The word epic gets overused a lot. But I don’t think epic is a strong enough word to describe today.
First thing’s first- didn’t get much sleep, and being surrounded by people who work in NASCAR, the baby elephant walk around the hotel at 5:00am had me awake way too early.
Subsequently got to the track at about 6:30am, then had a small kip in the car before heading into the pits.
First up I went to the Tweetup, I’ve always read about them, but quite obviously never had a chance to attend. Met two of my favourite all-time journalists, Jeff Gluck and Dustin Long. Had a good long chat, which was especially cool. Wound up winning a Jimmie Johnson hat from Old 5 Time’s spotter for correctly answering a trivia question- winner!
Met up with Marcos’s friends from Tassie Duane and Adam, and with number nine spotter Tim as our chaperone, we were smuggled into the driver’s briefing.
This thing was an utter circus. The rather large tent was filled with drivers, spotters, crew chiefs, celebrities, journalists, sponsors, it was the Ben Hurr of briefings.
The run down was 5 minutes of dignitary introductions, a 5 minute video (all custom animated to show the points of the track, much slicker than any actual TV production we have in Australia), a quick mention of the restart zones, two questions from Jeff Gordon, and a prayer.
Upon exiting, there was a police/security guard of honour restraining a mass of punters. I duly waved to the perplexed folk. That was cool.
Cruised around until the driver introductions, when Marcos said he would get us on the back of his pickup truck for the parade lap.
The standard deal is that each truck had an auction winner- the lady to go with Marcos paid $1,000.
With the four of us, there wouldn’t have been much room for pole sitter Jamie McMurray, so he was told to get his own truck.
Massively cool to do a lap of the track, awesome layout, huge crowd, and we Oi Oi Oied the Aussie Aussie Aussies coming at us.
Took in the pre race ceremonies from on the grid, another rad experience.
With the race start delayed by drizzle, we picked up some scanners and headed up to turn two.
In another rain delay, we went further up the mountain to the lookout where all of the spotters stand. Needless to say, the view was incredible, and it was brilliant to listen in on Tim and seeing exactly what he could see. He’s very pro.
After that, we headed back to the pits to watch the last couple of pit stops. Took these in from on top of the pit cart… that doesn’t happen everyday!
Marcos didn’t get the result he deserved, but that’s racing. Still, a day I’ll never forget.
Being told horror stories on how difficult it is to get out of the track, it appears they blocked off all exits bar the paddock car park, so I managed to get home in record time. Did not see that one coming…
Also, I found out today from a local regarding the all-stop sign intersection, you should “yield” to your left. I used this new-found info to my advantage driving home.
Tomorrow- head on down to San Francisco. They’ve forecast record rain for June. Since it’s never rained here in June, the actual forecast is for a 60% chance of showers. Wait and see… might be a fun bike ride!