Saturday, June 12, 2010

A Surprise Visitor

Word went out that a Hornet was due in to Republic Airport on Thursday. While that might seem like an exciting visitor, they are getting to be a somewhat frequent guest of the airport, and just two weeks prior we had the Blue Angels, two Canadian Forces F/A-18s, and a pair of Navy Hornets all in for the air show. Then the rumor started going around that it might be a Super Hornet. Now we're talking - we don't see them around much, so it was something to keep an eye out for. Then the big day comes, and someone living under the approach posts a couple of photos...what on earth are those pods hanging from it...wait, that's not a Hornet, that's a Growler!

Yes, the Navy sent an EA-18G Growler. The local Northrop Grumman plant designed the electronic systems for the jet, which will be taking the place of Grumman's old workhorse, the EA-6B Prowler, and the visit was for workers to see the aircraft and meet with the pilots.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Big Show

Race day Sunday brought clouds and threats of thundershowers - in other words, typical summer weather at Pocono...the forecast called for morning rain and afternoon storms. Somehow, despite the ugly clouds, the rain held off all morning. As race time approached, I made my way up to my seat in the grandstand, ready for anything - camera, sunscreen, sandwiches, rain coat, and radio.

The pre-race activities went off without a hitch, driver introductions, the invocation and National Anthem and then it was time to fire the cars up! The skies were still dark, but the field pulled away for a few pace laps before taking the green. Unfortunately, the rain beat the field to the green flag - coming out of Turn 3 to start the race, rain began to fall.

Trying to beat the rain to the green flag.

Clean up in Turn 3...

After a brief, intense, rain shower, the clouds blew out, and with the sun shining and the wind blowing, crews got the track ready to race in record time.

After the rain, officials found a patch of asphalt had come up at the exit of pit road. They filled it before the race began, but in the finest traditions of Pennsylvania highway construction, they placed orange cones around the repair and let the drivers race while the patch material cured.

Action in the pits is always intense.

The race was the usual Pocono blend of pit strategy, long green flag stretches, and some intense racing - two and three wide in the turns, and five and six wide on the front stretch. A late race caution set up a Green/White/Checker shootout, which led to a not-unexpected last lap crash on the Long Pond Straight.

When the smoke cleared, the results were familiar - Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane for the fourth time in the past five races.

One last bit of excitement after the checkered flag - Joey Logano wasn't happy with Kevin Harvick after Harvick spun him late in the race. Logano stopped at Harvick's pit to express his displeasure.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Happy Race Day!

It was off to the races once again - Pocono Raceway, the big triangle in the Pocono mountains, hosted the first of two NASCAR race weekends. And of course I was there. This marked the 40th NASCAR Cup Series race I have attended at Pocono. We were treated to a thrilling, and remarkably clean, ARCA race on Saturday.

As usual, the ARCA race had a wide variety of entrants - the young and old - 18-year-old Chad Finley to 75-year-old James Hylton and everything in between, up-and-coming drivers looking for experience to move on to NASCAR, and the ARCA veterans who have run the series for years, like Frank Kimmel, Bobby Gerhart, and Brad Smith. After a spirited battle between Craig Goess and Mikey Kile, Goess went on to win the race.

Ready for the green flag...

ARCA regular Brad Smith brings his car to the attention of his crew.

Battling for the lead!

Lighting them up after the win.