Poking around the Poconos

Wednesday night, the temperature in my apartment approximately eleventy billion fahrenheit, with 200% humidity, I decided that I would rather spend the next couple of days working and sleeping in air-conditioning, so I packed up my CR-Z (thank you Honda Canada) a couple of days early and hit the road at 4:30am headed towards Long Pond, PA.

I had forgotten how beautiful the drive through upstate New York is. I really miss my annual sojourn to Watkins Glen, mostly due to the gorgeous landscapes. I let Google choose my route, and quite enjoyed my drive through the mountains, as the sun was coming up. It took all my reserve not to side trip over the Glen. I’m actually still debating head to Seneca Lodge for dinner… maybe on the way home ;-)

The Poconos have that same “resort town” feel, just more expansive. This morning driving from our hotel to the diner for breakfast, it felt like we were in the middle of nowhere driving down a back country road, but every so often there would be a break in the trees (gorgeous tall pines) and a large sign for a resort would appear. (again, tempted to drive down the road and check them out!) By the way if you’re headed this way, I highly recommend the Chat n’ Chew diner!  Good food, good coffee, good prices, good service! and only about 10mins from the track!
I don’t know what I was expecting. Perhaps, due to my age (fossilized according to Joe B at TSOnline LOL!) I had visions of tacky motels, and lots of pink and hearts and… well… this:

pocono_palace_17uq841-17uq847

The great thing about getting to the track pre-weekend, especially a new track (well, new to me anyway), is that you have the opportunity to explore prior to crunch time. So that is what I’ve been doing. Scoping out vantage points, timing how long it takes to get from point A to point B, pre-planning, pre-writing, oh, and enjoying not breathing soup like air back home. Oh, and I’ve only been hear 24hrs and already have a nickname from one of the staff. LOL! too funny.

First thing that struck me is, this place is big! and It’s quite striking, especially when you come in off of Hwy 115 (the main, front entrance) The grandstands are quite majestic, bright white against the big blue sky, and lush green surrounding it. I’ll be heading through the tunnel to the main grandstands tomorrow to check out the fan village set up on the outside of the track. I’ve been to Chicagoland and Kentucky, and they looked downright dilapidated by comparison.

The infield is starting to fill in with campers in tents and motorhomes. Some folks I spoke with yesterday were a mix of those that had been here back in the day, those that come to NASCAR races mostly but were curious about IndyCar being back, and a couple of young kids experiencing the track for the first time. I know I have a few “tweeps” that are camping here this weekend, so I’m going to mosey out and about later this after noon to see if I can’t track them down.

Watching the cars on this track is extremely interesting. If I sound like a total ignoramus, I apologize, but I’m not a technical type when it comes describing these things, and this is my first time seeing cars on this track, other than watching the youtube video of the 1989 race last week. So… here goes, first impressions:

Turn 1 is insane, the angle from which they exit is even moreso depending on your vantage point. I’ve decided that the looking at their approach while standing near pit in is the most fun, cause they almost look like they are bouncing off of the wall, or being slingshot out of the corner. Hard to explain, but I’m enjoying it nonetheless.

Turn 2 looks very odd and slow to me, doesn’t matter where I view it from. So far I’ve not heard it mentioned by any driver, so I’m guessing it’s just a means of getting from 1 to 3.

Turn 3 again is interesting to watch. They almost slingshot, or at least look like the pick up speed out of 2 into 3. TK said that if they don’t get the approach into 3 right, it could cause issues. It is fast, and when they were running in clumps yesterday, that is where some drivers were able to set up a sweet front straight pass heading into 1. Charlie Kimbell pulled off a particularly smooth set up/pick off/pass near the end of the day on Thursday.

Turn 4 is … WHAT TURN 4?

I can’t wait to actually go up in the Grandstand and look back over the track to “see” the triangle.

Over all, you really see and hear those that have a good handle on their car and their line, and those who don’t. You can also really hear the differences in the engines. P

I got to chat with track prez/CEO Brandon Igdalsky (@bigdalsky on twitter) this morning. He is still as amped up about the weekend as he has been for the weeks/months leading up to it. He has done a great job promoting the race, and is walking around like a proud papa this weekend. I’m hoping for our sake and for his that there is a reasonable turnout for the race this weekend. I’m hoping that all of the “bring it back” and “we need more ovals” whiners get their asses off their couches this weekend, get in their cars, and come out to support the come back, rather than take a “wait and see” attitude then bitch about the empty grandstands.

Speaking of grandstands, those are some cushy looking seats!

Ok, going to wander out and watch the lights kids on track for the last hour of testing. Now that the sun isn’t quite as intense (no sense cooking oneself before the weekend!)

If you’re around, ping me on twitter! I’ll try to meet up with ya!

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