Amazingly, it looks just like Hawthorne, except with less horses. The food selection is a bit different and more expensive, the gift shop is full of Chicago Motor Speedway junk, and the car track out back is coming along real nice. Real nice. It's going to make old Sportsman's Park look like a work of art.
The 1999 McChump ??/365 Racing Tour
27 Exciting Tracks! 13 Thrilling Stories! (so far)
"The Year of Kinda Forgetting to Write Up Stories"
Well, the annual Spring trip west for the brutal conference at the Santa Barbara beachfront resort provided yet another excuse to fly out a couple of days early, and get McChump #2 to fly out as well, for three wonderful days of racing at this old palace. Very interesting discoveries on this trip included a store named Caskets, Etc. right next to the Second Cabin bar, and we couldn't quite figure out what that Etc. might be but we had a great time checking out the names of the different models in the window, and we also discovered that when you're in the proper mood on a morning after visiting the Second Cabin, the trimmed trees inside the fence by the east parking lot look just like a bunch of bare butts sticking out of a ladies rugby scrum. Check it out for yourself in the pictures, chump!
The Mudders and Turfers trip to England and Ireland was flying out of some airport in the greater NYC area, so why not get the McChump Party together and go out a little early amd visit Monmouth and the Jersey shore? So we did. Very pretty, both the shore and the track. Just some pictures.
A little bleary, a little worse for wear and tear, the Mudders and Turfers arrived in London after tossing and turning on the overnight flight, and promptly proceeded to not get lost, as the welcoming sight of a Horse Racing Abroad guide appeared just outside customs. Furthermore, just outside the door was the welcoming sight of a big, plush, comfy, roomy tour bus chartered by that same Horse Racing Abroad, waiting to whisk the weary travellers downtown to their luxurious London accommodations. Relief. Rest. Relaxation.
For WIMPS!, maybe.
Although the hardiest of the Mudders and Turfers had proceeded from Tuesday evening's Indian restaurant dinner directly to another local establishment in order to down a pint or two of Guinness (and other fine English or Irish brews) in attempt to build up strength for the following day, the extra strength apparently must have worn off during the night. For when Wednesday morning rolled around at the St. James Court and it was time to head out for McChump Industries' Enhancement Event #2 of this particular Mudders and Turfers tour, the ultra-cool black London taxi that swung around Buckingham Palace on its way to the King's Cross train station sported a group of passengers in the back seat that numbered substantially less than two.
Perfect timing, chump.
The train(s) back to London from Newmarket got me into town shortly after 3:00pm, a short but successful search turned up the underground station nearest King's Cross, and within a few minutes I was emerging into daylight again outside Victoria Station and hurrying back to the St. James Place. Sprint to the room, change of clothes, sprint to the lobby and ta da! another masterpiece of split second timing by The McChump Tour, as the Mudders and Turfers were just then filing out of the lobby to get on the bus that was to take us to Kempton Park Racecourse for the evening.
Just pictures from here on in, I'm afraid. That Guinness that was cheaper than Budweiser took its toll. Strength or no strength. Maybe one of these days.
First off, let us give thanks to United Airlines and their weekly Internet special e-fares. $109 round trip to Minneapolis is a far, far better thing than 8 hours of driving in either direction. Even factoring in the cost of a fine rental Chumpmobile (National, official sponsor of the NTRA).
-- Saturday, August 14, 1999
-- Approximately 11:30 am, deep in the Texas Hill Country
--- Great Lakes Downs, Saturday, August 21, 1999 ---
After a weekend in the ~150F heat of central Texas, a weekend in a cooler clime had a certain appeal. Thus on a pleasant late Summer afternoon the Chumpmobile could be observed speeding north along the eastern shore of Lake Michigan. After the interstate quality road petered out north of Holland, MI, tulip capital of the world in that particular part of the world, the trip turned into a genuine old-timey country drive. Acres and acres of blueberry fields lined the road in between the forest sections of the lush (and ~150F) green landscape, with roadside stands every few miles offering blueberries and all manner of other produce type items that are typically offered to the produce consuming public in pint, quart, and bushel containers.
Saturday, the last day of the Fairmount meet, and the final day of Dave Gall's riding career. One of those perfect Midwestern Fall days that makes it all worth living here though the humid summers and slushy winters. Blue skies, some puffy clouds, mid-70's temps and no humidity, corn fields turned golden and either standing tall or in the process of being harvested, and road construction. A day that just cried out for a 5 hours drive from Chicago to Collinsville.
In keeping with my belief that it is best to see things with your own eyes and hear them with your own ears, the same belief that motivated me to attend the big conference in Tucson last December, I decided to take part of the day and hop the train downtown to attend the Illinois Racing Board dates hearing for the 2000 racing dates.
Sunday afternoon was a beautiful warm Fall day in Chicago, and in between the betting on the local races and the rushing inside to watch the races from rainy Belmont (and noting that the weather at KEE was also less than ideal and we were damn glad we were here rather than either of those two places), the Hawthorne fans were treated to a special Dave Feldman Day ceremony down in the Winner's Circle.
The December 19th meeting of the Kelly Sampson Fan Club was called to order shortly before the 2nd race. In attendance were the President, the Vice President, the Sgt At Arms, the Treasurer, and the Secretary.