Track Travels: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

NASCAR races and trips are events like no other in sports - camping, tailgating, traffic jams, on-track action, and a whole lot of fun. After years of heading south to the second Pocono Raceway weekend each season, my family and I decided it was time to hit another northeast racetrack - New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH.

On Friday, in addition to Sprint Cup qualifying, fans witnessed the on-track NASCAR reappearance of IndyCar star and part-time Nationwide Series driver Danica Patrick. The day concluded with the K&N Series East race, won by Ryan Truex, younger brother of Sprint Cup driver Martin.

Saturday was highlighted by Nationwide Series qualifying and the race itself; Patrick had a disappointing day, qualifying 25th and finishing 30th after an early-race accident. The real highlight of the day - and perhaps the weekend - was the Whelen Modified Tour race. Sprint Cup star Ryan Newman rarely moonlights in other NASCAR divisions, but has been known to jump into a Mod from time to time. Newman took the pole and went on to win the race, fighting off veteran Ted Christopher in the late laps. It was great to see my area, Western New York, well represented in the Modified race with three drivers - Erick Rudolph, Chuck Hossfeld, and Danny Knoll Jr.

Sunday's Sprint Cup race featured a pre-race concert by veteran rockers Foghat, and exhibition laps by IndyCar champ and former NASCAR driver Dario Franchitti; the IZOD IndyCar Series will return to NHMS in 2011.

NHMS is a beautiful facility, with plenty of the all-important restrooms and concession stands. The midway and souvenir areas were smaller than what I was accustomed to at Pocono, but the track itself is also much smaller. The track seems to cater to campers - there are more camping lots than regular parking lots, and the fans camping can sit on the hill in the backstretch and watch the race. Parking is extensive, but there are a number of tram stops throughout, which makes things easier. On Sunday, I took a shuttle bus from Concord, NH (through the Chamber of Commerce) which got through traffic much faster (there were ten buses in this group). I highly recommend the Sunday shuttle. If there is one downside to NHMS, it's the travel time - the drive from Buffalo to Manchester, where we stayed, and back was just under eight hours each way. NHMS would be my perfect NASCAR track if only it was a little closer.

Photos: #1 - The backstretch at NHMS - Paula Thompson

#2 - Modified racing action at NHMS - Paula Thompson

#3 - Indycar champ Dario Franchitti hits the track on Sunday at NHMS - Paula Thompson
Track Travels: New Hampshire Motor Speedway Track Travels: New Hampshire Motor Speedway Reviewed by Paula on Tuesday, July 06, 2010 Rating: 5