Nascar


Ok, so i wasn’t planning on blogging tonight but i was surfing the net looking for some Nascar race footage from Darlington SC for a friend and i found these. They both pretty much explain it all. Its noise, colour and wind (generated from the cars kinda wind) Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=attCQfu2xHo]

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfCEpcjVvPg]

Almost at the end of our trip and its time for the big event. The Nascar race weekend at Dover Delaware. Our friends Tammy and Casie, Judith and me headed down from Maine for the race weekend. We were looking forward very much to  it and whatever else would happen to us with regard to Richard Childress Racing whilst we were there.

 We arrived at the track on  Saturday morning. I had instructions to go to the Nascar credentials truck to get the pit passes for all of us but they never had them so they directed us halfway round the speedway to a gate where we would have to give our names so that we could go in past the grandstands, cross the bridge over the track and get into the infield. This we did and we managed to talk our way past 2 security gates to get right down by pit lane. We were looking for a red single story building that was where we would have to show ID and they would get the PR guy from the 07 team to come out with our passes. 30mins later and whooohoooo we have the passes!!

So much happened to us over the next 2 days as we utilised our “hot” pit passes to the full. In Nascar terms “Hot” means “access all areas” and thats just what we did. It would take a long time to write half of it down here, so with words and pictures i’ll give you a feel for it for now.

Saturday was spent in the pits all morning until the Busch series race in the afternoon. We took plenty of photos of cars and people coming and  going all round us whilst practise and qualifying for the races was in progress

Kevin Harvick

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Jimmy Johnson

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 Ryan Newman

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Mark Martin 

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Kurt Busch

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Tony Stewart

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Dale Earnhardt Jnr

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Judith met this guy…

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Yeah, its Richard Petty and during our time at the track Judith wandered off. 5 minutes later she reappears and said “I got an autograph” to which i replied “Great! who of?”
“I don’t know” she said. “There was this other guy having his pit pass signed so i thought i’d get mine done too”
“Ok” i replied “where is he?” And Judith pointed to the man in the hat. None other than Richard Petty! LOL

A bit later on  we’re still watching what was happening in pit lane and there was a bit of a crowd gathering. On closer investigation we see Jeff Gordon surrounded by “his people” and about 10 yards away we see a tall guy surrounded by “people” too. Both groups get closer and then the 2 men go to each other,  shake hands and start walking slowly along pit lane talking like they’ve known each other all their lives. Turns out the other guy was the quarterback for the Philidelphia Eagles NFL team and this was a staged photocall.

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Heres some more photos of the pit lane area this time from Sunday

The gas tanks they use are so much bigger than they seem on tv

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And then during the pre race stuff, it was time for Nascar to interview me by Kevin Harvicks car for part of the “Nascar Nation” tv programme.The lady that interviewed me was tall at about 6′ and she had a cold that day too. This was all in preperation for the interview a few minutes later that was going to be done for tv with me and RCR owner Richard Childress. Heres some pictures from the interview session

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Tammy, Judith, Jeff Burton (31 car) and me

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Judith and me with Richard Childress. He was a really nice down to earth man as well.

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Tammy, Richard and me

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After the pit stops during a race the team members that work on filling the car with fuel each time then use a trolley to take 2 of the empty gas tanks down to a main filling area operated by Sunoco who supply the fuel for Nascar where they have to leave the empty tanks on the trolley and whilst they walk to the other end of the walkway, the Sunoco employees then fill the tanks before handing them back to the race team members who take them back to their own particular pit box

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As the race started in 100+ degree heat we were up in victory lane watching what was happening. Victory lane might be where the winning car goes at the end of the race, but at the start its where all the unused race tyres are stored

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Watching the 31 team during pit stops

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It gets a bit crowded in pit lane during the race

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And people can get injured

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The race was won by Greg Biffle with the 16 “National Guard” car. The crewman above is one of his. Whilst i was up in victory lane during the race, the guy from the National Guard that was in charge of sponsorship for the 16 team came up  to stand by me and tripped as he reached the last couple of steps. We got talking and he asked about our trip. At the end of the chat he gave me his card and told me to get in touch when we got home which we did. About 5 weeks after we got home we had a package arrive from the National Guard with a t-shirt and signed diecast of the race winning car!

That was pretty much the end of the trip and at this time we realised we enjoyed being in America and it was while we were driving back to Dulles airport in Washington that we made the decison to try and make it to America to live and work and so the next stage of the story starts…

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The day after our brush with the law we make it to Indianapolis Motor Speedway! A fine looking place indeed and very big!. It was the week of qualifying for the Indy 500 but we’d picked the only day on our schedule to visit when there was no track action. That wasn’t a problem though as we have a friend called Cathy in the ticket office and still managed to get free passes for the speedway and museum for a fun day out.

 Heres some photos of the day

Us and Cathy of IMS

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum

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Before leaving Indy we met up with some friends, David, Ed and Susan for a very pleasant evening out culminating in me receiving a very nice IRL (Indy Racing League) jacket. Ed had it with him over the back of his chair and as the evening went on he came round and told me to try it on. It fitted pretty well too and i told him so to which he replied “Thats good cos its yours”!! Like he said, you can’t go back 6 time zones to Indy and just have a couple of beers Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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Show me a State that is as boring to drive through as Indiana. If it wasn’t for Indianapolis Motor Speedway would there be anything there worth seeing? As we were heading along all we saw was cornfields, farms and flat land, miles and miles of cornfields, farms and flat land. Apart from our 2 “meet n greets”, the Speedway and a guy losing a front wheel on his car on I65 right in front of us at 70mph Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket that was it…

After Indy and on route to Chicago we met up with our good friend Allen (otherwise known as Split) and had dinner with him.. check out his car right here

1934 Ford 3 window coupe with Corvette power Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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But now, the unthinkable has happened (must be the hot weather as he’s moved to South Carolina) as he now has a 2007 Z06 Corvette, 427 cu in 505 hp Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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And then it was on to ChicagoPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Its Saturday morning, the day after RCR and we’re headed back to Richmond VA for the Nextel Cup night race! Richmond International Raceway is a great place to watch racing. A short .75 mile track with capacity at around 110000. If you ever get the chance to get to one race anywhere on the Nascar schedule make it a night race. Theres something about it, whether its the lights round the track, the colour of the cars, the flames that fire out the exhausts or the red glow of the brakes, its a sight that you really should experience just once in your life.

The race was a great one too with Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart battling all night long with Kahne always just having the upper hand to take the win. Heres a couple of pics from the evening

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Sunday we carried on with our journey aiming for Indy heading thru the lush green countryside of West Virginia and by Monday lunchtime were moving at a fair old pace through Kentucky with “moving at a fair old pace” being the correct wording here as we got pulled over doing 75 in a 50 by a State trooper Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Ok, so this is how the story went. We’d been stuck behind a line of trucks for a good while and at last found a passing place to get past them but as they were all motoring along at a fair rate, we had to motor on a little bit faster…. Oh btw, heres an “Englishism”… “Semi” in America = “Articulated Lorry” in UK or “Artic” for short Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So there we are “pedal to the metal” going along quite nicely and we reach the front of the queue, start dropping down a hill when round the corner coming up is a trooper! We never knew what a State troopers car looked like hence we never slowed down and we didn’t realise that they have those speed cameras in the front of their cars either and so guess what… he turned round and put his lights and sirens on. Whoops! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Mistake number 1 was speeding and so mistake number 2 was getting out of the car to enquire of the officer as to why he’d pulled me over. Hey i never knew he had a gun.. I’m British!

So i walk towards his car a couple of yards and he’s shouting and screaming at me and pointing too! I can’t understand a word he’s saying so i move a little closer to him. Bear in mind here that you can do this in the UK so as far as i was concerned i wasn’t doing anything wrong. I just couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting out of his car. Then as i edged a little closer i could start to hear him and could make out words like “Stop” and “Gun”.

Now i was never brilliant at word games but those words make out a sentence that even i can understand and so rather quickly i turned and jumped back in the car..

And with the cop approaching the car he said in a Kentucky accent
“What the hell are you doing getting out the car?”

Me – “Hi!! I’m from England”

Cop – “I don’t care where your from. You don’t get out the car when you get stopped. We have guns here”

Me – “Well i didn’t know. I’m not from round here”

Cop – “Your not from round here are you”

Me – “No i’m from England”

Cop – “England? What the hell are you doing out here?”

Me – “Heading to Indy”

Cop – “Do you know why i stopped you”?

Me – “I think i might of been just over the speed limit”

Cop – “Just? It was 75″

Me – “Oh” Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Cop – “Let me see your drivers licence and insurance”

Me – *Passing my drivers licence to him*

Cop – “Whats this?”

Me – “My drivers licence”

Cop – “Not here it isn’t”

Me – “Well thats cos i’m from England” Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Adding here that in 2005 i was still using a paper drivers licence that looks nothing at all like what Americans have. Heres a sample of one

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The size of this licence is about the same as A4 paper in UK or the standard copying paper size in US (8.5″ * 11″ or whatever it is). It has no ID on it at all except for a name, address and driving licence number. The rest of the licence is filled with words and theres a big space for penalty points when you get caught for speeding or some other traffic offence. In reality it could be anyones licence and so i produced my passport to show it was me as well as the rental cars insurance documents

To show how the current UK licence looks, heres a sample of one i pulled off the internet. It has photo ID now but still nothing like all the other ID features that can be found on a US licence
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So the troopers looking at the drivers licence and you can tell he’s thinking. He flips the paper over one way and then the other and starts to read various notes printed on it. Then without warning he says “Its your lucky day, i’m going to let you go”

Me – “Oh ok thank you!”

Cop – “Drive slower for the rest of your trip”

And with that he handed me back the papers and whilst turning towards his car wished us a safe trip and a nice day.

The only reason i think he let me off that day was because it was probably going to be way too much paperwork for him considering i wasn’t just “out of State”.. i was “out of Continent”! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

 And with that we were back on the road heading for Indy Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Just a little note for those of you that read my previous entry. You best go back and have another look as i added a few more pictures… 

After we had been through the entire museum we were then met by David Hart (Director of Communications) and he proceeded to take us through the rest of the RCR facility. We went across to the main corporate offices which have their 3 Nextel Cup cars on display as seen below. Great looking cars especially the 07!! Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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From there we went to the viewing area where the “Cup Teams raceshops” are… well heres a little secret, they’re not the real raceshops at all. They’re just put there for the fans to get an idea whats happening. David proceeded to take us through a “No Entry” door at the end of the corridor and we went down 2 flights of stairs to the real raceshops that were behind the “fans area”. We were able to walk all the way through and take lots of pictures. Heres a selection…

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From here it was across to the engine, paint and transmission shops

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Then from there it was across to the Busch Series raceshops

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Last but not least, we ended up in the area where the new car chassis would come in before being built up for a particular race. These photos are of the 29 Harvick car that would race a couple of weeks later at Dover…

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It was a magical day and it just goes to show that “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” as when we were about to leave the facility after 5 great hours, David told us the extra news we’d been waiting on that we had the 5 “hot” pit passes for the Dover race weekend courtesy of the 07 team!
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