We recently became “empty-nesters,” and people are always asking us how it feels to have all our children out of the house. My answer is simple: If we stayed home long enough, we might know how it feels!
As our family schedule became less demanding, we found ourselves traveling to lots of new racetracks around the country. For example, early this year, we visited Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala., with NASA Midsouth. The NOLA and Texas regions combined for this event to kick off the 2014 season. What a great idea to bring lots of NASA people together from multiple regions and have one blow-out event. Working and racing with new people allowed us to gain more experience, all the while meeting participants from other regions and hanging out with a few familiar faces. Once the event was over, my Facebook page was full of new friends and great pictures.
The Eastern States Championships at Road Atlanta was another opportunity to spend time with NASA people from outside our region. We had a lot of fun that weekend, assisting racers with contingencies, ironing and sewing patches on driver suits and taking loads of pictures while traveling throughout the paddock.
Those days went by fast, but the nights gave us time to just chill. Local restaurants and pizza shops delivered everything yummy. Even a local sports bar stayed open late so we could relax and visit some more with friends before the long trip home Sunday.
After we wrapped up the Eastern States Championships, we headed north to Watkins Glen for an event hosted by NASA Northeast. This is definitely one track to add to your bucket list. Take an extra few days to tour the wineries, breweries and cheese shops along the Finger Lakes. Enjoy some dessert looking out over the lake and don’t miss out on the prime rib at the Seneca Lodge. Stop by the Chicken Shack for lunch and get the barbecue downtown with “salt potatoes” as a side. Use a local limo service to shuttle you to and from the wineries and invite others to join in on the tour. Make sure to buy some wine to take to the track and share with new friends and old.
We had barely unpacked from the Watkins Glen trip when we were headed to the NASA Mid-Atlantic event at Virginia International Raceway. If you go to VIR, make sure you get lodging on the VIR property. You will not want to miss out on the track-side villas. They are two stories tall, including a full kitchen, living room and deck with barbecue grills. Watching the track from our villa was priceless. We chose the condos on the front straight right above the rented garages. It is a great location as long as you don’t mind waking up at 8 a.m. to the sound of race engines — or NASA Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Chris Cobetto singing!
Staying on the property allowed us to enjoy the Tavern restaurant every night and drive a golf cart everywhere we needed to go. Nightly entertainment throughout the paddock included the Saturday night awards party with beer and food as well as a “drive-in” movie shown on the side of the our trailer.
But we still weren’t done with our travels this year. The Florida and Southeast region combined at Daytona International Speedway for a Turkey Trot. Many of the friends we have made on our trips were in Daytona, and we had been looking forward to making new friends in NASA Florida.
We’ll get home just in time to prepare for Santa’s Toy Run, our last race of the season at Road Atlanta. Before you know it, we’ll be heading out for the first races of the 2015 season and adding more people to our NASA “family.”