Category Archives: NASCAR

2011 Fan Fest

This is a long note and was written at 1 AM.

Well it’s  Thursday morning and I am so out of it time wise.  I don’t know if I should be sleeping, eating breakfast or outside on the trail of NASCAR stuff..  I do know that I have to give a big shout out to James and Lorri.  Like the Bud Lite commercial: “I LOVE YOU MAN”.  You two rock  and I hope one day we can return the favor when you come out  to Dega.

FanFest at Fremont St. was not a complete success.  I know Las Vegas Motor Speedway and NASCAR wanted it there, to increase awareness and draw in to people but for the fans that have support them for years here in Las Vegas and  surrounding towns we got run-over literally.  There was no crowd control on the fan’s side of the red carpet. There was pushing and shoving and made for a very worrisome for us who to get here early and wait it out to be in the front. I would recommend that there is a separate area or event for real NASCAR fans to get to interact with their drivers.  LVMS this year had a Nationwide autograph session with about the same number of drivers and it went very well.  Get there early, @ 200 fans, and then you walk the signing table and get your autograph.  When that concludes the drivers walking the Red Carpet .  Drivers can wave, smile, point, jesture and ham it up for the cameras.    This is my idea of how to run this one event.

 

Drivers who went the extra laps for their fans where I was standing on the Red Carpet were Brad K., Ryan N., Kyle B., Kevin H. and Dale Jr.  Brad K . waited while I struggled to get his Miller Lite die cast from my jacket.  Ryan N. signed our die casts will the silver sharpie that we handed to him.  Some drivers will only sign with their own pen. There are a lot Kyle B., haters out there, I will say Kyle takes care of his fans.  Kevin H.,  I wave him over to say  “Truck owners Champion”.  Maybe he remember me from last year or maybe just because I had on my Dale Sr. Hall of  Fame Jacket.. Kevin said “Thanks , you got anything for me to sign?”  I had a car for him to sign but could not bend down to reach into my bag to pull it out.  The people behind us were pushing and if I bent over I would have been shoved into the railing.  I said: “ yes, but I can’t  get to it.,  I’ll catch up with you at Daytona Fan Fest.” He said “I’ll be there.”

 

Finally Dale Jr. and yes he has his haters out there too.  Some driver took a fast walk down the Red Carpet, most drivers spent time with the fans, Dale Jr. walked the Red Carpet just like his dad would have. If you had Earnhardt gear he was there signing it for you. Suzanne called Dale Jr. over with “Dale please sign mamaw’s cookbook” He saw the cookbook and came over. I opened the book and he saw all the Earnhardts who had already signed and said “Man that’s a lot of us.”. I said “Thanks JuneBug”. Then he signed a photo of his Mom N Pops Camaro (Suzanne), the die cast of the same car (James) and his 2001 Pepsi 400 car (Lorri).  So each member in our group got an item signed all of which will find a place in my Earnhardt Room. After the last driver passed us and crowd behind thinned enough I got bent down and start organizing what I had, I looked down there was Jr. signing stuff 30 feet, I finally had everything packed I looked down the Red Carpet and Jr. was further down the carpet but was still signing.  Dale Jr. knows he is the face of NASCAR and even if he doesn’t really want to be, he handles his status well.  I think he learned that from Dale Sr.

As the day ended back at the casino, Suzanne and I met Mike Helton in the garage.  I said rather loud, “Suzanne, that’s Mr. NASCAR, Mike Helton.”. He said “Hi folks”. We told him we had just come back from FanFest on Fremont St. He asked “How’d you like it?” So I told him.  “It was good but I like it better when its at the track.” He said “you folks enjoy you stay here”.  I said “we will, we used to live here. Now we live in Dega but we came back for this.” He said “wait a minute you moved from Las Vegas to Alabama?”

I said with a big grin on my face “Yep, wanted to be closer to racing and have a house with some land around it.”.He asked how many races we go to and I added a couple and said “6”.  He said “You folks are fans!”  We smiled, nodded and waved by to him and got into his car and he was off.

 

That was it for you day.  Not too bad.

NASCAR Road Trip May 2011

Its been a long and fun week.  We left Vegas early Tuesday morning.  Arrived in Bama to check out the house.  Everything was fine during our walk though.  House does need a little work, nothing major, new carpet in the guest bedrooms, re-build the deck “my way” and add a washer/dyer.  We left early Wednesday morning to head to Mooresville N.C.  for Dale Earnhardt Day.  Had a little weather early but then clear skies the rest of the way.  Had dinner that night a Big Daddy’s Seafood.  Good food lots of it and everything is deep fried.   This is the south you know.  Next day visited the race shops off of I 85.  Hit Hendricks and Stewart-Hass, Sam Bass Gallery was closed.  Then North to Richard Childress Racing and Vineyards.  Kenny and Steve treated us great at the gift shop.  Saw Richard as he was leaving the Vineyards.  He was busy talking on the phone but took a second to wave and say hi.   Finished the day with a drive on the old highways back to Mooresville to Jr. Motorsports.  They was a good collection of Dale Jr. die cast on displayed.  That night we had Caroline Ribs on the run BBQ.  Some of the best BBQ I have ever had.

Friday was Dale Earnhardt Day at DEI.  Other than the introduction of the 2011 Intimidator Camaros the only other highlight was hanging out with Al and other Dale Earnhardt fans. Gift shop was understocked in t-shirts.  Very few Large t’s and even fewer XL’s.  If i would have flown out from Vegas just for this event I would have be very disappointed.

We left early Sat. morning to get back to Bama.  People were calling all week asking me about the house.  My answer was its not my house yet, so don’t worry.  The house was fine The area its in was bypassed by the storms.  Most of Saturday was just spent driving around.  Took it easy Saturday night with Suzanne.

Driving Dega

Driving a race car at my favorite track.  A few things on my mind: can I still drive a clutch?, do I have the “balls” to go wide open into the turn? would I do all ten laps? would I want more???  The one thing that never crossed my mind was not being able to climb into the seat.  I should have done some flexability exercises.  This old body doesn’t bend too well.

Driver meeting: does and don’t, driver intros: wave to the “fans”, Driver pics: proof you were there.  Now the fun begins. well almost for me.  Spent a little extra trying to get into the car.  There are no doors, you climb in, I knew that just didn’t know how difficult it would be for me.  Finally I get all strapped in tight, really tight, won’t have to worry about having kids anymore. My instructor and I go over the hand signals and then he say lets go!!  I get it going in 1st gear –  yeah I didn’t stall it in the pits!!!!  Down pit road to the exit, shift to second, pass the start finsih line shift to third, still on the apron and into turn 1, into turn 2 shift to fouth.  down the back stretch and up to the wall to pick up speed.  Ok going about 90 and heading into turn 3.  All the turns are banked a 33 degrees, that is steeper than any hill in San Francisco. I know I not going fast but I wonder how it is going to make this turn.  No worries Turn 3 and 4 now down the front tri-oval and still picking up speed.  Doing about 130 mph now and having fun.  Lap one is done and I’m thinking this is easy.  WRONG!!!!  Doing 140 mph and here comes turn1.  Its pucker time. The car stuck and tracked around turn 1 and 2 with no problems. I’m thinking that was a rush but do I want to do it again???  Too late here comes Turn 3 and 4.

My instructor coaches me though the turns and back down the front tri-oval.  Lap 2 is complete!.  Lap 3 is the same speed and its going a fraction easier. Lap 4 instructor has me push the speed up a little.  And I do 150 moh.  All I am thinking about is hiting my marks into the turns and out of them. Lap 5 we push up the speed a little more. Same speed for Laps 6,7 and 8.  Lap 9 we make a another jump in speed ( 169 mph)  Lap 10 pushed a little more and topped the spped charts at 171.33 mph.  Didn’t even see them wave the checkered flag.   Did my slow down lap and back to the pits.  It was at least a once in a lifetime experience for any fans of NACAR and if you love Talladega like I do then its a must.  I may do it again to see if i can go faster. I even got Suzanne to do a ride a long, and she had a great time with her driver.  What an amazing way to end the week.  Can’t wait for our dvd’s to show up.  We also made a donation to the Alabama Tornado fund.  Dale Jarrett Racing Adventures was taking donation during their classes.

Monday we did all the legal stuff to take claim to our Bama home. Then we flew back to Vegas to start the “fun” of packing.  Today we picked up Saber from the Vet and took her out and came back home and just relaxed for a day

2011 Las Vegas Race week Sunday

Very good day at the track today.  Got there @ 8 AM and went to my secret spot for driver pics.  Was able to get a few more but no Smoke or Happy.  I had cars for them to sign but it didn’t work.  Sunday really isn’t the best day to get autographs.  It is funny how few people here at the Vegas race actually know anything about the race.  Its more of an event that you can say you went to and be seen at.  Drivers like Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, even the race winner slipped by people.  For now Trevor Bayne is the new darling of NASCAR.  That will last until the time NASCAR comes to Daytona and he doesn’t win.  LOL. 

Watched the driver intros with Suzanne and then went to our seats for the race.  I spent the whole day listening to Jr./TJ/Letrate.  Very different relationship with this combo.  Letrate and Jr. work very well together.  Jr.’s feedback is in plain English.  Not one word of Junebugese was heard today.  There is feedback going both ways in a constructive way.  I dare say the the winless streak will end soon. When you start 35th and get a top 10 thats a good day.  None of the HMS cars had enough speed to compete today with Smoke or Carl. Jr. is now 10th in points with back to back top 10’s.

Getting out of the speedway can be trying  but the Dale Earnhardt in me got us out of there and home in under 40 minutes.

going to sit back and relax with Suzanne tonight.  Perfect way to end this weekend.

2011 Las Vegas Race Week Saturday

OMG what a day today. I thought yesterday was amazing, today topped it easily. Got another autograph from Jr., then snapped a few great shots of drivers, then actually talked with the KING, Richard Petty. He even called me “kid”. LOL I asked him to sign my pit pass. Told him I was glad to see him back at the track. He said it feels good to be back. Told him we all missed and are happy to see him looking so Happy and Fit. He said “Thank You kid, thats nice to hear.” I replied “you are the KING” and thanked him for being so gracious with his time. Off he went to AJ garage. I went off to get ready for the Nationwide race. Listen to Danica/TJ/Tony Jr. They have a great working relationship. That team earned its 4th place finish. I don’t know if I was more happy that Danica finished 4th or that Mark won the race. Quick ride home today with the “Cat in the Hat” drafting with me down Craig Rd. to the freeway. Yes Jack Rousch and I drafting. The only way it could have been better if it had been Richard Childress instead of Jack.

2011 Las Vegas Race week Friday

Got to the track around 10 AM and got my Cold Pass for the garage area. (Access when cars are not  going in and out of pits or racing.) Got to the garage area just before 11.  Checked out east side of the pits and found all the HMS cars, Kyle and a few others on that side.  Stopped to take out Jr.’s # 3 Wrangler car just in case I see him.  Zipper up my backpack and there he is walking past.  Caught up to him and asked if he would sign my car.  He reached over for the car, then looked at me, (dressed in Wrangler Twill), he smiled signed the car and handed it back. I said “Thank you Jr.” loud enough that he heard it and just smiled back. Less than 10 minutes in the garage area and I finally got my in person Jr. autograph. My NASCAR weekend was made.  Spend time on pit row taking shots of cars coming in from a practice run.  Got restless and went over to the Nationwide garage.  Most of the team were done for the day, just a few cars being worked on. Saw Tony Sr. and said hi.

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the stands waiting and then watching the Cup qualifier.  Great day at the track.

Las Vegas Race week 2011 Thursday

The day started around 9:20.  Off to the track.  Got to the gate just before 10 AM and then we just waited for an hour at Gate B to open.  At 11 AM they opened the gate and we hurried  to the Neon Garage.  That mean walking below the stands. down the stairs then under the race way, pit row and back up to the Neon Garage.  Then we waiting until 1:30 for the drivers to appear.

Observations:  Drivers -Mark is small, Danica might be taller. Carl loves to talk, Trevor is the new golden child of the fans, Danica is still learning this Nascar Fan stuff.  Fans – If you want an autograph get in line early and wait it out.  Treat the drivers with a little more respect.  Trying saying “hi” and “thank you”.

Signing lasted an hour and lots of people were turned away.  I was able to get Mark, Kevin and Dancia to sign there cars. Picked up autographed photocards from all the drivers. Then off we went back to the strip.

Stood in line again at the Pub for Mikey.  Had a pleasant conversation with Mikey.  About his new book and winning at Daytona.

Now I’m home and ready to crash and do it all again tomorrow.  Cup Pole Day and more Nationwide practice.

2009 Fan Fest

Perfect weather, great fans and very friendly Chase Drivers. I would not say they signed everything but they sure signed a lot of items. From my viewpoint the favorites today were Smoke, Jimmy, Jeff, Mark and Carl. For those of you who dislike Juan, he was the most friendly with fans/non fans of all the drivers. He posed and joke with the fans in my area.

I went with the hope of get to see Smoke and maybe get a car signed. Tony was two people and then he turn to the other side of the RED Carpet to continue signing. When I thought at least I got to see Tony up close. He past me on the other side, then turned to return to my side of the red carpet. So I begged a little, yelling “Tony, Please sign my die cast” He looked over saw the Home Depot car and came right over and signed on roof. When he finished I said a very loud “Thank you, Tony” He looked up and smiled. My day was made.

My co-worked had gotten a car signed by Kurt Busch and as Jeff Gordon came by he had Jeff sign his jacket. With Jeff right there I place my other die cast in front of him and he signed that too. That car is going to make a good friend very happy this Xmas. She is a big “24” fan. Co-worker also got a car signed by Jimmy. I didn’t think that Jimmy would be signing much be he signed as much as any of the drivers.

I have a of all the chase cars and a few shots of drivers walking down the Red Carpet. Check the FanFest photo album. I have two more event to attend so I will update more late this week. Right now just enjoying a great day at LVMS.

Thanks LVMS for a wonderful time today. Can’t wait for your 2010 race.

 

2010 FanFest

Back from the track and mission completed.  Got all three drivers to sign their cars.  Harvick came out first and he was signing hats, posters and t-shirts.  James and I might have been the only ones with cars to be signed.  Kevin signed my car and I thanked him for signing it and for dumping Kyle.  He smiled and gave the thumbs up.  Day was made right there.  Jeff came down a little later, lots of 24 fans here in Vegas.  Jeff signed just about everyone he passed going to the stage.  Jimmie followed Jeff and he signed the HMS Always in our Hearts die cast.  Great day at the track.

The only down side was the red carpet was cut in length by 50 %. As the drivers started to walk the red carpet people tried to fill in against the guard rail.  Made it difficult to move so I only was able to get cars signed. Sorry no pic.  Will try for pic tomorrow at “After the Lap”.

JRM FanDays

Once again I made the long drive from Dega to JRM and back in one day.  It was an easy drive there and a total pain coming home but it was all worth it.

After I parked my truck I was greeted by JRM employee Allen.  It has been three years since I was last there and he still remembered me.  That leaves a great impression on a guest.   We chatted for a bit as he was directing traffic and people while the displays were being set-up.  I went to the check in area to receive my wristband for the autograph session. The ladies were warm and cheerful as they check my name off the list. They put a silver wristband on me and I was set to go.

With a couple of hours before the line would start to develop I made the rounds of the vendors that sponsor cars of JRM.  Nationwide Insurance, Hunts Bros Pizza, Vienna Sausage and Earnhardt Outdoors were there among others.  Earnhardt Outdoors has Kerry Earnhardt handling the their show.  Thanks to Twitter I learned that Kerry would be at JRM so I showed up with a few items for him to sign.

Kerry was more than happy to talk about racing, fishing and the housing line he was promoting.   He signed a couple of die cast and a very old hero card.  He must have still been in his teens in the hero card and we both laughed about how we have changed over the years.

kerryauto

kerryautos

Then it was off to wait in line for the Dale Jr. autograph session.  You do that a lot for a Dale Jr. autograph.  Wait in line for the wristband,  then wait in line to go in for the autograph session and then finally wait in line for Dale Jr. to sign your item.

There were other drivers in the session with Dale Jr., Chase Elliot, Cole Custer and Kasey Kahne, but I was there to get an autograph from Dale Jr.  The most difficult part of going to one of these sessions is choosing which item you want signed.  I’ve got hundreds of items to choose from and this time I picked one of my treasured die cast.  His 2010 Hallowdega die cast.

2010Hallowdegasign

While Dale Jr. was signing, I asked him if he got the BBQ rubs and sauces I asked Kelley to drop off.  He said he did.  I joked with him about liking Myron Nixon BBQ and that he should try Johnny Trigg BBQ.  He replied “he’s great”.  I had to remove a few die casts from my bag to get out a Johnny Trigg BBQ kit.  And told him that Johnny Trigg is the man in BBQ, try his stuff and you know for sure who is better.

I repacked my bag with the Hallowdega die cast and as I was putting back the die casts,  Dale Jr. pulled his Mom & Pop’s Camaro aside and signed that one as well.  Glad I left that one out. Wink.  I took a chance that Dale Jr. would see it and sign it and he did.

1997MonNPopssign

I thanked Dale Jr. for signing the Camaro, and off I went. Allen was greeting all the autograph session winners as the left and talked for a few seconds and then left to come back home.

All the fun for the day was over.  Pain was next, the drive home.  Over 7 hours of driving.  Lots of stop and go when I got to the Georgia state line and it didn’t clear out until I reached Alabama. From there on home the drive was fine.

Looking back it was a long day but a very fruitful day.  I do believe that Dale Jr. must think of me as the BBQ guy.  Guess there are worse things to be known as.