Another Carbon County Success story: Getting to watch closing races of a 3 day event: The Castle Country Clash at the Desert Thunder raceway. Some of you who knew me years ago would know I was a big NASCAR fan back in the day. (I mean I made NASCAR board game for a 5th grade math project once…I was serious about it)
So when Tina asked us if we would be interested in attending the weekend’s stock car races my answer was an easy YES! Saturday with our ATV ride, we were wiped out but luckily we finished our hike Sunday just in time for me to check out the afternoon races.
The raceway is maybe a 5 minute drive from the highway in Price but feels completely out there in the desert. Tons of free parking and the entry booth exchanges your ticket for a raffle ticket at the start. There’s just a few buildings for concessions, announcers, and porter potties. LUXURY.
Luckily I wasn’t there for comfort, I was there to see some racing!
Concessions were decently priced and provided by the town’s historic Frosty Freeze (drive up). Everything looked pretty delicious I have to say!
My impression of the stands was awesome, while you can’t bring any food/ drink in you CAN bring a camp chair, blankets and the like. The main stands are actually giant concrete steps so you set you camp chairs up on that (or just recline/ spread out on one like I did) They did have bleachers around 3/4s of the track as well.
Make sure to bring with you to ANY race: SUNGLASSES, SUNSCREEN ( I was really getting toasted), and if you attend a legit NASCAR race, hearing protection isn’t a bad idea.
*The cars were loud here, but not too bad. I could shout at the person next to me and somewhat hear their reply.
A short history on Stock Car Racing:
It was born in the Southern Appalachians as people had a need to transport loads of illegal moonshine while evading the revenue agents. The 1934 Fords would get decked out/ modified and driven on twisting dirt roads in the dark, often exceeding 120 miles/hour. It became a popular event to find out who had the fastest car which lead to weekend races on make shift dirt tracks. From this start, NASCAR ( one of the most popular forms of Stock car racing) was born in 1948. Other forms of Stock Car governing bodies also started budding up. Dirt Track racing such as the Desert Thunder Raceway. have a more decentralized way of governing. There are some National boards for dirt track racing, but most are regional.
“Before there was a need for speed, there was a need for shine.”
~ Compliments of the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
NASCAR/ STOCK CAR Racing Fun facts:
1. Today stock car racing is the second (arguably almost first) largest spectator sport in America, drawing ten million fans annually
2. Nearly all tracks are oval and less than 1-mile (1.6 km) in length (not withstanding tracks like the Daytona 500 which are 2.5 miles around)
3. Drivers do not typically need to wear diapers, regardless that their races last half a day sometimes.
4. During NASCAR races, the temperature in the car often exceeds 100 degrees, reaching as much as 170 degrees by the floorboards. Thus during a NASCAR 200 lap race, drivers can lose 5-10 lbs merely through sweat.
5. The first lady of Racing title goes to Louise Smith who secretly entered a 1947 race using her husband’s Ford Coupe. She raced until 1956 and won 38 races in various divisions.
6. Dirt tracks are much less difficult on tires allowing drivers to go several races without having to replace them. An asphalt track however will require at least one full tire change and many more in
a complete 500 lap NASCAR race.
7. Races can be anywhere from 20 laps to 200 lasting a mere 15 minutes to hours on end depending on how many cautions/ what kind of cautions are thrown.
8. At 200mph a Nascar goes the length of a football field in a second.
9. The top 5 NASCAR racing venues all have a bigger capacity than the biggest soccer stadium in the world. ** my favorite fun fact.. take that Soccer
The race I got to see had several divisions going on and I got to watch 5/7 of them. The one most of these photos is from is the hobby stock car division which had the MOST number of cars out of any of the races, ran a full 40 laps, and had the most wrecks. (At least 6 cars were towed out before the race was over) The other divisions included: Modified, Sport Modified, Classic Stock, Hobby, and my personal favorite: Dwarf. (bottom photo on this post has them identified in a photo)
The video below shows 1 lap after the cars were coming out of a few caution laps (following a wreck) as they are just getting to take off and start racing again.
Stock Car Racing for Dummies… At least know the flags:
1. Green Flag- Used to start the race and indicate when drivers can race again after a caution
2. Yellow Flag- Caution, used when unsafe conditions are on the race track: usually debris from crashes
3. Red Flag- Rarely used but potential in inclement weather or completely blocked tracks. Flag indicates to pull off into designated areas
4. Black Flag- Used for specific drivers to indicate they need a pit stop (leaking fluid or loose body work) or that they have disobeyed a rule
5. Black flag with white cross- Used if a driver ignores the black flag for more than one lap and indicates they can no longer be scored.
6. White Flag- indicates one lap left
7. The chequered flag- indicates the race is finished
While there are dirt track races and sophisticated NASCAR races happening all year round, every weekend, the Desert Thunder Racetrack only hosted 4 major events in 2018so it was perfect timing for me to check out the closing race of the year.
Cost for the day is only $8 an adult, $6 for kids, with 5 and under being free. There’s also family passes for 2 nights around $25.
Check here for the race track’s facebook page to follow along if interested in attending the next event. ( I know I am) Sunday races aren’t the norm down here so it wasn’t nearly as busy (which I liked) but if you come down for a Friday or Saturday event, make sure to come early to get a good spot. I heard the night time races were PACKED.
Pano of the race track that is 3/8 mile long by 80 feet wide (the longest dirt track west of Denver)
The winners came out at the end of the race along with a few from the last race that just hung around.
All of the events and divisions were fun to watch with lengths ranging from 20-40 laps. The Dwarf and Hobby were my favorite, but all cars have special techniques to racing that is just captivating to watch, particularly on a crazy dirt track like this one.