So I’m finally wrapping up my posts about the Pepsi 500. It’s only a week overdue, but whatever.
Sunday was of course the Pepsi 500 and the morning was left open to do whatever made my little heart happy.
That weekend had been a celebration of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s birthday, which was October 10th, and Hendrick Motorsports 25th Anniversary. So it was only fitting that there was a Hendrick Motorsports hospitality tent, dubbed the “Party Zone,” where fans who bought tickets could eat, drink, be merry and ask Hendrick drivers, Dale Jr. and Jeff Gordon, questions before the start of the day’s race.
Auto Club Speedway picked one fan that purchased one of the special Dale Jr. Birthday ticket packages to meet Dale himself on Sunday morning. The Speedway let me go along for the ride. Well, sorta. I met Stan (photographed at right), the lucky fan who was going to meet Dale and present him with special No. 88 cupcakes from Sprinkles. Stan was a very nice guy, who had been a fan of Dale Earnhardt Sr. and transferred his loyalty over to Dale Jr.
I rode with Stan over to the hospitality tent where we parted ways and I went inside to wait for the Q&A session to begin, and Stan went on to meet Dale just before he took the stage.
I don’t know how their meeting went down, but I’m sure it was cool.
It was while I was standing around watching some country music cover band perform that Erin, a very cool woman who reads this very blog, came up and introduced herself. It was soo nice of her to say hello. Even though I have traffic numbers from Google that tell me people come to my site everyday it still amazes me when I meet a real person who reads my blog and likes it.
I stuck around long enough to watch Dale take to the stage and watch people lose their minds over his very presence. He seemed kinda groggy. It was like 9am PST but back east that’s 6am, so I could understand why he might not be all bright and shiny.
After all that I went back over to the infield to go to the Drivers Meeting. I decided I was going to take pictures of drivers but that devolved into just standing outside of the meeting room and not taking pictures. At that point it just seemed like I’d taken pictures before and what was the point?
It was there that I met Shari and Steve (photographed at left), a couple from Phelan, California who were on the lookout for Tony Stewart. I let them know that Tony was in the driver’s meeting room already and that he had to come out on our side of the building (there are two exits) because his PR guy was standing nearby. They had a Home Depot jacket that they wanted to get Tony to sign, they’d gotten Greg Zipadelli to sign it the day before. As the drivers meeting let out they were able to get Tony’s autograph.
Shari & Steve were super nice people and I was totally glad I could help them out in a little way. It’s actually my favorite thing to do at a track, help people stalk their fave drivers. Ok, not “stalk” but get their autograph or a photo, especially kids. At Infineon this year there was a group of little boys who were waiting near the garage with their mother to get autographs. Security had moved them behind a fence but next to the bathrooms. I saw Kyle Busch sprint to the men’s room just behind them but the kids hadn’t noticed. So of course I took it upon myself to tell them Kyle was nearby and to be on the lookout when he left the bathroom. It’s fun to help people check something off their list, or finish a really cool story they’ll tell their friends later.
So if you see me at a track and you wanna know where so and so driver is I might be able to help you out!