Tag Archives: Labor Day

Grand Prix of Portland August 30th to September 1st 2019

Last year was the first time back to Portland International Raceway for the IndyCar Grand Prix of Portland in many years. That was a good event and I was excited to attend again this year. Just like before it was over the same Labor Day weekend which was convenient. I could enjoy the race all weekend and still have a day off on Monday. The big change for me this year was a cheaper ticket. I just didn’t feel like I got my money’s worth with last years ticket and extras. This year I still got a grandstand ticket but along the front straight right in the middle. Cheaper overall ticket and I thought a better experience for me.

Still couldn’t make it to Friday practice even thought I get off mid afternoon from work. I had a date Friday night to the Portland Art Museum which I thought was a better use of my time. Five dollars after 5pm on Friday’s, best deal in town. Anyway I headed out at a reasonable hour on Saturday morning and spent all day at the track.

First on the schedule was practice three for IndyCar. I don’t like going to my seat the first day so headed down the back straight and posted up under a tree to watch the final practice. The weather was perfect all weekend in fact. Pretty cool temps even in the sun with a slight breeze and mostly sunny skies. The hill on the back straight is nothing exciting but does offer some good views of the cars going their fastest around the track.

Indy Lights Race 1

I ended up staying under the tree for several of the support races who were racing all Saturday. One new addition that I really enjoy were the stadium trucks. I believe they generally run on dirt but making a few spot appearances across the nation at select IndyCar and NASCAR events. I really enjoy the sound. They also have a few jumps along the front straight which is cool. They will barrel down the straight at full speed and launch the trucks a good ten to fifteen feet into the air.

Mostly the same kind of atmosphere as last year. One nice addition this year was additional food vendors. More choices and shorter lines. The retail vendors I think are a joke but that’s just me. I keep comparing this even to my experiences at Circuit of the Americas and Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and I shouldn’t. Fan experience and ticket prices are so very different.

Ended up not walking the full track this year. Did walk through the support race paddock for a closer look at the cars and teams. Got up close and personal with the stadium trucks, again just so cool to see run.

Race day and the track was a lot less packed than last year. Getting there was pretty easy thanks to Max. Not having an IndyCar paddock pass things just seemed more casual along the front straight vendor area. Lots of people but not really crowded. My seat was in section G and when the race started it almost completely empty. Last year at turn one every seat was taken. Section G no one seemed to care.

Decent race and again when I think of the ticket price a great value for my money. Another incident at turn one lap one this year. That took out several cars and caused a safety car to be deployed for about fifteen laps. When the race restarted another crash at turn one that caused another safety car but not nearly as long. From that point forward it was a pretty much nonstop race to the end. Things just hummed along with not a lot of strategy necessary, just pure racing. As the race neared its end another quick safety car really changed things up. Strategy finally came front and center. Will Power started second but lead the majority of the race. Most importantly across the finish line to win the race.

A good race and a way better experience this year over last. Just a better value for my money and I think next year I might just go with a GA ticket. I like being at the track but IndyCar is not something I really follow. Hard to justify spending all that money on a ticket if I don’t have to. The sound of the engines screaming down the track on a perfect late summer afternoon is what keeps me coming back. They announced during the race on Sunday that a contract for 2020 has been signed so maybe I will be back for a third straight year over Labor Day Weekend. Till next year…….

Labor Day Weekend Indy Race in Portland

For 3 yeas IndyCar raced in downtown Baltimore over Labor Day weekend. I always wanted to go because it was so close and a holiday weekend and a true street course but we always went to Rehoboth Beach as a family so I never got the opportunity.

Arriving via Max on race day.

Baltimore lost the race and then Watkins Glen did the same thing and now it was Portland’s turn to host this race over Labor Day weekend. I was so excited when I found they would be coming to Portland International Raceway. Now that I live here it is super easy to attend and I have no chance of going to the beach house this year. The cherry on top is I can get there by the Max yellow line.

Being the long weekend and my first Indy race I wanted to do it right. I got a premium grandstand seat at turn 2 and a paddock pass for the entire weekend. All in all it was a great weekend but I think next time I will skip a premium ticket and the premium price and just go with something more generic.

A pretty good vantage point for the tight section of the track.

I unfortunately couldn’t make it out on Friday. I didn’t want to take time off of work and everything was over by 5:30pm any way. Saturday I was going to stay all day at the track. I packed everything I would need in my CamelBak and set out for the train station. A fifteen minute walk and then a 30 minute train ride I was at the front gate of PIR.

For quals I didn’t really care where I sat and actually decided not to see my seat until race day. I didn’t go into the infield on Saturday at all and instead decided to walk around the track exploring. By the time I left that night I had walked around the entire track.

When you first arrive to the track you walk down a hill and come in at the Pro Mazda and USF2000 paddock. It was great getting close to these cars but a little disorientating when I first stumbled across the paddock. I just wasn’t sure I was suppose to be there. Few signs, no barriers and no one directing people. Just go till they tell you to stop I figured.

Lets the festivities begin.

The front straight was a typical vendor area. Lots of pop up tents and weird shit being peddled. I was actually shocked at the the lack of facilities at this track. It really is just a track. Even the main grandstand was a temporary structure. Only one three story building and it was small and not at a good location.

The track is also really narrow with limited run off areas. I was shocked at just how narrow the turns are. Kudos to the drives all weekend for keeping things mostly under control. If you made even a tiny mistake you would be off track, especially at turn one. See lap one of the Indy race on Sunday for proof.

A good spot I found was the back straight along the top of the hill. Here there was no one around and I actually found some shade. The high on Saturday was in the low 70’s but escaping the radiant heat from the sun was good for a while. Here I caught some of the qualifying for the support races. The back straight is a long sweeping straight with a slight bend to the right right after a tight section of turns. Good opportunity to see the cars go by pretty fast. You really can hear the revs and shifting which is cool.

Go fast day was finally hear. The race didn’t start till around noon so plenty of time to get to the track, bum around and get my seat. Sunday was also my first trip into the paddock. By the time I got there the cars where already starting to exit their garage and get to the grid. This was great because I got to see some of the cars up close and personal which was cool. Also saw some of the driver introductions. Lots of grandstanding but still cool.

My seat turned out to be a pretty good one. The entire section was pretty well elevated so I could have saved some money for a lower seat. And in fact the other side of the track had the added benefit of seeing the cars come down the straight and out the pit. That view was blocked from our premium seats.

Quite unexpectedly there was a wreck just after turn three on lap one. All I could really see was the plume of dust that erupted as the cars went off the track onto the dry grass. One guy managed to go over top another which was pretty impressive. This lead to a long delay with the pace car while they cleaned up the mess.

After this there where only a few minor hiccups in the race but for the most part it was pretty clean. A good afternoon of racing. I honestly don’t follow the series so the drivers I don’t know. It was close to the end of the season and the drivers championship was still up for grabs. Apparently the turn one incident caused problems for the leader. He got back on track in last place but managed to work his way up through the field.

After an entire race weekend spent at PIR I was rather disappointed with the track. CotA has really ruined me when it comes to a race track. That track knows how to put on a race. From the entertainment before, during and after the race to the food, facilities, and vendors. Everything about that track is just so well done.

Not that I wouldn’t go back to see Indy next Labor Day weekend. I think the next time around I just wont spend as much money on my ticket and simply enjoy an afternoon at the track.

Labor Day Weekend 2013

This weekend we usually go to the beach house but half the family bailed because of a wedding and Bobby and Tracy are in the process of moving to Washington. We couldn’t rally the troops so we scrapped the plan this year. Just because we didn’t go to the beach doesn’t mean it wasn’t a weekend packed with events.

tasting room at La Grange
tasting room at La Grange

This was the last weekend to spend with Bobby, Tracy and the kids before they all leave for Washington so we headed to Winery at La Grange for one last tasting. Saturday the winery was throwing a big Labor Day weekend party with BBQ, live music, and specials on wine. We scored a table and sat outside enjoying the decent weather. Pat had complimentary wine tastings that we used and we plowed through a few bottles just relaxing.

Saturday was also Nancy’s mother’s birthday so we head up the road from La Grange to Greg and Maggie’s house for dinner. Greg smoked several whole chicken that came out really well along with all the trimmings. That evening we relaxed in his tiki bar, drinking and smoking like usually, and hatched a plan for Sunday. The beach was out so we planned to play a round of golf at the Osprey’s at Belmont Bay in Woodbridge. It has been several years since I played golf. Maggie is getting into it because of work, Nancy has always played, and Greg was playing because it was something to do with our wives.

10th hole at Osprey's
10th hole at Osprey’s

We got a late tee time for Sunday but started the day off with a bang. The temperature was not bad at 10:30am but it was going to get hot and humid as the day went on. It took 4:30 hours to complete our round and I must say that by the end, I was ready for the 19th hole. It was a long day of drinking beer in the hot sun. The course was pretty banged up this late in the season but it was a challenge. Lots of elevation change throughout the course, several blind greens, and narrow fairways most of the time.

Monday was celebrated at my Dad’s house. Matt was cooking some ribs and it was the last family dinner before everyone left for Washington. Bobby already started his journey to Washington in his truck. He was driving the entire way, 48 hours according to Google and needed an early start. Tracy, the kids, and Marley where flying out on Tuesday. It was a last supper of sorts. Over the weekend we all agreed it would be a while before we got together as a family but that plan is already in the works.

It was a long weekend filled with activities. For a holiday that is meant to celebrate the working man, I sure didn’t do much relaxing. I thankfully got to spend a ton of time with both sides of my family which was nice. Will have to see what happens next year.

Labor Day 2011

family picture
isn't technology wonderful

Photo Gallery

This year there was no Buffett show during the long weekend so Nancy and I took the opportunity to just relax after a long few weeks. On Sunday my Dad got the family together at his house to enjoy some of my famous smoked ribs. All summer we have talked about cooking the ribs for him and Pat and this weekend was the perfect opportunity. Upon hearing I was cooking ribs many decided to show up: Bobby, Tracy and the kids, Matt, and even my brother and Audry. The two of them never show up to any family events so it was a surprise to see them there.

Nancy and I arrived at three so I could start cooking the ribs.  I had the rub and sauce already done before arriving, just needed to prepare the ribs my dad got.  After getting them on the grill it was time to relax and enjoy a few beers while the ribs slowed cooked. One thing I really love about ribs is there is very little that needs to be done while they cook, all the works is in preparing them.  About 90 minutes into the cooking process I add some more charcoal and a few more handfuls of wood chips and that is i.  Almost three hours later I pulled them off and they looked incredible as always.  I brought them into the house and the vultures circled as they cooled off. All the sides had been prepared and the table was set, just needed the meet.

After dinner we celebrated Bobby’s birthday which was in a few days. Got a great shop of him blowing out the candles with his kids.

slow cooked over charcoal, baby back ribs
yum! slow smoked ribs

After a successful dinner and it not being a school night, everyone enjoyed the cool summer evening and sat on the deck for a few more hours. Pat and Tracy eventually get the kids ready for bed while the adults setup a family poker game. It is becoming a tradition that we have a couple $5 buy in games when we are all together. I couldn’t hang and decided to take a nap on one of the outside couches, the cool weather was making me sleepy. Eventually everyone called it quits and we headed home well past midnight. That evening over dinner we talked about a rib off when football season started and we are working on a date that is good for everyone. I will cook the same recipe, been very happy with the results so far, and hope to bring home a trophy.

Prince William Forest Labor Day 2010

Prince William Forest
Prince William Forest

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Just two days ago Nancy and I saw Jimmy Buffett for his annual, third straight year, Labor Day weekend show at Jiffy Lube Live. With Monday being a holiday I was looking forward to getting outside and doing a little hiking. I have not been able to get out and hike a local park since Spring so with a day off I thought what a better way to spend the day than outside hiking. The weather all weekend was beautiful after hurricane Earl, another reason to get out the last official weekend of summer.

I was not certain of where I wanted to hike with so many options in the area, but I decided on Prince William Forest and its nearly 40 miles of hiking trails. The tree covered paths would provide some much needed shade and an opportunity to spot some wildlife. When I arrived to the park I headed to the main parking lot at the front. I figured I would hike the same trail I took during my snowfall hike in winter. The only change I made this time was when I got to the bridge I headed right and continued along the waters edge deeper into the woods. The water level was low but I wanted to get some shots of the dried out creek bed. I love to take shots during the various seasons in this park, seeing how it changes at the years go by. My journey was just over 4 miles long all said and done and it was a wonderful afternoon spent in the woods. I didn’t run into many people surprisingly so it was a quit hike. Nature was alive around me, singing goodbye to the summer.

I am hoping to put together a Fall hike in the Shenandoah in October. I put some feelers out but have gotten only one response. I unfortunately have not gotten out nearly as much as I would like this past year. The few times I have been hiking have certainly been high quality hikes in my opinion. The snowfall hike at Prince William Forest and the Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge in Hilton Head were both fantastic.

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