First and foremost a huge thanks to my friend Trevor Alexander Hermance for making my first trip to Palmer Motorsports Park a really enjoyable and memorable experience. An equally huge thanks to Jessie Lynne Honigs too because without her facebook post looking for help, I wouldn’t have decided to go up to New England last minute on short notice, but I’m sure she knows exactly how much I appreciate her already! Trevor was kind enough to provide me with a warm and comfortable place to stay so I didn’t have to deal with the misery of camping in pretty crappy weather, and for that I’m always extremely thankful!
I’ll take this opportunity to debrief this trip… my first time marshaling at Whiskey Hill Raceway for the New England Region SCCA season kickoff club races.
The Road Trip started with a Foodie Tour of Connecticut, but instead of seeking out something new and unique I haven’t tried before I knew exactly what I wanted to sample on this visit: steamed cheeseburgers! I knew the place I wanted to visit, and from memory it should have been right on my way. So once I hit some traffic while driving up on Thursday afternoon I punched the name into my GPS: Ted’s Steamed Cheeseburgers Restaurant, and it came up just about 20 miles up the Interstate. I got off the highway and within a mile I was there… except this was not the location I visited last year on my way to Thompson Speedway… not the original. It was one of their new chain stores, a much bigger restaurant size-wise, and one much closer to the highway, which was very convenient. I sat down to eat, to wait out the traffic, and ordered a few more burgers to-go so that I could have them for lunch the next two days (GREAT IDEA, actually! They were delicious, and very filling).
Everything Cheeseburger with a Raspberry Peach Milk Shake. Yum!
Upon arrival at the Whiskey Hill Raceway at Palmer Motorsports Park I went ahead and registered, set myself up at Trevor’s house and joined Jessie and other flaggers for a very nice dinner celebrating Cinco de Mayo at a local Mexican place called Mexicali in Ware, Massachusetts. For someone that doesn’t drink I found the margaritas especially appetizing, they went well with my burrito.
The following morning we all showed up at the mustering tent bright and early, having driven a whole of maybe a quarter mile from the house to the track. NER SCCA region showed their appreciation by handing me two TIP’s, or Track Incentive Plan Reward Coupons which are redeemable for gas cards… Great! I like a trip that doesn’t cost me too much out of pocket, this trip paid for itself.
I was assigned to Turn 3 with a very experienced flagger and our day flew by pretty quickly. Though there were no incidents we had plenty of opportunities to wave the blue flag, which is always nice. The incidents we did have we couldn’t really see because they happened right in front of Station 4, which was not within our line of sight, and that station didn’t advise us to help with Yellows. I could just barely see a car spinning up the hill, but then rocks would block the outcome, we couldn’t tell whether it had spun or continued.
Though lately I think my new favorite flag is the Yellow, and I got to wave it quite a lot the next day while stationed at Turn 1. Nothing major happened, but I had some dramatic spins in a number of racing groups, with a bunch of cars stopping smack in the middle of the track and the whole field going around them smoothly. My Yellow was out quickly and everyone obeyed it. It was beautiful!
From turn 1 I could also see Turn 2, and Turn 3, and Turn 4, and Turn 5, and further up to Turn 5A, and then Turn 9, and down to the Start stand. This was not the case the day before at Turn 3, we couldn’t have a visual sight of the station before or the station after us, and flagging while blind isn’t fun. I hope Palmer Motorsports Park does something more about visibility from station to station. I think the most fixable solution is simply adding more stations even if relay stations (which means more people to staff) in order to have full visibility around the track.
The weather was a bit soggy both days but since I was prepared with wet weather gear it didn’t affect me too much. The temps were a bit chilly but we were up on a mound, so it was to be expected. I find it fascinating how two months ago the trees were blooming in Texas when I went there for PWC, a few weeks later trees started blooming on my drive down to Florida for St. Pete GP, and a month later at Palmer trees are just about ready to start blooming. Funny how mother nature works. Speaking of mother nature, none of the Palmer stations were equipped with porta-johns, which I hope they do soon enough. It’s not particularly comfortable working without a bathroom available nearby.
The fields of cars were impressive for me, especially since majority of them had a Mazda badge on them… even more impressive most of those Mazda badged cars were Miatas. Primarily NA’s and NB’s but one single ND was my favorite car. I was hoping to spy another NC in the paddock so I could go up to the owner and ask to see what the proper oil level on the dipstick should look like (you know ask a professional racer) but there wasn’t one to be found. Oh well…
I was really happy to get some Mazdaspeed swag, especially something I don’t already own to add to my collection.
Even more impressive was the fact they let us run our personal vehicles around the track at the end of the first day with the rain coming down pretty heavily in spots. I was too excited to go fast, but it was a blast nonetheless. The track looks super wide but judging by all the spins the club racers had I didn’t want to end up in the gravel myself or worse – in the barrier. After two laps I was done, & happy!
We were all exhausted enough after the long, cold and wet day; and it was especially refreshing to go back to the warm house, pop open a Lime-a-Rita with Jessie and BS about our day, sharing stories with the other flaggers that joined us at the house. I was made to feel especially welcome and the VIP treatment certainly is appreciated! Before going to sleep I got to check out Trevor’s/Palmer Motorsports Park’s little literature collection which was layed out on the table in my room… the book about Mazda 787B especially caught my attention:
Never stop challenging!!!
The trip ended the same way it started. I made it a point to stop at Ted’s on my drive home. This time I had the Southwest burger which had bacon, shrooms and onions along with a unique sauce on it which was delicious. I went ahead and ordered a few more cheeseburgers to take home, and my father was happy to wolf one down as soon as I got home.
What a great trip!
I’m so looking forward to the next one.