Rounds 13 & 14 – Sonoma & Baltimore

Okay, okay. I’ll admit it: I skipped the Sonoma edition of Slightly Off Track. That one week just went by so fast and I didn’t think anyone would notice until I logged onto twitter yesterday morning and found this:

Thank you, @fleshwound_NPG. Please politely ask Darth not to Force Choke me.

Here’s the problem: Every year, I have big hopes and dreams for my trip to Sonoma. In my head, I see myself frolicking through vineyards (double fisting wine glasses) in slow motion (so as not to spill my wine) with a huge (wine-induced) grin, surrounded by friends (and more bottles of wine).

Here’s the reality: Every year, I never even set foot in a vineyard. On top of that, I didn’t even have a glass of wine in California. And let’s face it… if ever there was a race where I could’ve used a good merlot at the drop of the checkered flag, it was Sonoma.

What happened in turn four with only a few laps to go is now in the record books. It made for some good chatter and now I’m glad that we’ve moved on… to Baltimore… where, as luck would have it, the No. 98 pit box was right next to the No. 28. Ahhh, racing gods, well played.

Speaking of adjacent pit boxes, did you guys see the qualifying segment when our Barracuda Racing boys were helping Pagenaud’s crew with parts so that they could finish their qualifying run? I might be biased, but that’s pretty nifty. Do we need to review the list of reasons to cheer for the No. 98 car again? No? Okay good.

I have to admit, in only two short years, Baltimore has climbed its way into my top three favorite race tracks. I may have mentioned it before but I’m an ovals girl at heart. Perhaps it’s because my first IndyCar race was on an oval, or that I grew up 15 minutes from the Milwaukee Mile. Who knows?

What I do know is that that’s the beauty of IndyCar. Whether it’s ovals, road courses or street circuits, there’s something for everyone. And for an oval girl to fall in love with a street circuit just shows how awesome the event actually is. Perhaps the key word is EVENT. What some of these tracks are doing so well is offering lots of fun options that revolve around, but are not limited to, the racing.

If you aren’t a race fan, come anyway to see all the other fun activities. And if you don’t like fun activities, we have crabs.

What?

On Friday night, I got to partake in an interesting experience a place called Phillip’s, right on the Baltimore Inner Harbor. Now, I’m not a fan of seafood, although I’m giving it the old college try. Some of the crew guys wanted crabs and I’m always (read: sometimes) up for an adventure.

At Phillip’s, you sit at these big picnic tables and instead of a tablecloth, it’s a giant piece of plain brown paper. Apparently, it’s there to easily clean up the piles of crab parts that you’ve beaten to a pulp with your hammer.

Note: All restaurants should include a hammer in their place settings.

There was one chicken option on the menu, but I thought to myself, ‘When in Rome…’ and ordered the crab cake. Most of the guys ordered the crab. Just plain crab. Maybe you’re not hearing me. To clarify, they ordered piles of crab.

The food came out and looked delicious. Just as I was about to dig in, the waitress came over and asked the boys if they wanted to learn how to rip apart their crabs. How is this normal? So I sat there and watched as she said things like, “Here’s how you rip off the head” and “Don’t eat those lungs because they’ll make you have to use the bathroom.”

I considered borrowing a hammer to knock myself out.

Nevertheless, I survived the Great Crab Adventure of 2012 and apparently the guys ate all the right stuff because I didn’t hear of any Great Bathroom Adventures of 2012.

You’re starting to realize why the title of this blog is appropriate, aren’t you?

It’s hard to fathom that in less than two weeks, we’ll be in the off-season. If I’m being honest, it’s too early and I don’t want it to end. Fontana is shaping up to be a great race and then we’ll have to find lots of fun stuff to make March come faster. As always, suggestions are welcome. Hope to see lots of you at Auto Club Speedway!