Day 30 – Watkins Glen
Date: 07/01/2016 Friday
Starting Location: Bath, NY
Ending Location: Elmira, NY
Starting Odometer: 12,991
Ending Odometer: 13,050
Mileage Today: 59.2 Miles
Mileage Total: 6212.2 miles
Today’s MPG: 42 mpg (Once again, all of those miles on the Interstate affect MPG)
Total Average MPG: 41 mpg
States Visited: CA, NV, AZ, UT, NM, CO, UT, WY, ID, WY, MT, WY, SD, MN, WI, MI, WI, IL, IN, OH, PA, NY (18 States so far)
The trip to Watkins Glen
As you’ve heard me say, I’m pretty committed to my GPS. it has served me very well, and gotten me out of a good amount of trouble (which was undoubtedly my fault). So, it was a surprise when I arrived at the Icon on the GPS that indicated I was at Watkins Glen, but I was nowhere near the race track.
Now, it does need to be said that I’m the one that placed that icon in that particular place on the map, so beyond any question, it’s my fault. But, it’s not really my fault. You see, as I tried to look on a satellite map to identify the exact location where I would find my tickets waiting for me, I was having a lot of trouble. For some reason, I could not find the same roads on the Google Map, and on the map in my GPS. So, when I created the way-point that designated Watkins Glen will call box office, I must have put it in the wrong spot.
So, my trip to the track took a little bit longer than expected. After this little mishap, I arrived at about 8:15, only 15 minutes later than expected. I made my way to the Will Call box office, and that’s when things went wrong again.
The problems at Will Call
A little background is in order… Summer Saprano, one of the folks that runs the Audi Customer Sport Racing program was helping me out, and had generously offered to get me a ticket to the race, and perhaps even parking, if it was available. She was originally going to send me the ticket by FEDEX, but since I was on the road, I asked her if the ticket could be left at the Will Call box office. Summer did a little digging, found the correct folks at IMSA, and had them leave a ticket for me at the IMSA credentials desk. Notice that the ticket is not at Will Call, but is actually going to be held at IMSA Credentials station, which is located about 20 feet from the Will Call box office.
I walked up to the Will Call office and asked them if my ticket was available. They looked, and reported that it was not there, and they had never heard of me. Now, aside from the jolt to my ego when I found that there was no knowledge that I existed, or that I lived on Planet Earth, I was wondering how I was going to find my ticket. So, I did what made the most sense to me.
I showed them the email that Summer had sent to me, and I made it very, very, very clear to them that Summer works for Audi, and that it was likely that she did not buy me a ticket, but instead, I said… It is likely that she’s simply allocated one of her tickets, as a series premier sponsor, to me. She would have likely done this through the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).
I expect the will call guy to say something like, “oh, then I’m pretty sure that your ticket will be at the IMSA desk, just 20 feet away. In fact, you can go there and check, or I’ll call them for you”. That’s what I expected… What I got instead was something like “We don’t have your tickets, they might be at IMSA, but I kinda doubt it, since your friend said they will be at Will Call. We don’t know anything about IMSA, and I’ve never heard of any sponsor providing tickets to someone at the credentials desk. So, I don’t know what to tell you.”
So, feeling like things were going badly, I left the building, and headed over to the IMSA credentials desk. I found a very nice woman named Teresa. As soon as I mentioned my name, she said, yes, I am pretty sure I have your ticket. A moment later, she provided the ticket that Summer had left for me, and off I went to my bike, to make the short ride to the entrance gate, and to park the bike.
McDonald’s is my kind of place
As I stood at my bike, with my ticket in hand, a woman and her husband walked up to me and asked me if I was able to get my ticket problem resolved. it seems that she overheard me as I talked to the guy at the Will Call desk, and she could hear the frustration in my voice.
it turns out that she was affiliated with McDonald’s, and as part of a sponsorship package, she had received a tranche of tickets, but was not going to use all of them. So, she was offering one to me, if I needed it.
As has been the case so many times on this journey, I found myself glowing with warmth and humanity. Once again, a complete stranger had offered to help, or to do something that was purely out of generosity and altruism. This is the kind of act of kindness that I was pleased to be the recipient of, and that makes me want to pay it forward and return the favor somehow.
Now, back to the Will Call desk. Does the Will Call desk work this way at all of the tracks I’ve visited?
Comparing Laguna Seca to Watkins Glen
I’ve received complimentary tickets to races at Laguna Seca, and also at Sears Point raceway (Now called Sonoma Raceway), and I’ve never had a problem. In fact, the Will Call desk at Laguna is so well prepared that it is located in a hotel, in Monterey, about 5 miles from the track. You simply walk in, and they find your ticket, or your credential. You see, tickets, credentials, and anything that can be provided to you is provided at this location. One simple stop, for all your ticket needs.
At Sonoma Raceway, the Will Call ticket booth is located right next the main gate, just at the perimeter of the race track, immediately off of the main highway. You walk inside, and you’re given your tickets, or your credentials.
Notice the pattern? it seems that Watkins Glen is making a bit of an error by not co-locating these booths. But, given that I won’t likely be back to Watkins Glen for some time, I’ll leave it alone, and move on.
Technical Difficulties – Comcast & others…
Each day, after I create a post, the invisible robot sends out an email to everyone that has subscribed to a particular topic. The email contains a link to the post of the day, and I can see who received them, and if the post was opened, or clicked on. So, I have pretty good tools to see who’s reading, who is not, and other relevant data.
Since the end of May, I’ve been having a problem with any user that has an email address for comcast.net. It seems that Comcast thinks that I’m a spammer, and so they reject my emails before they are even delivered to the recipients inbox.
I’ve worked with my hosting provider to see if they can resolve the problem with Comcast, and it’s still a problem. I’ve sent a service request directly to Comcast, trying to inform them that I’m not a spammer, and that these emails are legitimate, but still no dice. So, I’ve done all that I can to solve the problem, and if you have a comcast.net email address, and are not receiving these newsletters, you have two choices.
- Check the blog each day, and forget about the newsletter
- Contact Comcast, and let them know that I’m not a spammer
Getting to see Watkins Glen
I arrived at the track and parked the bike. After changing clothes, I made my way to Gate 5, the entry point that I would enter these acres of hallowed ground.
You can see that the skys are dark, and as I entered the track, I felt rain for the first of 3 times on this day. I made my way through the paddock to where the IMSA teams were laid out. I was able to find Magnus Racing, and as I walked by their work area, I noticed Dion Von Moltke having a conversation with his engineer.
It was good to see Dion again, and it was also great to see that he was driving for Magnus this weekend. Dion holds the role of Brand Ambassador for Audi, and he’s driven in a couple of the races so far this season, but he’s currently looking for a full-time ride.
Dion looked great, and I’m hopeful that they can get the car set up for this track, so that they can attack at the front. Below, you can see a better picture of the car.
After I left Magnus racing, I found my way over to Park Place racing, to visit with Patrick Lindsey. Both Patrick and Dion had helped the Audi Club at some of our events. I’ve interviewed both of them in front of the club members, and both have also offered coaching to our instructors, and advanced students.
Patrick was also in great form, feeling optimistic about the car, and feeling that they could have a good weekend. We talked for a few minutes while other folks came up to Patrick to say hi. Patrick offered to get me a sport shirt from the Team’s clothing locker, and in 2 minutes he came back and handed me a new sport shirt with the Park Place logo.
As I mentioned earlier, it’s this kind of generosity that brings a smile to my face, and causes me to always think twice about how I can offer help or other things to friends, and strangers that are in need.
Unfortunately, I neglected to get a picture with Patrick, but I’ve got a picture of his Porsche.
I need a new hat, no really, I need a new hat.
One of the mistakes that I made has to do with the hat that I brought along with me on the trip. This hat is an Exoficio hat that I purchased about 11 years ago, for my trip to Africa. As it turns out, hats don’t last 11 years, and this one is no exception. So, I’ve been looking for a new hat that I could wear to keep the sun off of my face and head.
During these race weekends, most/many of the major sponsors are always trying to win you over, and one of their preferred methods is to give out hats. I knew this, and I knew that I’d be able to get a new hat if I visited the Continental Tire booth. So, I made my way to the Continental booth.
After filling out a quick survey, I was handed a new hat, and a card that would allow me to have my picture taken with the Continental girls. I usually don’t indulge in such blatently sexual actions, but I decided that today was the day for a photo. So, behold… Cliff and the Conti girls.
Some racing footage
View of the GTLM, GTD, and Prototype classes running. Viewed from the final turn, as the cars enter the front straight
The track on the top of the Mountain
There are far too many things in this world that I simply don’t know. For example, I have watched races at Watkins Glen many times, and also read about it’s storied past for decades. But, I did not know that the track is located at the top of a mountain.
As it is perched on the top of a mountain, the track has fantastic views of the valley below. This gallery will highlight some of those views.
I’ve also created a gallery that shows some of the other cars that were at the race.
Driving on the “Original race track”
While at the track, over the intercom they announced that Mazda would let you test drive their cars, and the route that you would drive would be the route that constituted the original race track at Watkins Glen. This original course was on public roads.
What is in store for tomorrow?
Tomorrow, I hit the midway point of my trip, and I travel to my Brother’s house in Shelton, CT.