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!!!