On Wednesday my only goal for the day was to visit race shops. My first stop was JR Motorsports in Mooresville, NC. On my half-hour drive up to Mooresville I got to see the famous Lake Norman that numerous NASCAR drivers call home. It is absolutely gorgeous and now I totally understand why you’d want to find a house that sits next to it. I can extend the whole ‘gorgeous’ statement to the whole Charlotte area. It’s really flat, especially to someone like me who has grown up around mount this and mount that, but it’s also really, really green. I thought we had a lot of trees in Northern California but North Carolina has got a lock on ‘em too.
When I arrived at JR Motorsports, passing by Braun Racing in the process, I had another one of those “this is so coooooool” moments. I’m such a geek, but it was really fun to get to be there even though I knew I was only going into the JR Nation store to buy stuff and take a peek inside the actual race shop. I think, as a fan, it’s just as much fun to express your affinity for your favorite driver by buying a mug. I really did buy a JR Motorsports mug, and this cute Dale Jr. magnet notepad. There were a billion more things I could have purchased but I held back because I figured I might need some money to get back home and, ya know, to live.
While I was in the JR Nation store a race shop tour bus rolled up with a group of race fans. It hadn’t occurred to me that shop tours were in fact a reality, but it’s a great idea. Why not have someone chauffeur you around to all the shops, instead of doing what I was doing in trying to group shops together, figure out distances and make good use of time. Although I enjoyed the freedom of lingering, skipping stuff and going at my own pace.
After JR Motorsports I headed down the street to Kasey Kahne Racing. While there wasn’t a whole lot to “shop” I did pick up Kasey’s DVD “The Rise of Kahne.” I haven’t watched it yet, but it was playing on the TVs in the store and I’m sure it’s good stuff. I love a documentary.
From KKR my next stop was Dale Earnhardt Inc. There was no way I was leaving North Carolina without seeing the infamous “Garage Mahal.” It’s definitely a beautiful building, but something happened that I wasn’t expecting. I felt this general sense of sadness about Dale Earnhardt. He’s not here anymore, and after witnessing his family at his induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, it just made the trip less of a celebration of his life and more sadness that he’s not with us. It made me wonder what life would be like if he was still here. Those are just my feelings about it. Of course it was great to see all of the memorabilia, all of the amazing things that fans made in honor of him and remember all of the things he achieved in his career.
After DEI I was invited to visit the offices of Activ8 Communications that were close by. It was cool visiting the ladies in the PR department. I ended up leaving with an autographed Travis Kvapil hero card and a bunch of autographed ARCA driver Tim George Jr. hero cards that I’ll be giving away for a contest in the coming weeks.
Leaving Activ8 I headed to Penske Racing not too far away. Once I arrived at Penske though I decided to leave. I wasn’t feeling well and I decided I would just go back to the hotel, cutting my tour of race shops way too short. Once I was back at the hotel it was clear that something was coming and I started taking all the remedies I could find in an effort to make whatever “it” was not a big deal. It didn’t really work because it was clear by the next morning that I had a cold and it sucked. Thursday was pole day at Charlotte Motor Speedway and because I had traveled 3,000 miles to be at the Coca-Cola 600 race weekend I was determined to attend everything, so I went.
I lasted until after the first Sprint Cup practice started. I started to feel woozy and the heat wasn’t helping. I thought fainting in the garage would make for a supremely amazing blog post but decided to be safe and just go back to the hotel and figure out what the heck I was going to ask Mr. Tony Stewart when I interviewed him the next day.
Dale Earnhardt Inc.
I just loved these trees, aren’t the beautiful? They’re across the street from DEI
(all photos credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)