Automotive Personal and Family Ramblings

Birthday Trip to Jaguar Wine Country Classic

I’m waaay behind on my blogging, so here goes!

Shana surprised me last minute with a trip to Napa valley for the Jaguar Wine Country Classic Historic Car races. The feature this year was late 60’s/early 70’s trans-am cars. Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros and the like were all in attendance representing the last of the good years from SCCA racing. And what a display of beautiful examples, these cars were all in perfect and restored condition — and then they ran the shit out of them! I have a lot of respect for that!

We drove down very early on Friday, and stayed in nearby Petaluma. Shana found this quaint little European-style hotel, Metro Hotel & Cafe.

The room was an astounding $89 a night and was cleverly appointed with bright colors against white walls, and just enough amenities to make your stay comfortable. And with wireless internet, I played a little poker… Naturally!

While in Petaluma, we discovered that their downtown is experiencing renewed growth and is starting to resemble the surrounding valley towns, with new shops, restaurants and bars. We had Sushi Friday night at Hiro’s, and it was probably the nicest Sushi place I’ve been to. Attention to detail was to the extreme, and the sushi was only the best of the fish. The downside is that the best part doesn’t equal a large portion, Amatsu has spoiled me!

Saturday night after the races, the cars make a parade lap through Sonoma and park on the square. This sounded like a good time, but the square was loaded with people. We decided to find a place to sit and have some appetizers and drinks on the square to watch the cars circle by. The place we found was the Ledson Hotel.

We were a bit under dressed to say the least, and the pompous waiter did his best to appear unamused with our decision to visit his restaurant. But we stayed nonetheless and had some of the most decadent appetizers I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. Shana had the fresh spinach ravioli w/ grilled asparagus, and I had the appetizer sampler with fresh spring roll, and some other delicacies I can’t recall. And in honesty, the bill of ~$40 with a few drinks was quite reasonable. We’ll have to come back and stay there sometime, only $400 a night 😉

And of course, no Sears Point visit is complete without a stop by the ‘The Meat Store’. I got the prosciutto sandwich, and it’s just as good as I remembered, piled about 2 inches thick! Angelo makes his own meats, olives, salsas, jerky, and seasonings. So when you stop in, the portions are very generous, and being only 10 minutes from the track is the perfect location!

A wonderful and relaxing weekend getaway from my wife, Thank You Honey!

Complete gallery.


Automotive Ramblings

Audi Club Track Days at PIR

The good: The Rabbit cannot be stopped, and in fact, it can pass S4 owners with twice the horsepower due to the amazing corning abilities of this little car! That’s no BS, Paul and I both were flagged by because some of the ‘intermediate’ skilled drivers with 350hp+ don’t know how to drive. And I swear, the harder we beat the car, the better she performed. We did have to replace an exhaust hanger and bleed the brakes between days, but otherwise that little car took abuse from two drivers in separate sessions for two days straight without complaint! Can’t wait to go again, thanks again Paul for a beautifully constructed car!

The bad: It would appear the Audi Club chose profits over safety this particular weekend. The event was supposed to be limited to 50, and over 70 were in attendance. Furthermore, they only had a total of 3 corner workers available, which didn’t inspire any confidence either. But the worst was the complete inability to effectively manage this many people and the poor attitude of senior club members. The first day, no one had a clue and didn’t seem to care to get one either. My honest overall feeling of the event was that this was a much needed fundraiser to afford a track day and that they would have to put up with the nuisance of everyone else who was paying for their day.

As usual on track days, no one knew where to be or what to do without stumbling around. I’m used to that, but usually things come together by the driver meeting. Not this club. Paul and I were both new members to the club and paid our membership with the track day fee. Luckily we had our email receipts because this total asshole never got confirmation on the 15+ new members who paid the same way did and wasn’t going to let them out without paying again or proof of payment. What kind of bullshit is this, we’re using your email form and submitting CC numbers — get your act together!!

Then it’s Paul’s turn to go out and he’s required to have an instructor. He queue’s up and gets an ‘instructor’. Well apparently, instructors are club members who pay only $50 for the track day, but agree to ride with novices. And the guy Paul got was apparently totally lousy. Paul was ready to leave and I can’t say I blame him. These ‘instructors’ were just be interested in a cheap track day rather than helping novice drivers. My solution worked to keep us at the track: Since no one has a clue what’s going on, I’ll ride as Paul’s instructor. And it worked! No one noticed, and I got Paul the info he needed and after that he ran by himself. No one questioned it, and he was never flagged for bad judgment, driving or otherwise because by now he knew what he was doing and passing guys in $50k cars. The next day, they start barking at him for trying to go out without an instructor and he has to explain to 4 or 5 people that he was out all day yesterday w/o one. Luckily the instructor they forced on him next was actually helpful and day 2 was saved.

Long story short, I won’t be going back to their events. I was glad to get the time on track, but we have options.