All posts in NASCAR Auto Club Speedway Weekend (02/09)

6 Posts

shortcuts: the biggest (genuine) smile i’ve ever seen on clint bowyer’s face

A couple things you should know:

– The movie “Fast & Furious,” starring Vin Diesel and Paul Walker, opens in theaters on Friday, April 3rd, 2009. I have to mention this ’cause it’s just the thing to do when your blog is titled The Fast and The Fabulous. Visit the movie’s official website. The truth is that everytime I see the commercial for this film I giggle to myself ’cause I think of this blog and then I wonder if I could of interviewed Paul Walker even though there’s no other connection between me and the film other than the whole naming thing. Eh, whateva.

– The following photos were taken by Jameela Washington at the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway this past February. I’ve been meaning to post these for, like, ever but I’m a nerd. I met Jameela last year at the Pepsi 500 and the lady takes some great pictures:

Clint Bowyer at the Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, February 22, 2009 (photo credit: Jameela Washington)

Clint Bowyer at the Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, February 22, 2009 (photo credit: Jameela Washington)

Casey Mears carries his daughter Samantha at the Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, February 22, 2009 (photo credit: Jameela Washington)

Casey Mears carries his daughter Samantha at the Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, February 22, 2009 (photo credit: Jameela Washington)

Jeff Gordon's wife Ingrid Vandebosch carries their daughter Ella at the Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, February 22, 2009 (photo credit: Jameela Washington)

Note the heels.

Jeff Gordon’s wife Ingrid Vandebosch carries their daughter Ella at the Auto Club Speedway on Sunday, February 22, 2009 (photo credit: Jameela Washington)

sprinkles-gate update

Sprinkles Cupcakes Box (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)I knew that my harrowing story of searching for Sprinkles Cupcakes at Auto Club Speedway would touch a nerve amongst the cupcake aficionados out there and might get people talking.

However, I did not know that it would get the officials from the speedway itself talking. I received not one, but two emails from Auto Club Speedway personnel letting me know that the cupcakes were in fact being sold at two locations at the track during the Auto Club 500 race weekend — at Tailgaters in the FanZone and at the Pit Road Cafe in the infield.

Lenny Santiago, Director of Marketing Communications for International Speedway Corporation (the company that owns Auto Club Speedway), read my story and let me know that he wanted to make up for the fact that I wasn’t able to find Sprinkles in my many treks to the FanZone.

On Wednesday I received a dozen freshly baked Sprinkles Cupcakes hand delivered from their store location in Palo Alto, California! How cool is that?

I am amazed by this entire experience. I am so thankful to Lenny and the folks at ISC for wanting to make things right and for taking the time to read my blog post in the first place.

Sprinkles Cupcakes (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

waltrip’s stain, ella is too cute and even nascar pr guys have fans

It seriously hurts my heart when I write something and then in a moment of complete insanity I lose everything I’ve just written because my computer crashes. That’s just what happened to me, so I apologize if this post sucks. :)

I finally have some time to write up my thoughts from last weekend’s races at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

Saturday was pretty uneventful, so I’m skipping that and getting into Sunday.

autoclub_sunday_codyI hovered outside the drivers meeting room to get photos. While doing that I spotted Cody, the PR guy for Kyle Busch. I introduced myself to him not to ask him if I could interview Kyle, but to ask him if he knew that he had fans. Now you’re probably wondering how a PR guy can have his own set of fans but it’s totally possible. Anytime you see Kyle on TV walking through the garage to things like driver intros or to his appearances Cody is always by his side. Plus he’s a young guy who happens to be pretty good looking. So it’s understandable that there would be people out there, people who asked me to ask him if he has a Twitter page. Cody said that he didn’t know that he had fans and that he doesn’t have an account with Twitter (at least as of Sunday).

Later on I headed out to the grass area for driver introductions. The red carpet was rolled out once again for all of the drivers and it was a complete mob scene with fans jockeying for position along the roped off area. At that point I realized that trying to get any kind of photo would be futile so I stood back from it all.

Earlier in the day during one of my cupcake trips over to the FanZone I caught a portion of a performance by the hard rock band Rev Theory. I watched them do a couple songs and I thought they were great. While I was waiting for driver introductions to begin I spied the guys from Rev Theory walking through the grass. I told them that I’d seen them earlier and that they were really good. Introductions were made and I chatted with the drummer Dave and their personal assistant/handler guy Nice (that’s his nickname) about the virtues of Twitter. They were really nice guys and were super fun to talk to. I love band dudes.

After driver intros I played the pit road version of musical chairs. What you do is you start walking and then stop when you hear the PA announcer say “Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise…” I ended up standing behind the pit crew for the #88.

When I turned around after the flyover, which I love to death by the way, I realized I had been standing in front and to the left of Carl Edwards, his wife Kate and all of the guys from Band From TV.

My race day ritual, which I don’t think I’ve ever talked about before, is to stand behind the pits with a perfect view of the start/finish line for the race start, and
then at the end of the race with about 10 laps to go. It’s a compromise between actuallyseeing the race right in front of me and then going back to the media center to watch it through a TV screen.

So the sweetest, most adorable moment of the day was during the post-race press conference with the top-3 race finishers. Before Jeff Gordon arrived (he finished second) his wife Ingrid walked in carrying their daughter Ella. I think I’ve said it like a million times but I’ll say it again she is so freaking cute! When Jeff walked in he went over to Ella, picked her up and gave her a kiss. So cute! Then when Jeff went up to the stage and sat down Ella kept saying “da da” and pointed at him. Cute overload!

I was sad that Jeff didn’t win the race; he was so close to ending his losing streak. But I believe he will be in victory lane very soon because in that press conference he exuded passion, excitement and positivity about his race team. He said that they were head and shoulders above where they were last year. I truly hope that all of that optimism will pay off for him.

#9 Budweiser Dodge (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

I love this photo.

Kasey Kahne’s #9 Budweiser Dodge on pit road before the start of the Auto Club 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Sunday, February 22, 2009. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Brian Vickers waits to be interviewed by SPEED at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Sunday, February 22, 2009. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Brian Vickers waits to be interviewed by SPEED at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Sunday, February 22, 2009. (Photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Billy Ray Cyrus at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Saturday, February 21, 2009. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Billy Ray Cyrus at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Saturday, February 21, 2009. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)


OK, this is Michael Waltrip. I took this photo because I saw the big purple stain on his back pocket and thought it was curious. (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

The band Rev Theory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Sunday, February 22, 2009. (Photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

The band Rev Theory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Sunday, February 22, 2009. (Photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

UPS Kart (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

I think this UPS Truck golf cart is the coolest thing. I wanted to drive it! (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

auto club 500: the hunt for sprinkles cupcakes

autoclub_sprinkles_bagIf you’re not from Los Angeles or you’re not a woman then it’s likely you haven’t heard of Sprinkles Cupcakes. Sprinkles is a cupcake bakery, that’s all they do, just cupcakes. They’ve been featured on The Today Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show, and you can buy their cupcake mix at Williams-Sonoma.

I have never had a genuine Sprinkles cupcake but I’ve always wanted to try them. I’ve baked some on my own with the mix but that’s not the same as getting the real deal direct from the source. I’m a baked goods freak. I love cookies, cake, and pie. You name it I’ll try it at least once.

So imagine my delight when I found out on Saturday that none other than Sprinkles Cupcakes were to be sold at Auto Club Speedway that very weekend. The Speedway folks put out a special press release about the cupcakes and other new, and supposedly affordable, food fare at the track this year. Sprinkles had it’s own special bullet point, listing the fabulous flavors that made them famous.

So that was it, I figured out a time (during the truck race) when I could catch the shuttle over to the Opportunity, California FanZone. I arrived in the middle of the ginormous FanZone area and started to wonder exactly how I was going to find Sprinkles amongst all of the attractions and options laid out before me. I looked for signs, and found one that listed every food available except cupcakes.

Undeterred I carried on. I stopped by the entrance to Apex the Wolfgang Puck restaurant and asked the staff there if they knew where the cupcakes were. One guy said that he’d heard they were “right behind them.” When I looked behind them, I found an ATM machine for Bank of America and a Philly Cheesesteak stand.

Still hopeful the cupcakes were within reach I walked in circles in the FanZone, zigzagging around the merchandise haulers and radio station booths. I stopped to ask vendor after vendor if they knew where the cupcakes were and still no luck. I received responses like “No, but that sounds really good” and “Everybody keeps asking me that, but no I don’t know.”

Frustrated and disappointed I bought kettle corn as a consolation prize and hopped on the shuttle back to the infield. I shared the story of my search for the cupcakes with the shuttle bus driver who I’m pretty sure must now think I’m absolutely insane. He was totally nice about it though.

I decided that on Sunday I would try again, and so I did. I came back to the track with a renewed sense of determination. I had an hour to spare before the drivers meeting was to begin. I hightailed over to the shuttle, where the same shuttle driver from the night before was on duty, and set off for the FanZone again. As I hoped off the shuttle he wished me luck. I definitely needed it.

I searched high and low. I scanned race fans to see if anyone was holding a cupcake so that I might ask them where they bought them, but there wasn’t a cupcake in sight.

I gave up again because I had to get back to the garage for the drivers meeting. When the Sprint Cup race began and then fell under caution for rain I decided to make one last complete sweep of the FanZone to make sure I hadn’t left any stone unturned. I had a map of the area and realized I hadn’t checked the eateries located directly underneath the grandstands.

I climbed what looked like one flight of stairs, but what actually felt like two and weaved in and out of gobs of people on line for margaritas and hot dogs. I pushed through huge lines of women and men waiting to use the bathrooms. I walked from one side of the grandstands to the other and still nothing.

In searching for the friggin’ cupcakes I probably expended all of the calories I would have consumed had I found them in the first place.

I bought some french fries and shuttled back over to the infield where one of the security dudes said to me “You went all the way over there for french fries??” I was all “No, I went for cupcakes!” I don’t think he thought that was a better answer.

I vowed to get to the bottom of this. Who would promote the fact that they have a great treat like this and not come through? No signs, no arrows pointing the way to cupcake goodness. It was a total sham.

Yesterday morning it hit me. Duh, why not go directly to the source and ask them what gives. So on my way to the airport I went to the very first Sprinkles location in Beverly Hills and bought 4 cupcakes. I told them my story of searching endlessly for their yummy trifles at Auto Club Speedway. I asked if they were really there and what was their response? “We were there.” Riiiiight.

Whatever! I have my cupcakes — Lemon, Vanilla, Black & White, and Vanilla Milk Chocolate — and they’re delicious. :)

Sprinkles Cupcakes (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

just me, myself and elliott (sadler, that is)

Elliott Sadler at the Auto Club Speedway on Friday, February 20, 2009 (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)All day the amount of media that gathered for the individual driver press conferences had been small to say the least. I think almost every driver who walked in commented on the lack of butts in the seats. The audio from each meeting was being broadcast over to the deadline media room, and the reporters there could ask questions if they wanted, so people didn’t have to show up in-person if they didn’t want to.

The only driver to have an insane grouping of everyone and their mother was Dale Earnhardt Jr. who was asked every kind of variation of the same question regarding the incident between him and Brian Vickers at Daytona. The gist of what he had to say was that he didn’t mean to do it, he’s sorry about it, and yes, he’s talked to Brian. Blah, blah, blah.

While the vast majority of media was hanging onto every word uttered from Dale’s lips, Carl Edwards was left sitting in the driver’s meeting room with only 3 writers in front of him. I was kicking myself for not ditching Dale and sitting in on Carl’s session instead.

When it comes to these Q&A shindigs with drivers I’ve never asked a question and I usually try to stay towards the back and to the side. But when you’re in a situation where you’re one of like 5 or 6 people in a big empty room it’s hard to blend in. I don’t prepare questions for these things, or at least I haven’t in the past.

These guys are always asked the same questions and if I did dare to say something I’d want it to be interesting and somewhat thoughtful. After about 3 drivers came in it was Casey Mears turn to take the stage and field questions.

I don’t know what I was thinking but I raised my hand to ask a question. I was curious if becoming a father last year has changed his outlook on racing at all. I was sort of afraid to ask because I didn’t want to pry into his personal life and I didn’t want him to give me a Paul Menard answer of “I’m not going to answer that.”

Casey was very nice and smiled throughout his entire response. Smiling is the international symbol for “Your question wasn’t horrible.”

Here’s Casey’s full response: “I’ve discussed this a little bit before and in Daytona as well. It’s funny because I think being one of the younger guys looking at some of the guys that have children and have a little bit more of a family thing, ‘Man, they’re probably slowing down a little bit.’ Ya know, they’re going to be a little more conservative because of that situation and in a lot of ways I think it’s completely the opposite now, being in that situation. It makes you want to try that much harder. It makes you want to be that much more successful. It makes you want to be able to provide for that family now and that child. And I think that it definitely brings a whole new light in my mind of the situation because I feel like you think about it at night a little bit more, ‘hey we wanna make something happen. I want to prove myself, I want to do well.’ So I think from that perspective things have changed. I’ve always had a huge drive to do well and be successful but it’s definitely affected my life probably, and my racing career, in a different way than I thought it was going to. It’s not slowing me down it’s making me work harder.”

From that and subsequent questioning of other drivers I quickly realized that these guys remember everything they’re asked and if you want to stand out and not sound like a schmo you need to come up with something different.

Unfortunately for me I didn’t have the time to think of something fabulous and witty when Elliott Sadler walked into the room. I was the ONLY media member sitting in front of him. As Elliott walked by me he was like “So it’s just you and me today?”, and I was all “I guess so!”

Inside I was freaking out, what am I going to say? I have nothing! Nothing! So I offered up the only thing I could which was the standard how do you feel about your car question. After that I followed up by asking him if ever gets the opportunity to sit down with The King, Richard Petty, or does it happen more in passing which is what Kasey Kahne and Reed Sorenson had said earlier that day. He was nice and answered them both well, but I could tell that I hadn’t wowed him with my journalistic skills. Luckily, a few reporters trickled in during his response to my second question and I was off the hook.

The best part of my day, in which I had to pat myself on the back, was when I asked David Ragan if he ever Googled himself. I think his answer speaks for itself, in it’s pure awesomeness:

“I have Googled myself and, trust me, I wasn’t just like sitting in a room and it was just me. It was probably with a group of friends or at a racetrack trying to kill some time, but yeah I read a little bit.

I think probably my aunts and uncles, and family members they read a lot more than what I do. I read a couple magazines and papers and kind of see what everyone’s talking about, but I don’t get overly caught up in what everyone is writing. And every now and then I’ll see something that ‘Hey that’s not right, or that’s not spelled out right.’ And I think that for a second I’m like ‘Man I wonder if they’re just confused or they don’t have the facts right’ and I’ll try to round ‘em up or if I see one of the writers at the next racetrack I’ll try to grab them or something like that. I do pay attention a little bit to what’s going on but I think my family probably keeps me up to date more than anybody.

That was a good question. I like questions like that, other than ‘How was your car?’ or ‘Are you excited to be here this weekend?’ and stuff like that. I like odd questions.”

Score! :)

Kasey Kahne and Reed Sorenson (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

Kasey Kahne (left) and Reed Sorenson (right) took on their press conferences together at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Friday, February 20, 2009. (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)


Dale Earnhardt Jr. mulls over a question at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on Friday, February 20, 2009. (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)

on being thrifty and kasey’s movie star good looks

Gosh, where do I begin?

Let’s start with Thursday night when I arrived at LAX and picked up my rental car from Thrifty. I usually go with Hertz, but this time around Thrifty was cheaper and I was, well, trying to be thrifty. It was sort of a mistake. There was drama from the second I walked in the door. Some woman was trying to pay with quarters and one dollar bills and some other dude was trying to cheat the rental company out of money which ended with the Thrifty employee telling the dude to never come back there again.

What a glorious way to start a trip! Actually it wasn’t all bad, when it was my turn they got me out quickly, and I was able to pick the car I wanted. I ended up with a black Dodge Caliber. I’ve never driven one of those before and they said it was a compact car, but it totally doesn’t feel like it. I feel like I’m driving a boat.

Anyway, Yesterday morning I set off for the track with more butterflies in my stomach than ever. I always get nervous because I have no idea what is going to happen and I’m always seriously afraid that I’ll look like a nut job. How I would make myself look like a nut job I will never know, but I fear it nevertheless.

I arrived at the track, picked up my credentials and grabbed the press conference schedule. So I’m used to having to go from hauler to hauler for each session, but this time around the majority of the gatherings were in the drivers meeting room in the garage. So I just sat there as driver after driver came in and took a seat behind the table on the stage.

Here is a quick rundown of things that occurred to me as each driver spoke:

Kurt Busch is kinda growing on me. I used to dislike him a lot but now, eh, not so much.

– I was dying to ask Matt Kenseth point blank whether or not his wife Katie was pregnant, but I do not have the balls to ask that kind of question. It’s none of my business, of course.

A.J. Allmendinger is talkative, friendly and funny. He joked that he told USA Today that he might be doing steroids in an effort to get them to write an article about him.

Kyle Busch talked about the incident at Daytona a little bit, all without actually saying Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s name. A reporter called him on it and asked why he wouldn’t say his name, Kyle replied (in a sort of annoyed tone) that he didn’t say the other guys’ (Brian Vickers) name either.

– I really liked the Kobalt Tools hat that Jimmie Johnson was wearing.

comparison_kkahne_twilightKasey Kahne kinda looks like the actor Robert Pattinson, who played the Edward character in the movie “Twilight.” They’re not dead ringers, but c’mon there are some similarities. :)

– When you ask Jeff Gordon a question he will never, ever answer it with just one word or one sentence. It’s not a bad thing, he just tends to go on more than others.

David Ragan is my new favorite driver! Why? Read my next post!

When I wasn’t listening to drivers talk about the track and their feelings about the upcoming race I spent time in the garage Twittering and taking photos. Oh, and I monitored the Port-A-Pottie usage of a few drivers like Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and David Ragan. These are the kinds of important updates you get when you follow me on Twitter.