Saturday, my family and I flew into Atlanta and made the two hour drive to Talladega. Upon arrival I knew I was in Nascar country. There is just something about the cars, the fans, and the atmosphere that sets stock car racing apart from any other sporting event I have attended. The weather in
After parking in the infield lot, we were met by our Nascar representative, John McMullin Jr. He walked us around pit row and gave us a brief tour of the place, explaining that today was more about qualifying, and that a tour on Sunday would probably be more interesting.
However, the Busch series race took place that afternoon and proved to be a lot more exciting than I expected. Kyle Busch lost control of his car around lap 27, and began to flip end over end once his car hit the infield. He seemed to have escaped pretty unscathed despite the horrific crash, and was taken to the infield medic for evaluation and observation.
Saturday night was spent mostly choreographing my girls’ appearance for the next day. Their driver got lost, I was a bigger wreck than Busch’s car, and the girls were bickering. Sigh. No wonder the Spice Girls broke up. By the end of the night though, everyone was settled into their room, fed, and all was right with the world. And I… finally got more than an hour’s worth of sleep.
We left the hotel around 8 in the morning on Sunday.. and got to the track at 8. Ah.. the beauty of time travel. No seriously. We gained an hour crossing over the
Once we reached the track, my guests and I were greeted by the Nascar folks, who scooped us up in the pace car, and took us around the track at speeds I have never before been in my life.. well, not that my parents know of anyway. 150 mph on a straightaway would probably be intimidating enough, but put the same car, with the same speed on a 30-some-odd-degree embankment, and you better hope your Pampers can handle it.
The ride around the track was a pure adrenaline rush. The stands, the walls, and the infield were a blur of color. IT.. was awesome. No wonder Ricky Bobby liked going fast.
After my pace car experience I headed over to the midway to check on my girls. Decked out in their racing outfits, they stood among a huge crowd of people in line to take pictures with them. They politely posed for pictures all morning with people, and totally ate up the Nascar experience. While at the midway, I made my costume change so that I could visit the pits. They are pretty strict about dress code, something about safety.. Personally, I just think they didn’t want my airbags going off and causing a wreck. My new shirt was black.. with simple white letters across the front that said..
Now, I’m not quite sure what that means.. but it’s provocative.. and people seemed to really like it. (D. Waltrip used to say it before each race.. so much so it became his trademark.)
I got to walk through the pits and check out the team’s trailers and such. The DuPont pit crew leader was nice enough to give me a tour of their trailer. Now, looks can be quite deceiving. Despite appearances, these trailers are actually quite roomy. They not only have a changing area for the crew, and a lounge for the driver… but also house two cars in a higher panel above. So, they are far from roughing it. Waking through the trailer and squeezing past the pit crew members that are in the process of changing for the day’s race, we are led to the trailers lounge. There sitting in the corner of the lounge was none other than Jeff Gordon. If Nascar were the NBA, Jeff Gordon would be its Michael Jordan… or something of the sort. Mr. Gordon was super polite and hospitable, and surprisingly relaxed considering he had a race in a mere few hours. We thanked him for his hospitality and left him to his pre race rituals.
We also got to attend the drivers’ meetings, which was pretty interesting even for someone who is just getting to know the sport. Unlike many other sports, Nascar drivers have actual say and input into the rules and dealings of the sport. They are encouraged to voice their opinions and comment on policies.
Next came driver introductions and award presentations. I had the honor of being able to present a check to Mr. Tony Stewart. Stewart has kicked up some major controversy in the Nascar circuit as of late, making comparisons to that of the WWE. He of course got the Nascar equivalent of when your dad took the belt to your ass as a kid when you back talk your mom or do something terrible. Though we only had a brief interaction, he made a few jokes and seemed like a pretty decent guy. Further analysis will be required.
Turned out… Sunday was a bad day to be Kyle Busch as well. Kid simply could not catch a break, wrecking his second car in as many days. And that’s sad.. because he is one of my dad’s faves.
We left the track in the late afternoon hours Sunday, having to make the drive back to Atlanta to catch the 8:30 back to Tampa… only to get on the 6 am to Los Angeles the next morning out of Orlando?.. Tired?... Confused?.. Yeah, so was I.
So apparently, I missed the huge celebration the people of
Thanks for the great hospitality Nascar!!!... It was a truly unforgettable experience.