Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Weekend of Nascar!

A Weekend of Nascar…

February 20th & 21st…. Fontana, California

My husband likes watching Nascar auto racing. May be I should say he loves it. He waits in anticipation every year when February comes around, and dreads November when Nascar season comes to an end. He isn’t a Nascar fanatic or anything. He doesn’t wear Nascar gear– wear—like the race jackets, or own a Dale Earnhardt Jr. beach towel or anything---no, nothing like that. He does own a Mark Martin (his favorite driver) hat and a Nascar shirt. He just enjoys watching Nascar on T.V. He likes watching the race cars go around, and around on the track, and a race isn’t a race without a crash or two. He had never seen a Nascar race in person—only from a reclining chair, so last Christmas I got him tickets to finally see an actually race, in person.

With much anticipation, we ventured over to Fontana Raceway from our hotel near LAX, in our rented Hybrid/Nissan. (That was quite an experience in itself. It took us awhile to realize that the car engine was running---it’s sooo quiet!) We only had tickets for Sunday’s race, but since we were there, and it wasn’t raining (rain was predicted for Sunday’s race) we decided to head on over just in case of the possibility Sunday’s race is rained out. After a 45 minute drive to the raceway, we got out of our car, and we could immediately hear the cars. Yes, we got there a little late, and it was general admission only. We bought our tickets almost half off from a friendly looking guy selling tickets from his wind breaker.

As soon as we got into the stands, the smell of diesel and rubber hits you in the face almost immediately. Surprisingly, after awhile, the smell goes unnoticeable. Oh, and yes, we got our ear plugs. They helped some, but as we quickly realized, it is really hard to have a conversation with someone during a race. Rich and I used hand signals pretty much the entire time. The bloody mary’s that they were selling behind the stands were pretty tasty. It was freezing out there, and it really helped warm you up. The big names of Nascar were not racing that day, but there was Danica Patrick in her Go Daddy car. Of course she looked like a Barbie doll walking away in the far off distance, but so did all the race car drivers. They are all pretty much already short to start with-you have to be in short stature to fit in those cars to begin with.

I was warned about some of the characters I may see at the race way… One of my boss lady friends told me about the area, and had a first account of another supervisor who had a daughter who used to sell beer in the stands wearing only a string bikini. The weather was pretty cold, so I didn’t see any bikini clad girls walking up the stands with cups of warm beer, but I did see a few characters that looked like they just crawled from the woodwork. We noticed a lot of men with beards. Not short, groomed ones, but long beards—think of Santa. There were also a few people who have course looked a little rough around the edges... Let’s just say, it wasn’t the same crowd you would see at an Elton John/Billy Joel concert. (That’s another bog entry in itself.) I saw a lot of people wearing serious NASCAR gear. You could tell that many of them got new NASCAR racing jackets for Christmas, and they were proudly wearing them for the first time. They all looked like they came out of a NASCAR gear catalogue.

Sunday’s race was a lot more exciting. We went to the sports store Saturday night and got ourselves some spectator cushions to sit on, and rain slickers for just in case. We also rented serious looking NASCAR ear sets, and the hand held broad band, so we could see the statistics, hear the race car drivers, and see them race on a little screen. All the big names were there, including my husband’s favorite racer, Mark Martin. I must admit, he is my favorite too. You have to give credit when it’s due----the oldest racer out there who really stood his ground for the whole race. Of course Dale Earnhardt Jr. was there, and Jimmy Johnson, Juan Pablo Montoya….etc.. Andy Garcia was there to start the race, as well as the members of Styx who performed for a short time behind the stands, David Austin, pro-wrestler, now movie star (haha), members of the Blue Angels, who flew over the stands afterwards, after the prayer was said, and the national anthem was sang quite beautifully by country star singer, Katharine McPhee. Afterwards, sky divers jumped out carrying American flags. It was all a very patriotic affair. There were even more bearded men, and rough type looking people at Sunday’s race, but I must admit, I didn’t look much prettier wearing my plastic rain poncho, and my husbands black windbreaker. I think I looked pretty scary too. Did I mention that the bloody mary’s were quite good as well?

All in all it was a fun, memorable weekend. I’m not saying that I’m a die hard Nascar fan now, but it was fun to share the experience with my husband—his first Nascar race. There aren’t very many first time experiences we have shared together-we have known each other only 10 years, and it was nice to share a 1st time experience. Of course, it was just fun just being away alone for awhile. I could have gone fishing and still had a good time. My only regret is not having bought the tickets for the following weekend race in Las Vegas, but it may get rained out anyway, so I’m not going to ponder over it. May be next year?

I know Rich had a good time, but was a little disappointed as well. You just can’t see a race as well as you can in front of a big screen. Also, there were no real crashes either. Crashing cars are the best part of a race! I’ve come to the conclusion winning a race is dependent on many things-including strategy and just pure luck… Kyle Busch won the first race-almost stealing it from Joey Logano who held in first place almost for the entire time, and due to a yellow flag, and a lucky pit stop, Jimmy Johnson, won yet again in Sunday’s race.