Need for Speed

Except for the speeding that’s inevitable on I-95, most people think of Maryland and Delaware as sleepy, quiet places. But we have a passion for fast cars, fast boats and fast sports here in the Mid-Atlantic.

The trophy for the second jewel of the Triple Crown

The trophy for the second jewel of the Triple Crown Courtesy Maryland Jockey Club

1 Three-year-olds are thrilling for two minutes at the Preakness

Every third Saturday since 1873, ladies have donned their loveliest chapeaux and men their nattiest attire for the second jewel of the Triple Crown.

Younger fans go for the Preakness Infield party with music, non-horsey fun, beer and food.

Held at Pimlico Race Course (5201 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21215, 410-542-9400) the Preakness captures national attention — although we’ve been waiting for another Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978.

Pimlico also has about 30 other race days in the spring.

2 The fuel smells great at Dover Speedway’s Monster Mile

Twice a year, the roar of race cars filled the air of Delaware’s usually serene capital city.

Twice a year, Dover is all about NASCAR!

Twice a year, Dover is all about NASCAR! Courtesy Dover Downs

NASCAR takes on the “Monster Mile” in June and September at Dover International Speedway (1131 N. Dupont Hwy, Dover, DE19901-2008, 302-883-6500) for three days of racing, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Can’t get there for the big weekends? Monster Racing Diving School will put you in the driver seat— or take you on a ride with an expert. Get on the NASCAR track weekends April to October.

3 Grand Prix of Baltimore turns Pratt Street into a racing strip

On Labor Day Weekend, Baltimore becomes Monte Carlo on the Patapsco. Begun in 2011, the

When racing is legal on Baltimore's city streets

When racing is legal on Baltimore’s city streets. Courtesy Grand Prix of Baltimore

Grand Prix of Baltimore  puts internationally-known Indycars and LeMans race car drivers on streets around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

Friday’s race schedule is the most laid-back since it’s all about practice with fewer people and more opportunities to see the cars. Things get serious on Saturday and Sunday. Live music, interactive games and lots of souvenirs make this a must-do in Baltimore.

4 Western Maryland’s whitewater rapids challenge Olympians

The gorgeous Savage and Youghiogheny rivers of Western Maryland boast world class whitewater. The Savage was the site of the 1989 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships — the only time it has been in North America. The championships return to the area for Deep Creek 2014 at the Adventure Sports Center International (250 Adventure Sports Way, McHenry, Maryland 21541, 301-387-3250). Not world class yet? Stop here for a guided rafting tour or paddling instruction. The season runs from March to October and lots of local outfitters organize trips.

5 Lacrosse is the fastest sport on two feet

And it has a passionate following here.

Chesapeake Bayhawks pro lacrosse team

Courtesy Chesapeake Bayhawks pro lacrosse team

The Greyhounds of Loyola University Maryland won the 2012 NCAA championship. Other top laxers play at Johns Hopkins, University of Maryland, U.S. Naval Academy and University of Maryland Baltimore County. The NCAA has hosted lacrosse championships at M&T Bank Stadium three times since 2007.

The professional Chesapeake Bayhawks play April through August in Annapolis.

In any season stop by the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame and Museum (113 West University Parkway, Baltimore, MD 21210, 410-235-6882).

6 Annapolitans pray for a breeze on Wednesday nights

Wednesday night sailing races are an old tradition in the national sailing capital of America,

Hold 'er, Knute! We're racing in Annapolis

Courtesy Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Visitors Bureau

Annapolis. The Annapolis Yacht Club sponsors races through the summer. Races start at 6 p.m. You can see the boats from the Spa Creek bridge, sometimes the City Dock, or a table at one of the waterfront restaurants. Want to get up close? Climb aboard the schooners Woodwind I and II (80 Compromise Street, Annapolis, MD 21401, 410-263-7837) as they compete in a class all their own.

7 When you hear Thunder on Kent Narrows, it’s speedboat racing weekend.

Courtesy Kent Narrows Racing Association

In June,  speed-lovers  gather at Kent Narrows for the Thunder on the Narrows,  a weekend of sleek, loud and fast racing boats. Thunder on the Narrows takes place Saturday and Sunday on the south side of the Kent Narrows Bridge — the first bridge you cross after crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Sponsored by the Kent Narrows Racing Association, races are sanctioned by the American Power Boating Association.

Copyright: Mary K. Tilghman