Virtual Travel – New York

Welcome to the Empire State – New York. While there is some doubt as to where the nickname came from, most attribute it to a comment from a George Washington letter to New York City mayor James Duane where he referred to it as ‘The Seat of the Empire’.

While the state is dominated by New York City, the capital is Albany. The entire center of the city is known as the Empire State Plaza, and is surrounded by government buildings.

2018 05 26 4 Albany NY

 

Unique State Symbols

State Beverage – Milk. The state ranks 3rd in the amount of milk produced. (photos from statesymbols.org)

 

State Muffin – Yes, we have another state muffin, the Apple Muffin. As you may recall we featured the blueberry muffin of Minnesota, however I missed the Massachusetts state muffin – corn muffin.

New York also has a state snack – yogurt. The state is the leading producer of yogurt, likely as an offshoot of that dairy business.

 

While most states have a slogan – New York’s is ‘official’

2018: Summer of I LOVE NEW YORK | Empire State Development

 

 

Highlights of the State

1947     1975     2004     2005/2009/2011     2006

 

 

While all the maps on these postings have been road maps, transit in New York is much more. New York City has a long subway history that is celebrated at the Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn.

 

 

If you are lucky enough you can get a tour of the vacant, but fantastic City Hall Station in Manhattan. This was one of the original stations, but because the platform is curved when they introduced new, longer trains in the 1940s it became obsolete.

 

 

New York has a plethora of great bridges – including the Verrazzano Narrows Bridge (top row). Other bridge featured below include the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls, the Thousand Islands Bridge, the South Grand Island Bridge near Buffalo, and of course the Brooklyn Bridge.

 

 

No trip to New York City can be complete without admiring, and photographing the great architecture.

 

 

Back upstate is the Watkins Glen Racetrack. This legendary track hosted the U.S. Grand Prix for 20 years, and has continued to host racing for over 60 years.

 

 

 

 

Beyond the City

1982     1987/2011 Boldt Castle     1989     2009 Fire Island Lighthouse     2013     2017 Whihteface Castle – Lake Placid

 

 

Long Island – Land of endless suburbs and massive estates, Long Island’s most famous residence is likely Sagamore Hill. This was President Theodore Roosevelt’s home.

But there are many more estates, thanks to the ultra rich looking to have country homes outside the city.

 

 

When most people refer to Long Island they think the area beyond Queens, but the reality is both Brooklyn and Queens are on Long Island – making it one of the most populated islands in the world with over 7 million people.

 

 

Woodstock – Well technically it is nowhere close to the actual town of Woodstock, it is near Bethel since Woodstock. The festival, with 400,000 spectators, took place on Max Yasgurs farm in 1969. Today the site has an amphitheater, arts center and museum.

 

 

Back to Watkins Glen – only this time to the actual Glen. This picturesque park and gorge is just at the edge of town.

 

 

Niagara Falls and other great tourist attractions of the state.

1985     2016

 

 

Niagara Falls – One of the world’s greatest waterfalls.

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Buffalo – Just upriver from Niagara Falls. This once great industrial city has some great relics like the Buffalo Central Station (bottom photos).

 

 

Western New York is home to a number of Frank Lloyd Wright design structures. The Martin House is featured in the top photos, the boathouse on the left middle was from a FLW design. The gas station on the middle right is in Pierce Arrow Museum, and finally the lower house is Graycliff, located along the shores of Lake Erie south of the city.

 

 

New York City has a number of major tourist attractions. Featured here is Times Square, Citi Field, Yankee Stadium, The High Line, Radio City and others.

 

 

Public Art abounds in the city. My favorite is the collection from Tom Otterness located in the 8th Avenue/14th Street subway station.

 

 

Public Art is scattered throughout the city. While we could go on for a long time on great sights of New York, we will end here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Virtual Travel – Kansas

Toto we are back in Kansas!

1953 – Much like Iowa, Kansas is state that is virtually all farmland, although more grasslands than crops. The views on our opening map is of the capitol in Topeka, and a typical countryside road.

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Topeka was a city of about 80,000 in 1953. Since then it has grown to a population of about 125,000. By far the largest employer in town is the state government. (photo from Cathy Luz Real Estate website)

 

 

 

1963 – Rest area on Interstate 70.

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As the map shows, as well as the photo below, there are some rolling hills in Kansas. Kansas is a leading state for wind generated power.

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1973 – Century II Performing Arts & Convention Center in Wichita. This facility is the largest of it’s kind in the state. It has hosted, among other things, the Miss USA Pagent.

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Wichita is the largest city in Kansas, with a metro population of 645,000. It was founded as a trading post on the Chisholm Trail. (Photo from VisitWichita website)

What's special about Wichita? Read the latest accolades

 

Today it is known as the Air Capital of the World with numerous small aircraft manufacturers including Beechcraft, Cessna and Stearman. The Kansas Aviation Museum celebrates this history.

The museum is located in the former Wichita Municipal Airport terminal. (Photo from Museum website)

 

 

 

 

1973 – Kansas State Parks. Most Kansas State Parks are fairly small, the largest being Fall River State Park.

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The most unique park in the state is Mushroom Rock. These rocks are a remains of sediment from the Cretaceous Period.  (Photo from Wikipedia)

 

 

 

1989 – Rural scene. Over half the people in the state live in what is classified as ‘Rural’, one of the higher percentages in the country. Trivia moment – the highest percent rural population is Wyoming.

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1993 & 2015 – Bison. Before Europeans showed up there were an estimated 20 million American Bison roaming the Kansas territory. Their demise was swift, as example the first three months of 1872 there were more than 43,000 bison hides shipped east from Dodge City alone.

Government State Kansas 1993.jpg

Government State Kansas 2015

 

 

Today there are a few refuges for the bison to continue to live. The largest is Maxwell Wildlife Refuge near the town of Canton, Kansas. (photo from Travelks.com)

Bison Herd

 

 

 

2001 – Flint Hills. This region covers much of eastern Kansas, stretching into northern Oklahoma.

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The area is very picturesque, and a nice break from the endless prairies beyond.

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2003 – Collage including the Kansas Speedway. When the International Speedway Corporation was investigating building a speedway in the Kansas City area, they chose the Kansas side because of better funding (i.e. the State gave them more money than Missouri would).

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2005 & 2009 – More prairie scenes.

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2011 – 150 years of statehood celebrated by travel.

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The two most famous Kansans are Dwight Eisenhower and Amelia Earhart.

Eisenhower was actually born in Texas but raised in Abilene, Kansas, where his Presidential Library is located (photo from travelks.com)

 

Earhart was born and raised in Atchinson, Kansas. Her childhood home is now a museum. (photo from kansastravel.org)

Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum

 

 

 

2013 – Celebration of Kansas Byways.

Government State Kansas 2013.jpg

 

One of the more interesting byways is the Gypsum Hill Scenic Byway. It travels through rolling prairie as well as a section of red buttes. (photo kansastravel.org)

Red Cedars lining the Kansas Red Hills

 

 

 

2017 – The Sunflower State.

Government State Kansas 2017.jpg

 

We end this tour with Kansas State Symbols.

State Seal

Kansas State Seal

 

 

Flag

Kansas State Flag

 

Bird – Western Meadowlark

Western Meadowlark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columbus – August 2018 – Belt Sander Racing

While surfing the internet a couple of weeks ago I came across an ad for ‘Belt Sander Racing’. Intrigued I checked it out – finding that a place in the Franklinton neighborhood of Columbus called the Idea Factor was indeed having Belt Sander Racing, so I signed up.

The Idea Foundry’s motto is to create a place where anyone can explore their urge to make things. It is huge, 60,000 square feet of workshops and offices.

When we arrived we found they were having an open house showcasing all the great things that the artists and craftsmen do there. Outside they had a number of games set up an including over sized Battleship.

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Inside the artists were creating new pieces. This young lady was sawing a wine bottle in half with a wet saw.

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The artist below specializes in burning wood to make art pieces. The baseball bats with lighting were fantastic.

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A chess board on a restore table.

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Another example of the fine craftsmanship.

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There was a good mix of art and functional.

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But enough of that, we are here for —- Belt Sander Racing!

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For those movie fans I took inspiration from the 1964 political satire black comedy Dr Strangelove. Given our current political climate I thought the idea of a nut case in charge of a country seemed appropriate.

The specific scene I took was the last scene where Slim Pickens is riding the bomb down to the ground. (for those who are not familiar with the movie it is making a strong case for peace in the world by satirizing the cold war)

 

My version – a Captain America doll strapped to a piece of ducting – christened Dr Strangetrump.

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There were 11 entries in all.

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A Zombie train.

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Rabbit Go Vroom Vroom

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Finally it was time to race.

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The track was laid out with 3 channels – one for each racer and the other for the cords. It was amazing how fast they went.

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Some went better than others – as with the actual team, the Cleveland Browns helmet did poorly.

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After the first round they had a dog race while they set up for the second round. It wasn’t actually a dog race, a couple of people just set their pooches up on the track and they sort of wandered their way down.

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The finals were very close for all 3 heats. Even though I was able to get my racer to run straight and true, I lost in the first round. No matter – it was a blast to do, and I got a cool T shirt!

Wait ’til next year – I will get a faster belt sander.

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Pittsburgh – August 2018 – Ya Gotta Regatta

For Decades now Pittsburgh has celebrated their position on the rivers with an annual Regatta. More than just boat races, the Regatta features all sort of events – on the water, on the land and in the air.

First up – The Red Bull Paratroopers.

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They came down fast, dropping into the valley from above.

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Before pulling up just before they….

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Hit the water!

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The XPogo crew were on hand for some amazing acrobatics.

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They have amazing skills on a pogo stick.

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Doing backflips while dismounting their stick.

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Flipping the pogo stick between their legs in mid air.

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These guys were crazy – but very skilled.

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Next up – the Anything That Floats competition. When we would come to the regatta back in the 1990s there were 20 or more contestants.

While fewer this year, those that were here were enthusiastic.

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A nice water touch.

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The boat was misnamed.

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The Isaly’s Ice Cream Shop boat wasnt fast, but it was steady.

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Not sure if the beer cans were empty or not.

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Sharks and Pirates together.

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As they made their way down the river they met up with one of the Tiki Hut floating bars.

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Which left them at the finish to sail into the sunset.

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The water jet guy came out to wow the crowd.

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Followed by the jet ski’s, who all were adapt at doing flips.

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They seemed to be upside down as much as upright.

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A perfect shot – an upside down jet ski with the Point Fountain, Ft Pitt Bridge and Mt Washington in the background.

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But it was time for boat racing – the officials surveyed the river.

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The crews were ready for the start.

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Some less intense than others.

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And it was time to race – first up were smaller boats that made a turn before the Ft Duquesne Bridge.

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They were quick down the straights.

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The larger boats finally took over the course.

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The south turn was right at the point where the Monongahela, Allegheny and Ohio Rivers meet.

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Another nice view of the Point Fountain.

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It is amazing how fast the boats separate – just a few laps and they were all over the course with little grouping together.

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Downtown Pittsburgh offers great backdrops for the racing.

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After the races, we headed over to Point Park where they had other activities. One was an amazing sand sculpture dedicated to the historic (and defunct) Pennsylvania Railroad.

This entire sculpture is sand.

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The detail was fantastic.

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The train.

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Detail of the train wheels.

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After dinner we headed back to the North Side for…..

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FIREWORKS!

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A great ending to a great day.

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Cincinnati – June 2018 – Hyde Park Blast

The Hyde Park Blast is a fundraiser for cancer research that has been held in this Cincinnati neighborhood for the last 17 years.

One of the highlights of the Blast is a day of bicycle racing.

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While the racing takes place all day we were able to watch two of the 45 minute long races – including the Intermediate Men’s race.

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The course was a mile loop up and down Erie Avenue, the main street in the neighborhood.

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At the far end they made a turn through a couple of the side streets.

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Hyde Park has always been one of the nicer areas of the city. Note in the background someone tore down one of the classic old houses to build a large modern house. While I love this type of architecture, there is a place and this clearly isn’t it – they must have thought they were in Seattle.

Still it makes a nice background for the racers.

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Coming down the small hill and making the turn back onto Erie Avenue.

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The racing was close throughout.

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The intensity is shown on the faces of the racers.

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And a final sprint to the finish.

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The second race we saw was a women’s race, including the Ohio State championship.

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One of the racers took off ahead of the pack and built a 20 second lead.

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Only to eventually be caught.

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This race too came down the the final sprint. The racer who had broken away only to be caught did manage to hang on and win.

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But the real reason I wanted to check out the Hyde Park Blast was the Chariot Racing!

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The Chariots  are pulled by two humans with one in the Chariot.

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Costumes were encouraged.

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There were two groups of Chariot Racers – social ones with better costumes, and serious runners who designed for maximum speed.

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Although the various running clubs still had some style to them.

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Clearly not one of the serious groups.

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Sharks might be fast in the water, but not on the streets of Cincinnati. Still the Chariot Races made a great finish to a good day of the Hyde Park Blast.

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Watkins Glen, NY – May 2018 – Let’s Go Racing

Watkins Glen International Raceway is one of the most famous race tracks in the world. Opened in 1956 it for many years hosted the Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix, although they haven’t raced that series here for a couple of decades.

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We were in the area and I wanted to go by to see if I could get in to check out the track, only to have the pleasant surprise that they were racing – and I could get in for free!

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The people racing there are part of an organization called ChampCar – a low budget racing series that allows many who otherwise couldn’t afford to race the chance to get on the track.

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For this Friday afternoon they were practicing with the full compliment of course workers to keep things in order.

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The pits and garages were open.

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As noted pretty much any car with the correct safety gear can race – including what appeared to be an old surplus German police car.

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The Watkins Glen track is 3.4 miles long up and down the New York countryside hills.

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With 11 turns offering a variety of views.

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The air was filled with the buzzing of small engines cranking at max RPMs.

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Many cars did have sponsors to offset the costs.

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It was a nice afternoon of racing.

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Philadelphia – May 2018 – Simeone Automotive Collection

The Simeone Automotive Collection is located in a warehouse near the Philadelphia Airport. The cars were obtained by a now retire neurosurgeon named Frederick Simeone.

His stated goal for the collection was that all of the cars needed to be sports cars with fenders and headlights, have a history of road racing, be a significant winner and have mostly original parts.

The automobiles are group by period or type of racing.

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1963 Chevrolet Corvette that raced at the original Watkins Glen Road Races.

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1925 Alfa Romeo RLSS

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1975 Alfa Romeo 33 TT 12

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The LeMans collection – 10 stunning race cars lined up as though they are ready for the start.

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1933 Squire Roadster – one of only 7 ever made.

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1967 Ford MK IV

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Columbus – April 2018 – SCCA Tech Day

For more than 70 years the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) has lead the effort for grass roots road racing across the country. While it does promote professional racing, it is best known for making racing somewhat affordable to all who want to race.

The Alliance Autosport team is based on the west side of Columbus in a nondescript industrial park building (on the outside – inside it is great). On this cold Saturday they were holding a ‘Tech Day’ to get ready for the upcoming season and hold an open house to encourage others to check out racing.

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Alliance Autosport offers ‘Arrive and Drive’, the ability to rent race cars, thus avoiding the high cost of ownership. Their collection of cars were neatly stacked on pallet racks

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Most of the cars they have run Spec Racer Ford Generation 3 engines. The theory behind these engines, and the car setup in general is that by prohibiting modifications it makes all the cars equal, as well as keeps the cost down.

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A couple of the cars were down on the floor with their covers off for closer inspection…

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While the racked ones gave an interesting perspective. Everyone at the event were passionate about racing and very welcoming for a couple of people wandering in to check it out. It’s time to go racing!

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Cincinnati – October 2017 – Cyclocross

A ‘cyclocross’ (cross country bicycling racing) was held on a cold Sunday in the Cincinnati suburb of Fairfield. The event took place throughout the streets and fields of a park.

With teams from throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and beyond the pits were filled with an impressive collection of tents, trucks and bikes while the technicians readied them for the races.

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There were numerous classes, including this one the start of a multi-group female race. This race had under 23s and over 35s.

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Miles of blue tape outlined the course up and down throughout the park.

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Some racers were more bundled for the cold weather than others.

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Famed baseball player Satchel Paige had a quote ‘don’t look back someone might be gaining on you’ – clearly she didn’t head his advice.

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A sand pit results in some small jumps, although nothing like a BMX track would yield.

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It did however cause some of the racers to get a bit off course.

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Given Halloween is near a couple of riders dressed for the occasion, like the human taco.

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A few got hung up on a small hill and had to dismount.

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Racing to the finish.

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Springfield, OH- August 2017 – Wake on the Lake

A beautiful sunny Saturday was perfect for boat racing in the prairie, specifically at a man made lake that used to be a quarry, at the county fairgrounds, in Springfield Ohio.

The boats started from the ‘beach’, which meant their support team has to hold them in place then try not to get blasted by the water when they take off.

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While focused on the boats, in the end the water spray patterns added to the photos.

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There were two classes of boats, all with great paint jobs.

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The boats could corner at nearly 100 MPH.

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This boat lead his entire race until the last lap.

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When he got caught up in lapped traffic and was passed down the final straight.

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