Sunday, December 4, 2011

NASCAR surprise! 11.20.11

NASCAR surprise!  11.20.11

I researched things to do while we were in Miami and lo and behold, found there was a NASCAR race scheduled for the weekend we were arriving.  Sweet!  Although I have been to lots & lots of races, I haven’t been to a NASCAR race before and didn’t think Michael had either.  And as it turned out this was a championship race – the Ford 400 Sprint Cup at Homestead-Miami speedway. 

Talking with a friend who had been before, he told me to make sure and get a Pit Pass and to get seats as high as possible.  So that’s exactly what we did.  The Pits were scheduled to open at 10am so we figured we would get there at 10.  Punching the address into the GPS, we headed out and were exactly on time….until we got within 4 miles of the racetrack.  And then it was a dead stop.  What the heck is going on? we wondered!  Nothing…it was just the other hundreds of people also trying to get to the track.  We inched along, finally arriving around 10:45 or so. 

My first impression was this wasn’t a race – it was an EVENT!!  There was SO much to see & do, and the race hadn’t even begun.  There were hundreds of vendors, freebies, contests, exhibits, you name it!   And we hadn’t even made it inside the park yet.  WOW…

Once we were inside we raced to the entrance to the pits….and waited….and waited.  There were people who were griping about the wait and then people started to get out of line!  Apparently people had been in line for over 2 hours but the President & Vice-president’s wives were there and the line was because Secret Service had to search everyone coming into the pits.  Huh, that’s a bummer!  Is this not the 2nd time the presidential party has screwed up our plans!?  Haha…   We decided to wait it out and were finally rewarded with entrance into the pits with plenty of time to check everything out.

Wow – how cool!!  It was amazing to see all the cars…

cars ready for the big race

And the individual pits loaded with tires, getting ready for the races.

tires ready for the race

I had my favorite…


And of course the two cars who were battling it out…  Tony & Carl.


We even got to walk on the track, hiking up on Turn #4 to check out the view….

turn #4

Though we didn’t get a Garage pass (next time!) we could peer through the fence to watch some of the teams still working on their cars.

teams in the Garage

All in all, it was way cool.  And this was just the beginning!!


In addition to the Pitt Pass, I also got us entrance to the Coca Cola fan area where we enjoyed lunch, all the soda & water we liked, and, most importantly….3 beers each!  Haha…  We walked from the Pits through the throngs of people & vendors and enjoyed some down time, food, & chatting with other folks before heading out to the vendors to see what was going on. 

We waded through the many vendors & exhibits, picking up goodies along the way – food & drink samples (my favorite was called ‘Perky Jerky’ – it’s a beef jerky with caffeine!), the Ford section had all of their vehicles there, in addition to lots of contests (guess how many footballs are inside the cab, etc), and of course Coca Cola was there.  There were cars from previous years, uniforms to check out, drivers to meet, it was almost overwhelming.  Oh, we even saw someone famous!  Recognize this guy?!

Lopez at NASCAR

After all the excitement, it was finally time for the race to start.  We’d only been there 4 hours so far.  Haha!

Pit crews
lined up at NASCAR

The pre-race entertainment was great – the singing of the national anthem, the fly-overs by the Air Force, the ‘Gentlemen….start your engines’ by the first Ladies (I read about some people booing but really feel this had a lot less to do with politics and more to do with the significant delay getting into the Pits).

The First
Ladies at NASCAR

Finally it was time for the race to start….AND THEY’RE OFF!!!  400 miles, 267 laps. 


Oh my goodness – what a sound!!!  The roar was tremendous, almost ear-splitting, and it’s a noise that is indescribable.  You could feel it through your entire body!  I will never forget that sound and the exhilaration of the first few laps.  Everyone was on their feet for the first 20 or so laps.  Then slowly people began to sit until a yellow flag came out or until something happened on the track.  And there were lots of yellow flags!  Not to mention rain delays.  There were 3 rain delays total, the first one the cars continued moving around the track, helping to dry it out. 

A rainbow
at NASCAR in Florida

The 2nd one though was a harder & longer rain (though only 5 minutes of so!) and it took nearly an hour to get the track dry and resume racing. 

Delay at NASCAR

It was a close race – and made all the more exciting by the fans who were sitting around us, cheering for one driver or another.  Finally, after 400.5 miles….Tony Stewart took home the checkered flag.

Stewart wins!

Stewart at NASCAR

And with my handy dandy little camera, I managed to take this photo, my favorite of the day…

Edwards at NASCAR

As soon as the race ended, the skies opened up for one more downpour and we decided to bail.  Afterall, it was after 10pm!  Only a 12 hour day at the races!  :-)  But a very memorable one!!

& Rene at NASCAR

More to follow…


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