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A Holiday Fireside Chat

Thursday, December 15, 2011
Milo and Santa discuss Christmas plans during Gift of Lights. Photo: NHMS

It's a tough time in the auto racing world right now.  Unlike other sports where there's over analyzed drafts and extensive free agency, NASCAR tends to have a quieter offseason.  Sure, there are some crew chiefs switching pit boxes and drivers swapping rides, but, like the days of December, the NASCAR landscape gets pretty dark this time of year.

At this point, we're left to scour the internet for news on David Ragan's future and hope that The Orange Cone posts another holiday greeting on YouTube.

So, let's share stories about our year.

We'll light the logs in the fireplace, make some hot cocoa with marshmallows and sit around in our pajama pants, talking about how our years went.

Since this a blog and thus you can't contribute until the comments, I'll go first.

I'd have to say mine went very well.  I got hired here at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in April, and, since it was April in New England, it snowed like crazy during the commute on my first day.  I was almost a month into the job when we hosted FANtasy Drive on April 23, and it snowed that day too!

The weather finally warmed up in May and I got busy covering the Loudon Road Race Series and the Amsoil NELCAR Legends Tour on a monthly basis.  We hosted our early season major events, the Vintage Racing Celebration in May and the Loudon Classic in June.  That Classic week was the only time I made up to the Lakes Region, as our race season quickly set in.

I made a quick trip to Long Island to visit some old fraternity brothers for the Fourth of July, but even then, I couldn't escape work, as I posted the daily 3-0-1 Promo on Facebook to give prizes away to fans in preparation for our LENOX Indsutrial Tools 301 on July 17.

It was crazy hot that weekend and some fans complained that they wanted the race back in its old June slot.  One thing I've learned from living in New England is that you have to be careful what you wish for in terms of weather.

In years past, people had wanted the race moved out of a period (June) when it rains often.  During April's FANtasy Drive, we wanted it to warm up and stop snowing.  In July, we wanted it to be cooler.  Today, as I write this and the rain pours down, I really just want to see some snowflakes.  But, let's be honest, I don't actually want it to be snowing as I commute home in the rush hour flow of cars on a dark Route 106.

In years past, I was told that we had somewhat of a recovery period between NASCAR's visits in July and Sept.  Not this year!  We had the IZOD IndyCar Series coming into "The Magic Mile" for the first time in over a decade for the MoveThatBlock.com INDY 225 on Aug. 14.

The race stirred up some of the biggest controversy of the year when it went green with the track still wet and resulted in a pile-up that ultimately ended the race.  The resulting fallout took a few weeks to resolve, but let's be honest, from our standpoint, it kept NHMS in the news for a while.

Again, there wasn't much time to recover as we were quickly getting ready for our marquee NASCAR race in the middle of its playoff-like Chase.  The SYLVANIA 300 on Sept. 25 didn't disappoint as it featured a record-tying number of lead changes and the race winner, Tony Stewart, needed every point he earned at NHMS to eventually edge Carl Edwards in the slimmest of slim (tiebreaker) margins for the 2011 Sprint Cup championship.

After NASCAR left town, we had one more LRRS/NELCAR weekend, but things got quiet fast up here in the small New Hampshire town of Loudon.  We were stuck following the rest of the exciting Chase from afar and envying the warm weather of places like Miami and Texas.  All the while, we were hoping we could make it to Halloween without snow.

Of course, we weren't that lucky.  It snowed the preceding weekend and caused widespread power outages.  However, it's now mid-December and we currently don't have any sort of snow cover.  Heck, if it stopped raining, we could probably open up the garage and hold a regional series race if we wanted to!  I have a hard time believing that the local drivers wouldn't jump at the opportunity to fire the cars up for a holiday race.

Alas, as I said, we're in the dark part of the auto racing season here in New England.  We're very fortunate to have all the fans come out to visit our Gift of Lights display, and it brightens our spirits to see everyone driving through the winter wonderland.  But, there's nothing to quell the inner need for speed in each of us.  We don't have enough snow to ski, enough ice to skate and the Daytona 500 is still two months away.  But, we had a great year!

What about you?  This was supposed to be a fireside chat and I've just kind of turned into your mother-in-law reminiscing about the bingo game she won six months ago!

We hope you enjoyed what we had to offer in 2011 and we're glad you could all be a part of this year's stories.  We look forward to you being a part of the speedway's life in the future, as we prepare to write the next chapter of our story in 2012.

Have a safe holiday season and a Happy New Year!

-JS