In 1938, "The Long Island Expressway"—a vicious hurricane—plowed through John Hoenig's property in Thompson, Connecticut. His farm was destroyed, but when he decided to rebuild, he didn't rebuild the farm. Instead, he began clearing his land for the area's first 5/8-mile, high-banked racetrack. As soon as it opened, it was heralded as "the Indianapolis of the East." It was a destination for racecar drivers across the country.
In the more than 70 years since then, the track has blossomed into Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park. Today, it's one of the country's oldest tracks, besides that one high-banked crop circle from 1910. It plays host to three iconic racing events, including the World Series of Speedway Racing, and its modernized 5/8-mile oval now shares its space with a 1.7-mile road course. Even more exciting, neither track is just for pros. Civilians can try out the speedster lifestyle during driving school, or as part of the Driver's Club, which offers 30 days of members-only access to the track each year.
Situated inside Mohegan Bowl, All Star Pub invites patrons to kick up their feet after a few rounds of bowling to indulge in appetizers, burgers, and beer. Draft and bottled brews wet whistles in time for hand-tossed taco pizzas to appear draped in pico de gallo and housemade tortilla chips. Shareable appetizers such as spicy jalapeño bottle caps preheat maws before diners chow down on half-pound burgers, stacked pastrami grinders, and salads tossed with grilled chicken. Before venturing back to the lanes or to the arcade, patrons can dig into chocolate-fudge brownies or a Candle-Pin Strike—fried balls of dough served with ice cream and drizzled with raspberry sauce.
The cooks at Piccadilly Pub Restaurant bake, fry, grill, and assemble a medley of sandwiches, seafood platters, and other comfort cuisine. Haddock fillets take a dip in a light beer batter before trans-fat-free oil cooks them to a golden crisp, and fries and coleslaw cuddle up beside them in a dish of fish 'n' chips ($11.69). A dozen seafood platters harvest additional ocean occupants, including lobster, salmon, shrimp, and mermaid-grown sea vegetables. Baked bowls of shepherd's pie ($9.59) and chicken pot pie ($8.99) release a flood of steam after knives and forks cut into the blistering combination of seasoned meat and vegetables. A different house-made soup holds court daily ($3.50–$4.50), and the soothing staples of Piccadilly clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl ($7.99) and lobster bisque ($4.59–$7.99), taking their middle-school yearbook inscriptions to heart, never change.
Hosted by owner and former Funniest Comic in Boston winner Dan Smith, the laughmasters at Wisecracks Comedy Club mine for chuckle deposits in funny bones throughout Worcester County. Wisecracks's professional acts engage errant guffaws with new looks at evergreen topicsm, including love, life, and the ethical implications of the Large Hadron Collider. Groupon holders can fly solo or flock in V formation with up to nine wingmen to any show in 2011, including appearances by Tonight Show veterans such as Gary Gulman and Dwayne Perkins.
Since taking its current name in 1975, Bayberry Bowling Center has blossomed from a 16-lane candlepin bowling alley to a modern entertainment center. Today, automatic scoring tracks every strike as video cameras record each frame, allowing bowlers to review their technique and rank their post-throw victory dances. Guests itching to improve their game can work with the alley's certified instructor, and those itching to improve their glass-handling skills can choose from 25 varieties of beer and wine as they watch the latest game on two 12-foot televisions. Competition continues in the billiards room, where players sink eight balls on two 8-foot and six 9-foot tables, and in the arcade, where visitors vie for tickets and prizes on a constantly updated array of video games. Bayberry Bowling Center stays open until 11 p.m. seven days a week.