For as long as the dirt track at Fairgrounds Speedway has been existence, it has been known as one of the slickest and most challenging in the country. Drivers who have raced it rave about the half-mile oval, and fans who have been to the track always cheer nonstop action.
Throughout the latest rendition of International Motor Contest Association races at Fairgrounds Speedway, which took place July 14-15, the track’s slickness was on full display as cars slid at 45-degree angles while battling for position.
Among the most successful drivers during the weekend were Dove Creek residents Aaron Spangler and Brodie Spangler, who deftly navigated their home track’s tight turns while pulling far ahead of the competition. Aaron Spangler finished first in the Stock Car A main event on July 14, while his son, Brody Spangler, took top honors in the Modified A main event shortly thereafter. Thanks to their victories, both drivers captured the track’s midseason championship, and after the competition, both local racers paid tribute to their local track.
“Winning anywhere is special, but this is home,” said Aaron Spangler, who pounded the roof of his car with jubilation after securing his victory. “I’ve been coming here since they opened this race track way back when. I was like 15 years old.”
“The dirt at this place is just unreal,” Brodie Spangler said. It’s so slick – I mean you can’t even walk across it. I was hoping that we could get (the victory). It was tough, but we got ’er done.”
While references to the slickness of the Fairgrounds Speedway track are nothing new around the pits, members of the crowd who were new to racing in Cortez might have been surprised by just how much cars in every classification slid.
According to longtime local racer James Blair, who helped design and build the track, slick conditions are nothing new and have helped the track carve out a unique reputation on the local racing circuit.
“I’ve been at (Fairgrounds Speedway) for every race that has been raced here,” Blair said. “I was part of the crew that helped build this track a long time ago. Our dirt has a high clay base, so it slicks off pretty fast. I lowered (the air pressure in my tires) and put all of the fuel I could stack on for weight. You want more weight to the rear of the car.”
Among the most exciting races of the weekend was the Stock Car A on July 13 which featured impressive racing by Aaron Spangler and fellow local Tony Hill early on. Midway through the race however, Hill slid sideways on the slick track and nearly collided with the grandstands before regaining control. The brief slip cost the well-known engine builder however, as he was forced to settle into a position in the middle of the pack.
Spangler, on the other hand, stayed connected to the track’s slippery surface and pulled away for an easy victory. He was quick to note after the race, however, that wins at Fairgrounds Speedway are never a cakewalk.
“This track is probably one of the hardest tracks in the country to figure out because of the way that the dirt is,” Spangler said, echoing the sentiments of many drivers. “The clay is so slick, it’s its own animal, and there’s no other beast like it. If you can figure it out, it’s fun to race on.”
Other winners from racing action on July 13 included Jordan Eddleman, who piloted his Sport Mod to victory, Dennis Spencer, who won the Hobby Stock division, and William Millard, who placed first in the Sport Compact race.
During the races on July 14, Brody Spangler won the Modifieds, Mark Rodgers won the Sport Mods, Ed Henderson won the Stock Cars, Jason Duggins won the Hobby Stock, and Eugene Felker won the Sport Compact.
After a one week hiatus, IMCA racing will return to Fairgrounds Speedway July 27 and July 28. A full range of IMCA classifications will be featured, and those interested in seeing drivers navigate one of the slickest tracks in the Four Corners are encouraged to attend.