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Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

By Wyatt Earp | June 3, 2009

<i>The Monster. Mascot of Dover's Monster Mile.</i>

The Monster. Mascot of Dover's Monster Mile.

Well, I am now three days removed from our NASCAR trip, and I am finally recovered enough to tell the tales. (And no, Randal, I was not sick from the burgers.)

I already explained the back story about the tickets here. Long story short: Randal’s company hooked us up, big time. Free tix, pit/garage passes, sweet reserved parking, and luxury suite attendance for everyone in our group . . . except Randal and I. The best part? We didn’t care, because REAL NASCAR fans sit in the stands with the noise, fumes, and hot broads.

(Speaking of hot broads, reader and commenter “K” was at the event, but we didn’t run into each other. Apparently, she did not have the credentials to meet and greet a huge blog professional like myself. Heh.)

After a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs on the gas grill, we made our way to the infield for our Pit/Garage Tour. The view from the Members Only section was pretty kickass:

<i>Goodyear employees getting the teams tires ready.</i>

Goodyear employees getting the teams tires ready.

And the best was yet to come. You can read more below the fold:

After going through the third security checkpoint, we were met by Tim, a NASCAR official who was our tour guide for the Pit/Garage area. He was a pleasant guy who really knew his stuff, but unfortunately, I missed most of his presentation. Why? Because two seconds into the tour, I was standing two feet from NASCAR owner Richard Childress:

<i>Richard Childress (right) talking to a NASCAR official.</i>

Richard Childress (right) talking to a NASCAR official.

Richard was the owner of Dale Earnhardt’s #3 race team, and he currently owns Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton’s teams. The man is a legend, and I was stupefied when I saw him. His face probably expresses his bewilderment at the moron with the camera (me.).

The tour continued and we bounced from garage to garage, smiling in amazement at the access. We could literally walk up to the entrance of the garage and watch the teams prep the cars for race day. My mission here was two-fold. First, I needed photos of Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart’s cars for my sons - or else I was not allowed to come home. Second, I needed to get as close as possible to Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr’s cars . . . without getting thrown out for being a stalker fan. No easy task, but I accomplished both. To wit:

<i>Tony Stewart's ride in the garage.</i>

Tony Stewart's ride in the garage.

<i>Kyle Busch's car completing pre-race inspection.</i>

Kyle Busch's car completing pre-race inspection.

As you can see from these shots, our passes got us pretty close to the teams. It was fan-freakin’-tastic! Could it get any better than this? Absotively, posilutely!


That’s me with Jeff Gordon’s crew on pit road. 40 pounds lighter than last year, and I still look like a big, fat hog. Oh well, it was great to be next to my favorite driver’s crew. Even Randal got into the act. Here he is really, really close to Dale Jr’s car:


Security escorted him out after this photo was taken. Not for getting too close to the crew, but for wearing that pink hat. We finished the tour and made our way back to our encampment in the parking lot for a few provisions before the race.

As far as the race went, it was pretty uneventful for the first 300 laps. The highlights were the F-16 flyover and Jimmie Johnson dominating the field. The last 30 laps, however, were a different story:

<i>Johnson's car behind the pace car during a caution lap.</i>

Johnson's car behind the pace car during a caution lap.

A caution came out, and the leaders entered pit road. Johnson pitted first, and took four tires. The eight cars behind him gambled and took two and Johnson came off pit road in 9th place. With 30 laps to go, it looked like the best car wouldn’t win.

When the green flag dropped, Johnson kicked the car in the guts and started hauling arse. He would pass a car or two every lap, and Randal - who had our Johnson in our side bet - was freaking out. Luckily for him, he had me. I knew Jimmie was the best car, so I reassured him:

“Dude, he’ll catch Stewart and Biffle with ten laps to go. Promise.”

“No way.”

With ten laps to go, Johnson was thrid, right on Stewart and Biffle. Randal looked at me with a smirk and said, “It’s ten laps.”

“Relax,” I said. “Johnson is winning this race. Guaranteed.”

Of course, I had my doubts, but he was running well and closing the gap. With two to go, Stewart and Biffle started battling each other for the lead, and Johnson made his move. He split the pair and rocketed into the lead. The crowd, and Randal and I, went nuts.

Well, you know how it ends. Jimmie Johnson won the race, Randal won the $50 from the guys, and we all had one of the best times of our lives. Sometimes, life is good.

Topics: Racing |

11 Responses to “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!”

  1. RT Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Just plain awesome! :) I love that hat, too!

    Great pics.

  2. Jeffro Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    There is nothing quite like being there! Glad you had a time!

  3. Bitter Says:
    June 3rd, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Richard Childress is also a new NRA Board member! :)

  4. K Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 2:51 am

    Haha to your comment about me not having the credentials. Somehow I wonder if you really never said hi because security kept you away from me.

    Glad you had a good time. I never got to go in the race at all but I did have a fun time outside. Im glad I get to see some of the great pictures you took though :)

    By the way I will be up at the Pocono Raceway this Sunday if you happen to decide you just cant wait to see another race. HerseyPark will be the promotion this time. I am curious to see what they will have me doing as they obviously cant bring any rides there (least I dont think they could, hah).

  5. Randal Graves Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 8:59 am

    Too bad you didn’t snap a pic of the inside of that handicapped port-o-pot.

    And my pink RaceGirl hat rules!

  6. Doghouse Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    Glad y’all had such an awesome time!

  7. Wyatt Earp Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    RT - Best NASCAR trip . . . EVER!

    Jeffro - Thanks. The tours were unbelievable.

    Bitter - Awesome! I didn’t know that.

    K - HersheyPark is going to have you wear a chocolate bikini. Mmm . . .

    Randal - That looked like a crime scene. Smelled like one, too.

    Doghouse - Thanks. It was a great day.

  8. Art Downs Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    No one should have gotten sick from the burgers. I was one of the volunteers serving food. The volunteers are not paid but what would be a salary is donated to their organization. This gets around paying taxes.

    I did hear the race…

  9. Wyatt Earp Says:
    June 4th, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    Art - He meant HIS burgers. We tailgated.

  10. Bitter American Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 12:02 am


  11. "He said his telephone number was 911" Says:
    June 5th, 2009 at 6:36 pm

    An excellent day and agreat race. You’re right about being the place to be sitting. We were a little to your left, in 217, could see & feel almost eveything. A little envious of your pit passes, but my steaks on the grill were pretty good. I guess I should’ve paid more attention around the Tylenol tent.