Well here it is- the annual Vegas Racecation Diary with pictures! Sorry for the delay- I had some fairly major issues with my laptop…but those have all been ironed out. Thank you for your patience and I hope that you like the pictures Misty and I have to share with you from the great time we had at the Kobalt 400 in Las Vegas. Also- stay tune next week we will be announcing a contest for some cool Tony Stewart prizes.
If you have been reading for about a year or more than you might know that for me the start of NASCAR is really the Kobalt Tools 400 because that is usually the first race of the season that I attend in person. It was also- for those new to BadGroove- the very first NASCAR race and the very first oval track race I ever attended so Las Vegas Motor Speedway will always hold a special place in my heart.
For me it always starts with a 500 mile drive to Vegas. I threw all my luggage, cameras, and other accoutrements into the the back of the Chevy Equinox on Wednesday morning and off I went. It usually takes me about twice as long as a NASCAR race to get there- depending on how many times I stop and traffic.
On Thursday Misty had to work for half a day- so I dropped her off at work and went shopping as a means to entertain myself. Whilst wandering around Target I saw that Kurt Busch would not face any charges from the District Attorney in Dover and was surprised when later that morning it was announced he would STILL not be allowed to drive the 41- I talked about that in my Good, Bad, & Ugly column I did for Beyond The Flag. Misty just happens to work a quick maybe 10 minute drive from the big Bass Pro Shop that is connected to the Silverton Hotel and Casino (which I have coincidentally stayed at before- it’s kind of a cool place to stay at- or at least it was back when we stayed there). I shop at Bass Pro whenever I am in town- and what better way than to kill some time then by supporting my driver’s sponsor, am I right? After the noontime hour rolled around Misty and I drove up to the track to get our credentials. I have to tell you- I can not help to get a big ol’ grin every time that place comes into view. I remember the initial awe I felt the first time we pulled up to that oval track. We sat in turn four for that first race- and I think that is where I hooked Misty onto racing and NASCAR.
After getting our credentials squared away and having a late lunch and then we were off to Henderson to snap some pictures of driver Greg Biffle, who was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans in a Walmart. One of my favorite things about off-track NASCAR fan events is the look you get from people who are wondering what the heck you are standing in line for. The looks people give when they see people standing in line are priceless. Some want to know if it’s something they should be standing for- but most non-fans just kind of nod and carry on when they find out why you are standing in line- especially in the middle of a non-suspecting Walmart.
And while driving past McCarran Airport in Las Vegas- right near the WELCOME TO LAS VEGAS sign on Las Vegas Boulevard- what did we spy? Tony’s airplane sitting there right next to the fence so we whipped into the little Welcome Sign parking lot so we could safely snap a few pictures. It was parked next to Denny Hamlin’s plane but I didn’t get a picture of that. Misty was thrilled because as we were making our way further past the actual runways we saw a Hendrick Motorsports plane land!
On Friday were up bright and early and heading to the track for on track action! We spent a good portion of the day in the Neon Garage! I do love to stand there over the cars at the windows on the top level and watch the crews work on the cars. This season because of the points it just happened that Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon were housed right next to each other in the garages so Misty and I spent a fair amount of time together because we usually break up and she goes one way (towards Jeff Gordon) and I go the other way.
After watching the teams work on their cars during practice and tune them up for qualifying we headed back into the media center to take in some pressers. As most tracks are LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY was recognizing Jeff Gordon with Speed Limit signs on the roads around the parking areas. There was also a big THANK YOU JEFF sign in the grandstands between turns three and four. The speedway also presented him with a really nice blackjack/poker table before his presser. We then decided to stay in the media center watch qualifying because it’s easier than trying to keep track of who made it through from pit road.
We stayed for Jeff Gordon’s post qualifying session as the pole winner too- he was quite happy as you can tell from our pictures. As we were leaving on Friday the NEON Garage was holding the Kobalt Kampout- and Jimmie Johnson was taking the stage at the garage as we were walking through the garage to get to our parking spot. This is an annual event the last two years where they open up the NEON Garage to the campers at the track- whether or not they have garage passes and they have special guests and music. It’s kind of fun- we stayed for part of it last year- but decided to skip it this year.
On Saturday we were up bright and early and at the track for practice. My favorite part on Saturday was when Jeff Gordon arrived at his garage area and stood there chatting with Tony Stewart’s dad Nelson- then Tony showed up a bit later and the three stood there in the little area between their respective garage areas and chatted for a good ol long time- I would have loved to be able to hear what stories they were sharing. Even in between the two practice sessions I could tell Tony Stewart was in a good mood because he took some sort of spray can and sprayed a happy face on the butt of an unsuspecting crew member who was leaning over under the hood of the car. I don’t’ think he ever figured out that Tony sprayed his butt (and no I didn’t get a picture- damnation!)
We left the Speedway after Sprint cup Practice because we wanted to make our way back to the MGM Grand (which btw- seems to be the favorite place of Stewart-Haas Racing during the races- so you might want to keep that in mind if you plan on going next year). We had it on good authority that were was going to be an event the preceded the announced Q&A with Tony & Danica so we wanted to get there early. We got to the Sports Bar at the MGM Grand called Tap (by the sports book) and got seated for the Nationwide viewing party- turned out they were raffling off prize packages during the race- you got a raffle ticket for every drink you bought off the special viewing party drink menu. We weren’t drinking so we didn’t get any tickets- but the prizes were cool: Some of them including a private meeting and greet with Tony and Danica and some of them included the chance to play some sort of racing video game against Tony and/or Danica as well as the private meet and greet. We ordered some food and watched the end of the race- and watched people win the cool prizes- it was crazy how many raffle tickets some of the tables had! The table next to us had a ton! We didn’t stay for the Q&A because it was three hours away still and it was UFC fight night also- so traffic and the crowds at the MGM Grand gets crazy. I hate that they plan the Q&As during fight night- they did it last year too- right at the same time. Last year right before the Q&A the crowd standing around the stage in the Sports book got pushed around by a group of unruly UFC fans. I believe I described it as rougher than a mosh pit at an Ozzy Osbourne concert- which yes I also have personal experience with). Anyway- we walked down to the strip a bit and played tourist and then headed home. We would have to be up early the next day to get to the track on race day anyway.
On Sunday we got up early- stopped for our usual Omelet House pre-race breakfast and were off to the track. We walked around the garage for a while, then did a walk down pitroad as we usually do before it got too crowded and I was thrilled because as we were passing Kevin Harvick’s pit box Misty pointed out that they were carrying up the Budweiser Dalmatian up onto the pitbox. Then as we walked past the second time the helped him back off the pitbox and let him sniff around the tires…so I stood there trying to get a cell phone picture of him and he came running over to me and the lady who next to me who stopped to get his picture so I pet him. Yes I pet the Budweiser dalmation- and I liked it- just don’t tell Gracie.
We went back to the Media center to take in Jimmie Johnson’s press conference. He was talking about spending time with Habitat for Humanity helping build and give the keys of a house to family. It was full of the feel goods!
Then we were off to our seats in the grandstands. We decided to sit in section 4- which is in turn three- the same area abouts we sat in at our first race there but they changed our tickets to turn three because they closed that section and put up these huge SUPPORT THE TROOPS signs- they were kind of cool actually. Our new seats were really close to the pit road entrance so that was kind of cool- we could see that really well.
My biggest complaint is that cell service there was absolutely non-existent for me so I wasn’t even able to tweet from the race or keep track of what was going on. It wasn’t that I had low signal- it was that I had absolutely NO SERVICE according to my phone. While the race might not have been the best for Tony- I had a great time with my friend (and her dad) in the stands. We even stood up on Lap 24 in honor of Jeff Gordon- I am pretty sure we were the only ones in our section who did- but it didn’t stop us from doing that.
We left the stands before the end of the race to start making our way back to the infield since that is where we were parked. While in the pedestrian tunnel Jimmie Johnson got into an accident and hit the wall and we got some pictures of the team trying repair the work:
We had a great time Las Vegas Motor Speedway! And Thank You Jeff Gordon:
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