RANSOMVILLE SPEEDWAY: A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE Memories From a Longtime Fan
You’ve probably seen it. The black 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 with racing stickers all over the back window, and with more rust than any of the other vehicles in the parking lot have. It’s next to the landscaping right before the ticket booths. Yeah, that’s my dad’s truck, and it’s been in that same spot since around 2013.
Driving past Ransomville Speedway, I would always look back down the long driveway, and wonder what was back there. I was 8 years old, and thought it was an old abandoned factory or something. One day, my father was driving me over to my grandparents house, and we passed the track. He saw me looking over and asked what I was looking at. I told him, and
he laughed. “That’s not a factory,” he said. “That’s a racetrack!” One thing led to another, and the next week we made our maiden voyage.
That night, I got hooked. I loved the way the cars “zoomed” around the track, the feel of the dirt hitting my face, and the action that took place on the track. The next week we returned once again, and I decided I had two favorite drivers (Dan Shoop and Jim Zimmerman). I would cheer for them quietly in my head, but I wouldn’t really get involved. I was shy back then. When Autograph Night came around a few weeks later, I refused to go out onto the track to
meet Jim and Dan. I just wouldn’t do it. I sat in my normal spot on turns three and four, and watched the season commence. The season ended, the winter came, and then the next season began. I got some more favorite drivers, and became more comfortable. I started cheering outside my head, and when Autograph Night rolled around, I finally went out onto the track. But only to meet Jim Zimmerman and Dan Shoop. I got their signatures and told my dad I wanted to go back, so we went back.
As time went on, I started coming more out of my shell, and on the next Autograph Night, I got more autographs and even a few hero cards! But, I forgot to get a signature from a driver I liked, and when I told my dad he said that we could get it after the races were over. I was confused on how we were going to do that, but I wasn’t going to question him. That night, I
went over to the pits for the first time.
Time went on, I went over to the pits more, and I got even more involved with racing. When I was 12 years old I decided racing had to be a part of my career. So I decided to become a motorsports/automotive journalist. Choosing that field made me get engrossed with racing, and I can remember researching drivers from huge series’ that I’ve never even heard of before. But it wasn’t long before one of those series came to town.
It was 2017 when the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series came to Ransomville for the first time while I’ve been a fan. My dad and I got our tickets, and we tailgated for about four hours before “check-in time”, just watching the big dogs roll in. The sky that day wasn’t looking great, and I can remember my dad telling me he didn’t like the look of the sky. I didn’t either. It was an eerie-looking gray. But, when “check-in time” rolled around, we went in, and claimed our seats. It wasn’t long before we felt rain, though. Dad and I decided to protect ourselves from the rain by hiding under the Party Deck. Yeah, that didn’t work. Within five minutes, there was the most massive downpour I’ve ever seen in my life. I couldn’t even see the concession stand because the rain was coming down so hard. The rain was coming in rivets through the
floorboards of the Deck, and my dad and I were completely soaked. We decided there was no point in staying under there any longer, so we headed back out to the truck to wait. Ransomville called the race, and said that a reschedule date would be issued soon. Dad and I headed home
to dry off.
The Outlaws race was rescheduled for October of 2017. I believe it was on a Monday night. Of course, dad and I went and I can remember the cold to this day. Not as bad as the time I went out to Genesee Speedway, but it was still bad. The action that night was great though. I can remember cheering on Daryn Pittman as he was my favorite Sprint Car driver at the time. If I could go back and do it again, I would. The next year both the Sprint Cars and the Late Models came to Ransomville. And of course, Dad and I were at both. On the Sprint night though, I had an experience that I will never forget for as long as I live.
Daryn Pittman barrel-rolled during the feature, and I remember being upset. I told my dad that after the race I wanted to go see the car, so we did. We went over to the pits, and I met Daryn, and got a small piece of his chassis because he was cutting his car apart. Little did I know, we would circle back around the pits to Daryn’s again. When we went back to Daryn’s pit, a bunch of people were standing around. My dad and I squeezed through the crowd, and got a front row view of what was going on. They were taking the engine out of the car. Pittman’s team looked around at the crowd. And the one guy’s eyes fell on my dad. He had a cut-off t-shirt on, and his arms were showing. He’s built, and he’s got a bulldog on one arm, and a snake and dagger on the other. My dad also had a cigarette in his mouth. Pittman’s guy pointed at dad and said “We’re looking for a couple of strong guys to help us lift this. You wanna help?” My dad said yes and put his cigarette on the ground and told me to watch it. I watched dad, another guy, and Pittman’s team and they lifted the engine out of the car, and put it on a rolling engine cradle. The one teammate pushed the engine into the trailer, and my dad talked to another one. I ended up getting Pittman’s busted radiator and a piece of the mini wing on the front of the car. That is one of my fondest memories at Ransomville.
I can go on and on about my memories at my home track, but I won’t do that. But what I will tell you to do, is to come on out and make some memories for yourself. Go out onto the track on autograph night, go over to the pits, talk to the drivers and make some new friends. You never know what will happen. Maybe you’ll get a piece of your favorite driver’s car. I know I did. And if you do come, make sure to look for the rusty old 2003 Dodge Ram. You can’t miss it.
Article Credit: Brooke Johnpier
Submitted By: Steven Petty