This was NOT my first trip to PIR actually. That happened this spring and you can read about that here. As you know I left on Wednesday and drove the 500 miles to Vegas to pick up BFFM! She showed me her new office area and then we hung out for the remainder of the day. I will say this- traveling on Wednesdays rock because i did NOT hit one lick of traffic on the way to Vegas. The next day we packed up BFFM’s car and she drove us to Phoenix. We were staying at a different Hotel…this time in TEMPE just one the other side of the airport from where we stayed last time. We used hotwire again and got our hotel cheap. One of the good things about staying in the area we were staying in is that we were really close to ASU so that meant we weren’t at a loss for eateries and the such. Although being by a college campus does have disadvantages too like the eateries being very busy on Friday and Saturday night! Once we got to Phoenix on Thursday we checked into our hotel and “got our Phoenix legs” and settled in.
Anyhoo…one of our main reasons for going to Phoenix chase race was…I was going to a (hide your eyes fellow Smoke fans) Jeff Gordon Network event where the Jeff Gordon himself would be there. It’s only fair really- i have drug BFFM to her share of home depot appearances (I haven’t caught Tony at an Office Depot yet but I did at the Palazzo at the beginning of the season for the race at LVMS). Anyway- this event was at a hotel in Scottsdale and started at 7:00 am (registration/sign in started at 6:30!!) and was only for fan club members and their one allotted guest (Yes I was the plus 1). Let me tell you – while I have been to several driver’s cattlecall sponsor meet n greets and usually have a pretty darn good time at them- going to a fan club event is a completely different thing…it really rocked. There was breakfast…and the raffling of door prizes (I won a snowman 24 ornament that I of course gave to BFFM)…there was a best dressed fan contest which was fun. Then Jeff Gordon came in and talked to us…gave us some opening remarks, answered some questions from the emcee and two lucky fans. Then we were all called up table by table to get our item autographed and have our picture taken by a professional photographer (that part was odd and kinds surreal- I haven’t seen my picture yet but I am sure that I look like a complete doof because just as we were turning towards the photographer, Jeff asked me where I was from so I think I turned towards him to answer him…anyway…it was a really nice event and Jeff took his time with each person and would take a couple minutes to talk with you/answer questions with you…it was on a completely different level then those cattle call type sponsor events I am use to I will say that. I wish Tony’s fan club did events at other tracks and not just around the brickyard…because the JGN one was fun.
We really didn’t have much more to do on Friday because we didn’t have Friday tickets to the track. So we did what most red-blooded American girls do…we shopped (in Scottsdale)! I picked up the rest of my nephew’s Christmas presents (and a cute little onsie for their new baby due in Feb). I picked up some birthday presents for my Mom because I would be spending her birthday driving between Phoenix and Vegas on the way home (oh don’t go feeling sorry for her- she was ok with it).
Side note about Phoenix: This was the third time I have been to Phoenix (second for a race) and this was the first time I was there during the time change (Arizona doesn’t participate in Daylight Savings Time). The time change TOTALLY messed me up– but in the WRONG way. I live on Pacific time, and they were on Mountain- so their 9:00 pm was really my 8:00 pm yet to me felt like it was 11:00 pm.
On Saturday- we were at the track all day. I don’t even remember what time we got to the track in the morning but basically we got there, put our backpacks on, I had my Canon 20D strapped around my neck, we hiked into the track- stopped in the merchandise area- made a couple purchases- and then we were into the track where I believe the cup cars were just starting to roll out onto the track for first practice when- yep it started to rain. I scrambled and put the camera in my pack and we walked around in the rain looking at the different booths. I spent a lot of time in the Chevy booth trying to figure out a way to drive off in the camaro they had on display (that is one sweet car). They actually were letting fans test drive them but I was afraid if I test drove one I would be towing one back home behind the HHR. We spent some time walking around the pits, then found a spot to stand and watch the cars come zooming into the pits from the track under one of the pedestrian bridges- we stayed there as long as we could but figured out that most people didn’t stand their cuz its fairly noxious!!! It was actually a fairly good vantage point to see Jimmie, Jeff and Tony’s garage stall so we prob stood there most of practice…until we had headaches anyway. We saw Chad Knaus walking back and forth a couple times and Steve Letarte once. Unfortunately Tony’s garage stall was farther down so I didn’t see much of his guys- just him zooming in from the track.
We then made our way to our seats in the AJ FOYT grandstands to watch the Nationwide race and hopefully see Kyle tie up the championship. Unfortunately that didn’t happen- instead Carl won and Kyle had a pretty bad day.
Best thing heard at the track on Saturday was two twentyish year old guys in the pit area talking back and forth while waiting for practice to start. The Jet dryers were on the track.
GUY ONE to GUY TWO: Dude- those things (motions towards the jet dryers)- they sound like planes!
GUY TWO nods in steadfast agreement with GUY ONE.
(I so much wanted to walk up to them and say: HERE’S YOUR SIGNS but I didn’t).
On Sunday we get to the track early- do a quick merchandise hauler sweep where I buy myself a pink hat with a sparkly 14 on it because some doofus left her other hat at the hotel. It was sunny and not a cloud in the sky. We walked down to the pit area and wandered up and down pit road and out onto the track where I took this picture of BFFM:
After we decided we had had enough of pit road we went up to our seats (same as Saturday) to watch the race. We all know the outcome there.
When we were parking in the morning BFFM pointed out to me a brand new camaro in the dirt lot we were parked in. We saw it on our way out and someone had put an empty beer bottle on the hood. JERK.
Most interesting fashion statement of Sunday:
So far with our experiences PIR has the best traffic leaving and Infineon has the worst.
We stopped for a leisurely dinner and went back to our hotel. On our floor in the hallway I guess some people were trying to make our hotel in Tempe a home away from home by laying out their own welcome mat- that was the most bizarre thing I think I saw all weekend: