So several weeks ago I promised you all a story at the end of this post about the first Chase race. Really it’s the story of my first ever race…and I am not talking my first NASCAR race.
Not so long ago in a galaxy not so far away- back when the IRL series was known as the CART series, my dad decided that my fandom of motorsports was not a flash in the pan and I think secretly he was thrilled. The Indy cars were coming to Laguna Seca- which is very close to where we lived. At the time I was into that series (I lost interest in it when CART split into IRL and CHAMP and half of my favorite drivers went one way and half went the other way). Since I had always shown a love of racing and specifically CART at the time- my dad laid down what I know was big bucks for him at the time for weekend grandstand tickets in Turn 11 as well as weekend paddock passes for the two of us for the race in Monterey. I was a teenager at the time- so it was probably somewhere around 1990-1991 I think. My parents even excused my absence from school so that we could take full advantage of our weekend tickets.
I had a great three days! My favorite part was wandering around the paddock with my dad watching the crews work on the cars under their tents (there were no real garage stalls there at the time- so teams just set up little tented areas next to their car haulers). We would get to the track as soon as they would let us in each day- so often times we were wandering around the paddock while the teams were getting set up and the paddock was still relatively empty. I had a chance to walk down pit road- a friend my dad knew from work was working security at the gate and would take my us down pit road even though we only had paddock tickets- but alas I was too young (by less than a year too). DENIED- but that is not the story you are looking for.
But it’s not my denial of access onto pit road as a teen that you are here for- it my story of hospitality denial. Near our seats in the grandstands, Havoline- one of the oil company sponsors had a large hospitality tent sent up. My father decided he was going to try to get into the tent. Sure he was going to get kicked to the curb, I made my way to our seats with our huge stashes of hero cards and sponsor freebies and waited for him. And waited. And waited. I assumed that he had gotten into the secretive Havoline tent after all. And got in he did. He came back up to our seats in the stands with a huge bag of swag and tales of an elaborate food layout and all the beverages you could ever want. “You should go down there…just sign in and say you are with the local gas company like I did. It’s not a lie I do work for the local gas company (natural gas and power not gasoline).” He cajoled me and cajoled me until I finally made the trek down to the hospitality tent and stood at the reception table to get into the tent. I get to the sign in list and scrawl my name and affiliation just as my dad had several entries above mine. The hostess at the table looked at me and set the swag bag she had previously been holding to hand out to me back down. Damn it. I had been made and I knew it. “And what is your affiliation?” She asked me looking at my entry on the sign in sheet and then back at me with a look that told me I was not getting into the sacred tent. I mumbled something like “Well my dad was just in” and then I slinked away from the tent completely MORTIFIED as any awkward, extremely shy teenager would. My dad, of course thought this was uproariously funny and would (and likely still) tell the story to anyone who would listen.
Of course this early denial in my race going is no doubt why I have a desire to be (validly) wined and dined in a hospitality tent at a race no doubt (see the Bucket List for more about that). Or a suite…a suite would be nice too. Or it could just be I am cheap and don’t want to buy my diet cokes and hot dogs.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.