If you want to have real Summer fun, go to the races!
The car races, of course. All over America there are tracks that buzz with activity throughout the warm months. And they represent the best that America has to offer.
Every Saturday evening since the 1950s, from April through August, Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, New York near Albany has held one of the best stock-car racing shows anywhere in America. Some pictures are included below.
Today this super-fast track hosts an array of racing classes each week, with everything from street stockers to the powerful ‘modifieds’ looping the high banks.
The paper-clip-shaped track of dirt (clay, actually) has long straights, steep banks in the turns and as much hot action as any speedway in America. Lebanon is such a reputed venue that the two best dirt-track drivers in the Eastern US, Kenny Tremont and Brett Hearn, meet head-to-head every Saturday night at Lebanon.
And you would love it. First, it is a working-class haven. Most of the fans at Lebanon come from the hard-working blue-collar classes that built America. They are the welders and mechanics and farmers and small-businesspeople that come from far and wide – New York state, Vermont, Connecticut and Massachusetts (Hearn even drives up from New Jersey) and they are some of the best people you will meet anywhere.
The fans are wonderfully friendly and enthusiastic. You will never hear a bad word at Lebanon. Saturday nights are like a happy circus with the Biggest Show on Dirt moving at high speed and with an indelible roar.
The crowd is huge and faithful every week, with thousands of spectators jamming the stands. Most people go every single week. Admission is usually $10, and it is the best $10 you will spend anywhere. Food is cheap and plentiful, even beer is available, and so for $20, you can have one of the best Saturday nights that you will have anywhere in the country.
Kids? There are swarms in attendance, all having a great time. Some of the older children watch the races while the younger ones just play with their friends. One kid actually has a set of starters’ flags and waves whatever flag the starter is waving at any given moment (green, white, checkered etc.) It’s wonderful!
The food is awesome. Hot dogs and burgers, baked beans(!), meatball and kielbasa grinders, pizza, fresh french fries. There’s fried dough and ice cream and coffee and donuts for dessert. And the show lasts about 4 hours end to end so there’s plenty of action for the modest cost of admission and lots of good food to fill the time.
Lebanon, like most tracks in America, is a good conservative place although politics is never discussed. It is just a fun night out and everyone plays it that way.
Spectators are honest, patriotic and well-behaved. There are Christian prayers and prayer requests before the Big Race of the evening. The crowd holds moments of silence for those who have departed, or those who need their thoughts. It is touching and uplifting in light of the God-less atheism in so much of America.
Before the big feature race about 50 kids are let onto the track and they load into the back of a Monster Truck (with the big tires) or into a bus. And they go for a couple of slow laps around the speedway, smiling and cheering and waving. It is really fun to watch them, and very life-affirming. The kids love it.
Lebanon allows campers in its sprawling grass parking lot. So dozens of people actually park their campers there all summer long and come out every Saturday. They spend the day having a barbecue and a good time, go the races in the evening, stay overnight and go home Sunday. Fun!
Here are some pictures of Lebanon Valley:
Everyone has a great time at Lebanon. The weather’s nice on Summer evenings in the Northeast, usually not too hot, and cooler when the sun goes down and the lights come on.
Flags fly at Lebanon Valley…
Here’s street stocker Phil Wood with the family after one of his victories.
Kenny Tremont (115) and Donnie Corellis (57) line up for the modified feature race.
His Most Awesome Highness Kenny Tremont, the winningest driver in the history of Lebanon Valley and one of the greatest dirt-track drivers in America.