So here’s the deal: I helped the Downtown Napa Association get a NASCAR driver to do an appearance at their Napa NASCAR Night event. I made it my personal mission to get at least one driver to attend because it’s just a great idea, there’s no other free fan event happening during the Sonoma race weekend. Plus someone said it would be nearly impossible to get a driver out there so that motivated me even more.
Michael Annett and Reed Sorenson graciously accepted our invitation to come down and sign autographs for fans. We were supposed to do a Q&A session but it just didn’t work out with the way we laid out the event. In the end, I think it was a good thing that we didn’t. The autograph signings went well and people seemed to be having a great time.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. On Saturday, Heather and I got up ridiculously early, at like 6am, which was made worse by the fact that we didn’t get back to my apartment until midnight the previous night. It’s funny that I take time off from work to go on race weekends like it’s a vacation even though I never get to sleep in during them.
When we arrived at the track we stood near the back of the haulers where drivers park, so that we could take photos. I got a great shot of Joey Logano talking to a little kid that was with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Then we ran into David Gilliland and chatted with him for a moment. I asked him if I could take a photo of him because I like to make things awkward.
When qualifying started up we went down to pit road where all the cars were lined up. Have I mentioned that I hate knockout qualifying? I find it boring. And being at the track it makes it harder to get shots of the drivers after they’ve made their runs.
Post-qualifying we watched as kids lined up to get autographs from Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano just outside of the winner’s circle. To say that it was adorable, would be an understatement, it was TOO CUTE! So many little kids making sheepish smiles at the drivers as they handed them a hero card to sign. Too much, you guys, too much cuteness!
We stayed long enough to watch the first half of the K&N Pro Series West race in which 6 Cup Series drivers, all of the rookies basically, participated. Then we had to head to downtown Napa to get ready for the NASCAR drivers autograph session.
Reed Sorenson was first, and like I said earlier, the autograph signings went great. Instead of asking questions I became a carnival barker and used my microphone to let everyone know that Reed was there and to come over and meet him. I had a lot of fun doing that.
When Michael Annett showed up, after finishing 6th in the K&N race (which I thought was a great finish since it was his first time at Sonoma Raceway but he wasn’t pleased because he felt he should have done better. I just think that shows how competitive he is, wouldn’t you want to win, too?), I continued to grab passerby’s attention by announcing his arrival but I also started to include little facts like Michael enjoys watching chick flicks like “The Notebook” and loves Chinese food. I think it worked, he signed all of the hero cards they brought.
You really should plan on attending Napa NASCAR Night (NNN) next year if you’re going to be in town for the race. There were live bands, show cars, food and beverage vendors. Plus, at each of the wine booths when you purchased a glass of wine you got a stemless wine glass that had “2014 Napa NASCAR Night” etched on it’s side. They’re really cute and collectable. I have two of them!
— Kim McAllister (@Kim4Kahne) June 22, 2014
Next to our NASCAR driver booth was the Sons of the Flag. They’ve been working with Tommy Baldwin Racing this year, both Michael and Reed drive for TBR, and were on hand at the event to raise awareness for burn survivors. If you or someone you know has been severely burned Sons of the Flag is an organization that can help you connect with others who’ve had similar experiences and find support.
The guys on hand to represent Sons of the Flag, Heath and Jason, were really great guys. After NNN ended we ended we hung out with them, Hudson, Annett’s PR guy, a couple of the Sonoma Raceway Girls, who were taking pictures with fans at NNN, and one of the crew guys from Friday night at one of the bars downtown. For some reason we kept getting free food and people offering to buy us drinks.
It was fun. I asked Hudson to tell me stories of pit lizards and he obliged. I’m not going to tell you what he said but just know that they’re insane. So ladies, let’s keep it classy in the garage, OK??
FUN FACT: NASCAR drivers don’t drink during race weekends. Also, there’s an Obligatory Ron Malec Photo in the gallery below.