For those of you who know my husband and me, we’ve become big NASCAR fans. I am not quite sure how it happened, but we join the 75 million other fans that are dedicated to the Race for the Cup. So, this was our big weekend, our first NASCAR Race as Infineon Speedway in Petaluma, CA.
Our day began at 4:30 a.m. (yes, you read that correctly). The gates open at 6:00 a.m. and we heard that you see the best things early in the a.m. So we were out the door by 5:15 and on our way up to the racetrack.
It was a little chilly when we arrived and we were surprised at how many other people had our same plan. We were also surprised at how many people were camping out.
We walked around the whole race track. There were lots of corporate events being set-up and everything had a sponsor -- including the garbage cans. The sun started rising as we were walking so it was warming up. We thought about having a beer, after all, the car next to us cracked a Bud as soon as they arrived that morning around 6 as well, but I needed more caffeine before alcohol. (In fact, I was too tired to drink beer at all that day. Diet Coke was my beverage of choice -- 4:30 a.m. is too early to get up AND drink all day.)
The fans were all types – from us, to the hard core Dale Sr. fans and everything in between. This is a sport loyal to its drivers and supports them openly. Lines were 10 deep at some merchandise booths.
What has always fascinated me about NASCAR is how unapologetic it is about the commercialization of the sport. Hey, it’s an expensive sport, so they’ve done what they can to make it happen. Also, the drivers are some of the most-messaged spokespeople and at the same time are talking trash about the other drivers.
So it’s no surprise that Sprint/Nextel has come up with more ways to capitalize on the sport and the fan interest. We got the Fan View, which allowed us to listen to the drivers on their radios in their car. That was pretty cool, especially when there was a caution.
Overall the race was interesting. A road course is not the most common of racing these drivers do in the cup. It’s a different type of racing than Daytona or a short-track. While we thoroughly enjoyed the experience, we couldn’t see the whole course. We think our next race will be a short track where we can see the whole race.
Jeff Gordon won the race. The whole experience was very cool though. It was amazing to see how the whole operation works too. It’s a logistics nightmare. I couldn’t even imagine planning something on this level.
We’ve already got plans for next year, which includes camping. Who is in?
Here are some of our pictures from the day: http://www.flickr.com/photos/69038113@N00/
Here’s one of the videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udd6CbvPcpw
I’ll upload more later.