Dragway offers high-speed excitement

mid- 80s Thunderbird

Spectators and competitors examine a mid 80s Ford Thunderbird during a cooldown period between races Saturday at the Coles County Dragway. The drag way has races every weekend from April to late October. (Corey Ascolani | The Daily Eastern News)

By Corey Ascolani
Verge Reporter

Cars, trucks, motorcycles, and other types of vehicles get a chance to race at the Coles County Dragway.

Rod Viehland, co-owner of the drag way, said people race all types of vehicles.

“We have a guy this year driving a 2001 family style four-door Hyundai in second place for points,” Viehland said. “Even motorcycles and lawnmowers are allowed.”

Coles County Dragway is a 1/8th mile, National Hot Rod Association series track, and offers ‘Friday Fun Night’ at 5 p.m. where anyone off the street can race.

“All you need is a running vehicle,” Viehland said. “Regular days’ clothes work great (for racers), besides the restriction of a non-sleeveless shirt and pants, the only thing required is shoes that cover your entire foot to race.”

Darwin Korson, the other co-owner of the drag way, said racers do not even need a helmet for “Friday Night Fun.” He also said passengers can be in the car being raced even though the car will be slower.

It costs $10 for spectators to get through the gate.  The drag way has a concession stand, bathrooms, viewing stands and many race vehicles to look at.
“Spectators are allowed to bring their own grilles to cook, and bring their own drinks including alcohol, no bottles,” Viehland said.

Besides “Friday Fun Night,” the drag way offers a variety of races or brackets throughout the weekend.  In some, like the “Big Money Brackets,” racers can win money in first, second and third places. Racers can bet against each other as well.

“We regularly have racers that drive over two hours that come here week after week to race,” Viehland said, “We have racers from 8-year-olds to 60-year-olds.” 
Some racers are in clubs, like the ‘Eastern Illinois Rat Racers’ or the ‘Lakeland College Auto club.’

Kassie Wilson, a junior special education major, drives without a team. She currently races her 1999 Camaro, and has been racing at Coles County Dragway more than six years.

 “The racers are very friendly and helpful,” she said. “Most racers know each other by name.”
Wilson said racers help other racers as well. Viehland agreed with Wilson.
“Last week we had a guy who needed a starter for his car to continue racing for the night,” Viehland said. “We announced the part over the drag way speakers and within minutes the guy had three starters waiting for him to use to race.”

The Coles County Dragway has been around since the early 1960s.
It is a few minutes west of downtown Charleston on West State Road (State Route 316).

Viehland said depending on weather, they are open every weekend from early April to late October.

Corey Ascolani can
be reached at 581-2812 or


Column: Hooping helps the heart, eases stress

Siti Hooping

Freshman journalism major Siti Asma twirls a hoop with her neck Tuesday in the Pemberton Hall parking lot. Asma said she also practices different tricks like hooping with one leg, with her knees and her elbows. (Rachel Rodgers | The Daily Eastern News)

By Rachel Rodgers
Administration Editor

People have all kinds of different, unique hobbies to help them unwind and enjoy the small things like quilting, stamp collecting, flying kites, climbing mountains and much more.

In my case, I hoop.

This entails balancing and combining the force of spinning the hoop with a circling body movement.

I first started my hooping hobby during the summer when my friend, who is like a sister to me, began presenting her hooping progress to me, and I was absolutely mesmerized by her motions.

I discovered a new world of creativity through motion and music, and I wanted to be a part of it.

When I say I hoop, I do not mean just gyrating until the hoop falls down like children do with toy hula-hoops. Instead, I practice doing different sorts of tricks that involve not only my waist, but also my hips, knees, neck, chest, elbows and hands.

The hoops are different than normal hula-hoops you can buy at Wal-mart for $2.

Most hoopers make their own hoops with tubing of different weights and widths, and then the hoop is usually
covered in decorative tape.

Tubing is usually found in a bundle at hardware stores, and one bundle can make several hoops. With all the materials, you can essentially make at least five hoops for about $35, and there are many different resources available like youtube.com where you can learn how to make one.

I have made two hoops, one of which has a larger diameter to serve as a practice hoop. The bigger the hoop, the more room you have and the less likely you are to hit yourself with it. Also, with a heavier hoop you can build more strength and agility to be able to do tricks faster and more accurately.

It’s a great workout, and it improves one’s balance and coordination, which is very helpful if you are as clumsy as I am.

There is also an immense level of satisfaction when the phase of smacking yourself with a fast-moving hoop ends and mastering a trick begins.

However, hooping is a cycle and once you become proficient at one trick, you can continue the bruising process of practicing new tricks.

I find solace in many of the benefits of hooping, and I am not the only one.

Siti Asma, a freshman journalism major, said she began hooping in January.
She said in her hometown of Dekalb, she discovered a hooping subculture at the House Café where people would hoop outside and also inside during open mic night.

“My favorite part of hooping would have to be learning new tricks, and it also ties into the hardest part of it, which is tying the tricks together to make it a seamless, fluid motion,” Asma said.

She said it is hard to vocalize how she feels while hooping, but it has a very rhythmic feel to her and helps her relieve stress.

Asma said a friend of hers, who introduced her to hooping, told her that smiling while hooping would help her learn faster.

“She also taught me that when you pick the hoop up and put motion to it, it becomes an extension of your body,” Asma said. “It is so satisfying when you can put the tricks in a certain order and wind up making a story.”

The hooping community of camaraderie provides me with a great sense of belonging, and it is always great to find something, anything really, that causes contentment.

Rachel Rodgers can
be reached at 581-7942 or

Students dance to international music

"Dancing Silhouette 1"

(Photo Illustration by Seth Schroeder | The Daily Eastern News)

By Seth Schroeder
Verge Editor

Members of the Association of International Students will be putting more of a focus on performances and diversity during their “Sounds of the World” dance today.

The dance will feature international music and performances from a variety of cultures, as well as food and prizes. Some of the cultures represented include India, China and Nigeria. There will be a $1 admission fee.
It will start at 9 p.m. in the Martin Luther King Jr. University Union and is also organized in part by the department of international students.

A student worker at the department, Payge Schagemann-Jones, said the performances will change the feel of the dance, which used to feel like a high school event.

“(The dance) had a growing interest in it,” Schagemann-Jones said. “More students wanted to bring more to the table.”

Samyukta Ghimire, a junior accounting major and president of AIS, said the members of the association try to represent the cultures of all international students.

Sara Boro, a college student affairs graduate student and a graduate assistant at the study abroad office, said international students are asked to submit music from their home countries.

“Some of the international students that come here are just so talented- it’s cool to see what they can do,” Boro said.

Ghimire said there will be six student performances at the dance. She said most of the performances are choreographed dances, but new this year will be a Chinese instrumental performance with traditional instruments.

Ghimire also said the $1 admission fee is new this year. She said the members of the association want to have bigger, more frequent events so they need to raise money.

“It’s only a dollar, so I don’t think it’s too expensive,” Ghimire said.
Boro said the dance is a great opportunity for everyone to come and hear international music.

“I go every year and always enjoy it,” she said. “It’s really cool to hear all the different music and see how people dance differently.”

Ghimire said the members of the association are hoping to get more of the Eastern community involved in the dance and to have more American students attend.

“We want more international students to get involved with American culture,” Ghimire said. “Many American students don’t have any idea of international organizations. We want to promote diversity.”

Seth Schroeder can be reached at 581-2812 or scschroeder2@eiu.edu.