Loudon and the New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Putting the Pedal to the Metal
Our speed queen, Courtney Hoppe, drove this dashing Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4.

Let’s be honest: there’s only one real reason to venture to Loudon and that’s for the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The smart thing about the Speedway is that the people who run it give us a reason to visit Loudon year-round — from the Gift of Lights during the holiday season to the NASCAR races during the summer months. Sprinkled therein are activities for racing enthusiasts like the FANtasy Drive Event where you can actually bring your own vehicle out on the track. Being the proud owner of a relatively new Mini, I have been dying to open up my little bulldog. (If you’ve seen “The Italian Job,” you know what I mean.) Unfortunately, there was still snow on the track when this year’s FANtasy event was slated to happen. Check the Speedway website and maybe you can join me for the rescheduled event if it hasn’t already occurred when this piece goes to print.

Sub in an alternate fan activity: the Exotic Racing Experience. For $169 to $419, you can drive one of the world’s renowned “super cars,” as I’ve learned they are called, five times around the 1.6-mile track — as fast as you can get it. I invited two of my race enthusiast friends and off we went on our Loudon adventure. At the track, we took an hour-long seminar with a handful of other folks and learned about the cars we were about to drive. I call them “folks” because they truly represented all walks of life — the elderly couple, the two young guys who looked like they just got off work from the construction site, the 40-something car mechanic who came straight from the shop and soldiers in uniform. Then, of course, there was my motley crew, with my boys interjecting questions throughout our lesson that they probably already knew the answers to. After some light discussion concerning paddle shifting, we were set loose to the track.

I drove a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. My max speed was 106 mph. I was told that most people only made it into the 90s that day so I did quite well. As far as time, I fell in the middle of our threesome, 10 seconds behind our pack leader who drove the Audi R8. Our other compadre fell 10 seconds behind me and will hate me for putting that in print. He was in the Ferrari 458 Italia. What surprised me the most about this experience is that multiple cars were allowed on the track but our professional co-pilots were radioed in, always making sure we were safe. They told us when/how to turn, when to brake and when we could really hit the gas.

Exhilarated, we found the only place in town where we could toast our victory: the Hungry Buffalo Restaurant & Lounge, which is a true slice of Americana. Although we didn’t plan on eating there, we couldn’t resist trying the Alligator Bites and an order of Bison Teriyaki. Both tasted like chicken.

For dinner, we jetted just a little farther down Rte. 106 to the Makris Lobster & Steak House, which we quickly realized is where the locals gather. Although the Makris is technically located in Concord, it’s far enough from the city center that it feels more Loudon-esque. Still high from the experience, I helped kick off the weekend by buying a round of celebratory drinks for the rowdy-ing crowd. Every time we looked up from our plates of fried seafood goodness, more people had spilled in. And before we left, more than one liquidated lady had draped her arms around the three strangers wearing lanyards.

I’ll be romping around Wolfeboro soon! If you have any suggestions of where I should go and what I should do, let me know by commenting on the wall of my Facebook page or via my website