Everything You Need to Know About New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s Loudon, the Trophy Lobster
New Hampshire Motor Speedway is the only racetrack that rewards its winner each year with a living creature — a massive lobster or, according to the locals, lobstah. When did this tradition get started? Where does the lobster come from? What happens to it after the race?
Here’s all you need to know about Loudon, the trophy lobster.
How is Loudon, the trophy lobster selected?
Since 2010, NASCAR Cup Series winners have been presented with a trophy lobster in their Victory Lane celebration. But this isn’t just your average lobster. It’s gargantuan and ranges in size from 20-26 pounds.
Interestingly, its journey doesn’t start off the shores of the Granite State or in the Gulf of Maine but in Canada, where less stringent regulations allow for capturing mammoth-sized crustaceans. But this is the story for multiple lobsters.
All of them are caught during race week and brought back to Concord to live in a tank at Makris Lobster and Steak House. The largest one is selected and, on race day, is packaged up and brought to the track, where it makes pre-race appearances on TV and in the drivers’ meeting before its big moment later in the hands of the winning driver.
Not all drivers are fans
While most drivers gladly grab the trophy lobster and proudly hold it up victoriously for all the nearby photographers to snap off dozens of photos and capture the moment, Denny Hamlin showed it’s not a celebratory tradition enjoyed by all the winners.
After the Joe Gibbs Racing driver won the race in 2017, he was less than enthusiastic in receiving his winning prize, even running away from it on the stage.
“I’m not going to do anything with it. I’ve seen it and touched it for the last time,” Hamlin said. “I have a lobster phobia. I just don’t like them. I can’t look at it. So as far as I’m concerned, they need to put it back in the water and let it live.”
What happens to the trophy lobster after the presentation?
Hamlin’s wish, however, isn’t what happens. Not long after its moment in the spotlight, the trophy lobster is taken back to the restaurant where it is cooked and a taxidermist carefully removes the meat. And that’s just the beginning of a lengthy process.
The meat, which doesn’t go bad after being cooked and can sometimes weigh as much as six pounds, is then frozen and eventually mailed to the winner. Meanwhile, the taxidermist reassembles Loudon and paints him to appear as close to the original as possible.
It’s then mounted on a plaque for display at the speedway. Normally, the winner then receives the mounted trophy the following year.
And has a great story to tell. Unless you’re Denny Hamlin.