Monday, October 29, 2007

Days 27-30:

Back in Maryland. Hate it. No more to say. We are leaving tonight (before midnight) for Savannah. We will beat the DC traffic this way. We can rest in Savannah.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Days 22-26:

Emerald Isle, NC is one of several small beach communities on a barrier island named Bogue Banks. It is situated in such a manner that the sun rises and sets over the ocean. This makes for great photo opportunities two times a day.

Ben and I enjoy researching our family's heritage and together we often make great discoveries. This visit was no different. We found several lines in Georgia previously unknown. All these are pieces of a bigger puzzle that is slowly coming together.

Joyce and I relaxed the entire time and were sad to have to leave. Thanks, Ben, for such an enjoyable visit. Even though it rained several days, the entire time (5 days) was like a month in a spa. Close to total relaxation.

We are leaving tomorrow for a couple of days in Maryland. This short trip will be to replenish our medications, cut some grass, and pay the monthly bills. We decided to extend our stay in Savannah and then move on to King’s Bay for a week or so. We’ll leave our trailer there and head back to Maryland on Nov 17th (plans always subject to change).


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Day 15-22:

Ft. Stewart Campground is located in the center of the fort near a small lake. The entirety of Ft. Stewart is only 20-30 feet above sea level and has many low-lying areas that are covered by water (swamps). This is not unlike the surrounding areas of Savannah. This is the reason they call this area the “Low Country”.

Our first day here was warm and humid. other words, normal temperatures. Just that they have stayed around a bit longer than normal. The fort engineers were “bush hogging” some of the land near the campsite and this caused a lot of insects to be disturbed. Especially…the mosquito. We are used to taking the normal precautions for the pest, but this time it was awful. The second you went outside, you were covered with swarms of them. Needless to say, we and the other campers spent most of our time in our rigs. No problem. A/C made it comfortable and we needed to kick back anyway. This gave us the excuse to do just that.

We ventured out a few times to see some sights and even took a trip to King’s Bay Naval Submarine Base. King's Bay is in St.Mary’s, GA which is about 40 miles north of Jacksonville, FL. While there, we found a place to store out 5th wheel instead of towing it back to Maryland and winterizing it. If we had done that, we would not be able to use it until the spring. Also, the cost of the storage was cut by two-thirds. Win-win situation all the way.

We are leaving today for Emerald Isle, NC to visit our cousin Ben at his place on the beach. Even more kick back time. Think we’ll extend our stay here.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Days 11-15:

We arrived at Lowe’s Motor Speedway around 1 PM and were guided to our camping spot right away. The campers were in a field that encircled the speedway. It was estimated that about 30,000 campers would be there for the week leading up to the race on Saturday night (13th). All the camping areas are “dry” meaning there are not any hookups. Generators were allowed, but they must be shut off between 11 PM and 7 AM.

We were very impressed with the organization of the Speedway with regards to the camping. Each area had great security and medical oversight. Even though we were “dry”, the Speedway had contractors coming around to fill up fresh water tanks and to empty the waste tanks. All for a cost, of course, however, it was not excessive. Everyone had their divers flags flying and most were doing the “tailgating” thing. Grills were going all the time and beer was flowing at high volumes. One continuous party.

Even though the entire time was a party/circus atmosphere, almost everybody conducted themselves in the most appropriate manner. We did not see a single display of drunkenness or arrogance. Everyone was greatly considerate of his or her neighbors. It was a tribute to the sport as well as the fans attending.

The vendors at this event were out in full force. Hundreds of stalls, tents, and trailers hawked their NASCAR items to the tens of thousands of fans each day from 10AM to 8 PM. No wonder this is the biggest money sport in the country. If one could not find a particular NASCAR item here, it did not exist.

Joyce’s favorite driver, Mark Martin, semi-retired last year so she wanted to find a driver to root for. After careful consideration, she chose Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Since visiting his race shop earlier in our trip, she was impressed with his efforts in this sport. Also, she believes he will have a better opportunity to show his racing skills with Rick Hendricks Racing in his new #88 car. He will now be a teammate of my favorite driver, Jeff Gordon (#24).

The race Saturday evening was filled with lots of excitement to include the pre-race pomp and circumstance. Jeff Gordon in the #24 car won the race even though he ran out of gas in the last lap. The whole experience was awesome and we look forward to doing it again at another racetrack. Our goal is to visit all of the tracks for a least one race. So far we have been to Dover Speedway in Dover, Delaware and now Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Next posting will be from Savannah where we are headed for now.


Joyce's new NASCAR driver, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He will be driving (in the 2008 season) the Rick Hendricks Racing #88, the National Guard/Mountain Dew car.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Day 3-10 (the Petite Le Mans):

Finally…. a day to rest and relax a bit. This past week has been a blur. Very long days and very short nights. We just about exhausted ourselves. We departed North Carolina early on the 2nd and arrived at the Ft. Yargo State Park campground just before noon. Trip went well without incident. Got set up and explored the park a bit. We knew we must be at the Road Atlanta track early so we hit the hay by 9 PM.

Road Atlanta is situated on GA Rt. 53 between Braselton and Gainesville. We were not expecting the geography of the track to be what it was. Most tracks are flat and, occasionally, some have small hills in the course. Road Atlanta is all hills with very few flat sections. This made it difficult for us to walk around for we were constantly going up and down these hills. After doing that several times we decided to stay put and watch the racing from the bed of our truck. That worked very well. Our own box seat.

Wednesday thru Friday was testing, practicing, and qualifying. Also, there were several races of different classes on Friday afternoon. The Petite Le Mans, itself, is a 10 hour/1,000 mile race, which ever comes first. It begins at 11:15 AM on Saturday and finishes at 9:15 PM that evening. The cars are in four classes: LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype Class 1), LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype Class 2), GT1 (Grand Touring Class 1), and GT2 (Grand Touring Class 2). Our Corvettes run in the GT1 class. For more information on these classes and the American Le Mans Series, go to

Our main interest was to watch the Corvettes racing in the GT1 class. We have been following this racing team since Chevrolet re-started its racing efforts with the Corvette about 8 years ago. Since then, they have dominated their class in almost every race.

Of particular interest was the pit or paddock area. This is where the teams set up their shops. It is a hustle-bustle area and there is so much to see. On Friday afternoon, the teams all set up tables and all the drivers were present for an autograph session. I did not find a picture or anything that I wanted to frame with the drivers autographs so I spent all afternoon Thursday taking pictures of the Corvettes as the made their practice runs. I was using my Canon Powershot 80 (4 mega-pixel) and was skeptical of the quality of the pictures taken at high speed. I used the high-speed continuous frame setting and I was very pleasantly surprised at the outcome. We took the final selections to Wal-Mart that evening and printed two 8x10 pictures of each of the Corvettes. There are two that race with the numbers 3 and 4, respectively. I matted the pictures and each of the drivers signed them on Friday. What a treasure.

On race day we arrived at the track very early so we could get the same parking spot that we were using for the three previous days. That meant getting up at 2:30 AM and getting to the track by 4 AM. We were successful in getting our spot. Perfect view of the straightaway leading into the chicane (turns 10a and 10b) and its exit under the Suzuki bridge to the finish line.

The race started on time and within just a few laps the Number 3 Corvette, driven by Jon Mangussen (Denmark) wrecked. At that point in time, he was in the lead of the GT1 Class. The damage was too severe to get back into the race. Mangussen was not hurt, but was taken to the hospital for observation. He left the track and hit a tire barrier at over 150 MPH. That left the Number 4 Corvette to take over the lead. And that is where it stayed to the finish.

We departed the track just as the race finished. This allowed us to beat the terrible back-ups that followed after the race. All in all, the 4 days at the track were very enjoyable. It was a new experience for us.

We left Ft. Yargo yesterday (8th) morning and made the 2 hour trip to Ft. Gordon Recreation Facility with ease. We are using this time for some house cleaning, re-supply, and down time. Tomorrow morning we head back to Concord, NC and Lowe’s Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Bank of America 500 on Saturday night. Four days of tailgating with the race fans. This will be very interesting and physically draining. I will update as soon as I can since there will be no Internet access there.

Post Script: I want to congratulate my adopted son and close friend Hector De Valle on successfully gaining his professorship at the university he is teaching at in Puerto Rico. WAY TO GO, Hector!!!!!!!!!


Monday, October 1, 2007

Day 2:

It was very comfortable when we went to bed last night…around 74 degrees (F). And the racecars were still practicing at the track. What a lovely way to drift off. Did not check the weather, but I knew was not going to rain. HA!! But COLD!!!! We got up after hearing the coffee maker go off and we were freezing. Fifty-two degrees in the trailer. Fifty degrees outside. Closed all the windows…turned on the heat. Ahhh! Warmth.

We were up and out by a little past 8 AM and were on the trail of the NASCAR race shops. The first one we visited was the Hendricks Motorsports facility about two miles from our campground. What an operation. We spent the better part of two hours there (#24 is my fav). From there we came back to Lowe’s Speedway and took their tour of the whole facility. Tickets cost $5 and it was worth 4 times that. It even included a 90 MPH drive around the track. Such a deal!!!!

After a short snack for lunch at the trailer we headed for Mooresville, NC to visit several of the shops there. These included JR Motorsports (Dale Earnhardt, JR’s shop), Pit School (Jeff Hammond’s Pit Crew School), Gates Racing, Rousch-Fenway Racing, and DEI (the late Dale Earnhardt’s Shop). All-in-all the Hendricks, Dale Jr, and DEI was the best places to visit, although all the others had many sights to offer.

We arrived back home and cooked some burgers, drank a few cold beverages, tidied up the trailer and prepared for any early departure tomorrow morning. We head for Georgia where we will attend the Petite Le Mans at Road Atlanta near Gainesville, GA. Going to be staying at Ft. Yargo State Park for 6 nights and hopefully kick back a bit while going to the races each day (a 5 day event). This will be exciting. Corvette racing at its best.