GILBERTSVILLE – It isn’t unusual for race-chasing fans to cross several state lines to pursue their hobby, but two fans at Kentucky Lake Motor Speedway Saturday night were not your typical race fans.
Dan and Annette Estelle, who live in Tucson, Arizona, don’t so much go to specific races or tracks as they look for them along the way.
KLMS is one of more than 200 speedways they have visited over the past several years, driving cross-country to visit elderly parents in their hometown of Owego, New York.
“This is a nice place for women and families,” Annette pointed out, admitting that some tracks they’ve seen have facilities that are downright primitive.
Dan, who is retired from a career as an engineer with IBM, got the racing bug early on.
“My dad took me to races when I was just a little kid,” he said.
“His dad was an EMT and Dan tagged along with him from the time he was about 7,” Annette said.
The couple’s first date? Why, a trip to a racetrack, of course.
“It was at Shangri-La Speedway” in Owego, Annette said. “I wanted to look good. I wore jeans and a jacket and I didn’t want to put my jacket on.”
The race was being held in November, and the New York weather was not doing a good job of accommodating her.
“I froze to death,” she admitted.
The Estelles have visited a good many tracks, large and small, obscure and well-known, in their travels across the country.
They have been to Tony Stewar’s Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, and the one-mile State Fairgrounds Speedway in Syracuse, plus Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
They were at Paducah International Raceway on Friday night.
Annette sometimes stays in the motorhome while Dan takes in the racing action. But she was in the KLMS grandstands Saturday night.
They were highly impressed with the facility.
“It was wonderful,” Annette said by telphone as the couple motored northeast out of Kntucky, after a visit to the 1792 Distillery in Bardstown.
Annette admitted that the unseasonably cool weather had her wishing she had a heater.
But Dan reminded her of that first date at Shangri-La, and told her, “This is a balmy night.”
If the weather was not warm, the people were.
“The peop;e were great,” she said. “The concession stand staff were so friendly, and the souvenir stand guy was wonderful. It was nice to come to a warm, friendly place.”
With the Memorial Day holiday approaching, Dan was looking for racetracks.
Top prospects were Lernerville Speedway in Sarver, Pennsylvania, or Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway.
That’s the way the Estelles roll.