Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway was unlike any other Sprint Cup race day I’d experienced before. Why? Because I got to attend the drivers meeting.
Shut up! I know! Yea, I was kind of psyched about the whole thing. Standing in the back of the room with various media and PR people it was definitely a moment where I said to myself “Am I really standing here right now? This is happening? Yes, it is.” At the same time though the whole reality of situation revealed itself and it turned out to be really boring.
It went by in a flash, and while I did see a lot of drivers it was pretty mundane. Maybe I’m getting used to seeing drivers walking around in regular clothes, and being in the same room as them? I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that either. I think there’s something to that though. The meeting itself consisted of a PowerPoint presentation that takes the drivers and their crew chiefs through the specified pit road speed for the day, the entrances and exits for pit road and various rules and regulations.
I found it funny that there were typos in said presentation and that if someone didn’t remember turn off their cell phone they were ushered out of the room as if they’d just tried to throw their shoe at the President.
The meeting ends with a prayer and then everyone is on their way. It was a cool thing to experience and I will no longer have to wonder what the atmosphere is like in those meetings.
After the drivers meeting I headed straight into the lunch room for uh, lunch, and sat at a table with Travis, a member of the Nellis Air Force base honor guard. Travis volunteered to attend the event and present the American flag before the start of the race. We chatted for a little bit before he had to run to get ready. Our conversation consisted of me explaining why NASCAR was indeed a sport. I found it hilarious that I had to defend NASCAR while at a NASCAR race. Classic.
Let’s skip ahead to after driver introductions and imagine me walking from the general area of the stage set-up on the start/finish line over to the race cars parked on the edge of the grass in front of the grandstands.
If you’re by yourself and have no affiliation to a race team it is incredibly nerve wracking to walk around and try to just “blend in” with the crowd, when everybody is just standing around looking at everybody else. I always feel like I stick out like a sore thumb, but I want to stand out there with everybody else ’cause a.) I can and b.) because I can. If you have that access of course you’re going to use it and I’m one of those people who like to extinguish all available options. It’s so cool to be there, but at the same time I feel like people are looking at me wondering why I’m standing next to their car in particular. I dunno. It’s the weirdest thing and it’s hard to explain.
So after what was the coolest fly over ever, I headed to pit road to get a spot to watch the race start. I ended up behind Kurt Busch’s pit box where I saw his wife Eva and her insanely large wedding ring. I want to give you a more realistic example of how large the diamond on her hand was, instead of just saying “It’s a rock alright!” So I’ll say that it looked to be the same size as a peanut M&M.
I watched the vast majority of the race from the media center and then with about 20-30 laps left to go I decided to leave. Yea, I just couldn’t stomach the idea of having to stay at the track until 8pm in order to have the possibility of missing traffic. I couldn’t take it. So I left, missing all traffic and went to Panda Express.
On my way back to my hotel, whilst on I-15, I could see the helicopters from the track making their way to McCarran Airport. It was fun to see them all in a row, it looked like a constellation.
Monday morning I was in the lobby of South Point Hotel & Casino waiting to check-out, and I noticed that Fox Sports NASCAR analyst Larry McReynolds was in front of me doing the same.
All in all it was a great weekend; I learned a lot and met some great people. It seems crazy to say that I’m going to highly enjoy watching this weekend’s race at Atlanta from the comfort of my own couch, but I really, really will. At this point in time my next in-person race will probably be Infineon in June. That gives me plenty of time to recover from two-straight weekends of NASCAR craziness.
This photo ranks right up there with my shot of Clint Bowyer at Chicagoland from last year.
Reed Sorenson and Casey Mears make their way to the stage for driver introductions before the start of the Shelby 527 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 1, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Can you spot Sam Hornish Jr. and his baby daughter, Addison, in this photo?
Cars and drivers line up before the start of the Shelby 527 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 1, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)
Members of the Flying Elvi skydiving team touched down before the start of the Shelby 527 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday, March 1, 2009 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)