It’s Sunday afternoon and we pulled our RV into lot S9 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The hum of generators and the murmur of friends chatting fills the air – not to mention the whine of the tuners (I beg the Vettes’ pardon!) taking their rides around the track. It’s a day full of anticipation, especially when puffy clouds float overhead. The possibilities of the upcoming race weekend tease at you.
There will be beer and BBQ, campfires and scanners. T-shirts. Iiiiiice (I don’t know how else to repeat the unique call of the ICE vendor) and lots of good times. But days like drop-off Sunday also offer up a unique opportunity to the average race fan; the chance to poke your nose into all the nooks and crannies of the track without competing with 90,000 other fans.
As campers we take note of certain basic services – like trash. Apparently 40 of the metal drums used as trash cans in the vast campgrounds were burned during Bike Week and have not been replaced. Instead there will be piles of trash bags lining the walkways throughout the campgrounds, so all the day ticket holders get to walk through the trash and think pleasant things about the messy campers. Nice. We were told by the parking staff this is a cost-saving measure. Maybe we could forego using the dump station at the end of the weekend, too. (Yes, I’m calling the trash deal a cheap maneuver!)
On the prettier side, it’s fairly obvious that Mr. Gappens and SMI are still focusing on polishing the appearance of the overall facility. Outside turn 2 a new retaining wall has been built and the entire area leveled and paved. This will expand display and vendor areas. The trash tubes from the mezzanine in the Concord Grandstand have been hidden under the stands, eliminating an ugly dumpster in the middle of the lines of fans waiting to have their bags inspected. The gravel/dirt footpath spectators created over years up to the road-course grandstands has been paved and connected to the sidewalk.
For those with infield access and don’t have a golf cart, a handy sidewalk has been added to the tunnel. No more getting run over by haulers! This makes me very happy. I’m not sure if it’s permanent, but a very small grandstand is now located infield for the backstretch. I can see this being used as an additional spotter area.
It appears there’s a new sponsor on the trams and the tram stops. Not much in the way of a physical improvement, but the trams do look spiffy. And there’s a new entrance to the main office! Sort of all glassed in and modern. Not too bad.
These all seem like little things, but year after year, addition after addition, the improvements do positively affect the first impressions fans, teams and sponsors hold of this facility.
To further add to the ticket value, NHMS is now offering perks to their returning fanbase in the form of discounted camping, pre-race pit passes, access to non-NASCAR events and other special Loud’n Proud promotions when you renew early. If you visit the track every year as I do, call the NHMS Guest Services at (603) 783-4931 to renew your tickets and ask for the program!
One more thing before I take off for the track: I caught the crew building the Global RallyCross ramps while we were wandering around. Were you aware the $500,000 cars will be racing on plywood, pressure treated 4x4s and 2x4s? My jaw was on the ground. The ramps for the elevated hairpin are constructed with nothing more than the above. I’m hoping an asphalt application will be added, but the actual layout of the course was still being decided as I asked questions.
The office kept calling up the boys with the hammers and telling them to change stuff. The ramps for the tabletop jump are reassuringly metal plates. The entire race will be held on the tight frontstretch and is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. I hope the race runs on time as sunset is scheduled for 8:24 p.m. local time – and we don’t have lights! Also, the crew gets to put all the pieces of the track in place after the Nationwide race finishes at about 5:30 p.m. I am completely agog at the behind the scenes maneuvering needed to pull off this latest addition to a New Hampshire race weekend.
Of course, Saturday also brings the Whelen Modified Series, green flag to fall at 1:00 p.m. If you’re heading up there, don’t miss this always exciting race.
That’s all for this week. I will see you sittin’ in the stands at New Hampshire Motor Speedway!
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