Early Morning at All Seasons
The next morning (Friday August 9), we got up well before sunrise, and we were rolling before the sun came up. Today we had to cover a lot of miles - to basically get us the rest of the way down through all of the "regular" stuff to the good stuff; the twisty stuff.
Our path south crossed through the bulk of New York State, across all of Pennsylvania, and then the small panhandle of Maryland. I had engineered a route that went right through an attraction that was right up our alley (alley in the sense of fitting in with the car theme, our love of motorsport, that sort of thing). That attraction was Watkins Glen, a small town at the south end of one of New York's Finger Lakes. Watkins Glen is one of the most famous historic racing venues in North America, and it has hosted many classic racing series, including a long stint of Formula 1 in the 60s and 70s. Famous racers like Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti, and Jacky Ickx were all well-known racers who graced the circuit. Luke was excited at the unexpected treat (of visiting the track).
Driving through the Drumlins
The drive from our motel to Watkins Glen was a pleasant and not too crowded drive down straight but smooth regional highways. We arrived in the town just in time for a nice breakfast at a local eatery (Toby's Donut Shop). Nearby we were amused by the race-chequered style of crosswalk markings and enthused by the vintage racing murals painted on the buildings. This place knows its heritage!
A classic in front of classics
After breakfast we drove up into the countryside a couple of miles southwest of town to the track, which is now known as "Watkins Glen International". There was an ongoing event, some sort of Porsche club track day, and fortunately, one of the stands was open for public viewing.
Arriving Watkins Glen International
It was bright, cool, and breezy atop the huge stands above the track. We were standing at the end of the start/finish straight and before the rising "Esses" turn. Cars began to intermittently come by (apparently we had arrived right at the start of the first session), tentatively getting a feel for the conditions of the track.
Luke and I had harbored fantasies of somehow crashing the lapping session and getting a few laps in of our own, but we knew that probably wasn't feasible or practical. After all, we hadn't registered and we didn't have helmets and it was a Porsche event, after all. Although.... many of the cars we saw lapping weren't Porsches. hmmm.... nah, still not possible, not possible. And in any case, we had a different drive to complete - the one leading to the twisties!
After getting our fill of zooming lappers, we continued on our way south. There isn't much to report about the next few hours - I just charted the most efficient course south.
We crossed into Pennsylvania at about 11:30 a.m. Mostly we stayed on the Interstates or expressways, although I did take a couple of small detours onto some pleasant regional highways through farmland - just to break up the monotony a bit.
Crossing into Pennsylvania
Pennsylvanian Farm Country
It seemed to take forever to cross Pennsylvania, and we were glad to see the Maryland sign flash past at about 4pm. In fact, the entire state of Maryland itself would have been a "flash-past", given that we were crossing at the super narrow neck of land that it forms at its western end - perhaps only 10-20 miles across. But we stopped for a nice little snack/picnic stop in the town of Lonaconing, right next to a really cool looking old Iron Furnace, and so our time in Maryland was more than just a few minutes.
Picnic at the Iron Furnace
Beyond the sliver of Maryland awaited West Virginia. And West Virginia was in the magic oval that I painted on that map you saw on the first page. That meant, the land of good twisties. And even here, crossing the last few miles of Maryland into West Virginia, it was already hillier and the roads were definitely feeling a little wrigglier.
At the town of Luke (obligatory stop for pictures with Luke, of course), we turned across a branch of the Potomac River and into West Virginia.