The group that calls itself the Quogue Football League (QFL), a name taken from its fantasy football team, cooks up a party on charcoal Weber grilles at least three hours before the game starts. The potluck consists of homemade hot sausages, a pot of killer chili, filet mignon, turkey burgers, hamburgers, hot dogs, fancy red wines, and an eclectic variety of beer. There’s also the QFL’s famous drink, The Joe Namath, made of apple cider and Crown Royal.
While they nosh, these diehard Jet fans set up a satellite dish on the back of the car so they can watch the game on a 20-inch TV. The day we came to interview them, the parents of Jay Fiedler – Chad Pennington’s backup quarterback – stopped by. That was also the unfortunate day that Fiedler stepped in for Pennington and suffered a shoulder injury. The Jets took a 26-20 overtime loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Bummer. Yeah. But, no matter, these guys always have a party.
“We eat and drink, complain about our wives, talk about sports while listening to music and the pre-game show,” explains Warner, Vice President of Studio One, an apparel manufacturer in Manhattan.
“This is my therapy,” he says, “I get away from things for a while. I leave the house at 9:45 a.m. and don’t come back until 4:30 p.m. I look forward to these Sundays all year. I look forward to them just as much as the game.”
We asked this seasoned group for their 10 favorite vehicles of choice when it comes to tailgating.
The cool quotient: No question that the 2007 Cadillac Escalade brings IT to tailgating. This high-end luxury suv looks lovely just sitting still.
Passenger capacity: Seven (eight with optional second-row bench seat).
Cargo space: 109 cubic feet with rear seat removed and second-row seat folded down (137 cubic feet for the Escalade ESV model). Tailgaters should have no problem making room for ice buckets to chill their Cristal and platters for their canapés.
Sound system: Standard XM satellite radio and a premium ten-speaker Bose surround sound system with an in-dash six-disc CD changer.
Practicality: The 2007 Cadillac Escalade is big, but not impossibly so. It still can maneuver around a parking lot.
Extras: Heated front and outboard rear seats provide warmth during those freezing December games; optional rear-seat DVD entertainment system with an eight-inch screen lets you view last year’s highlights before kickoff.
The cool quotient: The 2006 Chrysler Pacifica’s muscular, all-American profile turns heads.
Passenger capacity: Up to six (five on entry level models).
Cargo space: Up to 92.7 cubic feet with all seats folded.
Sound system: Basic system is an AM/FM/CD stereo with seven speakers and steering wheel-mounted controls. A premium 385-watt Infinity Intermezzo Digital 5.1 Surround Sound system with eight speakers and a subwoofer is available, as is Sirius satellite radio.
Practicality: This crossover suv/wagon is luxurious without being flashy. The 2006 Chrysler Pacifica is more maneuverable than a big truck, but more spacious and sporty than a typical station wagon. It’s been rated best-in-class for safety.
Extras: Grocery bag hooks on the backs of front seats; four-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick manual shift mode; and a variety of trim levels.
Passenger capacity: Up to seven, and for 2006 the third row of seats has been raised slightly for better back-of-the-bus visibility.
Cargo space: Up to 83.7 cubic feet, with second and third rows folded, making enough room for a keg or two with just the third-row removed.
Sound system: Dual-media premium AM/FM stereo with single CD, MP3 player, cassette player, and Sirius satellite radio.
Practicality: The Explorer is a tried-and-true family SUV. Not too big and not too small, this truck can be maneuvered into parking spaces and its 4WD system navigates mucky fields with ease.
Extras: Available DVD-based navigation system (a first-ever feature for the Explorer) with a 6.5-inch LCD screen.
Passenger capacity: Four
Cargo space: Up to 133.2 cubic feet, with the rear seats removed.
Sound system: Four-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo; seven-speaker system with subwoofer and MP3 jack available.
Practicality: The Honda Element is compact and maneuverable, with the added practicality of a hose-down interior. Suicide doors flap open for easy access.
Extras: The fold-down rear tailgate adds seating capacity while parked at the stadium; 12-volt front and rear accessory outlets provide power; a removable rear skylight (available on some models) brings in the sun.
The cool quotient: It’s hard to see what’s hip about a minivan, but perhaps that’s the 2006 Honda Odyssey’s secret. Beneath its unassuming, suburban exterior lives a highly practical vehicle that can swallow your ice-chests and haul your folding chairs.
Passenger capacity: Up to eight.
Cargo space: Up to 147.4 cubic feet, with second- and third-row seats removed. There’s plenty of space with the third row removed for a cooler and the family dog.
Sound system: AM/FM stereo with four speakers and in-dash CD; premium sound system with seven speakers, XM satellite radio and in-dash 6-CD changer also available.
Practicality: A power liftgate and sliding rear doors (standard on all but the base model) are a huge convenience. The wide-open sides and wide rear opening make for easy in-and-out.
Extras: Available DVD entertainment system and home-linked navigation system; Touring model has a 115-volt power outlet. And get this: the Honda Odyssey has Lazy Susan under the second row, perfect for hiding your favorite dessert.
Passenger capacity: Seats five, plus at least three Patriot/Dolphin fans in the aforementioned in-bed trunk area.
Cargo space: Up to 41.4 cu. ft. with the second - row seat folded.
Sound system: A 100-watt AM/FM/CD stereo with six speakers is standard, or you can step up to a 160- watt system with a six-disc in-dash CD changer with seven speakers, including a subwoofer. Also available is XM satellite radio, an MP3 auxiliary jack and Honda’s DVD Entertainment System – so little Mary can watch Sleeping Beauty while you’re playing a game of catch or swilling down a brew.
Practicality: Look up practical in the dictionary, and there it is – a Ridgeline, smiling at you with its multi-use tailgate that can swing out or down, a tough composite bedliner, and that wonderful in-bed trunk – for soda pop and such.
Extras: Front and rear seating areas have 12-volt outlets and the rearview mirrors fold in, a nice bit of protection in a crowded parking lot. Perhaps best of all, the Ridgeline is pre-wired to tow a trailer. And if you’re really into the tailgating life, you have a trailer – and, thus, should drive the perfect tailgater’s car.
Passenger capacity: Six, with power-folding rear single seat.
Cargo space: Up to 86.6 cubic feet with the second-row seats folded. You can fit a satellite dish and a 40-inch TV screen inside, and still have room to pass the potato chips.
Sound system: Available XM satellite radio.
Practicality: Football game in Buffalo, and it’s December? The H2 will get you there and keep you dry, not to mention the brauts.
Extras: Rear seat DVD entertainment.
The cool quotient: The sheer newness of the 2006 Jeep Commander makes you want to take a second look. At the same time, Jeep’s newest SUV recalls the burly Wagoneer – an old-time favorite of tailgaters everywhere.
Passenger capacity: Up to seven.
Cargo space: Up to 68.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded.
Sound system: AM/FM/CD/MP3 system integrated within the navigation system, which features a 5.8-inch full-color screen and joystick for scrolling through menus and features; Sirius satellite radio is available.
Practicality: The hunky 2006 Jeep Commander is larger than the Grand Cherokee, but its exterior size is matched by interior conveniences such as 50/50 split rear seats, available rear stadium seating with heating and air conditioning ourlets, and a flat-fold cargo floor.
Extras: Available UConnect hands-free Bluetooth cell phone system; available rear-seat DVD entertainment system; dual skylights over second row of seats.
Land Rover Range Rover
The cool quotient: A favorite of A-list celebrities and off-road enthusiasts, the 2006 Land Rover Range Rover brings tailgating to new, and noticeable, heights.
Passenger capacity: Five.
Cargo space: Cargo area height: 39.3 inches. Cargo area length with rear seat up: 42.3 inches. Cargo area length with rear seat folded: 62.5 inches. Cargo volume with rear seat up: 34.5 cu.-ft. Cargo volume with rear seat folded: 74.0 cu.-ft.
Sound system: Harman/Kardon sound with 710 watts of power and 14-speakers.
Practicality: The Land Rover Range Rover’s sleek bulk is easy to guide through crowded parking lots thanks to nimble handling, and its high ground clearance with adjustable ride-height suspension is a nice feature for rocky, muddy fields.
Extras: Split tailgate is convenient for accessing the rear cargo space, and in bad weather you can lift the rear glass to block showers and sit on the dry tailgate. A rear camera provides assistance while reversing into a parking space and a six-disc DVD changer with dual viewing screens is available for backseat passengers.
Lexus LX 470
The cool quotient: This top-of-the-line Lexus SUV is best appreciated from the inside, where bird’s-eye maple accents, premium leather and all-around sumptuousness will make you want to profile around the parking lot.
Passenger capacity: Up to eight.
Cargo space: Up to 90.4 cubic feet with the third row of seats removed and the rear seat folded.
Sound system: AM/FM/cassette/CD with six-disc in-dash changer and seven speakers; available 240-watt Mark Levinson audio system with 11 speakers.
Practicality: The Lexus LX 470 is not made for tight spaces, but its people-carrying capacity and available features such as a roof rack make it a useful – and luxurious – choice for tailgating.
Extras: Nine cupholders, a tool kit, and a first-aid kit are handy additions.
Photos courtesy of the manufacturers