daddy, etc...
8. Really well run night of racing. Started on time and kept moving along nicely with very limited downtime. Thought the UMP Mod's put on some good racing too. They had over 40 cars there. Besides one heat race that seemed like it would never end, they ran pretty cleanly too.
Overall, enjoyed the experience and it was fun to see my first live race in person in 2012.