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Wow am I late with this race post- but as happens with nearly all races I attend in person- I go to the race- have a blast and then come home and slammed in the face by “reality” when I get back. Sigh. Plus I took 1800+ pictures myself,  with Misty taking an additional 650+ pictures.  I had to then weed through them and process some of them for the blog- which takes time as I am sure you can imagine! A big  thank you to all of my readers for being so patient.

Sonoma Raceway Grandstands

Sonoma Racway 2013. (Photo Credit: Amy K. Marbach)

Misty and I get to Sonoma Raceway early on Friday, pick up our respective credentials, park in lot M as directed by the parking attendants (which in both Misty and I’s opinion seem to be the BEST at nearly any track we have been to thus far), shuttled to the media center- found our respective spots (schwing- right next to each other- no having to ask about swapping and BONUS we had front row window seats that looked out onto pit road and what would eventually be Greg Biffle’s pit stall) and then we headed towards the garage area before it got to crowded. (more…)

So Thursday Tony Stewart went to the Oakland Zoo to play with the elephants.   Or…perhaps play isn’t the right word; he helped feed and wash Osh.  Osh is a 16 year old, 11,000 lb elephant who lives at the zoo. Tony Stewart is known for his love of animals and children and I am sure he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help with the mammoth beast, while promoting a new ticket package for nearby Infineon Raceway (I will get more into the ticket package in a minute).  I actually have never been to the  Oakland zoo and live about 2 hours south of it.    I would have LOVED to been able to pull off a trip to Oakland on Thursday to watch the Q&A and watch Tony interact with some of the animals, but unfortunately a multitude of factors including nasty weather and that thing called WORK got in the way of that.  Well that and I am a big chicken when it comes to driving in the Bay Area…so the idea of traveling up in the Bay Area in nasty weather pretty much put the final knife in the back of that trip.

Tony Stewart feeds Osh the Elephant (Photo Credit: M Doran)

However, I can point you over to this great article written by Jerry Wilson about the event for the Examiner.  And I just want to point out one thing: when Jerry said that there was to be no autograph signing by Stewart…he isn’t kidding.  I know because when I was originally trying to work it out so I could go- I asked the marketing department for Infineon for more details about the event and that was one of the questions I asked and they made it very clear that Stewart would NOT be signing autographs at the event.  So it warms the heart of this Stewart fan to know that amid Tony’s very busy day (seriously just following the tweets of all his media obligations up in the big city made me tired) that he took the time to stop and sign autographs for the children in attendance. Everyone say it with me…AWWWW!

Osh the elephant hands Tony the green flag for the Toyota Savemart 350 at Infineon. (Photo Credit: M. Doran)

Anyway- on to the “Trackside With Tony” ticket package for Infineon Raceway.  The package includes a Sunday ticket in any area, a saturday ticket in Turn 7, Saturday access to the Club 7 Lounge in turn 7 (which is worth it because it can be HOT there at Infineon- and you might want to find a place out of the sun for awhile), and access to a  private Q&A  session with Tony Stewart in Club 7.  All for $114.  The best part of the ticket package is some of the proceeds of the ticket benefit The Tony Stewart Foundation and their work with animals, children, and injured drivers! That is actually a great price…considering you get Saturday and Sunday tickets and are helping Tony help endangered animals, ill children and injured drivers and their families.  Click here for ticket information or you can call

For those who aren’t familiar with the track: Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, California is home to one of the only two road courses on the Sprint Cup Series schedule.  It’s located in what many California’s consider “wine country” and is surrounded by vineyards and wineries.  It’s actually not that far from me- all things considered and I have been to the track before and even sat in Turn 7 (a great view).  So if you want to head to California wine country for a race and possibly some wine- and are a Tony Stewart fan,  this package is right up your alley.

Unfortunately I am not up in Sonoma watching the Sprint Cup cars.  Last year on Father’s Day I was on the edge of a very hard stone seat in the Coca-Cola Bottle Neck rooting with all my heart for Tony to overtake Kasey Kahne at Infineon. It didn’t happen but a second place finish wasn’t bad.  It was the closest Tony had come to winning a race that I was in attendance of so I was pretty excited (unfortunately this is still the case).  One of the things that really SUCKED about Infineon was leaving after the race.  Traffic was a freaking nightmare compared to the other three tracks I had been to (those being Las Vegas, Fontana and Phoenix). Part of it could have been my unfamiliarity with the area- perhaps if I had gone up through Petaluma and down another way I would have been better off…but I sat there stopped on whatever highway that is up there in front of the track for HOURS. And folks…for those keeping track? Infineon is about 4 hours north of me on a good traffic day.  I didn’t get home until after midnight and that was driving like a bat out of…well you know where…when I finally DID clear race traffic.  This year I am not up there and I am sad…and really itching to see the Cup boys run. The sound and feel of 43 800-hp cars taking a green flag is awesome.  Or heck the sound of 1 car revving in the garage is awesome. But I am digressing…and making myself homesick for a race.

That being said I am down here on the Monterey Peninsula where I live, which is in the height of U.S. Open fever right now.  Every night on the news for the past two weeks or so has been golf this, U.S. Open that, Pebble this, Tiger Woods that.  Now I know very little about golf- especially professional golf.  I am going to admit that to you right up front.  I get the idea that you are suppose to hit the little white ball as few times as possible to get it into the hole and that my friends is where my knowledge of golf ends. Sand wedge, wood, iron, putter? Huh? Whot?  Even though we have a yearly celebrity pro/am hosted on the peninsula- I still don’t really pay attention. Golf has never been on my radar because it always seemed to me that watching paint dry would be more fun than watching golf because then at least- I would have the fumes to entertain my brain cells. But lately- golf has been in my face…and I can’t help but share some totally sweeping generalizations about golf vs. NASCAR:

  • Traffic? Just as crazy.  I know because I have been getting stuck in golf traffic all week on my way to and from work. Much like a race weekend- golf traffic gets worse as the week progresses. They are parking the spectators just blocks from where I work because around the perimeter of campus there are lots of open space/parking lots that were here back when this place use to be an Army Base.
  • Those guys hawking tickets outside the track? They do that for golf too!!!  I figure they pretty much do it for every sporting event though.
  • There are also all these WELCOME GOLF FANS signs at all the businesses around here.
  • Golf fans? They are so limited as to what they can take to the course! No signs, cell phones, NO CAMERAS (that seems insanely dumb to me), no bags bigger than 8x8x8, no containers, no food, no drink. Nothing. Just a jacket (needed here- it’s really foggy today), comfy shoes, and loads of money because you have to buy all your food/beverages there.  If you find yourself by a golfer? You can’t ask him for an autograph.
  • Golf fans do not tailgate. No tents, no coolers or tables, no cornhole or barbecues  in the parking lot. No congregating with others who are not part of your direct party. Makes the parking lot pretty damn boring if you ask me.
  • Golf fans do not show their loyalty outwardly- that I could see.  They do not have flags flying from their cars that say TIGER or TOM! They don’t have bumper stickers supporting their favorite golfer. And from what I tell they don’t wear shirts for their favorite golfer either.   The most fan advertisement for golfing I have seen– a TITLIST license plate frame.  Again pretty damn boring to me. Half the fun of going to a race is people watching.
  • Not to mention the fact that I can’t imagine being at a sporting event where if you get a cough or a sneeze you might get yelled out or asked to leave. Seriously – those quiet paddles are intangible to me- if I wanted to be quiet I would go to a library (or apparently a golf tournament).  Of course I love a sport that is so noisy if I want to communicate with my friend I either have to YELL a centimeter from her ear at the top of my lungs or text her- even though she is sitting two inches from me.  I like to be able to HEAR and FEEL and TASTE my sports!
  • Tiger Woods is to golf media/fandom, what Dale Junior is to NASCAR media/fandom kinda sorta….only less witty.

Ok that’s it…that is my thoughts on GOLF.  Now where are my cup car boys? Oh yeah…four hours north of me.  Dammit.  Go TONY Go!!!!

Our last installment of the Road Course Adventure had us never making it to the track on Saturday. Well not past the parking gate anyway. I am warning you right now that this is a LONG post (filled with lots of pictures) as Sunday was A LONG day.  If you are on dialup though I don’t want to kill your ability to see my site so continue on to read the adventure of Sunday at the Races….

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Well the last we spoke of my Road Course Adventure (see: Infineon: A Road Course Adventure Day 1), BFFM and I had spent Friday afternoon at the track…after getting slightly lost and ending up in Petaluma (my dad says I could get lost in a paper bag). Saturday’s adventure could be dubbed: The Day of Dolphins and Driving. And unfortunately didn’t have a darn thing to do with race cars…as you will soon find out.

On Saturday we decided to skip practice at INFINEON and go nearby SIX FLAGS: DISCOVERY KINGDOM (it use to be Marine World when I was a kid).  Well I didn’t know we would end up having so much fun and we didn’t really even ride anything (neither of us like roller coasters).  Of course it shouldn’t really surprise me that we had so much fun- because we both kind of like going to zoos and the like.   Well we ended up staying a little later than we thought we would but that was ok. Here are some pictures from our fun time at Discovery Kingdom:

A dophin trainer and audience helper instruct the dolphins from the underwater window at Discovery Kingdom. Photocredit: ME

A dophin trainer and audience helper instruct the dolphins from the underwater window at Discovery Kingdom. Photocredit: ME

A camel observes us watching it! Photo Credit: ME

A camel observes us watching it! Photo Credit: ME

I spent a lot of time in the Butterfly habitat..only to find out...that it was really humid in there- and I had to squelch the instinct to swat at them! Photo Credit: ME

I spent a lot of time in the Butterfly habitat..only to find that it was really humid in there- and I had to squelch the instinct to swat at them! Photo Credit: ME

I dont know why but I LOVE Flamingos...

I don't know why but I LOVE Flamingos...Photo Credit: ME

I love this giraffe picture I took. Photo Credit: ME

I love this giraffe picture I took. Photo Credit: ME

After we were done at Discovery Kingdom- we grabbed a quick bite to eat nearby and took off to the track.  I honestly do not remember what time it was but I do know that we were flagged into the gate and drove up only to have trackworkers tell us to turn around and go in gate one…that gate 7 was now exit only.  We were cranky by this point and decided to go out looking for this vinyard in Calistoga that is owned by my mom’s best friend’s son-in-law because my mom wanted me to pick up a bottle of Cabernet for my dad.  So we drove and drove and drove…through all kinds of wine country…I don’t think I have ever seen so many grapes being grown ever! Anyway traffic was terrible during parts of the drive because of a fairly nasty looking accident at one point and it being Saturday I assume.  We finally get to the Winery only to find it closed. I have no idea if they were closed on weekends or we just missed them closing (we got there about 4:15ish I thing.  So I wasn’t looking forward to it but we turned around and drove back to the track only so we could then drive back to the hotel. I am sure there was a more direct route but we did it this way for two reasons:

1. The genius (me) who printed out directions didn’t think to print directions from the winery directly to the hotel. That was dumb.

2. On the way to the winery we spied a HUGE blue chair and decided it would make good picture fodder…so we definitely wanted to stop at the big blue chair on the way back.  How could we not:

BFFM in the Big Blue Chair

BFFM in the Big Blue Chair. Photo Credit: ME

We also stopped at a cute little market to get something to drink because we were both parched as heck…and while we just picked up some diet cokes and two chocolate covered marshmallows on a stick for the drive- they really have a lot of stuff in that cute little store (although it was murder trying to turn left out of the market to get back on the highway).

So yeah we never actually made it out of the car on Saturday at Infineon…but we still had a lot of fun.

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I must say that after we got back from our entire race-cation I found out that Tony Stewart was at Six Flags but on FRIDAY! Damnation! I totally would have went had I known! URG!

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Stay tune for the final installment- hopefully up sometime Wednesday or Thursday (its a long one!)

Here’s a story of a girl named Amy, who went to Infineon for the first time on June 19-21st to see the NASCAR race.  In tow- her BFF.

On Friday on a semi lark,  we left my home, drove to Santa Rosa to see Tony’s show car:

Tonys Show Car at Office Depot in Santa Rosa, CA

Tony's Show Car at Office Depot in Santa Rosa, CA. Did you know that the office depot car is sparkly? It is when you are up close to it. Photo Credit: ME

From there we were off to the hotel. We were staying in in Concord, CA. All I can say is that HOTWIRE has not led us astray yet. This was a nice hotel- centrally located for our purposes. After a moment to refresh we were on our way to Infineon to check out the track- get our bearings and hopefully catch qualifying since we definitely did not catch practice.

You all know I have a fear of heights.  Its actually a fairly intense fear- so much that I the Ferris Wheel at Disney’s California Adventure made me cry (as an adult). Well this fear also extends to extremely tall bridges…and I knew we would have to be crossing one so I was a little freaked out to have to drive across a bridge. I must have been envisioning like the Bay Bridge or The Golden Gate- because this one didn’t freak me out at all.  So YEY there- since we would have to cross it several times.  The other thing I would have to deal with that I have never dealt with before would be a toll! $4.00!! That is crazy- or so I think anyway! That would be 20 bucks a week if I had to cross that bridge everyday for work or something! Of course I would also have one of those fancy fastrac things and not have to wait to hand my money to a person.

Anyway- we follow our directions to the speedway- and in trying to find the parking area- end up by passing the track and the parking area only to end up in nearby Petaluma. Whoops.  I never said I had a great sense of direction. So we get turned back towards the speedway and I see that I totally missed the parking area turn off- and get turned into the speedway and parked (next to a pasture filled with sheep and goats I might add).  So we walked up to the shuttle stop and just as I was cresting the top of the hill I hear what sounds like my car being pelted with pebbles. I turn to see a jerk in a car peeling out of the gravel lot and peppering my car (which was parked in an end spot) with dirt. Both my friend and I turn and instinctively yell “REAL NICE JERK” and apparently we did it loud enough they heard cuz the passenger turned towards us.  I mean seriously use your freaking head people.  Anyway, we just happened to hit it right so that the shuttle was there at the stop and made our way down to the grandstand area of the track. We were going to watch qualifying in our Turn 7 seats…but problem there was that we were kinda late by the time we made it to the grandstands and it would require either quite the hike or a shuttle ride!! So we took a place right next to the start/finish line about halfway up- which was actually the optimum place to watch qualifying:

Martin Truex Qualifies at Infineon Raceway

Martin Truex Jr. Qualifies at Infineon Raceway. I really liked Martin's blue car for Infineon. Photo Credit: ME

Denny Hamlin takes the green flag at the beginning of his qualifying run. Photo Credit: ME!

Denny Hamlin takes the green flag at the beginning of his qualifying run. Photo Credit: ME!

Jeff Gordon qualifies. I have to say that Jeffs car is extremely pretty in person.  It stands out well.

Jeff Gordon qualifies. I have to say that Jeff's car is extremely pretty in person. It stands out well. Photo Credit: ME

Junior makes his qualifying attempt at Infineon

Junior makes his qualifying attempt at Infineon. Photo Credit: ME

I am going to have to admit that it was a little more disorientating than I thought it would be to be sitting in stands on the “wrong” side of the track. By that I mean that the grandstands at the startfinish line they are on the side of the track that would be considered “infield” at an oval. That was just a little odd to me.

After qualifying we wandered through the tunnel to the merchandise area (you can see it on the otherside of the track over there in the qualifying pictures). I don’t know if it was me or not but there seemed to be signifigantly fewer merchandise haulers at infineon than elsewhere. I don’t know if the others were located somewhere else but I didn’t see that many. When were done with merchandise we wandered back over to the shuttle and left for the day.

Next Up: Infineon: A Road Course Adventure Day 2: Saturday

Work has been the kind of busy where when I get home I don’t really want to get on the computer much. But I am almost done uploading some of my race pictures (I took 4 gigs with the rebel at infineon and about 500 megs with the powershot at six flags- so that is a lot of pictures to sort through just so that I can tell you the story of my trip to Infineon (aka the “bridges and tolls and sheep oh my!” adventure). I promise its coming…honestly. Just give me a little more time!

Ok…not really. I came away having a great time. And I did get a sunburn (after wearing – I kid you not- SPF 100 sunblock). I also got 4 gigs worth of pictures at the track alone (we also spent some time at a nearby Six Flags).

So stay tuned for the race report direct from the track…coming hopefully soon (as in probably tomorrow)!

PS. VALLI- I wasn’t ignorning you. My phone is a cheap phone so while I can twitter out- I can’t really get my twitter responses into it. Cuz you know…its a little cheap phone and I can’t upgrade for free til October.