The Wilmot Raceway is just outside the little town of Wilmot, Wisconsin, a tiny berg about 15 miles west of Kenosha and just inches from the Illinois border. The Raceway, part of the Kenosha County Fairgrounds, is a dirt track where, tonight, stock cars, midgets, and micros raced. Some of the stock cars have hand-painted numbers on the side like their owners had made the decision to race on the way to the track.
The midgets and micros are specially constructed open wheel race cars that go incredibly fast and bump into each other a fair amount. The best race of the night was the longest, made longer by long periods running under the yellow flag while dead cars were removed from the track and the remaining cars realigned. A racing fan will tell you that running under the yellow makes the racing more interesting because the cars have a chance to close the gap and essentially restart the race when the green flag is waved.
Auto racing, especially close-up, small car auto racing is engrossing. The dust from the dirt track fills the air along with the smell of exhaust and hot tires. The jockeying for position is fascinating especially seeing which driver backs down on the turns. It’s easy to get impressed by small things like the artistry with which the flagman waved his flags, especially the checkered flags, one in each hand, he did beautiful figure eights with each, hand over hand.
It’s hard to imagine a better place to be, in August, in Wisconsin, than high up in the stands of the old, old Wilmot Raceway, having a Miller Lite, watching the announcer with the Mohawk throw Raceway water bottles to a horde of eager kids, breathing in the second hand smoke of the weathered, bent man in the plaid shirt sitting behind us, going to the bathroom in the low brick building by the gate and realizing that nothing there had changed. Nothing had changed since I first went there 35 years ago but that’s fine.
Wilmot Raceway is perfect the way it is.