First Impressions - Potomac Speedway , Maryland
By Larry Burnett
Hello race fans, and welcome to my first article (ever), First Impressions. The intent of this article is to capture my first visit to any given track. This first one covers my first time visit to the high-banked, 3/8 mile clay oval located in Budd's Creek, Maryland, Potomac Speedway.
First off, weather. It was a beautiful week, with temperatures in the mid-Atlantic region reaching the 80s during the day, and staying very comfortable overnight. We made my arrangements with the track on Monday, and I was looking forward to the 3 hour drive all week long. Unfortunately, the weather changed drastically Thursday night, with a major storm making its way across the east coast, and the forecast for Friday was rain, rain, rain. Needless to say, I was very worried that may first trip to Potomac would either be cancelled altogether, or ruined by a track to wet for racing.
Well, I kept my on the weather channel, and it started to look a little better as the day passed. And, thanks to Local Race Chat, and in particular the driver of the #1s street stock Donnie Smith, I was kept posted throughout the morning that the rain was gone, and the racing was on. So around 1:00, I packed up the car and headed north.
The pit gate at Potomac opens at 4:00, so I hoped to get there at about 3:30. Hitting rain on the way up delayed me a while, so I got there a few minutes after 4. Hmm, other than the lovely ladies n the ticket booth, the place seemed empty. No cars or crews lined up at the gate. But that didn't deter me or the track. The ladies at the booth acted as they knew exactly who I was, signed me in and treated me as if I was a regular, even pointing me to the employees parking. People like that at the front gate make any track that much better.
Once through the gate, I started walking around to take some pictures and get a feel for the track and facilities as a fan. I will say the grandstands are very small in comparison to some tracks I've been to (which, admittedly, isn't that many). The stands themselves apear to be old and possibly in need of a few upgrades, but they give off a great characteristic of a long standing race track, where the racing action is the number one attraction. The stands are fairly short, vertically, but span the entire length of the front stetch. And the neat thing is that they're very close to the track. Being close to the track like that is just fantastic, and really gets you up close and personal the cars. The concession stand had the standard fare found in the area; hot dogs, burgers, BBQ sandwich (very good) and even a bologna burger.
On to the most important part of any race track, the track itself. This place has some serious banking. I walked up the area in turn 4 where the cars enter the track, and watched track prep for a few minutes. The grader was out there poking the track, and a couple trucks were out there packing it. The banking, like I said, is seriously high. Even though it looked like they were just about done and had the track very worked in by the time I got there, I could see where packing the track could be a problem if it was too wet. I walked on the track a few times as the night went by, and noticed that it seemed to stay at least somewhat tacky, even after 35 laps of super late models. The track stayed racey all night long, with some great side-by-side racing, especially in the late model heats. For as much rain as the area got overnight, the track prep crew did a great job on the track. I've seen other tracks that don't fare so well after that much rain.
And finally, the people. From the ladies at the ticket booth to the guy watching the gate between the pits and the stands (and his pink-tailed dog) to Ernie the vice-pres, everyone was genuinely happy that LuvRacin was there. Hours after I came through the front gate, one of the ladies asked my how I enjoyed my visit. Well, I can honestly say that I enjoyed it quite a bit.