On Saturday morning I got the chance to sleep in a bit before heading to the racetrack. Things weren’t really starting up until 3 in the afternoon, but I still ended up leaving my hotel at 11. I didn’t want to get stuck in some crap parking spot.
My first order of business at the track was to head back over to the grandstands so that I could try a Wisconsin cheese curd for the very first time. A guy that I’d met a couple months ago is from Illinois and he swore that cheese curds were the best thing ever and that California cheese paled in comparison, so I had to try them. However, I found out they were only serving them in the deep fried format, not fresh. I figured I’d still get the essence of it so I bought ’em anyway. They were really tasty! It’s similar to eating fried mozzarella but a lot lighter. They’ve got a very mild cheddar flavor.
I sat next to the fountain in front of the main gates eating my cheese curds, people watching. After awhile I headed back to the infield.
Brendan Fraser was the Grand Marshal for the Sprint Cup race and a press conference was scheduled for him and Ryan Newman at 3pm. So of course I was there in the media center waiting for them to arrive at 2:45. I stood in the back of the room next to all the video cameras. Brendan is funny and cool and relaxed. His personality from the minute he walked through the door was so obvious. He was similar to his character in the movie Bedazzled with Elizabeth Hurley, or even in The Mummy. He’s not arrogant or stuck-up. He was totally down to earth and it was clear that was the case when he said that the NASCAR fans he’d met that day were the nicest people.
As I predicted the gathered media had zero quality questions for Brendan. I still couldn’t think of anything myself which irked me later on in the day when I finally thought of one. There was a great moment at the end of the conference when the moderator asked if there were anymore questions and the room was silent. So Brendan made cricket noises. Funny stuff. All told I think it lasted maybe 10 or 15 minutes.
Ok, so I made a beeline for the exit and rushed to wait outside. Apparently that was everybody else’s move too. The majority of the media swarmed Ryan Newman and asked him questions about his future and his chances for the weekend. Meanwhile Brendan was standing next to Ryan’s mob being interviewed by a local news crew. I stood there in front of him and snapped photos. He’s so adorable, and tall, and cute. *sigh* And as everyone found out later on in the day he gave one of the best “Gentlemen, start your engines” I’ve ever heard. He’s right up there with Matthew McConaughey in my book.
So get this as I’ve said before there are rules for the media about getting autographs and such. You’re not allowed to ask the drivers for them and by extension you would think that would include photos too. Well this one group of local tv people didn’t get that memo. They snapped photos of each other with Brendan Fraser after they interviewed him and then later that night they stopped Jimmie Johnson as he was leaving the media center to get a photo with him too. I just had to shake my head.
The second funny/cool thing Brendan did was after his interview. Ryan was still in the middle of the media mob and I had moved over to that group to try and get a shot of him too. A few seconds later I looked up and over the crowd and I see Brendan snapping photos of Ryan the same way I was. I stepped back and watched as he walked around the mob snapping photos of them and then turned his back to them and started to take photos of himself in front of Ryan and the reporters. The man could not be anymore likeable, it’s disgusting.
Ryan Newman answers questions outside the media center at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Brendan Fraser takes pictures of himself and Ryan Newman outside the media center at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, July 12, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)