Tag Archives: CT

Caffeine & Carburetors in New Canaan, Connecticut Sept 2017

Greetings from Connecticut! This Sunday my buddy Bill and I convoyed together to New Canaan for one of the biggest Cars & Coffee events I’ve ever been to. I never liked the name: Caffeine & Carburetors but I understand the idea that everyone involved in organizing C&C events try to register a name that someone who’s never been to one could recognize but different enough that the original “cars & coffee” (I’m assuming the one in California or elsewhere on the West Coast where the idea started) don’t sue them for trademark infringement.

Anyway… I took well over 300 photos before my iPhone battery went dead… I’d like to share over 200 of them here. Instead of overwhelming the viewer with all the pix in one post I’m going to break them down a bit… I was considering doing it by car colors, or colorful cars and gray cars… or classics vs. modern. But instead I think it’d be smart to do it by origin or brand home country.

So the menu to come:

Some posts will be longer than others and even though I’m making this first, it’ll contain all the overflow images that didn’t fall into the above categories… so please bear with me.

I have to say I loved the show! I really did… it was massive. Some would say YUGE! It was well organized. Lots of volunteers and cops directing traffic around, which was great. I read about the organizers before coming and how they were debating whether or not to hold these C&C events in 2017… I’m glad they followed through. And I wanted to do my part by becoming a patron in the coffee shop that’s behind the whole idea… but I gotta say that the barista kid that filled my iced chai order messed it up. Not a big deal but… a few pumps of syrup on ice cubes is a freaking weird concoction, but it isn’t chai.

The happy mug shot…

My goal was to see a few cars I’ve seen in pictures on facebook at  previous events. Lucky for me I got to see all of them! The Spyker. The Pagani. The Giulia. The Elan. Le 2CV. The Miura. The Dino GT.  The Lancia’s and all those Alfa Romeo’s.

And here’s the overflow pix that don’t fit into my foreigh/european car lists above…

I really wanted to see this thing up close… and voila!

Funny how many cars wore dealer plates. Are they all for sale? I doubt it… but having access to a dealer plate means you can drive an unregistered and uninsured car to… well a car show like this! The other plates that stood out a lot were all those blue Montana plates.

Lots of bikes in attendance also!

American luxury… the original lux sports utility vehicle… soccer mom machine… road trip highway cruiser!

Back when Saleen Speedsters looked absolutely gorgeous!

Technically Renault owned, but not quite French… AMX!

Bill and I arrived the show fairly late, around 10am… mostly due to us leaving late from New Jersey but also because there was a fatal accident right before our exit on the Merritt Parkway which was a sad sight to see. Luckily though we got perfect parking spots right by the event as many of the early-birds started leaving. We saw a number of cars driving off as we arrived, but the cars we got to see were absolutely amazing!

Would love to come back for more in the future…

Great job guys!

 


Read more from today’s show here:

Post Card from PWC Grand Prix of Lime Rock

Greetings from an amazing first day of the PWC at LRP.

I love this track.

I love this series.

I love this assignment.

This is my first time since last year working as a back-up starer for a pro event (or for any event period) and it just so happens that last year it was PWC at LRP as well.

Despite the wet weather and the alternating mist and light rain, the racing has been especially good. Only the PWC series are present though they are broken up in bits to make more racing happen. There’s the Sprint X headliner featuring GT (Pro-Pro), GTA (Pro-Am), GT Cup (Am-Am) and GTS (up and coming Pro’s)… the TC group grew so big with all the new BMW 235M’s that they get to race on their own… I think I counted over 30 cars, and it’s especially nice to see the familiar yellow Turner cars #95 & #96 re-join the series. TCA and TCB round out the support races with a pretty large field as well. Really neat to see this racing up close from the Starter stand. I love it! Didn’t take many pix, but the few I did I’d like to share:

And so my day went absolutely perfectly… I truly enjoy working Start and my PWC series colleagues were awesome to me. Despite the rain I thought the racing was very good. No stupid crashes. It was very competitive, very tight and mostly clean with minor incidents here and there (only a few full course cautions)… so I’m grateful for that. Lime Rock Park fed us at the end of the day and I was happy to spy a bunch of Mazda’s at the track including a Miata parade early in the morning and a few Mazdaspeed 3’s and 6’s in the camping area.

I decided not to tent it in the wet, and instead opted for the 2 hour and 100 mile trek home… which was fine in the evening, but I’m sure tomorrow morning I’ll be regretting it. Oh well… looking forward to another great day at the track!

Make Yourself a Lime Rock Drink This Holiday Season!

It is my favorite time of the year… the period between Black Friday (day after Thanksgiving) and Christmas/Hannukah when American businesses go crazy with sales offering amazing deals and making my bank account glow red with debt. The weather in the NYC metropolitan area is freezing  cold with some snow on the ground, making it the perfect time to mix myself a “Lime Rock” drink. No it’s not eggnog or some other alcoholic concoction, instead it is something far more pleasant:

Hot Chocolate mixed with Coffee!

Is it good? Hell yeah it’s good! It is freaking awesome… and I can’t thank the young lady at the Lime Rock Cafe enough for mixing it up, just for me… Introducing me to this amazingly simple yet soul warming drink that anyone can make at home!

I have a lot of great memories from Lime Rock Park, at this moment the mere taste of a Hot Coco/Coffee mix brings back the best ones with every sip. The best part is this one is hard to mess up when you try DIY… I say that because there are other drinks I’ve become very fond of, especially those I was lucky enough to sample when marshaling in Asia…  Kopi Teh is a prime example found in Malaysia and Singapore. A mix of coffee with tea and condenced milk that tastes amazing, but for the life of me I have not been successful trying to replicate it at home. Hot wine from the Christmas Markets in Germany is another amazing thing that I have failed to replicate at home. But placing a hot chocolate Keurig K cup into the machine and pressing a button, followed by placing another Keurig K cup in and repeating the process is easy, anyone can do that!

And you should, go do it now!

Speaking of Keurig and the great deals this holiday season, I was able to snatch one up from Target for a fraction of what they cost… which is typically $119+ tax. Mine was on sale for $79 + some discount coupons, plus $35 back in Target gift cards, plus I paid with Target gift cards that I bought at a 10% discount. So all I paid out the door was about $25 bux. Not bad considering that’s what a reasonable box of Keurig flavored K cups costs…. I also went a little crazy purchasing the K cups. The Starbucks flavored boxes of 16 ct which typically MSRP for $12 were on sale for 30% off, plus $6 off when you buy 3, plus Starbucks had a promo offering $5 bux for purchase of 3 boxes. So all in all I paid something like $15 for 3 boxes of 16 ct K cups. Which is really good. It’s like paying for one and getting two free… I like that kind of deal.

Happy Holidays Y’all!

IMSA Ferrari Challenge at Lime Rock Park the debrief

I don’t know what it is but every time I come to Lime Rock to volunteer an event there’s always something impeding my performance. This time around I got sick as a dog the day before with a head cold and flu like symptoms and it only got worse during the course of the weekend. Being sick probably affected my opinion of the event, but I’ll go ahead and share what I thought, both the good and the bad.

The good… I really enjoyed working with the people I was paired with over the two day period. I loved the assignments I got, both stations: Turn 7 (downhill) on Friday and Turn 6 (west bend) on Saturday were stations I haven’t worked in forever, so it was a new perspective. And my partners who both said were novices even though they probably worked more “years” as marshals than I have, really embraced my help (or at least that’s how they came across) which created a really pleasant atmosphere that I enjoyed. I thought I was helping by sharing what I know, and encouraged the folks to build confidence even if they made a mistake. That was cool! I am thankful for that opportunity.

As far as the racing goes it was a great day to be a Ferrari fan because there were lots of Ferrari’s to be enjoyed.

I really like(d) Ferrari Challenge. They were such an exciting event especially when they played a support role to events like Formula 1 in Montreal, Canada or at the US Grand Prix. They were such an enjoyable regional event too, because I got to see them race as a support to Formula One in Singapore and Le Mans 24 hours in France. In fact it was the Ukrainian team that won the support race during my very first LM 24h and I was massively happy to hear the Ukrainian anthem playing in the distance. That was really neat.

The bad…  It seems to me Ferrari Challenge went from heroes to zeroes in a space of a few years. The current Ferrari Challenge event at Lime Rock felt more like a Ferrari North America track rental, a private event rather than a Pro-Race / IMSA sanctioned weekend.

When did Ferrari Challenge become the bastard child of IMSA?

I don’t understand this at all… watching the weekend unfold it was pretty disappointing to see the sorry state of the series. Which probably has a lot to do with Ferrari involvement and the direction of the program from top down. And equally as much the popularity of other series like Porsche GT3 Cup and Lamborghini Super Trofeo.

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“I’d rather be fishing” on the winning car of one of the classes sums up the event best… seems like lots of racers would rather do something else, that’s why the car fields in the actual races were between seven (7!!!) and low teens… not much to look at. And I get the part that this is a marketing tag line, but even the teammate’s Bass Pro Shops sponsored Ferrari was half-assed. I’ve seen spec Miatas with better wrap jobs than this 458C that seems like it was slapped together in a hurry, with bubbles and creases still clearly visible under the wrap. Not cool…

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It wasn’t just the Ferrari Challenge that was disappointing. Much like the Driver Education sessions during the Ferrari Club of America / IndyCar weekend at Watkins Glen, the lapping portion of the event was lame. The Ferrari Esperienza session which used the same 458C that the Challenge racers use only had one car circulating in it’s 20 minute sessions, at one point another similar car joined but it disappeared as quickly as it appeared. That sucked. There was a LaFerrari session which I think many people, myself included were quite interested in, that didn’t happen at all. I could be wrong but I didn’t see any LaFerrari’s at Lime Rock at all this weekend. What the hell? The LaFerrari was used as a cover photo on Facebook to check in for this event… false marketing, is it?

Whatever!

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The plastic F1 replica was a cool touch though. I took full advantage by taking some snaps of it at various stages of that car’s display. It was fun to see it being pushed around sideways (perpendicular to the way the wheels were facing) to get the car lined up in a way that the red shirts wanted it. I even staged a little photo shoot with my Miazda for shits and giggles… didn’t realize the car was that much bigger than my Miata.

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So it is what it is. The final verdict for this weekend is it felt like a Cars & Coffee get together with a few cars running around on track making noise…. except you had to pay $55 bux as a spectator to come and see these cars for yourself. The spectator attendance was good albeit low, I was happy to see all the little kids who raided the team’s spent tires stash and took them as souvenirs. Some were playing by rolling the tire down hill, others used it as chairs to watch the racing. I love seeing little kids at the race track… with low attendance numbers everywhere it’s nice to feel that Motorsport has a future.

The car show portion of the event is what really salvaged the experience for me. Despite the LaFerrari’s absence I was super happy to see the F40 next to an F50 next to an Enzo. What a great show! Lots of red cars, a few bright yellows and bright blues to break the monotony of silvers and black cars. There was a lot to look at in the small space that is the Lime Rock paddock.

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I never knew Ferrari made a Citroen-esque car:

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For me though this was a one time event, I don’t think I would enjoy doing it again in the future. But that’s just me.

And then when leaving I noticed the whole road leading to the main entrance of Lime Rock lined with yellow “No Racing on Sunday” banners… WTF! Hard for me to understand people’s mentality that buy a house next to the race track and then complain about the noise.

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Post Card from Ferrari Challenge at Lime Rock

Another weekend on a race track, this time flagging for Ferrari track rental at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.

Lots of opinions to share about this event, but first some photos:

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NER @ LRP presented by Thompson Speedway

My 7th weekend in a row spent at a race track, unlike the previous 6 which were each at a different track (Palmer, Watkins Glen, Mosport, Lime Rock, Detroit, NJMP) I’ve started repeating tracks… much like the previous visit to Lime Rock where I worked as a backup starter for the Pirelli World Challenge, this time I got to wave all the flags in the Starter rotation for NER SCCA club racing.

The weekend went by perfectly. Excellent weather. Excellent company. I was very happy to work with Jamie again. And I’m really happy to be trained by Peter Watson the chief starter of the Northern New Jersey Region who has been awesome in showing me how things should be done. I truly enjoy learning from him because things are done naturally, everything makes perfect sense, and when I make a mistake Peter corrects me right away, which helps tremendously, I really do appreciate immediate feedback. My weekend was truly enjoyable and I’m actually really happy doing these Club Races, something I didn’t like so much in the past.

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I was also very happy with the amount of cars we had racing. As usual the fields of Miata’s were very impressive. They kicked my ass while I was lap charting because any time a group of four or more would blow past the starter stand together, it would knock me off my rhythm doing charts, and I’d miss everything behind that group. But with more practice I was really getting the hang of it. When I was on point I did make the mistake of blue flagging the leaders… Oops! But that only encouraged the little Miata at the front to push harder, the much more racy-looking Honda S-2000 behind it looked like it would snatch the lead, but it didn’t. That same Honda was probably my favorite looking car of the weekend, sadly I didn’t get a shot of it. But it was basically Yellow #17 S2000 without a front windshield. I signed up to marshal at Watkins Glen next weekend for an SCCA event just because I looked on MotorsportReg.com and saw a similar Miata without a windshield that will be racing there. Good enough for me… can’t wait!

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While heading to the track I noticed a weird noise coming out from the front of my Miata, especially when making a right turn at speed like getting onto the highway or taking an exit ramp… we spoke with Jessie about it and she suggested it may be a bearing that’s going bad, which after the super crazy pot holes in Detroit I could totally believe… One of the mechanics on the RX-7 team in the paddock volunteered to have a look… jacked my car up, had a close inspection and said nothing looks out of place and he’d have full confidence driving the car as it is. But of course I’m being all paranoid about what it could possibly be. And with two trips to WGI (500 miles apiece in the next two weeks) I am a bit worried.

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I guess we’ll find out.

I had a lovely weekend, got enough TIPs from NER to convert them into a $25 Shell gift card so the weekend basically paid for itself. Which made me happy! I can’t wait to work with this club again.

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In honor of it being the Le Mans weekend, I had my fries with mayo:

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Never thought I’d say this but even the camping was fun. My new Coleman 4 person tent worked perfectly.

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Wish I would have known I could set up closer to the paddock, though it worked out really well camping at the usual spot under the pines (top of the hill) because there was no moisture on the tent when it was time to break it down Saturday morning. Fun times!

Thank You NER SCCA Club Drivers for the Awesome Lime Rock Paddock Crawl

NER SCCA does a fantastic job taking care of the volunteers. I’ve been fortunate enough to sample some of their fine cooking at Thompson Speedway, Palmer Motorsports Park and Lime Rock. But this time around the presentation was a little different. Instead of cooking at the Cafe each team invited the volunteers to sample the food the teams eat throughout the paddock. All the cooking stations (mainly grilles) were identified by an orange cone and a flag in the paddock where some cooked sausages, burgers, meatballs, ziti, etc. My favorite was team Dinosaur RX-7 guys with their excellent selection of sausages… not too far from them another team had a blender set up to make margaritas… you got a Hawaiian lay before picking up a glass of margarita slushie or margarita on a rocks. Damn were they good!

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Thank you very much NER SCCA Drivers for the warm hospitality. It is much appreciated. Looking forward to my next event with them!

Post Card from SCCA Club New England Region Racing at Lime Rock Park Presented by Thompson Speedway

Greetings from Lime Rock Park, the Road Racing Center of the East.

I’m starting to really enjoy Club Racing… this weekend I had an opportunity to work Start again, which was fantastic. I specifically wanted to practice my Lap Charting, which I got an opportunity to do. There were a shit ton of Miata’s racing, which was awesome. We got great food over the weekend participating in a Paddock Crawl where each team cooked to show their appreciation to the volunteers, which was really neat. And I got some NER Tips which were quickly converted into a $25 Shell gas card, so the weekend paid for itself. What more could I possibly ask for?

Here are some pix from the event:

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Foodie Tour: On the Hunt for the Best Steamed Cheeseburger in Central Connecticut

Who would have thought that Connecticut is such a foodie destination, but thanks to a few New England trips I’ve been taking up to Thompson Speedway for some SCCA Club Racing, I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to sample something unique to Central Connecticut: Steamed Cheeseburgers.

What are Steamed Cheeseburgers?

Well, they are burger patties that are cooked in a little steam oven instead of on the grill, so that they are juicy inside without the fat being burned into them. The cheese that holds the burger together is done in a similar fashion making it an oey goodness that has a very unique taste to it.

I first learned about the idea of steamed cheeseburgers from the Miata.net forum where I did the research for my other foodie tour of Connecticut that took me along the coast and where I sampled some delicious (and quite pricey) lobster rolls. People said I had to try it, and who am I to say no? Everyone recommended Ted’s Restaurant in Meriden, CT as the go-to place for these burgers. But I wanted to check out a few other places with the same item on the menu to have something to compare it to, you know… for purely scientific purposes.

So I picked a few spots, and programmed Waze to get me there in time. I had to leave New Jersey late enough so that I don’t wait around for Jessie when she gets off work but early enough so I get to the restaurants before they close as some of them had pretty early hours…. this is where the “original” Lunchbox comes in. I read a few Yelp reviews that compared the Lunchbox with Ted’s and people claimed that it made better steamed cheeseburgers than Ted’s. Lunchbox closes at 3pm during the week, and I left NJ at 12:30pm thinking with a 2 hour drive I will have plenty of time to sample my burger. Of course I hit heavy traffic on Merritt Parkway in Connecticut about an hour away from the destination, where at one point I shut my car off because we were sitting stationary for so long. Turns out it was a minor fender bender just before one of the two lanes was closed on the highway for tree removal and grass mowing… Go figure! My Waze GPS was guestimating I would arrive Meriden between 2:55pm and 3pm so I phoned in my order for a Steamed Cheeseburger Deluxe (whatever that means) and they were happy to take my order. At least now I knew that if I made it in time I’d get a chance to sample their creation.

Well, long story short I made it to the Lunchbox just in time, the GPS was right I walked through the door at 2:55pm and my order was sitting on the counter. As I was getting out of my car a silver/grey NB Miata drove by with it’s top down, and as I glanced at the car as it passed me by, the owner waved at me, which was kind of cool! I was starving at that point so I quickly rushed to taste my burger: and wow! What a unique experience. I mean nothing about the ingredients was really extraordinary when you think about it, it was a combination of a bun, meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato. But how the whole thing was put together was neat. It was certainly very tasty. And now I had my baseline to compare the others to.

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Just down the street on the same road was my next stop. This one seemed to be much more popular and I overheard a number of people saying they traveled to get there just for the experience. I ordered another steamed cheeseburger this time with bacon, and in matter of minutes it was on the plate and ready to serve. This time, the meal was much larger with a bigger bun and what looked like two burger patties. The cheese was much more liquid-like but super tasty, it was dripping out of the burger on each side. I loved this one a lot more than the other one I tried just minutes earlier. I presume I was still very hungry because I wolfed it down in no time, and was ready to hit the “world famous” Ted’s at last!

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And so I made the mile and some change drive down to Ted’s Restaurant for their version of the steamed cheeseburger. The place was done up nicely, looked far more polished then the other two. The same person I saw on the videos I watched about steamed cheeseburgers was behind the counter serving food, so that was a neat start and I was excited to try their version. But I got the sense the guy was a bit grumpy. I’m sure they get this a lot where tourists try taking pictures of their work, and I’m sure it gets annoying after a while. I got a slight sense of this annoyance.

But the steamed cheeseburger at Ted’s was fantastic! I mean much better than the last two places I visited just minutes earlier. The bun was just right, the meat texture was just right, but what held the whole thing together really well was the cheese. It was completely different texture than the other two places I tried, and far more geared towards my liking. It was soft but chewy and stretched out with every bite giving you a mouth-full of bun, meat and cheese to enjoy together with some bacon thrown into the mix. Adding bacon raised the price from $6 to $7.50 which seemed like a lot, but I guess everyone loves bacon, so why not charge more for it? I paired my meal with an order of homecooked fries, which were awesome… but since I had just eaten three burgers of reasonable size in a row, the fries put me over the limit. I felt like I wobble’d out of there hurting from the pain of being FULL. But what an awesome experience it was!

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I would definitely recommend steamed cheeseburgers to anyone that haven’t tried them before, and at a price that’s less than half of what you typically pay for a much more modest portion of the lobster roll, the price is definitely right.

Go try it!

Foodie Tour of Central Connecticut, Sampling Steamed CheeseBurgers

With the great success behind the last Foodie Tour of Connecticut sampling their delicious Lobster Rolls I am planning another trip to Thompson Speedway with a detour through Central Connecticut to sample their famous Steamed CheeseBurgers.

The idea for this foodie tour came from the research I did about the lobster rolls, and to be honest the concept of steamed burgers (and the cheese that they are smothered in) is very intriguing so I’m going to plan to visit a few spots to choose my favorite instead of going for the sure-thing that everyone recommends: Ted’s!

As always it’s the night before the trip that I’m planning all of this and so far based on my research I will be making the following stops on my 2+ hour journey… with the visits generally based on when the joint closes (some have short work hours) and where they are in relation to other joints. All of my stops will be in the town of Meredin, Connecticut.

So, First Stop:

The Lunchbox at 620 East Main Street

Middle Stop:

K. LaMays at 690 East Main Street

Final Stop:

Ted’s Restaurant at 1046 Broad Street

I was tempted to add O’Rourke’s in Middletown, CT to the list as they were on the way to Thompson Speedway, but the joint closes way early around 2:30pm which is probably the time I would arrive in Meriden for the other three joints. So off the list it went.

I’m really excited about this trip and the prospect of trying something different. I love food, I love burgers and don’t think I’ve ever had them steamed before. Can’t wait to try first hand and then share my opinion on which one was my favorite.

Check out this video from Ted’s:

Reading some of the Yelp reviews I’m going in with the full expectation that all of these joints will serve greasy food and that I may leave with a stomach ache… and I’m OK with it. Bring it on!