Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Trip to the Poconos

Recently, I was asked if I was willing to help out with a friend's racing team. Not knowing much about racing, I was kind of surprised and eager to find out what was needed from me. Well, they didn't need a new tire changer, but they do need some help with some computer related things. I'm hoping that I can fix most of their problems on the computer front. In the meantime, I was invited to their most recent race at Pocono International Raceway.

So, on Wednesday, I piled into a truck, officially dubbed the "RV", with Joe (the driver's dad/spotter/gas man), Brian (front tire changer), and Brook (the driver's girlfriend). We got on our way for the 1300 mile trip to Pocono.

With four of us in a four door dually Ford with an air mattress in the back, it was an easy, non-stop drive. We were making such good time that when we got close to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, we decided to make an impromptu stop at the home of the Little League World Series.

I thought that we were only going to check out the main field, but we ended up touring the museum as well.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little disappointed in the museum. Some of the displays seemed to be missing items and other displays seemed that someone had quickly moved some itmes around without moving the corresponding captions along with them. But the main gallery, which was pretty bare, did have a cool map that lit up to go along with Vin Scully's narrative.

Here are a few of the displays from the museum. The first showcases the evolution of the Little League batting helmet.

There was one room in the museum dedicated to Major Leaguers that played Little League. Since I have shown three autographs on here from Orel Hershiser, I decided to take a picture of him as a Little Leaguer.

After touring the museum, we headed out to the field. On the way to the field we passed by the dorms that the teams stay in, as well as a pool and basketball courts for the kids. Here is the first picture of the field that I took.

You see this field on TV every summer, but it is hard to realize how big it is until you are actually there. There is seating from foul pole to foul pole. I could not imagine what it would be like to play in a packed house there as a Little Leaguer. It has got to be a more than a little overwhelming.

Here is "The Mighty Casey" statue next to the scoreboard. This same statue stands in front of Eck Stadium on the campus of Wichita State University. I know that I have seen this statue someplace else, but I am drawing a blank right now.

After that, I headed into the ballpark to get a picture of the field. They were hosting a camp that weekend, so I was able to get an action photo. Check out the left-handed catcher. I wonder how long that will last for him.

After we left the field, we got back in the RV and continued our journey to Pocono. We got there about 23 hours after we left. Once the driver, Jeremy Petty, and the car arrived, we parked it and headed for the motel. Once we were checked in, we ate, ran some errands, and then called it a day.

On Friday, we had to be at the track at 5:30 AM. We were a little late because we missed our exit to the racetrack since it wasn't marked. Once there, I got to see all of the behind the scenes activities that the ARCA/Remax teams go through to get ready to race, like making last-minute adjustments to the car and going through the inspection process. Once all of that was over, the teams got a chance to practice before they qualified. Here is a picture of Jeremy's car during practice.

After the ARCA practice, the Sprint Cup drivers took to the track for their practice. About half way through their practice, the rain came.

It rained pretty good and qualifying for the ARCA and Sprint series got rained out. That meant that we got to leave the track a little early and that worked out in my favor. By that, I mean that I got to go to a baseball game.

The closest game to the track was in Scranton, Pennsylvania. After a quick siesta at the motel, Joe and I headed out to see the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees host the Durham Bulls. By then, the rain had cleared and it turned out to be a great night for baseball.

We ended up getting to the park just as the players were starting to take the field to warm up. We headed to the Durham side since there were a ton of fans on the home team side wanting autographs. That seemed a little unusual to me. At all of the AAA games that I have been to, there has always been more people on the visiting team side. Once we got there, I talked Joe into heading to the home team side to see if he could get any of the Yankee cards signed for me. After I gave him a quick walkthrough of who I needed, Joe headed over there to do his best.

I ended up getting six cards signed by three different Bulls (one was a coach). When I finally met up with Joe, I was happy to see that he had got two cards signed for me. Joe has a ton of autograph potential and I hope that I can utilize him again in the future. I also got three cards signed by Kei Igawa in the middle of the game after I noticed him charting pitches in the stands.

The ballpark in Scranton, PNC Field, is in a beautiful setting. It is at the bottom of a valley and while it is close to the interstate, its lights are not visible from it. Unfortunately, this photo does not do it justice. It looks much better in person.

Scranton was the Phillies AAA team for a long time and apparently the ballpark was modeled after Veterans Stadium. It wasn't as noticeable on the outside as it was on the inside. The first thing I noticed was that the upper deck did not hang over the lower level at all. That sounds like the Vet to me. Plus, if I cut the edge of this photo off, it would not be hard to believe that this was a cookie cutter stadium.

The Bulls ended up winning the pitching duel 3-1. There wasn't much offense, but I did get to see Damaso Marte make a rehab appearance.

The next day was back at the racetrack and I got to see my first race that wasn't on dirt. I also got to see the rest of the Sprint Cup practice and their happy hour.

As for the Jeremy Petty team, they didn't do as well as they would have liked. They finished in the middle of the pack at 20th. Jeremy was great in the corners, but he wasn't getting enough horses out of his engine to compete on the straightaways. Nonetheless, I still had a great time and am looking forward to the next race that I can make it to.

I made sure to get some autographs from Jeremy. I was originally hoping that I could make them some autograph cards to distribute. But, after seeing the ones that they have, I knew I would not be needed. They have some great looking cards. I have a few extras of these if anyone would like one.


night owl said...

Small world. My parents were in Scranton for the weekend, too.

Brian said...

I'll take one of those Petty autos. I'll send you the 09 Allen and Ginter National Pride Teahen card NP 61 for it.

zman40 said...

That will work for me. I was going to give them away, but I can't pass up a card from my want list.

zman40 said...

I'll get it out to you tomorrow. Do you have my address?

Brian said...

I think I saved it from the envelope you used to mail the Rollie Fingers auto to me, but I'll shoot you an email for confirmation.

Brian said...

Hey Z...I'll get the Teahen card out tomorrow...thanks.