Thursday, December 3rd was a big day full of events. However, my first event of the day had nothing to do with NASCAR but everything to do with moving from my $40 room at Harrah’s to my awesome not that much more expensive room at the Mirage. I loved my room at the Mirage so much that I took pictures of it. Which, I think, is saying something. For one, it had an iPod docking station & player so I could listen to my playlists while I got ready. The overall room design was modern & contemporary cool, complete with large flat screen TV with HD channels.
Anyway, after I got all checked in at the Mirage and waded through all of the authentic cowboys in town for the 2009 Wrangler National Rodeo Finals, I made my way over to the Venetian across the street for the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Ceremony.
Before the ceremony the top-12 drivers were available in an adjacent ballroom for Q&A sessions with media. I only had one question that I had any interest in asking any of the drivers and that was “Do you have any big plans for the off-season?”
Everyone was already engaged with media from various outlets: print, online, and TV. So I did a quick lap around taking pictures, and then chatted with ESPN PR.
At one point I noticed that Brian Vickers was open so I ventured over and introduced myself. He said that he thought he’d heard of The Fast and the Fabulous before, which of course made me go “reallly???” I told him he should stop by and check the site out and how I think I’ve only said good things about him. Actually, I had pitched his PR people about an embedded blogger idea I’d had a couple years ago so I’m sure that’s probably how my site had come up, but whatever.
The thing you need to understand about me in that moment was that I was processing two things at that point in time 1.) I’m meeting Brian Vickers and 2.) I’m speaking to him and he’s speaking back.
It was awesome. Brian was super nice and answered my off-season question. He’s planning on being with his parents for Christmas, he’s got a friend’s wedding to attend and he’s planning on going skiing and making a trip to Europe. From there I segued into wondering if he thought the racing season was too long, and he thinks that it is. His thought was that maybe you could cut it down to just 30 races and try to keep yourself from competing with the NFL.
After Brian, I caught Greg Biffle completely alone and introduced myself. Again, superdupernice guy. He said “vacation is my couch” and that he was planning on just hanging out at home for awhile. But he’s also going to go out to the desert on a 3 to 4 day trip with a group of his buddies from high school. It’s something they’ve done for the past 5 years and there are about 15 guys in the group.
I really, really wanted to ask Denny Hamlin about all of the tweeting he’s been doing lately, but I couldn’t get over to him in time. The guys were only available for like 45 minutes I and I got there a little late.
So I got to my seat in the little theater for the NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards Ceremony. I can sum up the order of things for you very simply: An award is announced, trophy is rolled out, winner is announced, winner stands with trophy and award provider, click-click-click-click (photos are taken), award winner gives speech.
It was fun to watch and of course, the highlight of the ceremony for me was when Dale Earnhardt Jr. picked up his 7th straight Most Popular Driver Award. It was over in a flash, but I was glad that he came out to pick it up in person. Some people were critical of him for bothering to show up, but I say, why not? I know his season sucked, good god do I know that, but I think it would have been worse for him to NOT show up because this is an award that the fans vote on and I think it’s better to show respect by being there. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Oh! One other highlight was when Jimmie Johnson was on stage to accept his fifty bajlillion awards and he complained about how cold it was in the theater and asked if they could turn down the AC. That was great, because it was really cold, I had goosebumps. So thank you Jimmie.
After the ceremony was over some of the award winners were available in the same adjacent ballroom for media sessions. This was basically limited to anyone that wasn’t a top-12 driver. So the two big names were Joey Logano, who had picked up his rookie of the year award (and the painting of him that went along with it) and Dale Jr.
When I walked into the room there were already like 4 people staked out in front of Dale’s seat. I got into position and when he arrived I got a photo of him. After that I got the eff out of the way. More media showed up and at one point there were so many people around him that you couldn’t even see him anymore.
So I went next door to Joey Logano. Joey said he was looking forward to getting his sled ready for the 5th Annual Lucas Oil Bodine Bobsled Challenge taking place in Lake Placid, NY in January. His sled is all decked out in Home Depot colors. This will be Joey’s second year participating in the event.
Finished with my question for Joey I looked over and found that Dale Jr. was still buried under tape recorders, lights, cameras, and microphones. He has to be in the top-12 next year; he just has to, if only so that I’ll have more than one opportunity to ask him a question.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.