Click here to see the previous entry: Day Three: The No Nascar Edition
It dawned on my sometime Saturday that I not only forgot Valli’s phone number, but I also forgot to DVR the race before I left. I called my mom and my brother happened to be there so I asked him if he would mind going and doing it for me. He told me it would cost me a race souvenir but sure. Oh great I thought…that means I am going to have to visit a merchandise hauler on race day!
Well we get up on the early side and shower and dress and get our race gear packed in our backpacks (spf 80 Sunblock? Check! Hat? Check! Money? Check!). We had breakfast and headed out to the track by following the directions on our parking permit. It seemed odd because we were sent past other lots to our lot but whatever. We find our way into orange lot and park. If you have never been to a NASCAR race- even the parking lots are quite the experience- let me tell you. Flags are flying- massive tailgating parties are set up…people are just milling around the parking lots. Its kinda crazy. Remember that most race tracks hold more spectators than your average football or baseball stadium- so think of all those people- times two or three. We make our way to the gates- get in and decide to hit the midway first. I definitely need some race souveniors and since the people I am buying them for are Tony fans like me (my brother and my dad) I went to the Tony merch hauler. My friend grabbed my shoulder and is all “Its a fire sale at the tony hauler friend!” Tony’s merch was greatly reduced. I ended up getting a a tshirt, three hats, and two seat cushions for less than $40.00 A steal if you ask me. While waiting in line we decided that it was just that they are trying to get rid of the Tony 20 stuff to make way for the Logano stuff- because they actually had a couple of LOGANO 20 hats and shirts and they were full price ($25.00 each). We visited a couple more merch haulers and I begged my friend yet again to have her picture taken with a sea lion but she again refused. I tried in vain to find my friend a Jeff Gordon PEPSI hero card. She already had the regular Jeff Gordon one but she wanted one the Pepsi ones- but damn if I could find her one. We then decided to find our seats- which we were able to do quite quickly. I set up our little Tony seat cushions…which ended up working out quite well and as luck would have it were only a stone’s throw from the stairs that lead out onto the track.
Our pre-race pitpasses gave us access to the track- and we definitely decided to take advantage of these. I have been on one track before in my life…and that was Laguna Seca in the mid ninties when my dad surprised me with those paddock passes. Let me tell you- I was surprised that for a “flat” track that the speedway had quite the banking to me! I can’t imagine what it is like to try to stand on a higher banked track. My friend was quite excited too. The first thing we did is head over to the Start/Finish line to leave our mark. I just wrong GO TONY GO….real original huh? She wrote accolades for both her favorite driver (Jeff Gordon) and her favorite crew chief (Chad Knaus). We meandered around on the grass. I took BFM’s picture in victory lane. I sat on the pit wall and leaned into the pits to take a shot down pit road. I took some awesome pictures of the scoring pylon. Then we meandered back behind the pits so we could watch the crews setting up the pitboxes. That rocked. Most of the teams were just starting to set up their boxes. The Lowes crew was wiping down their monitors and gluing lugnuts onto the tires. Same for the dupont crew. The home depot crew (outfitted in their subway firesuits) were still just laying things out and running back and forth. A mother asked two of the home depot crew if she could take a picture of her son standing with them and they nicely obliged despite being busy. I was loving it. I would have loved to stand there for the entire race because I have that (my friend would say unnatural) fascination with pit crews and pitstops. I was having a freaking blast. If they didn’t look so busy I would have probably eventually gotten up the nerve to ask a question or two but everyone looked so busy and I didn’t really have any pressing questions so I just meandered about and enjoyed myself. We then walked around some more on the lawn and on the track and eventually made our way back to the stairs and into the grandstands.
The PreRace ceremony was fun except for the fact that the trucks hauling the drivers around during their parade lap didn’t go by us on the track but instead pulled down pit road. That kinda bit. I loved the skydivers….and I hated the fly over…but at least I didn’t grab the person sitting next to me and screech during it like I did during one at Laguna Seca- that was embarassing. Then it was race time. Whoo! Let me say this- at California Autoclub speedway you can really feel and hear the speed of the cars. They seem much louder and faster than at Vegas.
My favorite picture I took the whole weekend:
Sunset at Autoclub Speedway...my favorite picture of the weekend
Some other favorites from Sunday:
Click on the picture to see all 210 photos and 3 videos taken during the Pepsi 500.