Dusty Summer Nights
Kids and their parents scramble onto every sit-able surface of a few dozen racecars during the kids rides event at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vt., on June 7, 2014. Children were allowed to pick whichever racecar they wanted and cruise around the 1/4 mile track several times, waving to their families and shielding their face from clods of mud kicked up from the tires of the cars. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »
There are a few things to know before going to watch a dirt-track race, and I learned two of them around the age of 6, when I was deemed old enough to attend my first race: Always wear a hat, and never wear white.
My two sisters and I would don some of my dad’s old baseball hats and pile in the car, where we’d drive six miles to Eriez Speedway, a 3/8ths-mile dirt track in western Pennsylvania where junkyard-bound cars raced almost till midnight. We’d bring books, just in case we got bored — but that was seldom an issue. Fires and pileups abounded, and it was just as much fun to watch the tow trucks and water trucks sort out the muddy, flaming messes as it was to watch the races themselves. When we’d had our fill of dirty air, dusty nachos and flaming wrecks, my dad would brush us off, and we’d head home, where the sounds of the racing could be heard from our yard.
As I photographed dirt-track racing at Bear Ridge Speedway in Bradford, Vt., earlier this month, wearing my baseball cap and a shirt that was not white, I was taken back to those dusty summer nights.
Follow this link to see more photographs from Bear Ridge.