Okay… So here’s the first of several posts on what happened while I was at the Auto Club Speedway for Labor Day Weekend:
On Friday I got to the track and picked up my credentials and I found out that I got two things I’ve never had before. The first was a Victory Lane sticker and the second was a reserved parking spot in the media parking area. This may seem really insignificant but it seriously made my weekend. The parking spot alone was awesomeness. Why? Because it meant that I got to drive in between the driver & VIP bus lot and the garage area and park right next to the Nationwide Series garage, and all of that made my walk to and from the media center super short. It’s the small things people!
I got into the media center and grabbed a copy of the driver media availability schedule. I had to plan my day and the first thing I had to do was find out how the haulers were situated and whose hauler was where. I think it was funny/interesting that Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch were set up right next to each other in the garage after the incident at Bristol the weekend before. It’s not like it really matters seeing as how they’re never really in the garage for that long at any given time, and when they are they’re busy with their teams and their cars. So ya know getting into a fist fight is probably the last thing on their minds even though it would be the greatest thing in the world to see from my perspective.
But I digress. There was time before all of the press meet-ups were scheduled so I enjoyed some pastry in the media lounge while listening to Sam Hornish Jr. and Regan Smith talk about being rookies in the Cup Series over the loudspeaker. Because I couldn’t see them or hear the questions that were being asked I got to play a fun game of “Guess Whose Voice That Is” in my head.
After the top two rookies had their press conference there was another press gathering for Michael Waltrip Racing and Affliction Clothing. Affliction sponsored the No. 00 car that was being run that weekend by Mike Skinner. In promotion of this they had a group of Mixed Martial Arts fighters on hand (and a butt load of what I’m assuming were their girlfriends and such) to take photos and talk about the upcoming MMA fights. I got to see Michael Waltrip, who seems to me these days like a gentle giant, well, a gentle giant in designer jeans. I wanted to snap a photo of them but I couldn’t without it being incredibly obvious that I was trying to take a shot of his butt.
Auto Club Speedway implemented a bunch of misting stations in time for the race weekend. It was such a brilliant idea and I’m glad they did it ’cause it made standing around in that insane heat so much more bearable. Actually it was pretty windy too and that helped, although I have a serious tan and sunburn on my back. I remember taking a shower on Monday morning and at the very top of my back, just beneath my neck, it was all sore from sunburn.
The highlight of Friday morning was of course meeting Travis Kvapil and interviewing him in his hauler. I tried to catch Kasey Kahne’s session but it was totally pointless because there were cars in the garage revving their engines and I couldn’t hear anything.
I caught sight of Clint Bowyer sitting outside of his hauler during his specified media time but nobody was crowed around him. I debated going over and talking to him, but of course I didn’t. First, I found it highly odd that someone like him would just be left alone like that with nary a writer in site and I didn’t want to look like a doink asking if I could talk to him only to find out it had been moved to another time or it was earlier or something. Plus after reading a transcript of a press conference he’d had, the one I’d missed apparently, he had some really short answers and he kind of strikes me as someone who’s not that interested in talking. So I don’t regret not going up to him.
For lunch I went to the Panasonic tent in the infield where they were hosting a special BBQ for the gathered media. As soon as I walked in I was greeted with a pink lei placed around my neck and a free USB drive. The place was decked out in what I’m calling “Tiki BBQ Chic” decor. There was a bar in the middle serving soft drinks and water and outside in the back was the aforementioned BBQ. Of course they were promoting Panasonic goods including the largest plasma TV screen in the world. It is 100 inches wide. It was crazy big and of course I would love to have that sucker on my wall. They were showing off a video game on it and I wanted to go and try it but the power went out and I left.
Clint Bowyer hangs out outside of his hauler at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Friday, August 29, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Kasey Kahne chats with the media at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Friday, August 29, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
That’s me in the reflection!
Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet is rolled out to pit road before a practice session at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Friday, August 29, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Travis Kvapil’s No. 28 Hitachi “Inspire the Dream” Ford Fusion gets pushed out to pit road before a practice session at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Friday, August 29, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
The big screen tv inside the Panasonic tent at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Friday, August 29, 2008 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)