Of all the things that the Pacific Northwest is known for, auto racing isn’t one of them. Sure, there’s an NHRA event that takes place each year down at Pacific Raceways in Kent, and Portland International Raceway was an annual stop for the now defunct Champ Car World Series back in the day (and is now an annual stop for a slightly less prestigious imitator,) but by and large there isn’t much in the way of professional racing around here. That’s not to say there isn’t racing to be found, just as long as you’re not too picky about what type of racing you’re watching. Nestled in a (usually) quiet corner of rural Snohomish County about 33 miles northeast of Downtown Seattle lies the city of Monroe, a town of about 17,000 people that serves as host to Evergreen Speedway, a 5/8th mile NASCAR-affiliated oval track which also includes smaller 3/8th and 1/5th mile ovals, a 1/8th mile drag strip and a figure-8 track, and finds frequent opportunities to make use of all of them. Throughout the Spring and Summer there are races held at Evergreen Speedway every Saturday night. Just don’t go expecting any fancy big-budget racing, because you aren’t likely to find it here. What you will find is a fine evening of mindless entertainment, with a side of metal carnage thrown in for good measure.
A couple of weekends ago, me and a friend of mine spent the evening at Evergreen Speedway’s season opening demolition derby night, which also featured a stunt jump, Figure 8 races and more. After the break, you will find some of the highlights of the evening,
Upon arrival at the track, this was the sight that greeted the crowds, many of which were on the front stretch of the track getting an up-close look at some of the various cars that would be competing this evening. A stacked-up pile of cars and a pair of ramps pointed at them is usually a good indication of carnage ahead, provided in this case by Mr. Dizzy and friends. I will say that most of these cars seem to be nicer than the old beater Camry I used to drive. And were probably still nicer after someone smashed into the things at high speeds.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a good video of the stunt, but suffice it to say, there was a car crash involved, complete with gratuitous explosions. If you look on the Mr. Dizzy site there are plenty of videos of various stunts to be found.
In the meantime, most of the cars that would be competing this evening were out on the track for the crowd to get an up-close look. It seemed highly unlikely that any of them would be winning beauty contests anytime soon.
I’ve got to say that Lightning McQueen has kind of let himself go lately…
And this one’s just, um… Well anyway, let’s move on. Then again, one of the rules of the Hornet series in which is what most of these cars race in) is that track management reserves the right to claim any car competing in the series for the price of $500 (minus safety equipment) which acts as an incentive not to go overboard with adding modifications or upgrades. Needless to say, you’re not likely to find anything pretty racing in this series. The full rules (PDF link) for the series can be found here.
Eventually it was time to clear the track and get the show on the road These cars (soon to be participants in the evening’s demolition derby) didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the No Smoking sign next to them.
But don’t worry folks, they’ve got an all-electric zero emissions utility vehicle to haul stuff around, they’ll be saving the Earth in no time. Just as soon as the guys back there on the track finish up their gratuitous burnouts. Then again, given the stuff that goes on here, I suspect the only way you’re ever going to find a hippie at this place is outside the front gate with a protest sign.
Anyway, once the various festivities were out of the way it was time to go racing, starting out with a number of 15-lap heat races for the Hornets on the 1/5-mile oval. Generally these cars tend not to be fast enough to get themselves into too much trouble, so aside from a spin or two in the corners these races went off pretty cleanly. The same mostly held true for the other heat races.
After the various heat races were taken care of, the next order of business was some figure-8 racing. For those of you unfamiliar with Figure-8 racing, it’s basically exactly what it says on the tin, and basically just as crazy as it sounds. After all, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to dive repeatedly through shockingly small gaps in oncoming traffic? In spite of the sheer dangerousness of it all, even these races went off mostly without too much trouble, although some good dives through the center provided no shortage of amusement for the crowd. Once a year they even do a 60-minute figure-8 race here, which has to seem like an eternity out there.
Much of the evening’s carnage would turn out to be provided by the Super Figure 8s, seen here taking to the track for their feature race. In contrast to the relatively close-to-stock Hornets and Stingers, the Super Figure 8 cars are V8-equipped monsters, complete with straight pipe headers just to make things nice and loud (and I’m sure the crowd-pleasing blue flames they produce under full throttle certainly can’t hurt either.)
The faster cars made for a much more exciting race, and considerably more bumping and banging, and it quickly began to show. You might notice something missing from this picture…
A red flag late in the race to clean up after a car that slammed into one of the big tires and leaked assorted fluids on the track provided a good chance to get an up-close look at the competitors, none of which is likely to win a beauty contest anytime soon. It seems that in this type of racing, flat tires are just a minor inconvenience.
At the conclusion of the race, several drivers decided to throw in a few donuts for good measure. Which is kind of odd, because I’ve always been under the impression that you’re supposed to have tires in order to do a burnout…
Finally, to cap off the evening, the festivities were concluded with a demolition derby just to make sure everyone got their fill of stuff getting wrecked. If I recall correctly someone actually ended up on their roof within the first thirty seconds in this one. Lots of smashing and bashing, and naturally, the last car running wins.
And just because a few gratuitous explosions don’t seem out of place in this kind of environment, the evening was concluded with what was actually a pretty significant fireworks show. Evergreen Speedway actually does a big show for the Fourth of July each year, although since I generally tend to be otherwise engaged on that day I haven’t had the chance to see it. They only do the fireworks a few times a year, but they’ve got racing of some sort scheduled for every Saturday night through the middle of October. Definitely worth checking out if you can handle a bit of tire smoke and need a good dose of metal carnage.