Palmer Motorsports Park is a club racing circuit in a picturesque spot in Hampden County, Massachusetts which opened in 2015. Built near to the towns of Palmer and Ware, the circuit sits atop Whiskey Hill amid lush forest scenery. The course itself is referred to as Whiskey Hill Raceway.
Built within 658 acres of a former logging property, the circuit swoops and falls around the contours of the land to create a true driver's circuit. While boasting modern safety facilities, the track still has an 'old school' feel about it and is a popular venue for New England road racers, who have had a dearth of suitable facilities for many years.
From 2017, the circuit was configured to run in either direction, with the new clockwise direction immediately proving very popular, though the original counter-clockwise route still is the mainstay. Turn numbers remain the same, however, no matter which way the track is running.
In fact, it was the lack of venues locally which prompted the idea for Palmer in the first place. With New Hampshire Speedway increasingly focusing on NASCAR and other oval racing and Lime Rock being a considerable distance away, having something closer to home – and cheaper to rent – became a priority for the New England Region (NER) of the Sports Car Club of America. In 2007 the NER put forward plans for a $20 million circuit on the site, to operate on similar lines to other SCCA-owned facilities, such as Buttonwillow and Thunderhill in California.
Planning permissions were relatively swiftly obtained and a limited liability company was set up by the NER to build and operate the facility. All seemed set to progress until the company contracted for the development of the track terminated the deal at the end of 2010, with no work having been started.
For several years it seemed that the project would be stillborn, until SCCA members Fred Ferguson and Jonathan Fryer stepped in to buy out the NER and bring the project to fruition. With minor modifications to the original plans (designed to enlarge the paddock area), ground breaking finally began in October 2013. Ground blasting might actually be a more appropriate description, however, as several sections had to be dynamited from the rocky outcrop, although that did at least provide plenty of material which could be broken up and reused for the road bed.
Construction continued throughout 2014 but the first previews of the circuit were made in early 2015, when the main track surface was complete. Work to add the final finishes took place over the spring with the track opening in May 2015.
As with the original intentions, club racing forms the main competitive activity, with Palmer becoming something of a showpiece circuit for the SCCA NER and other motorsports clubs in New England . The track is one 32 weeks a year from April to November, weather permitting, with general testing, track days and use by law enforcement agencies for training purposes among the other activities envisaged.
In 2017, after several years of running in a counter-clockwise direction only, the track made various safety modifications to allow for running in either direction.