Friday, August 31, 2012

NY Yankees at Cleveland Indians – August 26th

The hectic summer continued (I’m calling it the prelude to my epic 40th birthday year!) with my annual bus trip to Cleveland for the Yankees game. I have to say I was a little disappointed – not in the Yanks, they won – but in the bus trip, which might be the first time I’ve ever been disappointed.

John Glenn

First off, it was an “all-you-can-eat” seat game, which I thought (from a past bus trip) would be in the Bud Party Zone on first base line on the first level…WRONG GONG! Try the 500-level, behind home plate…not very good for player pics :( It did, however, provide a great view of the pre-game ceremony with former astronaut John Glenn, so I did get to see an American legend – and it provided a nice overall view of the stadium (which I tried to upload here but to no avail :( )…that was about all (I made sure I pigged out on baseball food – I have to splurge once in a while!).

Yep, that's the view from behind home plate :(
Both photos: Paula Thompson Freelance

Then, following the game, all ready to go home…the radiator on our bus blew :( There was nothing that could’ve been done to prevent it, but when they determined it was going to be a while until the mechanic from the area got there, I would’ve started looking for other alternatives to get us home…as it was, we didn’t leave Cleveland until the time we were supposed to be returning home – 8:30 p.m. :( That made for a long night (and a longer Monday!).
I’ll still go on bus trips in the future, but I’ll definitely pre-plan for problems (I was supposed to get some stuff published Sunday night – OOOPS!!).

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Amherst Highway Department car show – August 25th

Dad had wanted to take the ponies (Mustangs) to a few more car shows this year, but the summer escaped us and the only one we took them to was the Amherst Highway Department car show on Saturday, August 25th. Last year, Sally (blue) won a people’s choice award, so this year (we hoped) it was Sam’s (black) turn – and it was :)

Mustang Sally

Mustang Sam
both photos: Paula Thompson Freelance
The Highway show is only in its second year, and the number of cars grew from last year, so that’s a good sign that it will continue.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Druar-Jankowiak Memorial 110 at DTRP – August 18th

My third Modified race of the season – not officially an ROC event, but with the same cast of characters – was this past Saturday at Lancaster…er, Dunn Tire Raceway Park (old habits die hard!). Much better than the first one at DTRP in June – the right guy won this time (that would be Matt Hirschman!). Here are a few pics (I’m still experimenting with night racing photography!).

Matt Hirschman

Lined up for driver intros

Third and fourth turns (I need a longer lens!)
 All photos Paula Thompson Freelance

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What the heck is a firematic tournament?

For those not in the know, the sport of firematic drill team racing has its roots in New York State, where fire companies compete against other companies across the state to see who's fastest in a number of skill areas. (It looks like drag racing, but there are a lot of other skills in play.) Western New York (that’s where I am) is one of the four regions in New York competing in firematic tournaments.
3-Man Ladder - Paula Thompson Freelance

There are two categories of drill team racing: old-fashioned, where competitions take place on foot; and motorized, using one of two classes of truck ("B" trucks look like modified older-model pickups and "C" trucks resemble dragsters). Competitions take place on training strips with an arch at the far end used for ladder and bucket events.
"C" Ladder - Paula Thompson Freelance
The main events are broken into hose competitions, which are run on foot and with the "B" and "C" trucks; ladder competitions, also run on foot and with the "B" and "C" trucks; and the final event of the competition, the Bucket Brigade. (I remember, as a kid, we used to be allowed to stand under the arch during buckets – especially fun on a hot summer day!)
Portions of this previously posted on

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sheryl Crow at Artpark – August 14th

The summer of concerts continues…back to Artpark, this time with Sheryl Crow on stage. I got worried since, shortly after I got the ticket, it was announced that she had a brain tumor  :(  There were no ill effects of any problem, however, Tuesday night – she was awesome! I still can’t believe we get all these amazing shows in the Buffalo/Niagara area every summer :)

Both photos: Paula Thompson Freelance

Thursday, August 16, 2012

NY Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays – August 11th

Alex Rodriguez

I’m not a huge baseball fan, but I do love my Yankees – another one of my father’s brainwashing effects on my youth. A few years ago, I started taking bus trips to baseball games through a couple of local tour groups – I wanted to see my Yankees live! I’ve been to Toronto, Cleveland and Yankee Stadium for Yankees’ games, as well as Pittsburgh for a Pirates/(UGH)Red Sox game (which happened to set the stadium’s attendance record, so I was at least part of history!).
Last Saturday, I made my annual trek to Toronto’s Rogers Centre to see Derek, Nick and the boys, and was quite impressed with Alex Rodriguez, who is rehabbing with the team, who signed autographs for 15 minutes.
Here are a few pics of this year’s Toronto game.

Derek Jeter

Mark Teixeira
All photos: Paula Thompson Freelance

Friday, August 10, 2012

Pocono – Day Two (August 4th)

Saturday was another early start, getting to the track a little after 8 a.m. No pits today – once we checked out Fan Fair it was almost time for Truck Series qualifying, followed almost immediately by Cup Series qualifying. We had general admission tickets, so we tried something new – sitting in the very front section of bleachers along the frontstretch. We sat on the top row, which was nice for two reasons: 1) it was about 10 degrees cooler down there then it was in the upper levels, and 2) if I wanted to stand on the bleachers for pictures, I had a (rather sturdy) railing behind me.
After qualifying and a quick break, it was time for the Truck Series Pocono Mountains 125 race. As I’ve said numerous times already, I love the Truck Series, and was really excited when it was added to the Pocono weekend that I attend every year. This year’s race did not disappoint on the action scale, with Joey Coulter taking home his first win for RCR after Nelson Piquet Jr. led much of the first part of the race. I also discovered another thing I like about the lower bleachers – these were the best seats I’ve been in during the last three years for getting victory burnout pictures!

Coulter celebrates with his crew -
Copyright Paula Thompson Freelance

Dad and I watched about half of the ARCA race before he decided to head home – Amherst, NY is a five-ish hour drive from Pocono, and Dad wanted to get home and into a comfortable bed!
I’m ready to go back next year, and possibly twice – there are a lot of rumors circulating that the IndyCar Series could be returning to Pocono next year…I need to see an IndyCar race!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pocono – Day One (August 3rd)

Race weekend Friday at Pocono is one of my favorite days of the year: that’s when Dad and I spend half the day in the pits, Dad talks tires with crew guys, I pick on him about it and I take lots of pictures (and sometimes Dad picks on me about that!).
The pits at Pocono are somewhat akin to a zoo…There’s a big black wrought iron fence between us and the animals…er, race teams, and once in a while you get to see an animal…er, driver…up close – some will come up to the fence to sign autographs.

The Fence...Copyright Paula Thompson Freelance
Since the Truck Series was added to the August schedule, things are much different out on pit road – and even more fun for fans! Many of the Truck Series drivers were very gracious about signing autographs, including the “big guns” – Ron Hornaday Jr., Todd Bodine and Timothy Peters among them. As I said in a previous post, it always helps to have your own Sharpie in case you catch them on the run.
After Truck practice and the first Cup practice, Dad and I headed back to the grandstands to find Mom, and dropped some cash at the souvenir haulers. I also checked out the Chevy display in Fan Fair (where the vendors and souvenirs are), since there were some Truck drivers on the schedule (check out some of the pics in this previous post).
Around 4:30, after about eight hours at the track, we headed back to Wilkes-Barre and dinner at Friday’s (it’s attached to the hotel – and I had a coupon!) and to relax before Saturday’s action at Pocono.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Four things I love about Pocono Raceway

Tim George Jr.
Copyright Paula Thompson
Just got back from my annual expedition to Pocono Raceway for Sprint Cup Series, Camping World Truck Series and ARCA Racing Series action – we only go for Friday and Saturday, because, well, it rains on Sunday…it’s like a God-given element of the August race weekend, and we just gave up on Sunday. In spite of not catching the Cup race, there’s still plenty of fun in just two days – here are four of my favorite things about this year’s adventure.
Joey Coulter
Copyright Paula Thompson
French fries – Pocono has awesome French fries. That’s all, just awesome.
Fan Fair – Fan Fair, where the souvenir haulers and vendor displays are set up, changes from year to year – some years there were goody bags available from Giant Supermarkets and Target, some years food samples and one year, the Budweiser Clydesdales were there. This year seemed lacking in haulers and displays, but I still got some cool shots of Joey Coulter, Tim George Jr. and Ty Dillon at the Chevy display during Q-&-As on Friday.

Ty Dillon
Copyright Paula Thompson
The pits – spend the $50 and get the pit pass – it’s awesome back there! I do wish they’d put steps in the tunnel under the track, because going down the slope is a crazy experience (why anyone would want to wear sandals to the pits is beyond me!), but once you get there, it’s a lot of fun, made even more so by the recent inclusion of the Truck Series…

Truck Series racing – I love the Truck Series, and at Pocono, it’s awesome – especially on pit road. I was in total fan mode with my father, because the Truck Series “garage” is pit road – and most of the drivers are gracious when it comes to signing autographs (very much like my favorite thing about the NHRA!). Tip for the pits – bring your own Sharpie!