Monday, March 05, 2007

My First NHRA Experience

I had no idea what to expect from the National Hot Rod Association or in all honesty, Drag Racing, Funny Cars, Rails or just about anything to do with Hot Rods. I managed to get into the NHRA suites as an Internet Photographer and ended up in the neighboring Suite to John Force! The pictures tell the tale, but I wanted to give you a little inside peek into my day at the Drag Races.

After a rough NASCAR experience last summer with triple digit temperatures and long tram rides to the car, I quickly adjusted to this VIP parking and a California, mid February, 75 degree day. Of course, there is always the usual male bonding; the packs of beer toting guys cracking each other up with adolescent humor. I particularly enjoyed watching theses 2 older gentleman with access to inside seating who chose to stick their fingers in their ears for every warm up and drag race. Such distinguished, silver haired men, whom I 'm sure shared some sort of automotive expertise, enjoyed the hair raising sound of Drag Racing so much, they chose not to use anything to mute the sound except their hands.

The father and son sitting next to us were betting each other a dollar a race and when the father said, "I think you owe me about $10 by now". His teenage son quickly responded, "Dad, I think you still owe me $20 from last week."

We also got to see Ashley Force for a quick second about 45 minutes before she actually raced. WOW! You would have thought I knew her, I screamed and applauded so loudly when she raced. And the pride on John Force’s face literally beamed into the crowd after a quick trip with a motor scooter to the end of the track congratulating his daughter on her qualifying speed. Ashley is absolutely beautiful in person, smart and well spoken and John Force seemed like a normal proud Dad who also happens the be the face of the NHRA.

But the one who stole my heart was a little boy named Anthony who was about 5 years old. I know his name because he was a mini version of his father who quietly but sternly reeled him in from leaving sticky hand prints all over the windows among other innocent mishaps. Watching him outside lifting his father's head gear away to be able to hear him speak and then intently listening to the answer to his question or just cracking up with laughter, made me understand a little bit better that this experience is not just about the sport. It's about the time spent with friends and family just relaxing, enjoying each other's company and the simplicity of waiting for the next race.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

How I Became a NASCAR Fan

I went to my first NASCAR race about 5 years ago. My fiancée and I live in Los Angeles and go to the Fontana Speedway. Every Sunday, I would watch the race on TV or at least listen to it from the other room. I can't say that at first I was a huge fan, but after a few live races...I was hooked. The crowds were overwhelming and the parking was crazy, but we would arrive hours before the race to scope out a good parking space..which means close to an entrance and preferably backed up to a wall.

Unpacking the truck, setting up and meeting your “neighbors” is great. We usually have a little something to eat and then go check out what their selling from the trailers outside the track. In California, it can be brutally hot in August (like last year – 105 degrees) and it can ruin a good time if you not dressed properly. NASCAR fans are creative at keeping cool – water gun fights, bandannas full of ice on your head, ice cold beer and you can always sneak into the car for a little A/C when you need a refresher.

Then we go scope out where are seats are located, but to be honest, we never stay there for long even after the race has started. If you want to seriously watch a race, it is more easily done from the comfort of your own living room with 15 cameras catching every single angle and commentators reviewing each turn. At the race, even in the best regular seats, you can't see the whole track, but Sony has these big screen TVs outside now, so even when you aren't in the track, you can plop down and watch the race. We love to walk around, people watch, buy cool hats and shirts and then there's always tons of free stuff like seat cushions, ear plugs, magnets, note pads, water. When we get loaded down, we go back to the truck and munch some more. (Don't forget to check out my recipes and tailgating "must have" list.)

The first time I was actually in the grandstands for the beginning of a race and all those gentlemen took their hats off as everyone stood for the “Star Spangled Banner”, a real Stealth Bomber flew overhead, they announced, “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines” and my whole body started to shake from the roar of the engines ...I realized I had started to cry. (Keep in mind I cry at Prego pasta sauce commercials, but still...I was hooked.) The drama of the drivers, the suspense with every turn, negotiating those beautiful cars at speeds of up to 180 miles an hour and the pride Americans have about NASCAR have made it my sport of choice and I kind of like all the cute guys, too.

Every year we pick a new driver, although we are still big Carl Edwards, Casey Kahne and Dale Jr. fans. This year we have decided to support David Reutimann. He was rookie of the year last year in the Craftsman truck series and will be driving the Toyota 00 car for Michael Waltrip's team. David comes from 3 generations of drivers. I can't remember where I read it, but supposedly he used to sit on the knee of his race car father Buzzie at 3 year old and even then he knew all the drivers, their cars and stats. The word in the garage is that he's a gentleman and this man can drive. I posted his pre-season Daytona Thunder test drive stats for you to see.

Stick with me as I update the blog with fun facts about David Reutimann, his 00 Toyota car which has a split sponsorship between Dominos for the first half of the season and Burger King for the last half and of course, my 2007 NASCAR experience. I wonder why Burger King didn't get Richard Petty to drive their car. He is “The King” right?

Drive it like you stole it! Just kidding, of course :-)

Friday, January 19, 2007

David Reutimann places 9th in a pre season qualifying

NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top Ten testing speeds from Wednesday AM at Daytona International Speedway:

Car Driver Make Time Speed
1. 2C Kurt Busch Dodge 47.074 191.188
24A Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 48.755 184.596
3. 40 David Stremme Dodge 48.842 184.268
4. 38A David Gilliland Ford 48.901 184.045
5. 42 Juan Montoya Dodge 48.966 183.801
6. 5A Kyle Busch Chevrolet 48.984 183.733
7. 11A Denny Hamlin Chevrolet 48.989 183.715
8. 55A Michael Waltrip Toyota 48.998 183.681
9. 00A David Reutimann Toyota 49.020 183.599
10. 36A Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 49.055 183.468

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Recent Cool NASCAR Quotes and Facts

"If you’re going to argue with me about not being American," Jarrett told reporters this month, "check and see that TV you’re watching was made in the United States that you’re watching our great races on."
As Toyota drivers are quick to point out, Camrys are built in the United States, the Ford Fusion is produced in Mexico and Chevrolet Monte Carlo comes from Canada.


Earlier this month, for instance, Roush Racing hired the crew chief Larry Carter away from Michael Waltrip Racing.

Read the whole article:

Frank Kerr has been hired to fill that duty (Crew Chief) on the #00 Burger King/Domino's Pizza Toyota Camry, replacing Larry Carter who went to Roush Racing to assume the same job for Jamie McMurray on the #26. Kerr previously held a car chief job for Robby Gordon and was a Busch Series crew chief for Travis Kvapil.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Race Food!

Half the fun of NASCAR is the tailgating and the people you meet. We have the pre BBQ nibbles, the mid race meal and then the post race "watching the parking lot empty out" feast.

One time at the end of a race in Fontana we watched a couple who jumped into their car to leave only to watch us relight our grill, add some marinated chicken drumettes, slowly devour them, clean up and then pull up right behind them in line.

Here's my basic list for a Classic tailgate BBQ:
Charcoal grill
1 big Bag o' Charcoal - we like Kingsford
2 bags of Ice
Potato Chips
Hamburgers and Hot Dogs
Hamburger and Hot Dog Rolls
Mustard - French’s and Dijon
Head of Iceberg
3 tomatoes
3 big onions - some for grilling
I big Cooler for food
1 small Cooler for beverages
Now, we like to get a little fancier and add Shrimp Skewers, Chicken Wings, BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Grilled Lobster Tails, Marinated Rib Eye Steaks. Recipes to follow :-)

A woman's point of view on David Reutimann

I started watching NASCAR about 7 years ago. At the beginning of every season, we pick a new driver and team to support. Last year it was Carl Edwards and we still had loyalty to Casey Kahne because we picked him in 2005 and honestly, he is our pick for non rookie this year. In 2004, it was Matt Kenseth and he won the Winston Cup....I mean Nextel Championship Cup. This year, after much deliberation, we have picked rookie David Reutimann. He’s a third generation driver of the 00 car and because he is driving a Toyota with all the new technology should make it interesting.

Friday, January 12, 2007

NASCAR Racing Schedule 2007

Daytona 500
Sunday, February 18, 2007
Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL

Auto Club 500
Sunday, February 25, 2007
California Speedway Fontana, CA

UAW-DaimlerChrysler 400
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Las Vegas Motor Speedway Las Vegas, NV

Golden Corral 500
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Atlanta Motor Speedway Atlanta, GA

Food City 500
Sunday March 25, 2007
Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, TN

Virginia 500
Sunday April 01, 2007
Martinsville Speedway Martinsville, VA

Samsung 500
Sunday April 15, 2007
Texas Motor Speedway Justin, TX

Subway Fresh 500
Saturday April 21, 2007
Phoenix International Raceway Phoenix, AZ

Aaron's 499
Sunday April 29, 2007
Talladega Superspeedway Talladega, AL

Chevy 400
Saturday May 05, 2007
Richmond International Raceway Richmond, VA

Carolina Dodge Dealer's 500
Saturday May 12, 2007
Darlington Raceway Darlington, SC

Nextel All Star Race
Saturday May 19, 2007
Lowes Motor Speedway Charlotte, NC

Coca Cola 600
Sunday May 27, 2007
Lowes Motor Speedway Charlotte, NC

MBNA 400
Sunday June 03, 2007
Dover Raceway Dover, DE

Pocono 500
Sunday June 10, 2007
Pocono Raceway Long Pond, PA

Michigan 400
Sunday June 17, 2007
Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, MI

Dodge Savemart 350-Infineon
Sunday June 24, 2007
Infineon Raceway Sonoma, CA

New England 300
Sunday July 01, 2007
New Hampshire International Speedway Louden, NH

Pepsi 400
Saturday July 07, 2007
Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL

Chicagoland 400
Sunday July 15, 2007
Chicagoland Speedway Joliet, IL

Allstate 400 at the Brickyard
Sunday July 29, 2007
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indianapolis, IN

Pennsylvania 500
Sunday August 05, 2007
Pocono Raceway Long Pond, PA

AMD at the Glenn
Sunday August 12, 2007
Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, NY

GFS Marketplace 400
Sunday August 19, 2007
Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, MI

Sharpie 500
Saturday August 25, 2007
Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, TN

California 500
Sunday September 02, 2007
California Speedway Fontana, CA

Chevy Rock and Roll 400
Saturday September 08, 2007
Richmond International Raceway Richmond, VA

Sylvania 300
Sunday September 16, 2007
New Hampshire International Speedway Louden, NH

Banquet 400
Sunday September 30, 2007
Kansas Speedway Kansas City, KS

UAW-Ford 500
Sunday October 07, 2007
Talladega Superspeedway Talladega, AL

Bank of America 500
Saturday October 13, 2007
Lowes Motor Speedway Charlotte, NC

Subway 500
Sunday October 21, 2007
Martinsville Speedway Martinsville, VA

Bass Pro Shops MBNA 500
Sunday October 28, 2007
Atlanta Motor Speedway Atlanta, GA

Dickies 500
Sunday November 04, 2007
Texas Motor Speedway Justin, TX

Checker Auto Parts 500
Sunday November 11, 2007
Phoenix International Raceway Phoenix, AZ

Ford 400
Sunday November 18, 2007
Homestead-Miami Speedway Miami, FL