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Saturday Night Speed – Going Trackside at the I-25 Speedway

The I-25 Speedway, the fastest quarter mile track in the West, is also home to stories of men and women who chase speed every Saturday night in the summer.

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Every Saturday night, just north of Pueblo near Beacon Hill, fans cheer for the thrill of racing. Just down pit road are the stories of men and women drivers who put up their own fortune for the chase of speed. Racing often has a stereotype, but every single driver at the I-25 Speedway will shatter everything you think yo…

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Photo PULP 

Photo PULP 

Every Saturday night, just north of Pueblo near Beacon Hill, fans cheer for the thrill of racing. Just down pit road are the stories of men and women drivers who put up their own fortune for the chase of speed. Racing often has a stereotype, but every single driver at the I-25 Speedway will shatter everything you think you know about racing.

PULP spent two Saturday evenings with the drivers and the fans in the elusive chase for Saturday Night Speed.

Eight miles north of Pueblo perched in solitude on “Beacon Hill” sits a paradise for motorsports enthusiasts, families young and old, and entertainment aficionados in general.

The quarter-mile paved track, touted “I-25 Speedway,” hosts weekend events that are both memorable and exciting. Racers take to the track in a multitude of classifications, ranging from street cars to furious, modified cars.

The roar of the bellowing engines, squealing tires and gunshot-like backfires from cars rounding the corners turns a blaring whistle from a train passing by on the rails behind the speedway obsolete.

Jack Roberts and race fans watching the action at the I-25 Speedway | Photo PULP

Jack Roberts and race fans watching the action at the I-25 Speedway | Photo PULP

I-25 Speedway hosts events weekly from late May through mid-September, providing non-stop action every Saturday evening featuring anywhere from five to seven different race classes.

The classifications vary from week to week and can include Super Late Models, Grand American Modifieds, Sportsman, Street Stocks, Mini Stocks, Hornets, Charger Figure 8, Legends, Modified Coupes, Dwarf Cars, Bandolero and Super Modifieds.

Points are accumulated throughout the racing season for drivers in each of their respective categories. Points are earned by having the fastest speeds in time trials, placing in the 10-lap trophy dash race, or winning your division’s main event of the evening.

Photo PULP

Photo PULP

Drivers of the vehicles are as diverse as the fan base; ranging from men young and old, experienced veterans, rookie drivers, to girls aged in their teens.

The cars are plastered with masterful paint jobs featuring bright and unique designs that showcase the character and individuality of each of the warriors of the sport.

Even if a spectator doesn’t know much about cars while attending the races, it is very easy to learn about what makes the track, and the sport, so captivating.

It’s easy, for instance, to see why the Hornet classification is so named; the engines from this classification of cars make a tenacious buzzing sound while looping around the track at average speeds of almost 60 miles per hour.

The Super Modified cars provide high quality entertainment as well, reaching the fastest speeds on the track. The slim, Indy-style bodies of the cars are complemented by a tower-like back carriage, and the speeds reached on a quarter-mile oval are truly an exhibition to be experienced.

Super Modified cars average speeds of around 80 miles per hour–amazing when considering having to slow down to round the turns on the north and south sides of the speedway.

Fans, drivers, managers and owners of the track are very personable and knowledgeable when it comes to racing, and much can be gained from sitting next to a seemingly casual spectator in the stands.

The secret is this:  the spectators are rarely just casual fans. Many of them have racing in their blood, whether they are watching a family member race or sitting in the stands reminiscing about their checkered-flag glory days from years past.

One former, two-time I-25 Speedway champion explained to first time attendees how the heats in the divisions work. Normally, each division would have several heats, taking the 20 fastest cars from the qualifying heats and placing them into a feature race.

Lately, though, the track has had a tough time garnering enough participants to make that happen. The fan explained that the new owner and race director, Chris Cullen and Charlie Wilson, respectively, recently took over.

Charlie Wilson, Race Director at the I-25 Speedway | Photo PULP

Charlie Wilson, Race Director at the I-25 Speedway | Photo PULP

The change in the ownership has been a delightful one for the fans and drivers alike after seeing a decline in the participation due to what they called poor management by the previous owners.

“A lot of things that are different at this racetrack are that the attitudes of the owners, the attitudes of the staff that works here, and the attitudes of the racers have seemed to change,” explained Charlie Wilson, the track’s new Race Director. “We treat people with respect, and we get respect back.”

Wilson took over as Race Director last August after Chris Cullen acquired ownership of the track. Wilson started in racing on …

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Stapleton, Polis jab each other over energy differences

The two candidates traded the usual barbs with the Republican saying the Democrat will hurt oil and gas jobs and the Democrat saying the industry needs to be a better partner with communities.

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton warned Wednesday that Democrats want to impose job-killing restrictions on oil and gas development in Colorado, while Democrat Jared Polis said the state has to try to settle persistent conflicts between the industry and neighborhoods. Polis was interrupted three times by protesters as he and Stapleton made separate pitches to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual Energy Summit in Denver. The protesters stood and asked Polis about fracking and climate change. The audience booed, and the protesters were escorted out. Polis didn’t address the protesters directly. But he drew laughs when he pointed out the third interruption came just as he was lamenting the strident tone of the debate over oil and gas in Colorado, where drilling rigs and storage tanks intermingle with schools, homes and hospitals. That proximity fuels disputes over public health and safety. Polis, a five-term congressman from Boulder, and Stapleton, in his second term as state treasurer, are campaigning to replace term-limited Democrat John Hickenlooper Stapleton and Polis both said they oppose a ballot initiative that would increase the minimum distance between new wells and occupied buildings — called setbacks — to 2,500 feet (762 meters). The current minimum distance is 500 feet (150 meters). Both said the measure would essentially ban new hydraulic fracturing or fracking wells in Colorado. Hydraulic fracturing uses a pressurized mix of water, chemicals and sand to loosen underground rock formations and release oil and gas. Stapleton, who spoke first, said Polis once financed …

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Republican gubernatorial candidate Walker Stapleton warned Wednesday that Democrats want to impose job-killing restrictions on oil and gas development in Colorado, while Democrat Jared Polis said the state has to try to settle persistent conflicts between the industry and neighborhoods.
Polis was interrupted three times by protesters as he and Stapleton made separate pitches to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual Energy Summit in Denver.
The protesters stood and asked Polis about fracking and climate change. The audience booed, and the protesters were escorted out.
Polis didn’t address the protesters directly. But he drew laughs when he pointed out the third interruption came just as he was lamenting the strident tone of the debate over oil and gas in Colorado, where drilling rigs and storage tanks intermingle with schools, homes and hospitals.
That proximity fuels disputes over public health and safety.
Polis, a five-term congressman from Boulder, and Stapleton, in his second term as state treasurer, are campaigning to replace term-limited Democrat John Hickenlooper
Stapleton and Polis both said they oppose a ballot initiative that would increase the minimum distance between new wells and occupied buildings — called setbacks — to 2,500 feet (762 meters). The current minimum distance is 500 feet (150 meters).
Both said the measure would essentially ban new hydraulic fracturing or fracking wells in Colorado. Hydraulic fracturing uses a pressurized mix of water, chemicals and sand to loosen underground rock formations and release oil and gas.
Stapleton, who spoke first, said Polis once financed a similar measure that would have set a minimum distance of 2,000 feet (610 meters).
“As a numbers guy, I know that 2,500 is not 2,000, but it also isn’t too far off, either,”…
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Bistoro changes locations but maintains Mediterranean magnifique

The Dhamo’s change of location for the bistro doesn’t change their unique European sensibility

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“Eat well, live happy” are the words printed on the sign above Bistoro – a Mediterranean-style bistro located at 109 Central Plaza in Pueblo, owned and operated by Pellumb Dhamo and Joetta Ucar-Dhamo. Joetta attended high school and college in Pueblo, while Pellumb is a native of Albania. The couple met in Rome, and travelled and lived together in Europe for many years before moving back to Pueblo to raise their family and open their restaurant.

“It’s always been a dream of mine,” said Joetta, “When I met my husband that was one of the first things we talked about was owning a restaurant. Pueblo wasn’t necessarily our first choice. But after travelling around and everything we’ve found, it suits a family lifestyle – we have a four and a five year old – so we’re kind of rekindling our love for Pueblo so-to-speak.”

Formerly known as Neon Alley Bistro in the Union Avenue Historic District, Joetta says business has improved at Bistoro since the change in location. “That was a beautiful location. And we dreamed a lot outside those cast iron gates. But it was out of sight out of mind for most people. It was incredibly hard to get people through the door. So we realized it wasn’t sustainable.” Bistoro’s new location at Central Plaza is closer to Pueblo’s Riverwalk area and downtown hotels – keeping it on the radar of locals and tourists. “It’s been much nicer,” says Joetta of the new location.

The restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays, making Tuesday the start of the couple’s workweek at the bistro. Both are hard at work after the short weekend, with Pellumb preparing orders in the kitchen and Joetta greeting customers and taking orders. Light music trickles through the air of the cozy dining area dominated by a large bar top with classic black and white stools, with booths lined along the opposite wall. The ambiance of the whole place is quaint, cool, fresh. There is an intimate charm about it that separates it from the typical Pueblo eatery.

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

“Eat well, live happy” are the words printed on the sign above Bistoro – a Mediterranean-style bistro located at 109 Central Plaza in Pueblo, owned and operated by Pellumb Dhamo and Joetta Ucar-Dhamo. Joetta attended high school and college in Pueblo, while Pellumb is a native of Albania. The couple met in Rome, and travelled and lived together in Europe for many years before moving back to Pueblo to raise their family and open their restaurant.
“It’s always been a dream of mine,” said Joetta, “When I met my husband that was one of the first things we talked about was owning a restaurant. Pueblo wasn’t necessarily our first choice. But after travelling around and everything we’ve found, it suits a family lifestyle – we have a four and a five year old – so we’re kind of rekindling our love for Pueblo so-to-speak.”
Formerly known as Neon Alley Bistro in the Union Avenue Historic District, Joetta says business has improved at Bistoro since the change in location. “That was a beautiful location. And we dreamed a lot outside those cast iron gates. But it was out of sight out of mind for most people. It was incredibly hard to get people through the door. So we realized it wasn’t sustainable.” Bistoro’s new location at Central Plaza is closer to Pueblo’s Riverwalk area and downtown hotels – keeping it on the radar of locals and tourists. “It’s been much nicer,” says Joetta of the new location.
The restaurant is closed Sundays and Mondays, making Tuesday the start of the couple’s workweek at the bistro. Both are hard at work after the short weekend, with Pellumb preparing orders in the kitchen and Joetta greeting customers and taking orders. Light music trickles through the air of the cozy dining area dominated by a large bar top with classic black and white stools, with booths lined along the opposite wall. The ambiance of the whole place is quaint, cool, fresh. There is an intimate charm about it that separates it from the typical Pueblo eatery.
The signature menu item at Bistoro is the bocata, which is a Spanish-style sandwich. The bistro offers a selection of steak, pork, chicken or eggplant bocatas. The most popular dish, Joetta says, is a steak bocata topped with Pueblo chile. There is also a diverse selection of tapas (appetizers) as well as a broad selection of Rustic salads that offer farm-fresh vegetables instead of lettuce. So obviously, locally sourced ingredients are an important feature of Bistoro.
“Eat well, live happy is our mantra. Really what we’re about is putting those famili…
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Music

Acoustic heartbreak in the Colorado San Juans with John Statz

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John Statz by Veronica Holyfield

Songs about heartbreak should resinate. And with John Statz they do. They’re equally soft and striking. His new full-length album “Darkness on the San Juans,” available May 11, takes an acoustic turn from his other recent work. Then, he had full bands in studios. With this project, he gathered a few friends in his living room to record. Like heartbrea…

!– BEGIN THEIA POST SLIDER —

Songs about heartbreak should resinate. And with John Statz they do. They’re equally soft and striking.
His new full-length album “Darkness on the San Juans,” available May 11, takes an acoustic turn from his other recent work. Then, he had full bands in studios. With this project, he gathered a few friends in his living room to record.
Like heartbreak itself, the album is more personal, more raw and more intimate. The Wisconsin native who now calls Denver home said he hasn’t done something quite as stripped down in a while, and when it came to get back into songwriting after the release of his last album last summer, there was also a reason to write.
It was the aftermath of a breakup.
“We retrace our steps. We look at what we thought we knew. We ultimately discover and face the truth under the stories we told ourselves along the way,” he says of the album.
In addition to the post-love songs, the album features a few songs Statz previously worked on but didn’t have a place on an album, and songs that are meant to be more acoustic. “Presidential Valet” is the story of Armistead, President John Tyler’s valet, or slave, who died alongside seven others in an explosion after Tyler and members of cabinet were watching the firing of the “peacemaker” in 1844.

So, this album is about heartbreak. Did that change how you wrote or approached the album at all?

Yeah. It just kind of comes out more — I don’t know — when you’re writing about heartbreak it’s just seems like the easiest type of writing. It’s just pouring out of you. You don’t have to come up with a concept or a story or any of that.

In the bio you released ahead of this album, it references a pretty famous Ernest Hemingway quotation: “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” Maybe as a writer I hear about this all of the time, but there’s definitely a writing style associated with Hemingway — to write very concise and clear. Did you take any of that with you into the songwriting or was it all about the emotion?

You know, it was the emotion part. I didn’t think about that, but the songs are fairly concise and short. So I appreciate that might also be relevant there even though I didn’t intend that.

The title of this album is “Darkness on the San Juans.” Explain that a little bit.

It’s a line in the song “Highways.” Geographical references are all over my songwriting. On every album I’ve ever written. So it’s a song about driving places with someone and either ending up back at those places later and having other memories being their previously. The San Juans was one of those locations that was important.

Why do you think you end up writing about places so much?

I mean, an obvious answer is that I spend a lot of time driving around to gigs, and I’ve been a lot of places because of that. And just for fun. I love roadtripping around Colorado, and camping and that sort of thing. So it’s not a planned thing. I’m living and breathing this lifestyle from A to B to C and that infiltrates the writing. But also, it’s a convenient rhyming scheme. Sometimes it can be hard to find a word, but there’s usually a city that will fill in.

How long did it take you to finish this album, being that the concept is fairly raw?

It all happened pretty fast. The two non-heartbreak songs, “Presidential Valet” and “Old Men Drinking Seagrem’s,” were older. They’re social commentary tunes. But I just hadn’t recorded them to yet and I was waiting for an acoustic album to do that. I started writing in the summer. I decided in December to record them. I called my friend Nate, flew him out in January. And we recorded it in three days in my living room.

Had you recorded like that before?

It’s been a while, but yeah. My first couple albums that I made when I lived i…
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Acoustic heartbreak in the Colorado San Juans with John Statz
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One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you can change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
Continue Reading

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you can change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.

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