Back to the Bullring
By Tim Packman
On Sunday, Sept. 14, I had the opportunity to make a return visit to Wyoming County International Speedway not only as a spectator, but as an announcer.
Because of some scheduling holes right now, I am able to spend the month of September in the WNY area and, of course, I ended up at a short track. Between making the one-hour ride from Akron to Perry, seeing the familiar places, greenery, rolling hills and coming upon the track nestled back up on the hill - I still get that little kid "oh boy! the track!" feeling I had when my father, Dick Packman, raced there in the 70's and 80's.
The Majchrzak Family was nice (crazy) enough to let me announce for the day and I was more than excited to return "home" and have some fun. Thank goodness the talented and knowledgeable Dan Turner was there with the other microphone to bail me out when it came to unfamiliarity of certain drivers.
Pit action was good as the cars and crews came cruising in and practice started. I don't know if it was out of habit, or what, but I instantly found myself walking the entire pit and seeing who was driving what that day. Seeing some familiar faces was great; for two reasons.
First, it's great to see old friends you are familiar with and catch up. Second, it's good to see the same folks still involved in racing. I can't even begin to tell you how many people I have seen fade out of the NASCAR ranks in the eight years I've been involved full time.
Before ANY, and I do mean ANY, racing could get started; a trip to the WCIS food stand was in order. There was Polly, still as beautiful as ever, and the awesome food selection WCIS is known for in racing. You can pretty much poll about anyone and most will tell you WCIS has the best track food in the area - and they're right.
Once the racing started, I just stood there smiling - and kept smiling.
And, here's why.
Most of you don't realize how lucky you all are to take in the action of short track racing on a weekly basis. While it seems everyone wants to get to a NASCAR race as a fan - or driver - the best show in racing is right in front of you.
Side-by-side, back-and-forth, three and four-car battles dominated the day at WCIS and I loved it. The stands had plenty of room for more fans and I don't understand why there weren't more people in attendance.
Yes, the Bills were playing that day and the Cup race from NHMS was also taking place. But, those are things you can see on TV via highlight shows or TIVO. Being at a track like WCIS allows you to not only see real racing; but do it in an affordable and fun way.
I'm a sucker for Street/Super Stock and open-wheel races. And, I wasn't disappointed as they battled back and forth, up and down, high and low around the track. What a thrill it was for me to look down and see Uncle Don Packman sitting in the stands with cousin Darcy. And, there was cousin Doug in the backstretch starter's stand and his son, Dakota, even led the first four-cylinder feature event.
I hope all of you who race at WCIS, or any short track, never take your opportunity for granted. I also hope each true fan brings two friends to at least one race next year. They will probably walk away thrilled with the experience and something to talk about at work on Monday.
Personally, I walked away thrilled to be back at the bullring - and honored.
Who knows when it will happen again, but what the heck -- Until next time, I'll see your faces - at the races!