But who gets my money?
I am native. As in I’m a native Arizonan. Born and raised in the land of the sand. I was born and raised in Tucson, (yes a Wildcat fan) and spent my first 26 years there. I had so little to do as far as entertainment was concerned, thus there may have been some unsavory times growing up trying to entertain myself. It wasn’t until I moved to San Diego for four years that I discovered a life outside of a small town. I found Major League Baseball, the NFL, Super cross motorcycle racing and of course my favorite, short track Saturday night racing, both asphalt and dirt. I was in entertainment heaven!!
But it wasn’t until I moved back to Arizona four years later that I realized all the hidden gems right in my back yard. Again I had MLB and NFL, but also the NBA and NHL, on top of every style of racing I could imagine. NASCAR, NHRA, sprint cars and dirt track racing, even drag boats. It quickly became apparent that there were more options than there was money. So began the juggling act of who gets what and when. And for me, it wasn’t that difficult of a decision.
Now, I have been to Opening Day for the Diamondbacks, it is becoming a tradition for my family and I to see Opening Day, it is so amazing. I was at the Cardinals wildcard win against the Atlanta Falcons the year we went to the Super Bowl, talk about electric!! I have yet to see the Suns and Coyotes, but I imagine the atmosphere is nothing short of spectacular, especially on those special nights. But for me, my addiction is a much more mechanical one. One that consumes fossil fuels and evokes the throngs of competition. I’m talking about racing.
Arizona has a huge history when it comes to auto racing. Some of the greatest names in racing history have come though our great state. Names like Andretti, Foyt, Unser, Stewart, Kinser and countless others. And so many of those names were carved into the history pages at what many Arizonans would consider the crown jewel of our racing heritage, Manzanita Speedway. For more than 50 years it stood as “THE” place to see dirt track racing at its greatest. But as all things in life, the good times came to an end. Pushed aside by the waves of progress, the famed track became a storage yard for a crane company. But from those symbolic ashes rose three blooms in the desert for us petrol junkies to fill our fix. There is Canyon Speedpark in Peoria, a west valley staple for many years, who inherited many of the Manzanita traditional races including The Copper on Dirt and The Western World Finals. Casa Grande resarected a long time favorite 11 Mile Corner under the new name Central Arizona Speedway, bringing back some much needed enjoyment to our neighbors to the southwest. And then there is my favorite.
San Tan Valley/Queen Creek is home to what one could call a triple crown of a race park. ET Motopark and Arizona Speedway. On any given weekend running nearly year round, you can find local motocross racing, a 3/8ths mile high banked clay dirt track featuring sprint cars, winged and non winged, and varying classes of stock and modified cars as well as a mud bog and sand drag course. In a neat note of history, Arizona Speedway lays claim to owning the grandstands from Manzanita Speedway, allowing throngs of fans to continue to enjoy countless nights of family fun while sitting on a piece of history. On a quite night when I’m not at the track, I can sit on my porch with a race track appropriate beverage in my hand and kick back, listening to the cars roar around the dirt, flexing their horsepower and torque muscles.
In a city filled with so many choices of entertainment and culture, excitement and sports teams, there is only one who truly has my heart. It’s the one who will leave dirt in my hair and my beer, who will have my ears ringing, my eyes watering from the smell of burned methanol, and a smile on my face after spending a great night with my family. There is only one who gets my money.
By: Travis Jones