Just last weekend, I went on a road trip with my parents and my sister. It was super fun, and reminded me of the trips that we took when we were kids. We went to Kansas to the drag races, and to visit family. My family has always been into drag racing, and have gone to many races, both local and national events. My dad has raced since I was tiny, and my sister and I have taken up the hobby as well.
On this trip, we headed to the NHRA Kansas Nationals at Heartland Park, Topeka. We’d been to this track a couple of times in the past, but had better access this trip, by far. My uncle Julian Seaman races Top Fuel Harley, so he was able to get us crew credentials and restricted area access passes. This meant that my dad and I were able to watch the races from right on the starting line, and go to any part of the track that we wanted to. For those not terribly familiar with drag racing, all spectators are permitted in the pits throughout the event (which is different from Nascar type races), but the passes we had this time definitely exceeded the access that I’d ever had before.
It was surreal seeing some of the drag racing legends (like Connie Kalitta and John Force) and current racers (like Erica Enders-Stevens), standing or sitting right next to you while they watch their team members make passes down the track. And being so close while these incredibly powerful cars launch is like standing on the epicenter of an earthquake (literally).
My uncle, Julian Seaman, races Top Fuel Harley. I’d seen him race before, but it had been several years, so I was very excited to see him run again, especially since he has a new bike. We were able to hang out at his trailer in the pits, sit on the bike, and see him tune the bike and get it ready to race. And my dad even ended up helping out, both in the pits and at the starting line (he was the only one who really put those ‘crew credentials’ to use!).
Unfortunately, Julian went out in the first round of eliminations. But his bike sure put on a fantastic light show in the process!
For the most part, our dining on the trip consisted of fast food, concessions (yay for nachos and funnel cakes!), and sandwiches at the trailer. But we did eat at a couple of memorable restaurants.
On the trip down, we stopped in Salina for dinner. We tried Martinelli’s Little Italy, as it was reviewed well on TripAdvisor, and we were hungry for Italian food. The food was fantastic, and super cheap! The meals were $10 or less per person, with large portions that fill you up.
I had the Chicken Piccata with Linguini and Creamy Pesto, which was absolutely delicious. My dad had the Lasagna; and my mom and sister split the Chicken Parmesan with half Rotini and Marinara and half Rotini with Pink Sauce (a mixture of Alfredo and Marinara). The meal is also served with a multigrain loaf of bread, which is nutty and fresh. Everyone really enjoyed their meal. We’ll definitely eat there again, should we make our way to or through Salina again.
While visiting family, we went to Olpe, Kansas (which wasn’t too far from where we were staying in Emporia, Kansas) and went to the one and only restaurant in town. I’m not entirely sure what it was called, as everyone just referred to it as “Olpe Chicken.” The chicken and chicken strips are quite tasty, and the portions pretty large. It’s a home-cooking type of restaurant, and is homey in atmosphere. We had a large group and had a fun time there.
Overall, I had a great time visiting Kansas for some drag races with my family. If you’ve never had the opportunity to see drag racing, I definitely recommend checking it out! There are local tracks all over the country, so it’s pretty easy to find races throughout the summer months by doing a little bit of Googling.
I shot several other videos while at the NHRA Kansas Nationals. Check them out on the Luggage and Literature YouTube channel.