Oh the stories I could tell....some I will...some Jason and I will just laugh about together =)
We had a BLAST at 'Dega yesterday!!! Jason has attended for over 15 years and this was my 1st time and we were both in agreement that this by far was the BEST! Jason said it has spoiled him and he does not know how he will go back to sitting in the grandstands again. No worries though...he will...he is already planning the fall race (which happens to fall on Halloween weekend so this my friends should be really interesting)
I think the best way for me to tell you about the day is just to start at the beginning...so here goes
We arrived at the track in less than 45 minutes (in no traffic it would take about 20-30 minutes) Jason said in all his 15 years he has not ever made it that quick. I am so glad we pulled up the map and took back roads that obviously others did not take. We arrive and park in the suite parking area. We called our contact who came to pick us up on a golf cart. Guys this is the best! We were driven everywhere! We went to the suite and ate some yummy breakfast. Below is a picture of us when we arrived
Jason and me in the suite. We had such a great view of the track from here! It was nearly on the start/finish line.
After breakfast, we were taken to get our "creditinals" This was our HOT pass to have access everywhere...the suite, the garage, the pits, driver introductions....everywhere!
After we received our creditinals we went back to the suite for this:
Jamie McMurray came in the suite and talked for a little while about being a driver and he also answered questions from the group. I thought this was so neat that a driver would take time out of their very busy schedule to come to the suite and talk with us and answer our questions. I think that really says a lot about a person that they would do that.
After Jamie's appearance, a group of about 12 of us went on a tour of the pits and garage area. Here is our picture before heading out to the pits:
Jason and Me about to head to the pit and garage area. How do you like our shirts??? As honorary pit crew members, we were able to wear shirts just like the pit crew wear!
Here are some of the pictures of the pits:
View of the stands from pit row...it is a few hours before the start of the race, so the stands are pretty much empty.
Sign for victory lane.
The pit area is so neat! It is amazing that the drivers are able to stop their cars in those little boxes and not only in the box, but on the little marker that the crew taped off for them. WOW! I do good to pull straight into a parking spot.
Here we are with some of the pit crew. These guys were super nice! and answered any questions we had! They treated us like we were really a part of the crew. We even stood with them during the singing of the National Anthem and got to "hi-5" with them after it was over! That was so neat! I always see that on TV and think how fun it would be! And we were actually a part of it!
Some of the people who were in our "tour group" of the pit and garage area...and then some other random girls who wanted to be in the picture. (I am sure you can figure out on your own who the "randoms" were)
After this picture was taken, people began standing around asking to have their picture taken with us! We were trying so hard to keep a straight face about that! We have not ever had random people ask to take pictures with us. People were pulling out group members asking them to please ask Jason and me to take a picture with them. I have no idea who the people were or where my picture may be now...kinda scary to think about, but at the time we were just having fun with it =)
After our photo ops we moved on to the garage area. In the garage area you must wear long pants, shirt with sleeves, and closed toed shoes. Let me just tell you...IT WAS HOT! Here are some pictures of the garage area:
Jr.'s trailer in the garage area.
Johnson's pit crew doing some warm-up style exercises in the garage before the start of the race.
#26 Jamie McMurray's trailer in the garage area.
After touring the garage area we went back through the pit area to return to the suite.
Walking down pit row.
Jason and I went back to the suite long enough to grab a bottle of water and then head back out. This time our guide took Jason and I to the Crown Royal motor home. It was super nice! It was parked in a great area too with a great view of the track.
Skid marks from the wreck on Sat. involving Matt Kenseth...the wreck occured right in front of the Crown motor home.
Just me on top of the motor home...what a great view it is up there!
After we left the motor home, our guide took us to the driver introductions. We stood right in front of the area where the drivers are introduced. Again, something we usually just see on tv, so it was super neat to actually be a part of it.
For you UFC fans...Chuck Lidell walking on stage before driver intros
Miss America walking on stage before driver intros...she sang the National Anthem before the start of the race and did a great job!
Coach Sabans receiving a print signed by all the drivers...He got to say the famous "gentlemen start your engines"
Our guide took us around back of the introduction stage to where the drivers wait on their name to be called. This was really neat to be so close to the drivers. I wished we would have thought to bring a sharpie with us, b/c we so could have got some autographs...oh well
Here are some pictures from behind the intoduction area:
Dale Jr. and Gordon waiting on their introduction
After the final driver was introduced we made our way back to pit road and to the Crown Royal pit. We got to sit in the pit box with the crew chief! How neat is that! At one point a guy turned around and told us if we had any tips or suggestions just let him know. I said go fast and avoid the big one (well I think we all know that did not happen)
Jason hanging out in the pit box.
Me hanging out in the pit box.
And the race begins....
The start of the race.
We were pulling for the #26 car.
The cars go so fast and are so loud! It was loud even with ear plugs in!
Unfortunately our driver was involved in the wreck at the very beginning of the race. As soon as the wreck occured the pit crew stepped into high gear and took off for the garage area so they could work on the car. We stayed in the pits for a little while to watch the cars that were involved in the wreck come on pit road to be repaired.
Car in the pit next to us coming in for repairs after the 1st caution of the race (which happened to be the wreck that our driver was involved in)
Car in the pit on the other side of us coming in during the 1st caution.
We stayed in the pit box until the race returned to green flag racing and then went to the garage area. This was yet another neat experience...to see the crews working on the wrecked cars.
Gordon was also involved in the wreck. This is his car in the garage being repaired so that he could get back in the race. Notice the whole front end is off and the pit crew is working to put another front end on the car.
Mark Martin's car being repaired in the garage area. He was not able to get back in the race. We did see him walking around the garage area several times though.
#26 garage area...the pit crew worked so hard to get the car driveable for Jamie, but it just did not work out. I felt so bad for them! (am I way too emotional or what????) The pit crew did however give me a piece of the car! How awesome is that!
After we left the garage we returned to the suite for some yummy lunch, snacks, and watch the remainder of the race.
Jason and I back in the suite and enjoying the a/c!
Watching the race from the suite is incredible! You have a view of the entire track plus tv to get all the stats, a great group of people to hang out with, and endless food and drink to enjoy! Talk about being spoiled!
Us posing with our piece of the car =) It was so funny b/c people kept coming up asking me how I got it and then taking their picture with me holding it. Some people were even like "I will give you a $ if I can touch it" How funny! I did not charge though =)
To say that we had an incredible day at 'Dega would be an understatement! We truely had a blast! We enjoyed every minute of it. I can not even begin to say thank you enough for this awesome opportunity! We appreciate it so much! It so humbling that a driver, his team, and the marketing company (Just Marketing) would want to honor our troops! Thank you Whitney for being our contact up until race day and answering all of our questions! Thank you Jake, Johnny, and Trisha for being our guides around the track. You guys were incredible! It meant so much to us that you would take time out of your busy schedules to show us everything and explain it and through all of it continued to check on us and ensure we were enjoying ourselves and did not need anything. You guys really went above and beyond! Thank you Crown Royal, Jamie McMurray, and your entire race team for honoring our troops! This is such a wonderful opportunity and experience and we are so grateful that we were chosen to be a part of it. We are forever grateful for opportunity you gave us at 'Dega and will forever be your fans! (And now we have great shirts and hats to wear to show our support!)