All posts in 2009 NASCAR Champion’s Week & Awards Ceremony

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champion’s week in vegas: carl edwards and me!

This entire post is dedicated to the photo below of me with Carl Edwards. It is quite possibly the greatest photo ever taken in the history of photography. I’m probably a wee bit biased but it was seriously THE highlight of my trip to Vegas for Champion’s Week and it happened on my first night in town.

Carl Edwards with The Fast and the Fabulous writer Valli Hilaire (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

I arrived on Wednesday in the afternoon which meant that I missed the charity roast of Jimmie Johnson that took place at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I got a cab from the airport and went straight over to the Wynn to pick up my media credentials and then over to Harrah’s to check-in.

champion’s week in vegas: the one where i had some drinks

SI_PartyThursday night was the Sports Illustrated party at Pure nightclub inside of Caesars Palace. Let me do a little foreshadowing of how this evening turned out. I walked to Pure from my hotel which is right next door to Caesars, but when I returned I took a cab.

Yea, it was that kind of night. When I arrived at the party I picked up my first of what would be at least 5 Cosmopolitans. I hung out and chatted with the people I knew, various PR people for sponsors and racetracks. It was after my second drink that I spotted ESPNs Marty Smith.

Now, if you’re starting to think that I’m a lush, you would be wrong. I don’t drink that often. There is no alcohol in my apartment, save for a couple bottles of wine that I’ve had for years, one of which I only have because it was given to me and it was free. I only drink in social situations, and if it’s free even better. And like I said before, I am shy, so what would take me like 20 minutes of talking up to do sober, took only 5 seconds with a little vodka in my bloodstream. And really, really, when am I going to get an opportunity like this to talk to people just as people and not when they’re technically “working.”

champion’s week in vegas: after the lap

After the Lap presented by Tissot (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)After the Myers Brothers Awards Ceremony, I left the Venetian and headed back to my room so that I could change out of my “business casual” dress and into clothes that were much warmer. It was so cold in Vegas. I wished it would get into the 70s but it never got close. Friday night, the night of the awards ceremony it was in the low 50s with freeze warnings in effect.

So I changed my clothes and tried to walk quickly to the monorail at Harrah’s/Imperial Palace station so that I could get to the MGM Grand as fast as possible because that’s where the start/finish line was for the Victory Lap. I wanted to see the top-12 drivers doing burnouts, but it wasn’t to be. I missed the whole thing. What I did see, from the windows of the monorail, was the traffic that was backed up for at least a mile next to the Strip. That was kinda neat.

champion’s week in vegas: spreading ‘fabulous’ awareness

Getting ready for the 2009 NASCAR NMPA Myers Brothers Awards CeremonyThursday, 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.

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.

champion’s week in vegas: my schedule

2894632804_ecac5c3747_mI’m becoming such a grown-up. Ever since I found out that I was able to attend the Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony I’ve been all over the place. I’ve been excited, anxious, giggly, nervous, and geeked out. But then last week I told myself to just calm the eff down because before I knew it it would all be over and I’d be going home, and I don’t want to rush the whole going home part. So I’m learning to be all relaxed and chill about the upcoming events, but it’s really hard. :)

I leave for Vegas tomorrow afternoon, but as far as I’m concerned the trip starts early in the morning when I get my hair done. I’m one of those people that enjoys making the details of getting things together for the trip apart of the trip itself. So getting to find a “black tie” appropriate dress, scheduling my makeup session, finding the right accessories for the dress, and figuring out some questions I might want to ask drivers should I dare ask them, has been so much fun. The fact that just thinking about this stuff makes me happy is awesome.

So here’s the schedule of stuff that I’ll be attending while in Vegas for Champion’s Week. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, or just check back here and read my Tweets to the right in my sidebar for my updates. I’m not bringing my laptop ’cause I’m having enough anxiety about transporting my dress and I don’t need anything else to worry about.

jimmie johnson + kids = adorableness

Jimmie Johnson continued his Miss America-like tour of the country on Monday by visiting his hometown and handing over money to his alma mater, Crest Elementary School in El Cajon, California on behalf of his foundation.

The Jimmie Johnson Foundation has given almost $1 million in grants to schools in California, North Carolina and Oklahoma, which is very, very cool. Our schools can definitely use the help. So even if you’re not a fan of Jimmie for what he does on the track, you should love him for what he does off of it.

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, and his wife Chandra meet with students at his alma mater, Crest Elementary School on Monday in El Cajon, Calif. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, and his wife Chandra meet with students at his alma mater, Crest Elementary School on Monday in El Cajon, Calif. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)

there was a race on sunday? really??

Jimmie Johnson celebrates winning the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway, his seventh victory of 2009. (Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)Sunday’s Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil at Phoenix International Raceway was boring and I’m not saying that because Jimmie Johnson won. I’m saying it because it was boring, and the drama that involved Dale Earnhardt Jr. did not help things, like, at all.

Or maybe I thought it was boring because I was too caught up in trying on the dress I bought for the Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony. On Saturday, I went dress shopping with my mom and missed all of the Denny Hamlin/Brad Keselowski hullabaloo from the Nationwide race. On Sunday, I bought my dress, after starting with 10 contenders I found “the one” half an hour before the race started, and I really, really like it. I have to be honest, until I leave for Vegas this is all I’m going to be thinking about. I’m over Jimmie, and I’ve made peace with Dale’s season (Is it 2010 yet??!). I’m all about Champion’s Week; I’m counting down the days!

In other news…

– It’s safe to search the site again. There were issues with the Google Custom Search getting hijacked, but I’ve updated the code and the coast is clear.

And now, Phoenix photo fun time after the jump!

sprint cup awards ceremony: i’ll be there!

2009 NASCAR Champion's Week in Las Vegas LogoI’ve been invited to the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas!!!!!

Yes! I’m beyond excited about going to the Awards Ceremony (on December 4th) and a bunch of the other events leading up to it (on December 3rd).

I’m sure I’ll have a ton of stuff to tell you about, and photos to share, when it’s all said and done. The banquet is a formal “black-tie” affair so I’m betting on at least one post just about what I’m going to be wearing that night. I have to find a dress, and shoes, and a purse, and accessories! This is serious business.

I’m going to be geeking out on this one for a while. :)

because you should be there when jimmie picks up his 4th championship trophy

The little Las Vegas SignIs everybody done talking about Talladega yet? Let’s move on to talking about more important things like “What will Chandra Johnson be wearing during Champion’s Week?” and “Who will be Chad Knaus’ date?” or “Can I be Ron Malec’s date?” (I’m kidding, okay, sorta, no really I’m kidding, maybe.)

That’s way more fun isn’t it? And speaking of the Championship festivities there are a number of ways for fans to get tickets to attend the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony that is being held for the first time in Las Vegas on December 4, 2009 (my mom’s birthday!).

Here’s a handy-dandy rundown of all of the opportunities:

  • Bristol Motor Speedway will give four awards ceremony tickets to a selected fan who has attended every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol since the track’s 1961 opening (open to current ticket-holders).
  • Daytona International Speedway is using two different promotions involving two sets of two tickets. Fans should visit to register for both random drawings.
  • Indianapolis Motor Speedway also is using two promotions involving two sets of two tickets. One is well on its way; interested fans were to visit IMS’s administrative lobby on Oct. 14 to register to win. For the second promotion, fans should visit the track’s web site,, to complete an online registration form. Note: You can’t win both promotions.
  • Infineon Raceway is hosting a sealed bid auction for two awards ceremony tickets. The auction will benefit Speedway Children’s Charities. Visit for more information.
  • Kansas Speedway will use four tickets as part of an enter-to-win contest. Each fan winner will receive two tickets, plus spending money, airfare and hotel. Click here for more information.
  • Las Vegas Motor Speedway will use four tickets for its promotion. Visit for more information.
  • Lowe’s Motor Speedway will use four tickets as a Speedway Club Members auction item, with proceeds benefiting Speedway Children’s Charities. Visit for more information.
  • Michigan International Speedway’s two tickets will be distributed via a drawing. Included is a trip to Las Vegas. Season-ticket-holders who renew are automatically entered in the drawing. Visit for more information.
  • New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s promotion was a part of its ongoing “FansFirst” initiative. Anyone who purchased tickets for the Sylvania 300 on Sept. 20 was eligible to win a trip to Las Vegas – airfare, lodging, $1,000 in spending money and two tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony.
  • Phoenix International Raceway is using two fan tickets as part of a ticket-purchase promotion. Visit for more information.
  • Richmond International Raceway will reward one fan with two tickets, but if you want their seats, be prepared to do a little work. Fans must submit a video describing why they should be selected as Richmond’s Fan Reporter in Las Vegas, plus include their most memorable moment at the track. Visit for more information.
  • Texas Motor Speedway is using two pairs of two tickets in separate promotions. One pair will be part of a live auction with proceeds benefiting the Texas Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities. Fans must register for a chance to win the other pair of tickets. Visit for more information.
  • Watkins Glen International is using a pair of tickets to reward a longtime fan of the track. Along with tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony, the winner will receive a trip to Las Vegas, which includes airfare, lodging and rental car expenses. Visit for more information.
  • Kurt Busch will auction off two fan packages during his charity golf tournament on Dec. 1 in Las Vegas. Both packages include two tickets to the awards ceremony and a meet-and-greet with Kurt. Visit for more information.
  • Greg Biffle is giving away a total of four fan tickets to the awards ceremony. He’ll give away two tickets during his weekly internet radio show, “Straight Talk With The Biff.” Fans are encouraged to call and tell Greg why they’re his biggest supporters. He’ll use the other two awards ceremony tickets as part of an auction to raise funds for the Greg Biffle Foundation. Visit for more information on both contests.
  • Ford “I’m Driving One” Online Sweepstakes — One grand-prize winner (and one guest) receives a 2010 Ford Taurus, plus an Ultimate NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week Experience, including an all-expense-paid trip to Las Vegas, two tickets to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony, and special recognition during the NASCAR After the Lap presented by Tissot program. Visit for more information.
  • Bank of America (NASCAR RacePoints®) — Two Champion’s Week VIP packages were made available for redemption that included tickets and access to the awards ceremony. Visit for more information on the NASCAR RacePoints program.
  • The NASCAR Foundation — Ten tickets will be auctioned as part of the Foundation’s Champion’s Week package fundraiser. The auction is from Nov. 9-23 and will be hosted on NASCAR.COM. Visit www.NASCAR.COM/foundation for more information.