Third Annual Las Vegas RACECATIONPosted by in General
The following is a day-by-day account of the great annual Vegas RACECATION. It includes race pictures, lots of words including a detailed account of what was going on in my head before and during our Tony Stewart Interview!!! as well as some choice Tony and Ryan quotes from their appearance at the Q&A at the Lagasse Stadium at The Palazzo, and did I not mention race pictures? I am putting a jump in here because this entry is really LONG but I couldn’t bear to break it up.
Wednesday was Driving Day
I spent a majority of my day on Wednesday in my HHR driving to Vegas. I left early so I got to Vegas about 3:15ish. It usually takes me about 8 hours to get to Vegas so I thank my stars for satellite radio. It worries my mom (even though I am well into adulthood and have been pulling these shenanigans for years) that I will hop in the car and drive 8 hours alone in any season. She was much more reassured a couple years go when I invested in the HHR because having OnStar makes her feel a little bit better should I run into difficulties (mechanical or otherwise). I hate to tell her that I can’t put chains on the HHR because of the low profile tires so if I ever did get caught in snow like I was the one time in the RAV I would be fubared. Anyway I met Misty at her office. She was leaving so we caravanned to her house and I settled in. I didn’t take ANY pictures this day because well- I was busy driving for most of it, catching up with Misty for the rest with a side of slight obsessing (probably more on my part than hers) about how this whole Tony Stewart interview would go. So nothing to show for Wednesday.
Thursday was Tony Stewart Day…oh and some other stuff happened too
Thursday started out at the insanely early time of 5:30 AM. Misty had to take her little brother (there is a 19 year difference between them) to school (high school starts at 7 he likes to be there at 6:30 to do the prerequisite hanging out with friends) so there was a blur of showering, dressing and me making Misty promise that we would, at some point, be going back to her house before the Tony interview so I could redress myself appropriately and put some makeup on (she agreed to this).
After the teenage drop off, we grabbed a quick breakfast (bagel) and then went directly to the Strip to get in line at M&M World for our Kyle Busch Appearance tickets. They were being given out at 9:00. By the time we got to M&M World we only had like a 90 minute wait. We stake our place in line…chat up our neighbors in line and the M&M World employee who was the same one who worked the line last year. After we got our ticket we went to the Outlets and drove around Town Square but decided we didn’t want to get out. We had an early-ish lunch and went back to Misty’s to redress and for me to finish getting ready. Camera battery is double and triple checked. Voice recorder also double and triple checked. Misty inquired as to who was driving? I answered that it would probably be best if I did because that way I would have something to think about instead of what was about to happen which would just make me even more nervous.
I am going to interject here about the nerves regarding this whole Tony thing. When I told Misty that the Tony Stewart Interview!!! was for sure happening (I think she was pretty much of the mind that it wouldn’t happen until I basically said um yeah it kinda is) I told her I thought that it would either go really really good or really really bad. Now to clear this up for you readers who haven’t known me for 20 something years like Misty has…what I meant by that had absolutely NOTHING to do with Tony and EVERYTHING to do with me. To be honest, I am excruciatingly shy and also have a tendancy to completely freeze in situations around people I don’t know; but doesn’t pop up ALL the time. I don’t know when and where I will become FROZEN AMY. Anyway I was SURE that FROZEN AMY would rear her head when I was face to face with Tony. He would be there looking at me like he expected something more than “Uh” to come out of my mouth I would be frozen in place with a look of horrification and stupidification on my face (yeah I made those words up- so what). Anyway Misty was under strict instructions that should FROZEN AMY rear her head- she would need to take over and hopefully I would unfreeze eventually. We both had our fingers crossed. So we finally get to Office Depot when we are suppose to the place is packed with Tony fans- lined up outside the building! If I hadn’t been interviewing the man I would be one of the bazillion fans standing in the line to get my 20 seconds with him. It’s something I have done before…and frankly it can be fun I promise you. I had a heck of a time finding a place to park. I had a brief panic in the car while Misty put on her lip gloss. Then we went to walk into Office Depot. I got distracted by the Show Car; Pretty! Shiny! Red! Racecar!!! Must see!!! Luckily Misty had the camera so all she had to say was “We can look at it after” and I was able to actually pass it and make it into Office Depot. It was weird walking past the line I would normally be standing in. Seriously weird. That is where it became kind of surreal. Anyway we get into a pretty much empty Office Depot which was odd to me too because usually I make a beeline for the pens. Or the Post-its. You think I am kidding. Office Depot is one of my top three favorite stores. And it was before they became Tony’s sponsor. So we meet Lisa whom I called when we were pulling in so she would know we were on our way in. She tells us that there might be TV media showing up too and if that was the case she would have them go first so they weren’t “breathing down our necks” (her words not mine). She then took us back to the area in Office Depot where the desks are. They have one of the desks set up with the Tony Stewart edition office chairs behind it (I still want one of those by the way), a huge stack of hero cards, a half dozen or so sharpies (I LOVE Sharpies) and an Office Depot backdrop behind it- that would be his Autographing station. She tells us Tony is there but he’s in the back and as soon as he finishes up there (I assume he was meeting with employees or something) he’d be right out for us…so we hang. I commandeer a fancy desk chair (NOT one of the Tony Stewart edition ones) and sit in it but then I decide that is just awkward for me to be sitting down but before I get up Misty snaps a picture of me. I swear I have a deer-caught-in-headlights look on my face. I tuck my purse under the desk we commandeered and stand there chatting with Misty and I believe the words “I can’t do this” may have been muttered under my breath a couple of times to which Misty kindly replied “Well you are so stop it.” Lisa comes back and tells us Tony is finishing up and introduces us to one of their event photographers- I believe her name was Krista- they then say they are gonna go check on Tony. While standing there chatting mindlessly with Misty I am facing where I expect Tony to be emerging from and emerge he does. He walks over and goofs with Krista and Lisa introduces the us all to each other (well not misty to me but you know Tony to us, us to Tony whatever)….I think he was puzzled by the name of the site. He said something like Amy’s Bad wha? and asked if it was bad bad or bad good. Tony made us feel extremely comfortable. I mean TOTALLY comfortable like I was standing in the back of an Office Depot chatting with my neighbor comfortable- actually probably even more comfortable than that..but I can’t put the level of comfort into words. We explained that our questions were mostly reader generated and did our Tony Stewart Interview!!! (If you haven’t read it go read it. It’s something we are proud of).
After the interview, we thanked him. We did pictures with him. We took our own and the event photographer took some too. During our little photo session we made small talk with Tony (told you- he made us comfortable. I hope the feeling was mutual). We thanked him again. We talked to Lisa a bit as he moved on to the autograph line that had magically appeared whilst we were chatting with Tony.
After we left Office Depot we ran (or more acurately drove) back up to the M&M World and took our place in line to wait for Kyle Busch’s appearance. By the time we got up there and took our place in line it was probably about 4:15 or so. After awhile in line I decided to go down to Coke World next door and get something to drink for Misty and I because we were thirsty (little did I know that there was a coke machine right around the corner from our location in the line). Anyway by the time I get back from the CokeWorld trip, Misty has gotten friendly with the woman behind us in line who just happened to be born and raised (for the first 13 years of her life) in the same town as us. So that was interesting and kind of trippy. Of all the people in Las Vegas, they ended up right behind us in line. So we ended up missing the Hauler Parade because we were in line to meet Kyle. But that was ok because Kyle ended up getting caught up behind the Hauler Parade according to his Twitter. So it’s kinda funny. I have to say that Kyle is a really nice guy. He takes time with everyone and the best is watching him with kids.
After meeting Kyle we left and went directly to dinner because we were starved. We ate at the Rain Forest Cafe since it was right there at the MGM.
Friday was Qualifying Day
On Friday we were off to the track early to make the most of our Neon Garage passes. We get Friday only passes because honestly we usually don’t make it to the track on Saturday. I LOVE the Neon Garage and this year was better for Misty and I since both our drivers were in the same set of Garages (last year Tony and Ryan were off on the opposite side of the garage). We get into the Neon Garage area and we usually just split up. I know if I want to find her she is over at the 24 or the 48 garage area most likely…she knows that if she wants to find me I am usually over at the 14 or the 39. Easy peasy. Seriously if you looked at the card for digital camera you would think that there were only a handful of people in the garage because I really only have pictures of the garage areas of the 14, 39, 24, 48, 5 and 11 and the 5 and 11 were just opportunity shots while waiting by the 14 or 48 area.
We usually go sit up in our seats during the actual qualifying runs and watch them. This year we stayed in the garage the whole time except for when we were out in the midway section with the merch haulers doing our shopping for the race. We actually left and decided to go shopping. So we went to the Venetian and Palazzo to shop in their mall that kind of connects the two casinos together. Misty walked me past the Dooney & Bourke store…and I fell in love with this cute purple purse in the window that I wanted to go in and look at. And look at it I did. I loved it but decided that I wasn’t going to buy it. I wanted it and it wasn’t horribly priced…but I decided against it. This will come into play later on in our story…I promise. Anyway we decided we were hungry and ready for dinner. So initially we decided to walk down to Caesar’s Palace to eat at the Cheesecake Factory there. However, we got partway there and Misty mentioned Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar and Grill…which I love but had forgotten about. Not to mention the fact that it was closer to our location than The Cheesecake Factory. So we went to Toby’s and waited at the bar to get seated. That was interesting in itself because while we were sitting there chatting and minding our own ps and qs there is this whistle that blows and then the bartender gets up on the bar with a bottle of something and begins pouring it in people’s mouths. We refrained. It takes us about an hour to get seated- which is not surprising since it was Friday night on the Strip. We get in our booths and it comes over the loud speaker that David Gilliland and someone else were there in the back doing an autograph session. Convenient. So we ordered our respective dinners. Or actually Misty orders mine for me because…on Friday morning I woke up with NO VOICE. It’s never happened to me before and it was quite frustrating. I felt absolutely find except my throat felt a little funny (didn’t hurt just didn’t feel normal) and I had ABSOLUTELY NO VOICE. As a matter of fact I had called my mom Friday afternoon and left my mom a voicemail that said something to the effect that I was fine, having a great time, but I had no voice but wasn’t sick that I felt fine. Well she apparently misunderstood me because later in the afternoon my dad called to tell me he had gotten back from his week long class his work sent him on and asked me how I felt (he also said “Save your voice cuz you sound like hell. Just answer yes or no” and asked me all these questions) and I could hear him clarifying for my mom that I felt fine just sounded horrible. Anyway I am sitting there trying my darnest to hold a conversation with my friend…although I admit that there was so much more going on in my head because it was just too exhausting to try to shout it the whole time only to have it come out as a series of squeaks. So we are sitting there and I look up and see Misty’s eyes get big. I have known her over 20 years- so I knew that just by her body language that she saw someone she recognized. I didn’t want to turn around and I didn’t need to because a couple minutes later Robby Gordon was seated with a couple of other people in the booth directly behind Misty. The people at the tables by us started taking his picture. I felt bad- I am like he just wants to eat his dinner I am sure. Leave him alone.
Saturday was Shopping day…and Tony Stewart/Ryan Newman Day
We had tickets to the Nationwide race. They were part of our ticket package. However, news reports had it raining at the track on Saturday. I was still voiceless for the most part. I still felt alright. We decided today was shopping day. Which is good because I woke up that morning and decided that I wanted that purple Dooney & Bourke purse that I saw afterall. We went to the Fashion show and walked around. We had a quick lunch. We walked around the Wynn for awhile. Then because I told Misty I wanted that purse after all we went over the footbridge from the Wynn to the Palazzo so we could then walk through to the Venetian and thus to the Dooney & Bourke store. We walk into the Palazzo and there is a woman just inside the door handing out some sort of flyer. Misty denies her flyer and she doesn’t really offer me one. We get probably about 10 feet from her and hear her talking to the people who came in behind us and she says Tony Stewart. So Misty and I double back and get one of her little flyers to find out that she is advertising the Tony Stewart/Ryan Newman dinner at the Lagasse Stadium. The one that I tried to by tickets to but was too late (and it was only 4 days from the time I found out about it in the first place). Turns out? There was a standing room only area. And that area? Was FREE!! We were excited. We would get to see the Tony and Ryan Q&A afterall!!! All thanks to my indecisiveness over a purple Dooney and Bourke purse. I bought my purse. We walked back to the Fashion Show and put our bags in the car we walked around the Fashion Show some more and then made our way back to Lagasse Stadium for the Q&A.
We get into Lagasse Stadium and in the standing room area? They are filming some kind of Jimmie Kimmel bit…not five feet from where we were standing. They finally clear out a bit and we get a front railing view. GREAT! I didn’t have a camera with me. NOT GREAT! But luckily Misty did! So she got pictures.
It was fun to watch Tony and Ryan and the moderator banter back and forth. Misty said that Tony talks about Ryan and the race team like a proud dad..and he really does. I didn’t have the recorder with me either (what was I thinking?) but I DID have a notepad I had been carrying in my purse to make telling Misty things in noisy places like restaurants a little easier. So I took down some noteable quotes from the Q&A:
Tony: I’m a jeans, t-shirt, tennis shoes guy. Being in NY was fun but LV is a lot more my style.
Tony also mentioned how he and Ryan were having a lot of fun during the parade lap down the Las Vegas Strip during champions week.
Ryan: The only time all year we saw the 48 car on the wrecker last year was during the parade lap down the strip.
Tony: Technology is a big part of our sport and is constantly changing.
Tony regarding Ryan: He uses a lot longer words in Northern Indiania than we use in Southern Indiana. In Southern Indiana where I’m from we use a lot shorter words-4 letter words.
Ryan: Our biggest goal last year was to have fun.
Tony when asked how he would rate his first season as a driver owner: I dunno, I thought we did alright? (shrugs as the place errupts in applause).
Tony on his restarts: My brain tells my foot I don’t need to go that fast.
Tony on fishing with Ryan: I change more lures in a day fishing with Ryan than we change shocks and springs in a season.
Tony also talked about how Ryan’s wife Krissie is helping him with his house because he found out he was “In way over my head” and Krissie and Ryan had just completed their house with the same group of people.
Ryan regarding Krissie helping Tony with his house: I am just waiting for him (tony) to get married.
One of my favorite parts of the whole talk though was Ryan was talking about how this was his first race with Torandoes as his sponsor and he talked about a week before he and Krissie toured the Tornadoes plant and talked about how he and Tony like them and what goes in them and that they have no perservatives and on and on. Right below us in the VIP area were a handful of people from Tornadoes and the one lady looked over to the other couple of people and said “He’s good. He’s so hired!”
As we were leaving Misty looked over at me and said “How good are we that we asked a lot of the same questions that they did?” I replied by asking her if she sold them her copy of our Tony questions and she laughed. We decided to eat at the Cabo Wabo Cantina down at Planet Hollywood for dinner. This time we didn’t have to wait- we were seated right away. We hadn’t eaten there before. I give it mixed reviews. I liked my dinner (spicy shrimp enchiladas) and Misty didn’t like her cheese enchilada but liked her taco. My main complaint that it was so loud in there that Misty definitely couldn’t hear me. This night- seated a couple of tables away? Brian Scott.
Sunday was Race Day
On Sunday we got up early and went to the track. We spent some of the morning walking around the midway. We got a goody bag from Target. We got free sample of Coke Zero. We played around at the team Chevy booth and both drooled over the Camaro. I was hoping they would have one of Tony’s dirt cars on display like they did at Phoenix last year but no.
Every year we have attended the Vegas race (this has been the third year) we sit some place different. The first year we sat inbetween turns three and four about four rows from the top of the grandstands. We were actually right were Tony smacked the wall real hard that race (scared the hades out of both of us- Misty grabbed my arm and kept saying he’s ok right? He’s ok right? Is his window net down?) not where he ended up- we were right where he impacted the wall. Those were ok seats. Last year we sat in the Petty Grandstands. those were nice. You are so high up you can see the entire track! This year- we decided to sit on the opposite side in the Earnhardt Terrace and I think these were our favorite seats so far.
For the results of the race you can read my race report entry here.
You can see all my pictures from the race in my LVMS 2010 flickr set.
Monday was Driving Home Day
On Monday I woke up stuffy and sniffly. But my voice was mostly back. I packed up the HHR and headed home after a nice breakfast with Misty. It was a great time- but as always it was a long drive home. But totally worth it. Of course I got sicker the next day.
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