Palmer Motorsports Park, located in Palmer, MA, was the brain child of the NER SCCA (Sports Car Club of America New England Region). Soon they created the NER Investments LLC to create, own and operate Palmer Motorsports Park. After many professional and public hearings, they issued a special permit to build in December of 2007. The LLC then signed with a local developer to build the new circuit layout, hotel and restaurant, private garage and visitor center.
The track, Whiskey Hill Raceway, was completed and operating in May of 2015. The track is 2.3 miles long, 40 feet wide, has 190 feet of vertical elevation, 14 turns and most of all, unbelievable scenic views of the mountains that span past Massachusetts and into, Connecticut, New York, Vermont and New Hampshire.
On October 8th, 2022, Larz Anderson and Palmer hosted their annual Laps with Larz event. It is their annual event that allows for inexperienced or new drivers that want to go a little faster the ability to do so without the requirements of a full on track day.
The morning was cold, but that didn’t stop anyone from attending this event. Some had come in previous years and some were attending for the first time. Being the photographer for the event, I had the opportunity to drive around the track in the morning before anyone else so that I could pick my spot. When the driver’s were ready to hit that track, they took me up to corner 10. Corner 10 is perfectly situated up on a hill, so that I had a view of corner 8 as well. Below is a view of the track and what corners are where, curtesy of palmer Motorsports Park’s website.
As the cars came down the track, you could hear the engines revving around corner 6 into one of the first series of turns. One after another, they were lead by a more experienced driver. Each group went around the track three times before returning to grid. The first lap was slow, just to get them used to the track, the second was where they were able to pick up some speed, and the third was full on (as much as it could be).
In the middle of the day, the attendees broke from their runs on the track. Some of them got the opportunity to partake in hot laps with Ron Savenor. These lap required those participating to wear a helmet as he was going to give them the full track experience. Even not being in the passenger seat for this part, I had participated in ride alongs at several track and autocross events before, and I recall the feeling quite well. It is a different experience from when you are driving the track or course on your own. It is a bit more exciting, or maybe frightening. In my opinion it is only frightening because you are not the one that is in control.
At the end of the day, and after almost filling up one of my SD cards, I had the chance to take my turn on the tack. I had my 2001 Miata that day, one of my more fun cars to dive, and one of my manuals. While you can still have fun on a track with an automatic car, I prefer to take the turns in a manual. You have more control over the speed of your vehicle without having to use your break as much.
I would’ve liked to have taken my laps a bit faster, but it was still great to experience the track first hand for the first time. As I was walking back to my car to head to my next adventure for the day, I heard someone say it best, “it was great to meet you today, It is always a good time to get together and meet new people with a common interest.” It is small moments like that one that make the experience that much more enjoyable. Having the chance to meet more like minded people is always a bonus to any car event. I will definitely be back for more events at Palmer Motorsports Park.
Until next time.