Just a 1 day race trip to the second-to-last (penultimate) NASCAR race of the season.
This Sunday, just passed Nov. 12th.,, I went to Phoenix International Raceway (PIR) for the Nextel Cup, NASCAR race. I was given two tickets. When I looked at the price on the tickets of $107.00 each, just for Sunday! I'm thinking these must be GOOD tickets!
So as a warm up, I buy the movie CARS on DVD and watched it Saturday evening :) Entertaining.
PIR is only a 45 minute drive from my house, but everyone is telling me it will take a couple of hours because: A) It's NASCAR and B) the Cardinals are playing Dallas. The new stadium is in the same direction as the race track.
I leave my house at 10:45am and I am within 1 mile of the track in 45 minutes. One and 1/2 hours later I am in a dirt parking lot, still a half mile from the Stadium (track)!
These NASCAR fans are somethin else! :) RV's and tents all over the place, with Satellite TV, BBQ's and seating areas arranged
between a few of them. (That is the track on the horizon above the RV in front.) Then there is the proverbial Pick-up Truck with dozens of empty Bud Light beer cans on the ground, all round it. There's always one!
I finally get to my seat K2, Row 39, seat 13, in the "Bobby Allison" stand. It's up there and there is a big "I" beam 14 x 14 right next to me restricting my view of the back straight. $107.00 for this seat! and the one next to me which would have the "I" beam right in front of you.
Not only that; there is a woman sitting in front of me that every time the cars go by she stands up ON HER SEAT and starts rotating her butt and waving her arms in the air, so I see nothing. Even the other fans think she is strange. So I guess it's OK. It wouldn't be so bad, but she looks older than me! (way older from behind) And I'm 54!
Then they all take off around the track. I notice that they are in two groups, so I ask the guy next to me if they are going to start this way. He informs me that they are in two groups each behind a pace car that is going the speed of the Pit Lane limit. This is so the drivers can see what RPM they need to be at for pit lane speed. Hi-Tec stuff! :) Of course I'm wearing F1 garb, so the people around me don't mind me asking questions. It was kind of like being at the USGP in 2000 (only in reverse), explaining F1 to the NASCAR fans. :)
They go round the track a couple of times until both pace cars are off the track and they are all in one group, in two lines. The green flag waives and the race is underway. Unimpressed! They are already in top gear (it would seem) so the noise is one of 40 cars (or however many there is) increasing RPM's, all at the same time until they reach maximum speed. So it is one continuous DRONE eventually achieving ONE pitch!
You know it's just not the same feeling as the start of a F1 race! Where the cars sit on the grid, the lights turn red, the engines build up RPM, the tension builds, then the lights go out and it's a mad dash to the first corner, faster cars trying to get around the slower ones. Braking, changing gear, accelerating! I guess I'm a little prejudice.
I take a few pictures. The race continues.............round and round and round..................until the guys in front catch up with the back markers.......................now it's just a circle of cars, some changing position.
Round and round and round......................................the engine sound is one drone, occasionally changing slightly. 70 laps into the race and all of a sudden the engine sound cuts in half! I look around and see no trouble. The pace car is sitting waiting for the leaders to come around. I ask the guy next to me if it is a mandatory pit stop that everyone must make? He tells me, that someone has called in and said there is Debris on the track so they throw a yellow and everyone pits for fuel under caution instead of green.
One of the things most noticeable to me, is the cars all look the same shape. The only difference being the rear side window shape. The Ford is a Dodge, is a Chevy.................................I don't recognize any street car that looks remotely like one of them.
Oh well! Back to the monotonous drone, and round and round and round again. One guy got his adjustments wrong on the pit stop and is a little squirrelly entering turn one. I try a few different shots, trying to see inside the cars.
Oh! But it's really easy to tell which driver is which as the numbers are the size of the doors! Not that it really matters as there are no two cars with the same paint scheme. Almost every time the cars go by, this crazy lady in front stands up and sticks her right arm out to the side with her index finger slightly bent, moving her arm backwards and forwards as if to push the car round the track. I think she is only doing it for #24
On about lap 123 I see a chunk of rubber bouncing around on the track. I mean a chunk bigger than my fist! No caution though. I guess no one needs fuel! Round about lap 138 cars start pitting for fuel and tires. None of the leaders though. Then Low and behold around lap 145 Full course caution! Debris on the track again! (according to the fan next to me) All the leaders pit for fuel..
Back out on the track with a pace car until the debris is cleaned up. I don't see anyone cleaning anything on the track anywhere! I'm board! Where's Cheryl when I need her?!? She is a NASCAR fan, Dale Jr. is her man I believe. Anyway, I've given it a try but I can't do this again. EVER! unless it's a road course. I want to see some driving skills.
I leave! This I believe is the podium that the drivers will stand on at the end of the race; it is mounted on a trailer towed by a Semi ("Artic" for others) that's the back side, but I will never find out. And I don't think I really care. :)
I could have had aV8! :)
All the Best!