Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Boogity! Boogity! Boogity! Let's Go Racing Mellon!

Thing of beauty, isn't she? I have to say that I'm surprised that I liked my NASCAR adventure as much as I did. I really loved it. I might just become a die hard that drives her RV around the country from race to race. Probably not, but the possibility is greater now than it was a week ago.
We flew from the Atlantic City airport to Jackson, Michigan. The Jackson airport is tiny and old, but the people are friendly. My favorite part was a sign in the little, 70's paneled front room that said "No Autographs in the Lobby." I wish I would have gotten a picture of it, but I was too busy waiting for someone to request my signature. Never happened. From there, we drove to the track. Or rather Drew drove. Too fast as usual.

Uh oh Drew. You're not a Nationwide driver, you're just sponsoring one silly. Now slow down! Luckily the cop let him off with just a warning. Nice folk, those Michiganers.

We made it to the track in one piece! Now we have to wait for our ride to take us to the credentials area. For those who don't know, the credentials station is where for the privilege of being allowed in pit row and the garage area, you sign away your right to sue NASCAR if a blistering hot lug nut flies off and hits you in the face. They also respectfully request your first born and a cow. No problem, where do I put my name?

Here's the Big Spot #20 car being pushed down Pit Road waiting for its turn for the qualifying run. I guess they push it to conserve gas and the engine? Not sure. Regardless, Brad did really well and finished 5th in qualifying.

After qualifying, we toured the garage area and the trailer that hauls the cars with Brad's dad Brandon. (Lots of B's there, confusing. I know) There are two identical #20 cars at the race track just in case something happens to one during the practice. Never knew this. We saw lots of famous drivers walking around and even more crazed fans snapping photos and stalking the drivers. It was really hot, and the heels that I had to wear to go with the "slacks" (who says slacks anymore? Drew that's who)that Andy insisted I don for the event caused a horrendously awful blister to form on my foot bed beneath my toe. So, we escaped to the air conditioned suite to watch the Sprint Cup drivers practice for their race the next day. I tried to get a picture, but they move so fast that all of the shots were of empty asphalt. Bummer.
Before we knew it, it was time to head back into the stifling heat for the race start. Brad's PR guy does a great job of getting him exposure. Check him out being interviewed here:
That's his mug on the big screen there. I never realized how much schmoozing goes on in NASCAR. It really seems to be 15% about racing and 85% about product placement. Things you learn.
More schmoozing. Have to be nice to your sponsors. I'm sure he'd be nice anyway. Andy spent more time with him in Iowa, and he says that Brad is a stand up guy. Actually, he said Brad reminds him of my brother Rob. Guess we have to like him then.
B-17 Flying Fortress buzz over after the anthem. Which by the way, my face was on ESPN during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Even with this taste of fame, no one asked me for my autograph. What's a girl got to do?

My most favorite part--sitting behind the crew chief in the pit box! It was so awesome, that I didn't even mind the scorching sun beating down on my grey slack clad legs. Thanks again for that wardrobe choice Drew. I would attend every race if I could sit there to watch it.
Rogers is the crew chief even though he didn't do a lot of talking. Most of the talk comes from the spotter that sits up high telling Brad where all the other cars are and if he has room to get around someone. My very official data had the spotter doing 90% of the talking, the crew chief 9.5% and Brad .5%. He's a quiet kid. If it were me, I'd be babbling away like an idiot the entire time. Of course, they don't have AC in the car, so it probably dries his mouth out to talk. Probably wouldn't stop me though. I tend to ramble when nervous. And if I had 40+ cars flying around me at 185mph, you better believe I'd be one big ball of quivering nerves.
Pit Crew Mellon. It only took about 20 minutes before I realized my head set was on upside down. Not a good way to start my job interview to be a permanent fixture at the races. Do you think anyone noticed?
Another thing I never knew--how high tech it all was. Computer screens, excel sheets, numbers, overwhelming.
Here he comes for a pit stop! So cool. Blows my mind how precise everything has to be.

Brad was running a great race staying in the top 10 for most of it. Until a final caution with under 7 laps to go where he got pushed into the wall at the restart. Ended up cutting a tire. By the time he got back into the race, there were only 3 laps to go--no time to fight back to the front. Still he finished 23--which when you factor in the 16 Sprint cuppers who were racing that day is still a decent finish. At least I think so. And really, my opinion is the only one that matters. Anyone want my autograph yet? I'm just glad that we didn't need these guys.

I barely said four words to Brad, but I already feel very Mama hen about the whole thing. Can't even imagine how his real Mother feels watching him fly around the track. Must be why she doesn't come to the races.

It was spectacular day, and I can't wait to do it all again in Montreal in two weeks. Yes, it's safe to say that the sport has found one new fan. Let's go racing, boys!


  1. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Loved reading the play by play! What an exciting thing to be able to do!


  2. I know. I think I'm hooked. I am so glad that we were able to work out something so that I could go to Montreal. You girls are the best!