Tag Archives: New England

Thank You Trevor Alexander Hermance for the VIP Treatment at Palmer Motorsports Park

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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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…

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I was really happy to get some Mazdaspeed swag, especially something I don’t already own to add to my collection.

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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:

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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.

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What a great trip!

I’m so looking forward to the next one.

Got to drive Palmer Motorsports Park… at Speed… in Pouring Rain… Had a Blast!

I remember how excited I was to write a post about driving around Watkins Glen International… a bunch of times… while getting to my station assignment. Well, my experience driving around the Whiskey Hill Raceway at Palmer Motorsports Park beat the WGI experience by a mile… many miles actually. We were let loose on the track at the end of first day with no particular advice on the speed limit or how to drive… you could go as fast as you want… and it was pissing down with rain. The whole thing was awesome!

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I set out in a cold car that’s been sitting in the paddock all day, on cold tires, holding a cell phone in my hand taking these pictures, so naturally first lap was nice and slow. I don’t think I went over 60 or 70mph on the straights. Definitely much slower than that in the corners. Though my less than 1,000 mile BFGoodrich Sport Comp 2’s felt very stable and grippy right from the get-go. For my second lap I put the phone down (remembering that I have the dash cam going and could save the video instead) and gave it a little bit more jandal… The car felt very stable and responsive. Though I kept it a reasonable speed knowing full well that if I brake it, it would be a rather pricey tow bill for 170 miles across several states to get home. Nonetheless even at grandpa speeds I had a blast! What an amazing facility. The uphill climbs are fairly steep. There’s a ton of blind corners. The track is wide enough to try different lines. And then when you get to the summit, you get to zig zag down the mountain which is just as much fun as the climb up. I loved it!

Of course I took a bunch of shots of the car the next morning to illustrate just the magnitude of the boulders that the track is chiseled out of. Pretty amazing.

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Note the heavy earth moving equipment that is working on improving the track daily. Can’t wait to see this place when finished!

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New England Region SCCA Season Finale at Thompson Speedway Debrief

After blowing through $400+ dollars on travel expenses alone for Petit Le Mans, I returned home feeling bummed out that I didn’t quite get my money’s worth from that event. Maybe my expectations were unreasonably high, I don’t know. So to end the year on a high note I decided to take Jessie up on her invite to come to New England Region SCCA season finale at Thompson Speedway for some club racing. Good thing I did!

A number of things went well that I’ll blog about, but I must apologize that on this event I took hardly any pictures so prepare to read a lot of positive words without much photo evidence to illustrate the experience. I’ll write about my foodie tour separately, though I should mention that of all places: Who woulda thunk that Connecticut was such a foodie destination?  Not me… Besides the food, seeing the leaves change color up in New England was neat, it was fall foliage in full effect with various shades of green, yellow and red all around.

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The drive to Thompson, and well to Massachusetts where Jessie lives, was also to test out the new tires I just bought for my Miazda, which turned out to be a lot worse than I thought they’d be. I’m talking about the BFGoodrich g-Force Comp 2 A/S that I had recently purchased for my 16 inch winter wheels. I don’t know if it’s the aggressive tread pattern or the idea that maybe they weren’t balanced correctly when I had them mounted, I felt a very noticeable but slight vibration throughout the entire trip. It came from the front, I felt it on the steering wheel, I felt it on the gas pedal. But it also came from the rear, because I felt it on the seat as I was driving. So I’m not happy about that. I wish the ride was a bit smoother like the old Yokohama’s I took off to go with the BFG’s. That said I got to test the tires out in the dry for about 200 miles and then another 200 in the wet, and the grip was perfect. So maybe that’s the nature of the design after all?

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I was so glad to catch up with Jessie once again over dinner and for the whole day of racing. She was working Race Control and had a great view of my Starter station below the race control window, which means the only pictures of the event with me in them came from her taking spy shots. Thanks Jessie! Also thanks to her I finally got a chance to experience the Starter role, it was something I wanted to do forever but was never given a chance. I am hooked on this role now and don’t really see how I could go back to regular F&C after this experience. Not willingly anyway…

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Jessie introduced me to some delicious new beer: Pumpkinghead served with cinnamon and brown sugar along the rim of the glass, yumm!

As with any SCCA Club Racing there were many Mazda MX-5 Miatas racing. So that was by far my favorite sight to see at the event. Among them was a true red NC Miata with a bunch of Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge stickers, which I assume was a hand me down IMSA car from a few seasons ago. It went very well, much faster than most other NA and NB Miata’s though unfortunately it broke down during the last race of the day. Luckily though I saw it win it’s class during an earlier race in the day, and I’m kind of kicking myself for not taking a picture of the driver receiving a small checkered flag directly under our Start stand for his victory lap (in the paddock – since they weren’t doing them on track because of time constraints). It was awesome to see and I’m very happy for the driver. It was nice to also see “Flatout Racing” stickers on that car and many other Miatas which are apparently rental cars for someone who wants to race but doesn’t have the money to buy a race car. What a cool concept!

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Anyway, I had a fantastic trip and I’m very happy I got a chance to go. The New England Region threw a big tent party for the workers at the end of the day with delicious pasta on the menu, and some prizes and other awards for volunteer participation. I was amazed to see that I won something again, a nice envelope with some gas money which basically covered most of my cost to go up there, in fuel anyway. So I came home really happy! Thanks to Jessie! and Thanks to the NER!

One more event of the season and 2015 is in the history books 🙂

…and a few more pictures:

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I love seeing the British influence in New England:

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Almost forgot to mention some fuel stats. This time I noticed something interesting, the cheaper New Jersey based BP 93 octane gas seems to give better gas mileage than the more pricey Massachusetts BP 93 octane premium gas. I topped off before I left NJ, re-fueled in MA adding 5.672 gallons  after doing 201.1 miles, getting 35.454 mpg. After reaching home I topped up 6.899 after doing 228.8 miles getting 33.164 mpg. Which leads me to believe NJ gas is superior MA gas all other things being equal. Unlike my previous trips where I normally keep the car between 60 and 70mph, this time I was in a more of a rush doing 70 to 80mph so maybe that was a factor. Overall I did 429.9 miles and used 12.571 gallons, averaging at 34.197 mpg. NJ gas price $2.29/gal for 93 at BP, MA gas price $2.45/gal for 93 at BP.  And now I’m at 5,000 miles since the last oil change, so the little Miazda is due for it’s second service.

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!

Club Racing at Thompson Speedway the Debrief

As if by chance I noticed Jessie (from SponsorAFlagger.com)  looking for more volunteers to marshal NER SCCA event where she’s the assistant flag chief, so I signed up. With her help of course, because MotorsportReg.com was giving me all sorts of problems. But between the two of us we figured it out. I’m so glad I got to experience this new (to me) circuit, because everything about the trip went absolutely perfectly and it’s all thanks to Jessie. I think I’ll use a new strategy for volunteering the US races from now on, I will attend all events as Jessie’s guest… I could definitely get used to the VIP treatment that comes as a result 😉

Thompson Speedway has recently re-opened. It still has that brand new smell to it like a new car, but in reality it’s America’s oldest in several respects. Did you know that it was the oldest banked oval in the US? Or that it was the oldest American purpose built road course? I certainly didn’t. But all that Jessie told me that I need to know about it is that it has the best ice cream… I was eager to find out for myself.

The drive up to Thompson wasn’t terribly long either. It’s only about 30 miles further than New Jersey Motorsports Park and the price of tolls to get there is less. I’ve already blogged about my foodie tour of New England which you can read all about here: Best Lobster Rolls in Connecticut. And that was a very cool way to start the trip. But what was even cooler was hanging out with Jessie, Jason, George (their dog) and Stevie (their Miata). Jason is a very accomplished race car driver with many trophies to show for it and a history of racing various Mazda’s from rotary RX-7’s to the Miata. Check him out at Angry Pork Racing: angrypork.com/ While Jessie of course is an accomplished marshal having won worker of the year in 2013? and running a successful Sponsor A Flagger site:  sponsoraflagger.com/  But most impressively to me she likes Durian shakes at a local Vietnamese place we went to for dinner, which probably means she would totally enjoy marshaling in Singapore or Malaysia and it’s my goal in the future to help facilitate that opportunity!

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Durian Shake and Lychee Martini at Pho Dakao in Worcester, Mass

For race day on Friday Jessie and I got to work together at turn 3 on our elevated station which was very cool. I’m a big fan of these things. Why? Because it gives the marshal working that particular turn good visibility of track before and after the station. And the drivers get a good visibility of all the flags as they approach the turn. I wish more tracks would use the same idea when applicable. Behind the station there was a golf course and many a golfers came around to spectate at different times. I even found a Callaway golf ball near my car when leaving. Kudos to Thompson for being a multi-purpose facility. At a time when everybody in Motorsport is struggling it’s nice to see diversification.

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Elevated Marshal Station at Turn 3, Thompson Speedway

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The day went by pretty swiftly. We had a few spins, one resulting in a light impact of two Formula Vee’s getting tangled up. But otherwise it was nice and quiet. I had a great time checking out the paddock during lunch and seeing some amazing machinery.

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Kudos to NER SCCA for providing $10 cash to workers for lunch which went towards a box of very greasy fries and chicken fingers that were delicious. At the end of the day we had a nice banquet reception with great food for the workers and drivers all mixed in one big room. There was a chit for free beverage, and of course Jessie treated me to a huge ice cream cone with really awesome “Maine Black Bear” flavor. I tried her “Chrunchasaurus” which too was amazing. Needless to say, I loved every minute of it. NER SCCA had a raffle where I actually won something! That doesn’t happen often. We were asked to pick envelopes containing cash and mine practically covered the whole gas bill to get up there, so I left quite surprised and happy.

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“Crunchasaurus” ice cream and “Maine Black Bear” ice cream cones at Bogey’s Thompson Speedway… best race track ice cream I’ve ever had!

I think Thompson Speedway will be seeing me again in the future, especially if I get to play Jessie’s guest again 😉

Foodie Tour: On the hunt for Best Lobster Roll in Connecticut

For an idea that popped into my head the night before my road trip to Massachusetts this one worked out really well. I went on a delicious foodie tour of the Connecticut coastline to discover the best tasting hot lobster roll out there. And I found it! Now to be fair, I only visited three out of the five places I researched for this trip, late into the night before leaving. And there are dedicated foodie blogs specifically devoted to this subject that have narrowed down their choices to a number that is in the lower twenties. But still, this is my two cents on the subject and I’m happy to share the story and pictures from my adventure.

So the three places I visited were “Lobster Shack,” “Lobster Landing” and “Lobster Dock.” For those travelling along the i95 corridor from NYC area toward Boston, the exits are as follows: Lobster Shack is exit 53, Lobster Landing is exit 63 and Lobster Dock is exit 83. Pretty easy to remember if that’s all you need to know on your travels. I would even suggest that people hit up all three of them, especially if you find yourself fighting heavy summer or rush hour traffic… why not? It would be the tastiest detour you’d have ever taken!

On my trip, I had the luxury of leaving after rush hour traffic from New Jersey, of course once I cleared New York I hit a wall of unusual traffic (not my words, this was said by “Waze” as the phone app was giving me instructions to re-route via Merritt Parkway and that worked) in Connecticut. Thanks to the detour I made it to my first stop around 2:30pm. The weather was nice and cloudy with a threat of rain so I didn’t have to fight for a parking spot upon my arrival, and they didn’t run out of lobster either. So all was good!

First Stop: Lobster Shack in Branford, CT

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The Lobster Shack location is quite conveniently located just a few miles/minutes travel time from the Interstate. Situated right on the water with a bunch of fishing boats in the marina.

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Got a parking spot right by the “shack” which has obviously seen a makeover… the business of selling lobster must be good because everything looked shiny and new!

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The menu. I made a foolish assumption in my planning post that these places fill up your order with fries and coleslaw to justify the price of the lobster roll. But I was wrong. For $16 you get just the lobster roll, no fries or coleslaw. Which is exactly what I was looking for. I knew I was going to be stopping at a few of these eateries and didn’t want to fill up too quickly. I’ve never heard anyone say: “Oh I’m so full on lobster,” never! Seeing the “Whaler” Lobster Roll on the menu was intriguing, but this being the first stop and the benchmark for my future stops I wanted to stick to the original.

lobster roll at lobster shack in connecticut menu

It was really good. The roll came wrapped in tin foil, and I asked for a little extra melted butter and lemon on the side. All the while I was thinking to myself: “This is what rich people must feel like” when indulging on something you don’t get to eat every day. It was worth every penny… and I wolfed it down in probably no more than a minute. I was hungry, this was breakfast and I was craving for more.

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I left the outdoor seating area overlooking the marina, punched in the next destination into my GPS and I was off!

Second Stop: Lobster Landing in Clinton, CT

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I didn’t have to drive very long to reach Lobster Landing. Clinton, CT is only about twenty minutes from the first stop, and exactly ten exits away on the Interstate. Also very close from exit 63 on i95 and also located on the waterfront with plenty of fishing boats in the water behind the restaurant. This place looked far more authentic with a wooden floor that creaked under your every step. The old building with the sign in the picture is where you could purchase fresh seafood, while the restaurant part to place the order was to the left of the car in a separate area.

It was here that I overheard someone called Andrew from the Thrillist magazine/blog doing a story about best lobster rolls in New England. He was chatting with Mr. Bacci the owner and I offered to take a picture of them together, Andrew did the same for me:

mr bacci from lobster landing in clinton ct

Talk about being in the right place and at the right time. Mr. Bacci heard me and Andrew talking about blogging about lobster rolls and brought out some books to give to us, a guide to Lobster Shacks in New England. Completely and totally unexpected gesture of kindness that has never happened to me before. I was very appreciative and couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the Lobster Landing version of the lobster roll.

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My order came out shortly after I placed it. And I got to enjoy it right on the dock overlooking the boats next to their iconic building (dare I say shack?).

lobster landing hot lobster roll and book on lobster shacks thanks mr. bacci

Thanks for the book Mr. Bacci!

lobster landing hot lobster roll

Now that I could compare the two lobster rolls with my previous stop, I did enjoy this one more because of the way the lobster meet was on the bun. Instead of large chunks, including clearly identifiable pieces from the claw and the tail, the meat was chopped up and nicely lubricated so that each bite was consistent and delicious. You can obviously still spot all the different meat inside the bun, but none of the chunks fell out as I was wolfing it down, and there was a great mixture of butter and lemon for an outstanding taste.

At Lobster Landing you don’t pay until after you finish your meal, and as I was getting a bit thirsty I ordered an ice cream instead so I don’t fill up too much on water. I was still craving for more and didn’t want to ruin my appetite by drinking too much as I tend to do.

Third Stop: Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock in New London, CT

captain scott's lobster dock in new london ct

And without wasting any more valuable time I programmed my GPS for the final stop hoping I make it there before they run out of lobster. This was a legitimate concern of mine as after researching the “best” places to eat lobster rolls the comments kept coming up that it’s possible that a place may no longer have this crucial item on the menu after a certain time of the day due to it’s popularity.

The drive to New London, CT was a little while. I always play with patterns based on my observations, so since the previous two places were exit 53 and exit 63 respectively I thought what would be the odds that the next one is exit 73. It wasn’t… but it was pretty damn interesting. Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock is off of exit 83!

Its a bit of a drive through the city to get to the marina where this restaurant sits right along the rail road tracks, which was pretty neat when I noticed Amtrak’s Acela go by in both directions in a short span of time. I wonder if the NY to Boston commuters know what a gem they are seeing out of their windows?

captain scott's lobster dock in new london ct 1

The first thing I noticed about this place is the shiny new food truck parked outside… must be nice to be in the lobster business!

captain scott's lobster dock in new london ct 2

But the actual restaurant looked even more impressive. Of the three I visited this one was the most touristy on a commercial scale.

captain scott's lobster dock in new london ct menu

Pretty impressive menu, and with a big menu like that come choices:

captain scott's lobster dock in new london ct choice

For foodies like me, you have an option to sample a smaller lobster roll for $11.95 or go for the full size version for $16.95. Both come with a side of coleslaw. Did I go for the small version? Nope! Got the full size option and got a bowl of New England Clam Chowder to sample also.

captain scott's lobster dock seats

captain scott's lobster dock in new london ct new england clam chowder

captain scott's lobster dock in new london ct new england lobster roll with lemon

Everything came out very quickly and I was munching away and enjoying the experience on the dock. Here the lemon is served as a slice and the bread looks different. The chunks of lobster are similar to the Lobster Shack on my first stop, the taste was also very similar. Of the lobster anyway, the bread did taste differently but the combination was delicious. The New England Clam Chowder on the other hand was quite watery and the pieces of clam swimming around very very small and few. I always use a local shop in NJ as my benchmark because they make the most amazing New England clam chowder (loaded with fresh clams the size of potatoe chunks) so this one was a bit generic. But it filled me right up and I was very happy with the whole foodie tour. In all I spent almost $70 bucks for this “lunch” but the experience will last a lifetime.

The most beautiful bit at Captain Scott’s was the dock area:

miata at captain scott's lobster dock 3

miata at captain scott's lobster dock

miata at captain scott's lobster dock 1

miata at captain scott's lobster dock 2

If someone were to organize a Miata meet with a “lobster roll” cruise through Connecticut I would be the first to sign up, it was such an Adventure! Someone even said I drive a Lobster Red Miata, I don’t know about that…

captain scott's lobster dock

 

PS. if there’s any doubt about the freshness of the seafood, I went snooping around in the “fish store” area of some of the places I visited, and found some happy live lobsters swimming around:

lobster landing fresh seafood

Lobster Landing above and Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock below.

captain scott's lobster dock fresh seafood

Mazda MX-5: 450+ mile Road Trip to New England

My marshaling rig has turned into quite a road trip machine lately, with several trips Upstate New York to Watkins Glen and my most recent trip to marshal at Thompson Speedway via the Connecticut coastline. Not only did I enjoy the foodie tour of New England I got great gas mileage doing it. That’s going to be the surprise takeaway from this experience. From the 450 mile trip I only stopped to get a splash of gas somewhere deep in Connecticut while on the hunt for a BP gas station (Public Service Announcement: there are no more BP stations in the state of Connecticut! – sure as hell wish I would have known that before wasting a good half an hour of my time on this search… this must be one of those deals like we had in NJ where all Mobil stations were converted to Lukoil, or the current HESS stations being converted to 76, damn you high level corporate branding deals)

The reason I was searching for a BP gas station is because I had accumulated quite a collection of used BP cards with a $3+/- balance from using them here in New Jersey. We don’t pump our own gas in NJ, so every time I fill up using a BP card there’s a chance that there will be a leftover amount on the card. And it’s a bit embarrassing asking the attendant to use three or four different cards in order to use them up and fill the tank. Long story short, I found a BP station on the way to Thompson from Jessie’s house early Friday morning, happy to see the lights on when the rest of Worcester, MA was still waking up. But as I pulled in it was obvious that they were still closed. And so I postponed getting fuel until after the day at the track. Trying to find a BP in Connecticut was like a treasure hunt. The first one right off of i395 exit turned out to be re-branded to a Gulf station. I should have given up at that point, but NOPE! I continued to search for another one closer to Norwich, CT… that took me about 15 miles off the interstate and again, while the gas station looked like it once was a BP station, now it clearly wasn’t… as all the BP branding was pulled off. Since the low fuel light was already on by the time I got there, I pulled into the nearby Mobil station and started crunching numbers to see how much I’d need to get home. My math said 4 gallons, I put 3 instead and to my amazement I actually made it. Although the low fuel light came on somewhere in Westchester while passing White Plains before the Tappan Zee Bridge. I went into fuel save mode (real world Formula One reference for you there) and got to my regular BP station nearest to my house about 30 miles away. It was pretty late in the evening, so I decided to break the law and get the attendant in trouble by pumping my own gas. It was like a ritual using three different cards, lol

road trip miata BP gas station great gas mileage

Why BP and not some Joe Schmoe gas station? Because I bought a bunch of BP gift cards on eBay with a 10% discount that are good to be used for CASH price instead of the higher Credit Card price at the pump. Why Mobil and not Joe Schmoe in Connecticut, because I trust brand name stations more than I do the off-brand names.

bp fill up mazda miata mx-5

And the fuel hunt story was about the most interesting thing that happened on the whole 450 mile drive. The car performed flawlessly. I managed to avoid most of the traffic spots by actually following Waze. I had an amazing time doing the lobster roll / New England foodie tour. Had a blast chasing Jessie around in her 2009 Miata at Thompson, CT and I very much look forward to another long road trip this summer. What a surprisingly good car for road trips this MX-5 is.

Oh btw… the best roads going up to New England are smaller highways like Merritt Parkway, perfectly smooth surface all the way. The Interstates I took, including i95, i395, and i91 turned out to be really shitty with all the massive pot holes and other road imperfections caused by trucks and other heavy vehicles. I found myself diving into quite a few craters and other unavoidable pot holes that made me cringe. I hate that shit! At this pace I think I’ll be doing suspension work on the car soon. Note to self: take alternate routes even if they are slightly more out of the way to avoid damage.

Fuel mileage:

13.06 gallons used, 450 miles traveled = 34.5 MPG mostly highway with the few detours for the lobster rolls and around the circuit. Total spent on fuel $38.78 with average price per gallon under $3 thanks to the fill ups in NJ. The cheapest gas $2.87 in NJ and priciest $3.25 for 93 octane premium fuel in Connecticut.

Mazda MX-5: Hello Stevie!

I think the prospect of meeting Stevie was the deciding factor in going to volunteer at Thompson Speedway for the New England Region SCCA thing… sure meeting Jessie was cool, going to another new track was nice, eating lobster along the way was delicious, but seeing another MX-5 Miata up close to compare with mine was really neat. I don’t think I could explain it, so I’m not going to. Instead here is just a small fraction of the bazillion pictures I took of the cars:

hello stevie mx-5 miata

I think George the Basset Hound was thoroughly confused seeing another Miata in his driveway.

hello stevie 17 mx-5 miata

First comparison: Oh look! the 2009 looks exactly the same as my 2007. Except that it doesn’t. The front bumper was changed from a happy oval mouth to a more pronounced one. The headlights were different, bigger slightly. I know the engine internals were improved. I was a little surprised to see the base model not have fog lights, I thought those came standard pretty much on all NC Miatas but not so. The steering wheel looked a little bare without all the controls there. Even the roll hoops didn’t come chromed, and instead were painted gray, but not the same color as the car, or the dash piece, just gray like the plastic. That was a little weird.

hello stevie 5 mx-5 miata

Next thing you know we’re at Thompson Speedway, going around the oval for a little photo shoot on the embankment:

hello stevie 6 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 7 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 8 mx-5 miata

thompson speedway ner scca miata

hello stevie 9 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 10 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 11 mx-5 miata

And so that was that… now any normal person would be happy they got their pix and be done with it. But with me, nope… I took more:

hello stevie 3 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 4 mx-5 miata

In the paddock area by the garages.

hello stevie 2 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 1 mx-5 miata

At our station, Turn 3.

hello stevie 12 mx-5 miata

hello stevie 13 mx-5 miata

At the end of day party…

hello stevie 14 mx-5 miata

It was just a cool thing to see, and do some more comparisons. Like the rear bumper that is quite different on the NC2 vs. NC1:

hello stevie 15 mx-5 miata

Not only did they delete the reflector to integrate it into the tail lights, they also created a slightly more aerodynamic look to it making the car look wider and lower in the tail pipe area. The trunk lid was also different from a soft top to the hard top models:

hello stevie 16 mx-5 miata

…alright

THE END

Thank You Jessie for the Great Time at Thompson Speedway!

Don’t even know where to begin to describe the amazing time I had volunteering at Thompson Speedway, except by thanking Jessie for making this whole trip possible. Thank you Jessie!

It was a sensory overload in every sense. The trip was so much more than just cars on race track, it was a road trip, a foodie tour, a chance to hang out with awesome people and of course race cars on track. So besides thanking Jessie from SponsorAFlagger.com for her contribution to my personal happiness I’ll also use this post as a preview of follow up posts about all the other aspects of the trip.

WARNING! There will be a ton of Miata pictures in all the posts.

WARNING! There will be a ton of foodie pictures in some posts.

So I’ll start at the beginning. The three hour trip to Jessie’s place in Massachusetts turned into a full day of driving, stopping multiple times along the Connecticut coast to sample their delicious and very fresh lobster rolls:

lobster roll tour of connecticut lobster landing

I’ve never met anyone that has ever said: “Oh… I’m so full on lobster!” never happens… so I arrived Massachusetts nice and hungry in time for dinner with Jessie and Jason and that was a hell of an experience trying a nice Vietnamese restaurant in Worcester with Durian shakes on the menu.

thompson speedway ner scca 2

My first impressions of Thompson Speedway Motorsport Park were very good. It reminded me a lot of tracks in New Zealand with their relatively flat setting, lots of turns in the course to fit into a small area, to a point that most of the track is visible from any marshal stand. Of course Thompson has a speedway that’s partially used in the road course which is not like any Kiwi track, but still. I’ll talk more about my impressions of Thompson in greater detail, and be sure to mention their delicious ice cream.

thompson speedway ner scca miata

Jessie now owns a Miata! Well, technically it’s Jason’s Miata but it didn’t stop Jessie from taking it to the track so we could do a few shots of our cars on the Speedway… and by a few shots I mean like bazillion of them. It was so cool comparing the NC1 and NC2 miatas, and all the differences between the GT and a Sport model, a PRHT and a soft-top… believe it or not there were plenty of differences. I’ll talk more about it in it’s own post.

And finally I’ll conclude the series with a chat about another 450 mile road trip in my marshaling rig. Once again got great gas mileage, had a very comfortable ride… and took a ton of pics along the way. Stay tuned for the posts to be published in the coming days.

road trip miata BP gas station great gas mileage

Foodie Tour of New England, Lobster Rolls in Connecticut

It is summer time. There’s a new race track I would like to volunteer my services at. The road trip takes me along some beautiful coastline in Connecticut. Connecticut is famous for fresh seafood and specifically their Lobster Rolls (with butter (hot) or mayo (cold)). I love food. I love fresh seafood. I’m not in any particular rush to get to the track as I’m leaving the day before the event and am curious to find out for myself which place sells the best lobster roll. I am about to drop more money on lunch than I did on my flight to Atlanta for Petit Le Mans, and yet somehow I’m excited. It’s after midnight and the trip will take place in just a few hours after I get some sleep, but I think some last minute planning is in order to plot a few restaurants with the “best lobster roll” search results on Google. And if I don’t write it down I’ll never remember it, so here it goes…

My plan is to visit two or three lobster shacks along the CT shoreline to sample some of their famous fresh seafood. Connecticut is not terribly far from where I live, about an hour’s drive to Stamford with no traffic, and maybe two to three hours  further to the Rhode Island border. My plan is to stop at the first place around 11am, have brunch. Then take the scenic route to the next stop about half way down and the last stop closer to the highway that will take me north to Massachusetts by New London. That’s the plan anyway, and everything is subject to change pending local conditions, weather and a bunch of other variables.

The most valuable search results on the topic came from reading a few blogs including Foodie Fatale, which has the top 5 lobster roll places in CT listed in a 2010 post that was re-published in 2013 and is apparently still relevant judging by all the replies there:  http://foodiefatale.com/lobster-lust-top-5-lobster-rolls-on-the-connecticut-shoreline-revisited/ The other blog on the same subject is Lobster Gal, who is on a quest to sample every lobster roll in New England, and beyond according to the blog title:  http://lobstergal.com/to-visit-list/connecticut/ that’s my kind of gal! And finally CTbites blog has the best warm lobster rolls in Fairfield County listed, which I’ll use again not so much for it’s material in the post but for all the replies people left in the comments section: http://www.ctbites.com/home/2013/6/2/the-best-warm-lobster-rolls-on-the-connecticut-coast.html 

So out of all the recommendations I shall pick the following stops based on their location from West to East along the i95 corridor from New York to Rhode Island:

First Stop:

High Tide Gourmet Food Truck (Foxon Road (Route 80) at the East Haven and North Branford Townline, CT)  http://hightidegourmet.com/

or

Seven Seas (16 New Haven Ave, Milford, CT 06460)  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Seven-Seas-Restaurant-Pub/321580913828

Middle Stop:

Lobster Shack (7 Indian Neck Ave, Branford, CT 06405) http://lobstershackct.com/

or

Lobster Landing (152 Commerce St, Clinton, CT 06413)  https://www.facebook.com/LobsterLandingLLC

Final Stop:

Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock (80 Hamilton St, New London, CT 06320) http://www.captscotts.com/

My goal is to try at least one hot lobster roll and one cold lobster roll. Seafood is pretty light so I don’t anticipate to get too full on the first stop, although judging on how most places add fries and coleslaw to either prop up a meal or justify the $18 price tag, I’m not sure… I don’t like wasting food. At some point I also want to get some New England Clam Chowder. But I may save that for dinner up in Massachusetts as most places tend to run out of lobster meat early on in the day based on the reviews I’ve been reading.

Very excited about this trip and will report back soon, hopefully with some pictures to go with the story… for now enjoy this Red Lobster branded race car… because Race Car!