champion’s week in vegas: beginning at the end

2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony table centerpieceInstead of starting from the beginning, I’m going to start with the end and work my way backwards.

Friday was of course the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony at the Wynn in Las Vegas. I woke up that morning with a slight hangover from the previous night’s festivities. I spent the majority of the morning willing myself to feel normal and to not vomit even though vomiting probably would have made me feel better, but whatever. I went down to Carnegie Deli and got their chicken soup, which helped tremendously.

That morning I had to go over to the Wynn (I stayed at the Mirage Thursday and Friday, and Harrah’s on Wednesday) to pick up my ticket to the banquet. Passing through the lobby I caught sight of Ron Malec, car chief of the no. 48 Lowe’s team, taking pictures with his girlfriend.

Along with the ticket to the event that told me my table number for the night, I also got to pick up the wristband to get me into the after party and a mini replica of the Sprint Cup Championship trophy. It’s as cute and cool as you’d expect, and it also doubles as a paper weight.

After picking up my golden ticket I went to the Fashion Show Mall across the street from the Wynn to look for a hair accessory that I never found, but on my way I passed by Ford’s outdoor NASCAR display where they had Greg Biffle’s No. 16 3M Ford Fusion parked. There was a very, very flexible chick dressed in a blue leotard contorting herself into positions that looked very painful on top of an SUV next to Greg’s car. Ford. Drive One.

friday_me_makeupIt took awhile for me to not find what I was hoping to find, so I headed back to my room to take a break before going over to the MAC Cosmetics store inside The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. I don’t know if you know this but for $50 you can have a professional makeup artist do your makeup and you get free mascara. (You can also get makeup application lessons too, very cool)

So that’s what I did, an awesome young woman did my makeup. I can’t remember her name and I totally apologize if she’s reading this!! She did a great job, so much so that I really didn’t want to wash it off.

friday_me_dressOnce my makeup, fake eyelashes and all, was set I hightailed it back to my room to change into my dress: a green, gold and brown silk printed halter-style dress I found at BCBG Max Azria.

That night I intended to do a lot of things, like take my cell phone with me and take great photos of myself in my dress. But my nerves got the best of me and I took some ok photos of myself and left my cell phone in my room. The battery was really low on my phone and I decided to just let it charge and then grab it after the banquet and bring it to the after party. In hindsight I really should have just brought it with me. But I was all worried about being late, and what the whole red carpet deal would be like that I figured I’d be ok. I know this makes no sense, but I was not calm.

Anyway, when I arrived at the Wynn and walked down the hallway it was neat to see the fans that had lined the walls in hopes of seeing the drivers. As I neared the red carpet I checked with some NASCAR officials to see where I could stand on the red carpet to take pictures. I followed the line of photographers, national and local media, and stood down at the end.

There were huge TV screens above the red carpet that had a clock counting down the time until the ceremony was to start. With about 40 minutes left only a couple people had come down the carpet and neither of them were drivers. I got to see singer/songwriter David Gray. I didn’t realize he was so cute, from a distance he really looked a lot like Heath Ledger.

Krista Voda and Mike Joy made their way down and I have to say that Krista’s purple gown was one of the best dresses I saw that night. She looked amazing. It was hard to get a good shot of it from where I was at the time.

With close to 20 minutes left people started to come down the carpet faster. I was there for Greg & Nicole Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers and Jimmie & Chandra Johnson.

I ditched the carpet with 15 minutes left on the clock and headed inside to find my table. I didn’t know who I would be seated with, and it turned out to be an all media table. Claire B. Lang from Sirius Satellite Radio introduced herself to me, as well as writer Cathy Elliott and Nate Ryan of USA Today. I readily admit that I suck at introducing myself to people first. I am a shy person, and after the night I’d had the day before the idea of sucking down some liquid courage (aka alcohol) was out of the question at that point in time. But they were all very nice.

2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Awards Ceremony (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)It was cool to be able to have that opportunity to sit at that table at all. I definitely appreciated the value of getting to be there.

Our table was close to back of the room, before the group of tables that consisted of all of the fans that were in attendance. So it was hard to see the stage, but there were huge screens lining the walls so you could see everything no matter where you were seated or what direction you were facing.

I thought the electric string quartet Escala was awesome. I loved that they opened the show from the middle of the ballroom. I was afraid that the evening might drag, but for the most part it ran right along at a steady pace. David Gray was amazing, his voice was perfection and I fully intend to pick up his latest CD, “Draw the Line.”

I was pleasantly surprised that Frank Caliendo didn’t suck. I was afraid he would just do those voice impressions without actual jokes, but he had a lot of great ones. All of his Chris Myers stuff was awesome and his Dr. Phil bit was great. I was only 2 tables down and one back from Michael Waltrip so I had a clear view of his expression when Caliendo’s Dr. Phil questioned why Mikey had been running what looked like a half-season this year when it was supposed to be a full one. I don’t know if Mikey listens to Lady Gaga but his “poker face” was on point because his expression didn’t break at all. He didn’t frown, but he didn’t laugh either. So awesome. :)

2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship Awards Ceremony (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Dinner itself was yummy. On the menu was a chopped salad to start, a main course of braised short ribs and lobster lasagna, and then a crispy milk chocolate caramel bar for dessert (pictured left). Everything was very tasty, but I think the cookies & cream ice cream that came with the caramel bar was my favorite part.

Of the speeches given by the top-10 drivers Mark Martin’s was the best. I knew he would make me cry, although I wasn’t expecting it to be from his romantic words for his wife, Arlene. Seriously, does it get any sweeter than that?? He still gets butterflies all these years after they met. *sigh* Can I please find a guy that will love me half as much as Mark Martin does his wife? Seriously.

I don’t have to tell you how the awards went down, you could see it all on TV. Once the banquet ended the Sprint Champion’s Party at Lavo in the Palazzo begun. Because I had been wearing heels all three days I had been in Vegas I was over the whole thing and really wanted my Converse All-Stars. So I went back to my room and changed into jeans and sweater and my Chucks, but then I realized this looked slightly weird with full-on makeup. I decided I didn’t care and went over to the party anyway.

Once I got there I felt awkward for two reasons, 1) everybody else was pretty much still in their banquet clothes and 2) I didn’t see anyone I knew. I went inside and we were all led upstairs to a bar and lounge area where it was packed with people. I did walk around the dimly lit room and decided to find the bar, but the bar was packed too and I figured it was pointless and I should just go back to my hotel.

Upon making this decision I saw Tony Hawk, the legendary professional skateboarder. I couldn’t let the moment pass without saying hello to him, so I went over to him and his wife, said “Hi” and shook his hand. I asked him if he was a racing fan (which was my way of saying “what are you doing here?”) and he said that they’re friends with Jimmie Johnson. I just thought it was really cool that he was there, period, and basically told him as much. Then I headed for the exit, although not without one of the bouncer dudes asking “You’re leaving already??”

And with that I said yes and took solace at the Starbucks inside the Mirage. :)

Yet again in hindsight of course I should have just gone straight to party so that I could grab a spot on a couch and pick up a Cosmo before everyone else arrived, but whatever. There’s always next year right?

Stay tuned for more stories from Champion’s Week!! :)


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The Red Carpet

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Kasey Kahne

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Jimmie & Chandra Johnson

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David Gray

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Chandra Johnson
She is a total pro at working the red carpet and posing for the photographers.

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Greg & Nicole Biffle

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All photos credit: The Fast and the Fabulous

4 Comments

  1. December 8, 2009 at 2:33 PM ·

    I love the dress! was claire as nice as she sounds on the radio?

  2. December 8, 2009 at 2:36 PM ·

    So glad you had a great time. It sounds like a blast!
    Thanks for the picture of Kasey!!!!

  3. Donnie
    December 8, 2009 at 3:33 PM ·

    I love all your stories and this one just caps off another great year, keep up the Great work Valli.

    BTW you look fabulous!

  4. December 8, 2009 at 6:39 PM ·

    you looked fab and it sounds like you had a wonderful time!!! thank you for sharing your experiences with us!! it’s always a pleasure to stop in!! :)
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