Chasing Steeples

The President of the Miata Club is also a member of the local Sertoma Club, that helps put on the Aiken Spring Steeplechase. Because of this, he has a pretty nice Subscriber spot along the inside rail that includes 4 tickets and 2 parking passes. For some reason he had to go out of town and couldn’t use them this year, so he offered them up for the Club to use as an event. At first there were 8 people interested, then there were six and then just four; Dennis & Karol Mason and us.

The Masons came over this morning in their pickup loaded with an awning, two coolers and a small grill to pick up our food stuff to take it to the track. Donna and Karol decided to walk to the track while Dennis & I would drive. The guys drove in the truck a half mile south to get ice, then back to Boardman Rd, so Brian could get the Emperor. Because of the gate the vehicles were supposed to enter, they had to drive 2–1/2 miles north to almost downtown Aiken, a half mile east and then the 2–1/2 miles back south on a different road to the racetrack. After all that, the guys and the two vehicles still arrived at the designated parking spot a couple minutes before the ladies walked their one mile.

We were originally not going to drive the Miata to the races, figuring someone else in the Club could use the parking pass, but seeing as it was just the two couples going we figured someone had to represent. Turns out it was sort of good thing we did, as it attracted a couple of fellow Miata owners from nearby parking spots and I got to hand out a couple of Club calling cards.

The gates opened at 9 and by 9:30 we had the Mason’s pop-up awning in place, chairs laid out and our tailgating spot all set up. It was basically cloudy all morning, but precisely at the 1:00PM post time for the first race it started sprinkling. After the first race ended, it stopped. It didn’t exactly work out like that all afternoon, but it certainly seemed to, dry in between, precipitation during the 5 minutes of racing time. It poured and thundered a little during the big money 4th race, but the damp weather didn’t dampen anyone’s spirit in our little corner of the race course.

The last race started at 4:00PM and by the time it was over at 4:10 we had the vehicles loaded and were rolling out of our parking area. We managed to get about a 100 yards towards our designated exit gate when we came to a stop at the end of the line. The exit was only about another 100 yards ahead of us,but because of the way the internal parking was laid out, all six perpendicular rows between us and freedom were emptying out while we stood still. Thirty minutes later we had crept forward only about 30 feet. After ten more minutes we were only a half a Miata length closer to the exit. I made a command decision and swung left into an empty parking spot to park. Dennis and Karol pulled by us parallel to the line, went up to next row and turned against the line leaving to seek another exit.

Donna and I walked around a bit, I used a Port-A-Potty, we visited some with the few co-workers who were still at the Valve Store’s ™ annual spot and then wandered back to where the Miata was. We got a cold drink from the trunk and sat on the fence watching the glacial progress of the exit line. Donna texted the Mason’s to say we were still inside the track. They texted back that they’d gotten out the red gate. The car that I was behind when I got out of line had moved maybe 3 cars lengths closer to leaving. We got in the Miata and turned the other way and wound around until we found the green gate and freedom. When we got to our street Donna texted, “We’re Home,” their reply was, “We’re a minute away.” They live in Augusta, a 45 minute drive away, and we live literally 3 minutes from the steeplechase field and we both got home at the same time. 

I took the panoramic photo above standing in the bed of the Mason’s pickup truck about an hour before post time of the first race. While searching around the menu of my camera looking for a burst mode so that I would be sure to get at least one whole race horse in the frame of one of my pictures I found a setting that said “Multi-shot 12” under the continuous section. Figuring I had solved my problem, I took a test snap. Below is what I got.

12 Multi-shot