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Last installment had our heroine (ME) running around the Neon Garage and watching Qualifying. It was fun. Saturday was the Busch Nationwide race- which we didn’t go to. We did other stuff (i.e. didn’t have tickets).

It was pretty warm Friday and Saturday so I seriously contemplated not taking my sweatshirt in my backpack because it weighed me down. BFM and I got up early, grabbed a bite and were off to the track. BFM was feeling way better by now. Unlike on qualifying day we were parked further back in the lot and were surrounded by Gordon fans.

Once we made it to the Midway area I was freezing my butt off. It was just that chilly desert wind…it rips right through you. I am not one who likes layering…but I stopped and put on my sweatshirt….and I was still cold. BFM too was cold. We stopped by the Gordon/Stewart merch haulers because we were both freezing and I decided I needed SOMETHING to keep my head warm and my baseball cap wasn’t doing – so I grabbed a Tony Stewart beanie to keep my poor little head warm. BFM ended up with a beanie / glove set (from the Gordon Hauler). Ahh I wish I had gloves!!! We decided it was too freaking cold to be wandering around so we decided to try finding our seats. All I knew is that they were somewhere between turns three and four…leaning more towards three.

After quite the hike (these are the cheaper seats mind you- not the cheapest but not the expensive ones either) we finally find our seats and sit there all huddled up because we are COLD. I have my shirt on, my new beanie, and my hoodie with hood up and I was still freezing…so we waited for the race activities to start. The thing that sucked the most about our seats? Were that we couldn’t see much of the pre-race activities except on the “sprint” screen. Other than that our seats were pretty awesome and we could see probably about 98% of the track. Next year we decided we are so getting driver into passes for Sunday.

Now when the stands started filling in it seemed like no one was gonna sit next to BFM. Until “BobbyLabonte” man arrived. The first thing he said (quite loudly I might add) when he arrived “I hope there are no Jeff Gordon fans around here” and then proceeded to sit right next to BFM who was clad in her Jeff Gordon gear. She looked over at him and he said “Whoops I guess I am sitting right next to one” They ended up making peace though.

Anyway we are all standing the national anthem is sung (rather well) and they do the fly over. Now I was a little freaked out about the fly over because the last time I was at the SportsCar races at Laguna Seca there was a fly over that was unexpected….and the jet was so low I was sure it was gonna knock me outta the grandstands so I grabbed my mom and hunkered down. This caused everyone around us great amusement at Laguna Seca and my mom laughed so hard she nearly fell outta the grandstands. Anyway… the thunderbirds did two gorgeous flyovers and I wish that I had my camera out so I could have taken pictures of them. I did get some pictures of the RedBull Stunt plane playing behind the backstretch though:

I was able to get some shots of driver parade lap:

The cars lining up to go green:

(More raceday pictures in my UAW DODGE 400 flickrset).

I was expecting the cars to be louder. I think that it might have to do with the shape of the track and the geography around the track (not much around to bounce back the sound). The race was fun!! I loved the feel of the cars. I will admit this: Damn those cars go fast! The races that I have been to were Indy car (pre split into champ/irl) and SportCars but on a road course and naturally cars go slower….so the cars were flying around that oval to me and I LOVED that. LOVED it.

What I didn’t LOVE was seeing Tony Stewart hit the wall HARD right in front of me. (For those who caught the race…where Tony initially smacked the wall- was right where I was sitting…47 rows up). It was loud and hard…I could hear it, see it and feel it. He then proceeded to slide along the wall all the way to the end of turn four. That HAD to HURT. Everyone in our section anyway stood and watched his car in horror. BFM kept asking me if his window net was down…which I couldn’t tell. It was very…tense for quite awhile.

I will tell you what…I am kind of glad I didn’t rent a race scanner for the race…I had considered it but decided against it. I am glad because I wouldn’t have wanted to hear Tony come on the radio and say he was hurt. That would not have been fun.

I didn’t get any pictures of the big Jeff Gordon accident…as it was across the track from where we were sitting…but I did see the large debris field that his accident left and was glad to see (thanks to the sprint screen) that he walked away because that was was just as violent looking as Tony’s.

We left right after Carl Edwards did his backflip (and there were all kinds of festivities we could have stayed for…including another race. It took us probably about 45 minutes just to get to the car from our seats…often times walking in huge herds of people shoulder-to-shoulder. (And personal to the asshat jerk man in the green jacket…thanks for shoving me out of your way asshole. You are a total class act). Now we had been warned by a coworker of BFM that getting out of the parking lot could be challenging. Um…just finding the car was challenging. I was seriously beginning to think that I would need to whip out my phone and call onstar to have them honk my horn for me…but BFM finally found the car. You don’t even want to know how long we were in the parking lot. Let’s just say we pullout out of our spot and got into the line to leave our row. Adjacent to our car was a pickup. We sat there and watched the three men pull out a grill…set up the grill….then put steaks on the grill. Eat doritos while they were grilling. Set up the cutest camp table and chairs. Serve up their steaks. Sit down and drink their beers and eat their steaks at a leisurely pace whilst chatting and occasionally glancing at us like they were worried we might jump out of my car and steal their dinner (and by this point we were fairly hungry and had we not had left over kettle corn from our midrace snack run we might have considered it). Then we got to watch them pack up their stuff. All this while sitting and waiting to get out of the aisle. All in all I think we were in the parking lot alone over an hour. Then we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on some little frontage road where we could see all the helicopters coming into the track and landing and taking off for their drivers. We were on that road for forever too…but finally made it to her house about 7:30ish if I remember correctly.
Still it was totally TOTALLY worth the money…and I am SOOO going back next year. And I am pretty sure that the whole experience only solidified BFM’s new love for NASCAR too.

When we last left our heroine (that would be ME)…she had just met Robby Gordon (a so-so experience) and Tony Stewart (a wonderful experience). BFM was ill and Qualifying day was looming…Amy (me) was worried BFM would not be well enough to go to Qualifying Day. Luckily she was. We got up earlyish, I packed a backpack (water, sunblock- spf 70 did you know they made one so high?, advil, camera with extra batteries, sweatshirt) and we took off for the speedway after a quick bite. BFM directed me. Parking was free (yey said my wallet) and we didn’t get that bad of a spot. We ended up surround in our parking spot by other Stewart fans….BFM asked if we had some sort of secret signal so we could search each other out.

We trek to the “midway” section right outside the speedway. Merchandise Haulers for most drivers, sponsors, and food vendors line up the area right outside the “main gate” to the speedway. We wander around. Are given a free dodge boys racing bandana (Roxy loved that) and two packets of tums (um ok?). As fate would have it the Tony Stewart merch trailer is right next to the Jeff Gordon trailer so that works well for us. We decide to shop later (because shopping was to be had people believe you me). We finally meander into the actual speedway area. We have our NEON GARAGE passes and go get our wristbands (the garage at LVMS requires both a credential and a wristband). We then find the pedestrian tunnel and take the long trip DOWN the escalator, across the tunnel that I assume runs under the track and then back UP the escalator.

Now if you remember originally we had Garage Passes for Sunday and weren’t even going to come on Friday. On a spur of the moment I decided that it might be more fun to have the passes for Friday because there would be practice and qualifying and working on the cars (more to watch). Luckily I was right.

We had a total blast in the garage. Now the only other track I have ever been to is Laguna Seca when they ran Indy cars, SportsCars and Leman’s cars. At Laguna’s “Paddock” you just kinda mosey around and try to stay out of the crew people’s way. In Vegas they have this great catwalk around all the garage stalls so you can look down on the cars and crew….(well great by fan standards- chances are it makes the drivers and crew people feel like fish in an aquarium). Another benefit to the catwalk is that you could watch the cars zoom in and out for practice (if you were able to get a good spot) as well as the drivers run back and forth between their garage and their hauler.

I was hoping to get a good picture of Tony’s engine but unfortunately the glare on his window on that side of the garage was horrendous…and this is the best one I got:

I did manage to get this picture of Jeff Gordon’s though:

Tony’s crew chief Greg Zipadelli watches Tony practice from atop the Home Depot hauler:

Tony in the garage after practice:

Bobby Labonte after practice (for Lisa’s son who is a Bobby fan):

For more pictures from the garage area visit my NEON GARAGE flickerset (there tons there including pictures of Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and more).

After spending most of the day in the Garage BFM and I returned to the midway and snapped up some souveniors and then headed to the grandstands to watch qualifying:

Tony Stewart Crew member waits for qualifying on pit wall (I caption this photo Please let Tony Qualify Well Please!):

Dale Jr. waiting to qualify (am I the only one who doesn’t like his new color schemes?):

Rowdy’s car lined up for qualifying:

Johnny Sauter crashes on the backstretch during qualifying:

For more pictures of Qualifying at the UAW Dodge 400 check out my Qualifying flickrset.

Despite the fact that there was all this glass around the garage I got some great pictures (I took most of my pictures on Qualifying day). Qualifying day was a total kick in pants we will definitely do that again (with garage passes).

Next up: Part 3: Race Day!!!

Prelude to a Race:

So our story begins last year when I decided that I would stop saying “Someday I will go to a NASCAR race” and decided that I would be going to a NASCAR race in 2008 if I had to drag my best friend kicking and screaming with me the whole way. Luckily being the best friend that she is she agreed right away to go with me, despite it not being her thing. Since she lives in Vegas we picked the Vegas race. Made sense to me. So I bought the best tickets for the Sunday race that I could afford at the time…and added Sunday Garage passes. I bookmarked up important passages in my GIRLS GUIDE TO NASCAR and loaned it to BFM so at least she wouldn’t be totally lost at the race.

Then something totally cool happened. BFM became a total fan. She is so into NASCAR now…and that is great. She could even tell you how the points break down before attending her first race and I couldn’t tell you that and I have been a fan since I was a wee one.

Then somehow Las Vegas Motor Speedway sent me an email stating that I had purchased garage passes for Saturday not Sunday. This was a mistake on their part but it got me to thinking that it might be a better idea to have garage passes on Friday because it was qualifying day and there would be more activity in the garage. So I called up the speedway and ironed that all out and they kindly obliged me in switching my garage passes to Friday and letting me purchase qualifying day tickets (note to self…next year do NOT buy qualifying day tickets..it is very easy to come across free ones).

Driver Appearances

About a month or so before the race BFM and I start to scour the websites of our favorite drivers looking for appearances in the LV area we might be able to attend. Finally I found out that Tony was appearing at a Home Depot in Las Vegas the Thursday before the race. I was excited to tell BFM. She was excited because that Home Depot is only a couple blocks from her house (Las Vegas has several Home Depots). This was added to our list of MUST DOs for the weekend.

Then she called me. Houston…we have a scheduling conflict. Her favorite driver, Jeff Gordon, decided to do an appearance at the same exact time as the Tony appearance…only it was across town. WAY across town. DAMN Now what do we do? She insisted that we meet Tony. I felt bad and insisted we meet Jeff. She won (she always does) and our plan was this: Meet Tony then fly like the wind across town to Caesar’s Palace to meet Jeff. Then we found out that Kasey Kahne was also doing an appearance the same time as the other two. This was becoming hard. Robby Gordon was doing an appearance the Wednesday before the race at an Albertson’s across town. We decided that we would start with Robby, definitely fit in Tony, then try to squeeze in Jeff and Kasey in afterwards.

On Wednesday we were able to meet Robby Gordon. The line wasn’t that long and he had hero cards to sign. He stood next to a table hawking Jim Beam. It was your standard cattle call type appearance and Robby wasn’t rude but he wasn’t overly friendly either. Mostly he would sign a hero card or something else if you had it and then you were off and his little support people would offer you a shot of Jim Beam before you left the store.

Robby Gordon

I did however meet the cutest little boy in front of us in line with his mom. BFM asked him who his favorite driver was and he looked up at us all sheepish and said Tony Stewart! When he found out Tony was my favorite driver too he told us all about how on his video game he always drives a home depot car. So I asked him if he is good at his video game and he said yeah I only crash sometimes so I told him that I usually crash about once a lap and he looked at me and said “You Know That Game?” So cute.

Thursday morning I went downstairs and greeted Misty who promptly told me that she was sick…REALLY sick…as in throwing-up sick. This worried me because I knew she was really looking forward to the races and we had qualifying tickets for the next day. She said that she was gonna call her doctor and see if she could get in as soon as they opened. She was able to get an appointment at 2:15 which is right during the time we were suppose to be inline to get our Tony wristbands. Oh well…I would rather she go to the doctor then I go see Tony… by this time I was thinking well hopefully she will be better for Sunday (it was Thursday). She asked her brother to stand in line to meet Tony with me and I told her that he didn’t have to I was ok not seeing Tony…but BFM insisted and she got her way. I stood in line for a wristband with her brother (she sat with us for about an hour but then left…her brother and I could both tell she felt awful) which we got and then we went back to her house because there was no way in heck I was hanging out at Home Depot for another three hours (Tony was suppose to arrive around 5:00 and at this point it was about 2:20). BFM’s doctor gave her some drugs to help her symptoms and they seemed to be starting to work by the time it was time for her brother and I go stand back in line to meet Tony. She was very insistent that we still meet Tony – and frankly I could see her point. If roles were reversed I would want her to go see her driver and not sit around watching me be ill. We then went back to the Home Depot and the line had grown quite a bit so we were towards the back. I assume Tony got there pretty much on time though because otherwise there was no way he could have gotten through all of us in that amount of time. While this appearance was also pretty much just a cattle call type appearance…it was way different than meeting Robby Gordon. Tony was sitting behind a table but it was on a platform so he would be like at eye level with the average standing person even though he was sitting…He was far more friendly than Robby Gordon though. He said hello to us, asked us how we were doing. Took the time to look through the book I was having him sign because he hadn’t seen it yet and didnt’ remember doing it. Tony seemed in a great mood and was extremely friendly.

Tony Stewart at Home Depot Appearance

I figure by the time we had gotten our turn with Tony I had been standing outside about 2 hours (four if you include the time I spent in the other line getting my wristband to meet Tony). It was totally worth it too…and I would do it again (although BFM made me promise that next year it is all about her getting to meet Jeff Gordon).

Next up…part 2: Qualifying Day

Ok…I decided that if I was to write everything about my first NASCAR race in one post that the post would be so long no one would ever read the darn thing…so I am going to break it up essentially into four posts:

1. Driver Appearances

2. Qualifying Day

3. Race Day

4. Other stuff…

Sorry for the silence…but between hacking up a lung with this cold thing, having two dental appointments and processing all the pictures from my Nascar weekend in Vegas I am just starting to get back into the swing of things. Throw in a time change, having to learn a new system at work and my slight swing towards procrastination when I am not feeling well and you end up with an empty blog. Sorry about that.

I am hoping to post today or tomorrow about the NASCAR experience….sorry it has taken me so darn long.


Posted by Amy in General - (2 Comments)

I am back. Overall my trip was full of COMPLETE AND TOTAL AWESOMENESS… and I can’t wait to tell you all about it. And hopefully share some of the 400 pictures I took (and no I am not kidding).

I saw some totally awesome guest posts…and I will comment on them soon…(I did one already because I couldn’t resist).

Unfortunately I brought back with me some kinda cold/allergy thing (perhaps due to hanging out with 300,000 crazy NASCAR fans)… that has me sniffly, coughing up a lung, and tired (although that may have something to do with getting up at 5:30 AM and leaving at 7:00 am to then get lost AGAIN and have to find my way out of vegas…to then drive 500 miles home).

I will try to update you all again tomorrow.

On Vacation!

Posted by Amy in General - (1 Comments)

Ok…I am pretty much out of here as of very early Friday morning. I will not be back until March 5th or so.

Things I will be doing:

Seeing Slaughter in Vegas

Hanging out in Vegas with BFM

Going to the UAW Dodge 400 in Vegas

I am hoping to take LOTS of pictures. I am taking two cameras and 6 gigs worth of cards.

As always my usual suspects can guest post whenever they want (that means you Chrissy, Bill, ETS, Janet, E) but they shouldn’t feel pressured.

Susan sez: These questions come, once again, from the “Coke or Pepsi” book I
bought at Julia’s last book fair.

1. Are you always up-to-date on the news? I am fairly up-to-date on local and national news.
2. What is your favorite hot beverage? Depends on my mood. Usually it is a white chocolate mocha from starbucks or my Aveda tea.
3. Would you rather go to the museum of art or natural history?I love museums of any type really so it wouldn’t matter but if I had to pick I would probably say Art.
4. The best food comes from which country? This is an odd question…I don’t think I pay attention to where food comes from. I do like to try new foods.
5. Would you rather bicycle through Europe or go on an African Safari? A hard one!! I am thinking Europe…but the safari would be so interesting.

(and by the way? Coke Zero or Diet Coke all the way).