Racing Under the Lights at Central Texas Speedway

The State of Texas Racing, Volume 1: loud, fast, dirty, and fun at the Affordable Golf Cars 250.

Central Texas Speedway
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Central Texas Speedway hosted their final races of the season last weekend in Kyle, Texas. The Affordable Golf Cars 250 is not named for a 250 mile race on their 3/8 mile tri-oval, but for the total number of laps to be covered by the 8 races on the evening's docket.

Local tracks provide level of excitement you don't get on super speedways. Contact is plentiful and there are plenty of spins and wrecks. The entire track is visible from anywhere in the stands and there are lots of available seats just feet from the racing action. Tickets are cheap and the food and beer are even cheaper. The parade of endless yellow flags give you ample time to hit the bathroom or pay attention to your date.

Passion wins out over bright lights and fame at local tracks. But that passion makes for high entertainment. And on a night like last Saturday, you may even get to see a senior racer give his trophy to a random five year old in the stands, passing on the torch to the next generation of racers.

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These aren't the well-lit paddocks of COTA, yet no one seems to notice or care. Racers have been at the track all-day qualifying, but the real excitement doesn't get started until after the sun sets and a few strategically placed lights flicker on.

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The opening ceremonies feature patriotism and prayer and a heartfelt thanks to the track crew and emergency personnel. Some shiny trophies and a few hundred bucks are the spoils of victory. The drivers, though, are as passionate as if they were racing at Daytona for front page headlines.

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Local tracks have established racers that give the fans heroes and heels to add to the storyline. Everyone recognizes Bob Caulfield's Chevy, and he's earned himself a painted pad in the paddocks.

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The Sports Compact class is the first to race. This category is for beginning racers who want a cheap entry point. Factory stock cars that came with a back seat and engines smaller than 3.1 liters are allowed as long as they have almost no modifications. Tires must cost less than $95 each. In this class, the brakes take the hardest beating. They are all glowing red or billowing smoke. Some, like the Number 07 car, make great fireworks in each turn.

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Three drivers of the Napa Trucks class tangle in the entry to the main straight. Contact and spins are a "when" not and "if" this evening.

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A rare sighting of the flag man without the yellow flag.

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More race prep in the dark for racers at Texas Central Speedway.

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Racing action from the Grand Stock class, as seen from the stands in Turn 1.

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A Grand Stock racer narrowly escapes a spinning car and glides through the tire smoke just past Turn 1.

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The few garages in the paddock at Texas Central Speedway are part of the Car Bar. Patrons can sip Modelo and play pool as drivers and crews work on cars just a few feet away.

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A few light poles in the infield provide just enough light for drivers to navigate the track.

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Fans look on as cars deconstruct themselves as the races progress. The scarred wall is a testament to the no-holds-barred feel of the on-track action.

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Plenty of spins in Turn 1, this time in the Grand Stock class.

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The Pro Late Model class features the most skilled drivers, but even they aren't immune to the charms of Texas Central Speedway. This unplanned track exit nearly claimed the race leader, and resulted in an exhilarating pirouette in the infield grass.

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A Late Model Pro car churns out flames as it exits the main straight into Turn 1.

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A foreboding omen stands guard on the catch fence outside of Turn 1.

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Freshly back under green flag, drivers navigate the confined quarters of Texas Central Speedway.

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Another restart and divers pick up speed as they approach the main straight. The 2-wide starts feel tame compared to the 3-wide, and sometimes 4-wide, wide racing on the track.

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The Late Model Pro cars have the least wrecks and spins of the evening's races, but even they aren't immune from the battle scars of tight quarters racing.

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The Texas All Star Light Modified class packs in tight for a restart. With things this snug, drivers and fans eagerly await seeing which driver will flinch first.

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TALMS cars, or as one fan called them: the armadillos, are 1978-1987 GM midsize frames with stock suspensions, GM crate engines and series mandated body deigns. They give a Mad Max feel to the evening.