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Chasing through the Geographical Center

August 23, 2013
Chris Bieri - Tribune Editor , Pierce County Tribune

Randy Lewis has been to hundreds of race tracks all over the world, from Australia to Russia and from Norway to Uruguay.

He's seen races in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Finally, he made a stop at the Geographical Center.

Article Photos

Lewis, the world's top trackchaser, visited the Geographical Center Speedway in early August, his 1,877 different track.

Lewis has been to a dozen different tracks in seven separate trips to North Dakota. He first came to West Fargo in 1981 and took in a night of racing at the Red River Valley Speedway.

It was during a prior trip to Minot when Rugby and its track first landed on his radar.

"A few years ago, former track announcer Larry McFall invited me to come to Rugby," Lewis said. "He had interviewed me at another North Dakota track. I tried to make it up here in the past but scheduling and bad weather always kept me away."

Trackchasing follows fairly strict rules and Lewis is always trying to stay a step ahead of the competition.

"Trackchasing rules allow for counting tracks that use an oval, road course or figure 8 track," Lewis said. "Trackchasing rules do not allow the counting of drag races, motorcycle races, demo derbies or rallies. Any wheel to wheel racing done by adults on the three tracks I mentioned are countable.

But accumulating nearly 2,000 tracks worldwide often means that Lewis is on the run.

"Unfortunately, my stop in Rugby was brief," Lewis said. "It was a 691-mile drive up to Rugby from Lincoln. Then following the race in Rugby I had a 230-mile drive to the next day's race in Mahnomen, Minn. I did have a chance to drive through Rugby and took pictures of downtown and several neighborhoods. I was impressed with how peaceful everything looked."

While he didn't have much time to visit the city, the track definitely left an impression on him.

"Probably the (most memorable thing was the) old wooden covered grandstand," Lewis said. "Those are classics and an endangered species. Although the car counts were somewhat small the racing was competitive. For the last race of the night I watched from just beyond turn one with the sun setting over the track. What a beautiful sight."

Lewis has been to the world's most notable tracks in Daytona, Indianapolis and Monaco, but he said he really likes the high-banked dirt oval tracks like the ones that are common in North Dakota.

Lewis generally puts between 30,000 and 40,000 miles on rental cars each year traveling to different tracks.

With more than 1,800 tracks checked off, Lewis said it's becoming more and more difficult to see new tracks.

But he jokes there is one thing he finds even tougher: Asking his wife 1,877 times if he can go to the races.

 
 

 

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