Some may have noticed that the page for Anderson Speedway (Anderson, Indiana) has been removed. I received an email from the track owner yesterday accusing me of copyright and trademark infringement and indicating that he was inclined to pursue fraud charges against me. I have neither the time nor the resources to deal with this matter, so I'm yanking the page.
In the 10+ years this site has existed, this is the first time that anyone has objected to having a page on their track in the directory. I'm quite amazed.
Should I continue displaying latitude and longitude information for tracks
in the current decimal degrees format, or switch to GPS format? (i'll continue
keeping it internally in decimal degrees, this would just be a display tweak).
anyone have any opinion? any one care?
Never depend on a permanent link to be permanent.
Google just altered the Google Maps interface to reset the map center to whereever the query string is set, regardless of any panning or zooming done before "link to this page" is clicked on. As a result, nearly all of my google map links are busted right now. I know what I need to do to fix them but it's going to take a while; there are over 400 probably broken links.
[I promised this review a while ago. I've been busier than I realized.]
The book I use most heavily is Alan Brown's History of America's Speedways: Past and Present (ISBN: 0-931105-61-7). Brown is best known as the author & maintainer of the National Speedway Directory. America's Speedways is very different from Lost Race Tracks, which I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Where as Lost Race Tracks provides a kind of snapshot, a view into a select group of tracks, America's Speedways goes for breadth and completeness. Brown is trying to provide at least minimal documentation on every auto racing venue in the US and Canada, past and present. Some entries are very short, others run to 10-15 lines. The longer ones often have a complete list of names the track is known to have operated under, and the different configurations (surface, length, etc.) Some entries have accurate descriptions of the physical location of the track, but most do not. This can make finding older tracks a bit tough (but there are some ways of dealing with this which are not relevant to this review.) Mind you, I'm not complaining -- there's a lot of great stuff in this book, and it certainly took Brown years to put it all together.
The book starts off with a nice introduction to the history of auto racing in North America. The subsequent 745 pages then cover about 8000 active/inactive/defunct race tracks in the US and Canada, organized by state and then by the current name (for active tracks) or what appears to be the most historically significant name (or last used name) for defunct tracks. Additionally, other names are interleaved in a useful way so that if you don't have the right name, you can usually get to it ok (for example, when I went to work on my website entry for Hollywood Bowl, it having been not too far from where I live, I only knew of it as Route 66 Speedway (the name that the locals remember it by). Fortunately, the format of the book makes such research easy enough to do.
Looks like Champ Car is rushing in to try to put a street race back into Las Vegas. They're talking about a 2.24 mile street course in the old downtown near the "Fremont Street Experience", which would be about Here.
The streets don't look that interesting, I wonder exactly what they plan to do to keep it from sucking.
I rolled out a new feature last night. For tracks which in the past have run major NASCAR events (Nextel Cup/GN/WC, Busch, and Craftsman Truck), there is now a link to Racing-reference.com, which has a very extensive collection of results from past races going back to the beginning of NASCAR racing.
There are a couple of books I am using as historical references in my ongoing effort to update the website and add more historical coverage. I'm going to review them over the next couple of days.
The first is Lost Race Tracks: Treasures of Automobile Racing, by Gordon Eliot White (Iconographix, 2002, ISBN 1-58388-084-4). The book is coffee-table-ish in size, in trade paper format, with 126 pages of content. It covers +/- 117 race tracks at one page per track. Thus, the coverage is not even remotely exhaustive, but the information per track is reasonably detailed. Each page provides a paragraph or two of background, a photo, and a map showing the location of the track.
The focus is on racing venues that are no longer with us, some of which still have visible traces and others of which are entirely gone. It also includes some historic one-offs like the first North American auto race (Chicago to Evanston and back, 1895.) Data is from various sources -- topo maps, newspaper records, and other sources. The selection of tracks is interesting. Most are in the US, but some are outside of the country.
In summary, I am finding this book useful, in particular because White has gone to the trouble to be specific about where the tracks are, something that Brown (which I'll review later) can't do for various reasons (mostly size, Brown covers 8000 tracks in 850 pages).
Some of you may have noticed that the most recently updated track pages are getting latitude and longitude as well as elevation. I though I'd point out that if I haven't added it for a track, often it's buried in the URL for the terraserver or google map link. If you go to the page for Wall Township Speedway and click on the terraserver link, you'll find this buried in the URL at the top of your browser: &lon=-74.1138267615932&lat=40.1754843694201&; this is the lat and long for the terra server image. The same information shows up as &ll=40.175197,-74.115191& in the google maps URL. no, they're not exactly the same, but they're close enough for our purposes. Note also that I have experimented with feeding long & lat to google maps for tracks where a physical street address is unavailable or unusable, or I can't pin down a nearby intersection. There are very few examples of this right now, but check out Clinton County Speedway for one. Try clicking on "Directions to here", entering your home address, and look at the route it drafts. It gets pretty close, all things considered. I'll probably use it a lot improving on the Canadian tracks where there is sometimes a real shortage of street information.
With the addition of the track in the Yukon and the track in the Northwest Territories, the baseline is done. Does this mean all the tracks are done? No, there are numerous tracks which I skipped over due to difficulty finding information. I'll be passing over those (I kept a list), but it won't be going at the pace I've been going at putting new tracks up.
What I am doing now is some cleanup, first on the mid-Atlantic and after that in the Southeast. Additionally, I'm starting to add elevations. If there is a track for which you want an elevation and I don't have it yet, then try out google earth, it's what I'm using to get elevation values.
in anticpation of adding altitude and possibly other info, i created the new track facts section on each page, moving the TimeZone there (from track office, where it was always kind of an odd placement.) for a couple of the canadian tracks, altitude is now present.
the question that comes to mind is what other data might be good to put in track facts. track surface? width? banking? length? how should i present this data for multi use complexes like Las Vegas Motor Speedway or Memphis Motorsports Park? this needs to be thought about because i intend sometime before the end of the year to migrate the data into a relational database, so it needs to be organized sensibly.
for that matter, how detailed does track surface need to be? fairly detailed? dirt is different from red clay is different from black gumbo, for example? what about paved dragstrips? concrete vs asphalt? part one vs part another? there are oddities; for example, the long defunct Jungle Park track had dirt corners and paved straights -- but then, this is a very weird case and maybe i don't need to hurt myself trying to represent it.
i've left the blog sitting for a while as i'm still unsure what i want to use i for (and unsure if anyone will read it.) but for now, i'll use it for more detailed discussions about things i'm doing with the site and plan to do with it.
i just arranged an informal partnership with DragTimes.com. DragTimes collects timeslips from drag runs around the world and provides an easy way to look up the times, whether by type of car or by track where the time was run. For each dragstrip that DragTimes knows about in the US and Canada, that track page provides a link for looking up recent timeslips.
after talking with Brooks (proprietor of DragTimes.com), i now agree that altitude is something that should be on the track pages, so i'm going to start adding that during the course of the normal update process. the new pages going into place right now are all in Canada (the US baseline is
finished), and I'll include altitude when i can come up with it.
Once the Canadian baseline is finished, i will need to go do some cleanup elsewhere on the site. I need to make a pass through the mid-atlantic states and bring those pages up to the current standard (they're the farthest behind right now), and then go through the southeast as well.
at some point I'll want to start documenting Sanctioning bodies thoroughly as well, but there's still a lot of race track stuff to do right now.
here is the plan for "finishing" the race track pages:
currently i'm working on Pennsylvania, which will complete the newly created "Mid Atlantic" section (I set up Mid Atlantic so i wouldn't have to spend anymore time thinking about what the modern boundary between north and south is.) this will take a while; there are a lot of oval tracks in Pennsylvania.
when that's done, i'll loop through the northeast. most of the states will be quick, but there are a suprising number of tracks in new hampshire, and a lot in new york.
finally, starting with ohio, i'll sweep west and finish the mid section of the country. this too will take time, there are lots of tracks in all the states through the central area out into the midwest. after that, i'll finish up canada and try to figure out how to come up with information about mexican tracks. i'll also at that point have to start going through the tracks again, in order, to update for 2006 (indiana is changing time zones for 2006, among other events, and there are cases where i'll add google image links to supplement or replace terraserver links.)
one thing i've noticed over the course of building the directory is that sand drag operators don't seem to be in any hurry to make themselves visible on the internet. as such, if anyone can provide any good information on sand drags in their area, it' be a big help. i'm just starting on Pennsylvania, and there are a lot of sand drags listed in the state, but few of them have web sites, and few are turning up any information in google. this is consistent with what i found to be true as i swept across the south, southwest, and up through the pacific. i'd love to cover sand drags side by side with asphalt and concrete drags, but if i can't get the info, i can't do it.