Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 89- August 9

Off to the Races

By Al

Today was our day to head off to the New Jersey Motor Speedway.  It was an interesting drive across southern New Jersey.  Open land and farm fields.  This is the area that I assume gives New Jersey the nickname of Garden State.  It certainly is not Newark or Jersey City.

Anyway, I was scheduled to start at noon.  We got there about 11:40.  At noon, the classroom part of the experience started.  Mainly, the instructor told us about the track and generally how to drive.  He also gave us the rules on passing.  There were to be multiple cars on the track at a time.  Next, I was able to ride along with an experienced driver.  It was a chance to see the track and to experience a drive faster than I was likely to do. 

When people are driving around the track, there are corner workers.  These people signal if there is a problem around a corner.   The track is a road track with right and left turns and hills.  So, sometimes you have a blind turn.  When I finished my ride along, we found that the corner workers had gone on break until 2.  This gave us over an hour to wait.  We decided to drive into Millville for lunch.  We found a pretty good Chinese restaurant.

We got back to the track about about 2:30.  Then we had to wait for about one more hour before they got me onto the track.  You had to have a driver suit to drive a car and most of the suits were very large.  So, I had to wait until somebody wearing a smaller suit had finished driving.  There was a lineup of people because even though the workers went on break they did not stop scheduling people. 

Finally, I got my chance to drive.  It was really fun.  But, just as I was starting to get comfortable with the track, my time was up.  Basically, I got to drive for 10 to 15 minutes.  Not much for all the time it took to get to that point.  But, it was fun to drive a real race car.

Here is a video.  Sally will post pictures. 

On the way back from the track we stopped at the Hobby Lobby.  Sally can tell you more about that.  While she was there, I called Naomi.  She and her husband Jessie were to arrive in New York to stay with us that day.  I wanted to check and make sure they made it and were able to pick up the key were we left it.  They were in our apartment, so all was well.

We headed back to Philadelphia.  Pennsylvania really needs to do a better job at road signage.  I don't think I am deficient in map reading, but Philadelphia and Pennsylvania befuddled me.  We drove through downtown Philly to see where we could park the next day when we wanted to go to Independence National Historic Park.  Or, more commonly called Independence Hall and surroundings.  We figured that out and then ended up on a one way street with only one way to go.  It was over a bridge to New Jersey.  No turn around, and no escape route.  So, over to New Jersey we went.  To add injury to insult, it was free to go to New Jersey, but it cost $5 to get back to Philadelphia.  All bridges from New Jersey to Philly cost $5.  So, we paid $5 to drive about 5 miles out of our way.  Once we got back to Philly, we decided to drive through North Philly to get to our hotel which was in the Northwest part of Philadelphia.  It was miles and miles of vacant buildings, dirty streets, and poverty.  I thought it far eclipsed anything in New York.  After many miles, we got close to the area of our hotel.  We saw a Mexican restaurant that looked good and stopped for supper.  It was good, not spectacular, but good.  By the time dinner was over, we were ready to go back to the hotel, watch a little Olympics and go to bed; so we did.

By Sally

As you can tell, Al is quite unhappy with the Pennsylvania streets and roads. 
My major activity today was to photograph Al with the race car.
My reward was a trip to Hobby Lobby.  We don't have HL stores in MN.  I had never been to one, but have seen people post comments about the stores on the web.  HL is a cross between Michaels and JoAnn Fabrics.  They had a good selection of Kona cotton- so I added to my stash for modern quilts.  And since I am now knitting, I also bought some yarn.

Who is this?
It's Al Zdrazil- ready to race.

The staff spends lots of time making sure the racers are safe and settled into their cars.

  The first thing Al said when he got out of his car--- "I want to do this again."  So off to Brainerd we will go next summer.


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