Colorado National Speedway the Race in Photos

Photojournalism: R. A. Fariello | Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

The 6th race of the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro season took place July 27th at the Colorado National Speedway located in Erie CO.  The geometry of this track is that of a relatively quick short track of slightly more than 3/8ths of a mile per lap.  While the facility itself is aging, the race track is excellent and well liked by all of the drivers.

Race day dawned sunny and warm.  However, by late afternoon the sun gave way to storm clouds and much cooler temperatures.  Thus, a race of another kind was born: would the NASCAR race beat the weather? While both scheduled practice sessions were accomplished without any problem, the same could not be said for qualifying.  In fact, most of the NASCAR K&N Pro cars experienced some varying degree of rain during their qualifying effort. That included Brett Thompson whose #61 car qualified mid-pack.  This placement was not unexpected since the car resisted all efforts at making it “corner friendly”.  In short, when at the apex of the turns, the car would suddenly get loose!

Knowing the track temp would cool significantly, the TMS team hoped they had guessed right with the cars set-up. With the rain washing all the rubber off the track, the #61 car had lost over-all grip around the whole track. In what may have been Brett Thompson’s hardest fought race, this problem led to a 9th place finish for the #61 RTTI Impala SS. This was a time when, no matter how good the driver performed or how hard he or she worked, the car itself was incapable of a better result.

One other issue: the rains – and cold temperatures – finally hit the Speedway, and, that occurred right at the scheduled race time. The result was a delay in the race starting time of nearly two hours. When the race did get started most of the capacity crowd had simply given up and gone home. It was an understandable situation, given the rain, cold and, late hour; but it was also a shame that those dedicated fans missed a very good race.

A view of the Colorado National Speedway looking west illustrates the sharp transition between the High Prairie and the impressive Rocky Mountain Range.

The view of the speedway looking east shows why this extended area is called The Great Plains.

The Thompson Motorsports Hauler waits for the NASCAR Mandated ‘hauler entry time ’of 6 PM. In the background a thunderhead is forming: Perhaps it was a sign of the weather to come!

On Saturday Morning, race day, and the cars are unloaded from the haulers.

The TMS crew immediately gets to work on what is best called ‘partial reassembly’ of the car following its transport to the track.

TMS is proud of its newest member, Jake, who just finished 20th overall in a National welding competition.

The center of the Speedway is filled with dirt mounds geometrically specific to off road and motocross racing. This seems to be a trend for Saturday Night tracks as they look for additional Profit Centers to help defray rising costs.

Brett Thompson leaves the pits for the first scheduled practice session.

Although the car looked good on the track, it had a very bad rotational transition at the apex of both turns. Brett finished the first practice session in 10th place.

Between practice sessions Crew Chief Will Harris and his team brainstormed the corner rotation problem.  A multitude of changes were made to the car, but in the end they had little effect.

Brett pulls into the pits at the end of the second session. All of the changes made to the car did not help and the #61 car finished the session 14th quick.

Between practice and qualifying, events slow down and some socializing takes place. Above are NASCAR officials, and friends, Toni (center) and Cindy at their seats in the scoring tower.

Rich Thompson Trucking Inc. (RTTI) operates a satellite office in nearby Ft. Morgan CO. Tami (above), a manager at that office, and her husband arrive to support the RTTI #61 car at this race.

Joined by their families, RTTI &  DFA employees are also in attendance.

And the Ft. Morgan/RTTI ‘cheering section’ includes one more respected family.

Becky McBride (center) meets with a friend from the East – and another friend who is also a representative of series sponsor, K&N.

Meanwhile, Race Director Larry Harper meets with an old friend from the Speedway, the excellent track photographer Joe Starr (center).

As the cars are pushed out for Qualifying Tech and Qualifying, the weather began to deteriorate rapidly.  As sprinkles of rain began falling the #61 car qualified 12th.

Preliminary activities include driver introductions. At this point very light rain was falling and lightning was observed just south of the Speedway.

The cars are lined up on the track awaiting the “start engines” command.

The cars did their parade laps behind the pace car but, on this night, persistent rain prevented a race start.

At one point NASCAR took the unusual step of allowing crew members on the track to clean windshields. This well intended activity was, however, cancelled by heavier rain to come. And no, the “check your oil too?” question was never mentioned.

By slightly after 10 PM the rain had stopped and the race began.

At one point in the race Brett Thompson forced his ill handling car up to 7th place. However, the car became worse as the race went on and the #61 car was in 9th place when the checkered flag waved.

Back in the pits a somewhat tired, and terribly frustrated, Brett Thompson gets out of his car. Driving 150 laps in a “reluctant” car was a monumental effort: it deserves better than a top 10 finish (9th place).

Back at the TMS hauler Brett Thompson’s driving suit hangs by his locker. It stands as a silent tribute to what it means to be a sportsman, a race car driver, and, to many years of difficult races which, as driven, defined just what it means to race with integrity.

But for now, the race is over.

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