While some students head home after school, others head to Whip-o-Will Stables, where they learn basic horse handling, nutrition, and grooming during the After-School Horsemanship Enrichment program. It's one of many interactive services Whip-o-Will Stables offers that are geared toward instilling respect and responsibility in youngsters. Another: the Future Trainers program, prepares pupils for careers in the field. During these sessions they groom their charges, learn to teach them various jumps, and explain the best routes to mane-braiding salons.
In addition to these programs, the staff goes over age-appropriate horsemanship and riding skills during lessons and hosts Fairy Tale Farms pony parties. The latter comes complete with pony rides, arts and crafts, and potato-sack races.
The tree-lined fairways that constitute Woodstock Golf Course were once sheep pastures, but you'd have to go back more than a century to find any grazing ewes there. Built in 1896, the course is one of the state's oldest nine-hole facilities. Since its inception, the owners have worked to keep the course inclusive and accessible, as reflected in its relative simplicity and inclusion of only one moderate hill. But like procuring blueprints of your bank, navigating the 2,397-yard course still requires care: golfers must maneuver through narrow fairways and small greens precisely if they want to make par.
Longtime racing fans got to know the name Tom Baldwin in the late '70s, when the modified driver became a legend: 11 wins from 1978 to 1992. His legacy continues today in his son, Tommy Baldwin, Jr. In 2009, the younger Baldwin founded his own racing team, and its star is still on the rise. Besides winning the prized checkered flags, Tommy Baldwin Racing gives fans firsthand track experience in the driver's or passenger's seat of track cars and American muscle monsters.
More than 560 horses come to life when you ignite the engine inside one of The Racing School's authentic stock cars. The ensuing roar engulfs the entire vehicle, and your body rumbles as you grab the steering wheel and look towards the track. No stop signs. No pace cars. Just grip the steering wheel and drive?a race-car driver is born.
The Racing School has facilitated more than 14 years of thrilling moments just like this (and documented many of them on video). The staff here consists of current and former professional racers, who teach novices how to handle traditional stock cars, racing trucks, and other high-octane vehicles. Once instructors cover acceleration, braking, warp speed, and the other essentials, training culminates with a driving experience at professional-level tracks, including Waterford Speedbowl, Devils Bowl Speedway, and Thompson Speedway. Here, the experts give newbies the freedom to drive like pros, encouraging passing and letting drivers set their own pace.
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.