All posts in NASCAR Charlotte Motor Speedway Weekend (05/2010)

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the coca-cola 600 aka bradley cooper day

Charlotte Motor Speedway all set for the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 30th, 2010 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)To answer Melody’s question from my previous post, I was in Tony Stewart’s hauler for all of 5 minutes. It was luxuriously air conditioned and I didn’t see the back lounge area. Plus Tony wasn’t there he was out practicing but it was very cool to be inside a hauler for any reason and any amount of time.

:)

Sunday was of course the Coca-Cola 600 and on my drive in to the track I couldn’t get over the amount of tailgating that was going on seemingly EVERYWHERE. Every blade of grass surrounding the track was filled with trucks, tents and people with barbecues. Even the parking lots of commercial office buildings had groups of people crowded together. It was so neat to see. There’s tailgating at the California races but nothing to the degree of what I saw outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway. It’s something that you have to witness for yourself.

I got to the track in time to attend a tweetup organized by SBNation’s Jeff Gluck. I went to meet up with ‘Fabulous’ readers Tara S. and Penni. It was really cool finally getting to meet them in person. I seriously adore the women that read my blog, you guys are the bestest! This is the perfect time to thank you all for the sweet comments about my interview with Tony Stewart. I really appreciate the encouragement.

Actor Bradley Cooper takes a photo with a fan at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 30th, 2010 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)As I alluded to in the title of this post, the Coca-Cola 600 was really all about Bradley Cooper and his hotness visiting a NASCAR race for the first time. He was there with three of his other cast-mates to promote their new movie “The A-Team.” I thought Brendan Fraser’s presence at Chicagoland a couple of years ago was a big deal but Bradley really brought out the ladies. Media and PR people alike make it a point to be in the media center for the cast’s press conference. As soon as Bradley walked into the media center people were requesting to have their photo taken with him (as you can see at right, that’s not me, unfortunately), which he happily obliged.

i got to go inside tony’s hauler, too

Matt Kenseth takes his No. 17 Jeremiah Sweet Tea Vodka Ford Fusion out for practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29, 2010 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the day of the Nationwide Series race, the TECH-NET Auto Service 300 powered by CARQUEST. It was also the day that I forgot to put my sunscreen on and got a nice little tan.

The two days that hold the Sprint Cup Series qualifying and Nationwide Series races are always my favorite days during any race weekend. It’s because there’s always, like, 50% less people running around the garage. I know it’s silly but I love feeling like I have the garage all to myself. And practice is always the best time to get pictures of the cars as they exit and enter the track.

On this particular day I witnessed something that has been going on forever but I only discovered it last weekend. I’m not sure what the process is but some cars come off the track and before going to their garage stall to make adjustments they stop at some designated area near or in the garage and the guys from Goodyear check out their tires. There’s also a crew member from their team checking stuff and taking notes.

interview: inside the actor’s studio with tony stewart

That's me interviewing Tony Stewart (photo credit: Seth Gregory)On Thursday night in Charlotte I was laying in my bed at the hotel willing my body to heal itself while at the same time wracking my brain trying to think of questions to ask Tony Stewart.

I was set to interview Tony the next day at the Office Depot in Pineville, a small suburb just south of Charlotte, before he signed autographs for his fans.

I didn’t want to ask Tony the usual questions about his car for the race that weekend, or how he felt about Charlotte Motor Speedway or anything about his team and the usual competition-related questions. I only want to ask people things that I’m curious about. Of course what I really wanted to ask him about was his love life, but since this was my first time meeting him EVER I figured that wouldn’t be the way to go.

Plus, this is Tony Stewart. He’s the most intimidating person, at least to me, to interview. I’ve been at press conferences where he’s cut people down with like two words. I’ve seen people live that Southwest commercial where they ask “Wanna get away???” because they asked Tony something he felt wasn’t worthy of an answer.

my mini race shop tour

JR MotorsportsOn 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. :)

you have to visit the nascar hall of fame

NASCAR Hall of FameThe Monday after attending the inaugural induction ceremony at the NASCAR Hall of Fame I had already earmarked as being a “day off” meaning that I wasn’t going to do anything except watch daytime television and go to the mall. This made sense because when I arrived I had two straight days of events to attend. I deserved it, plus I actually needed stuff from the mall.

Oh! I forgot to say that on Sunday night I had dinner with Jessica, Kells and Margaret. Margaret & Jessica I knew because they read this blog and are super active on Twitter, it was an absolute no-brainer that I was going to meet them while I was out in Charlotte. They’re awesome women and we had a fun time laughing it up at The Cheesecake Factory.

Anyway, back to Monday. I went to the mall with no expectations of any NASCAR related sightings but ending up spying Joey Logano shopping with his girlfriend. They were really cute. And no, I didn’t follow them. It was an interesting moment because I realized that if I lived in Charlotte moments like that would probably happen more often. Just something to think about. :)

On Tuesday my plan for the day was to check out the NASCAR Hall of Fame. I had taken a cursory walkthrough before the induction ceremony on Sunday and I really wanted to take some time to really experience everything it had to offer.

what tony stewart said

Charlotte Motor Speedway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Today is my last full day in Charlotte and it’s also, of course, the day of the Coca-Cola 600. I have so much to show and tell from this trip. There’s no way I’ll be able to get it out today, but I’m planning on writing stuff up as I travel back home to California tomorrow.

If you follow me on Twitter then you already know that I interviewed Tony Stewart on Friday and he said that my time with him was the most fun he’d had in an interview in a really long time. He said that in front of a lot of other people, so I have witnesses to back me up, and as we all know he didn’t have to say that. He made my life with that comment. It was exactly the reaction I was going for. I can’t wait to write out the whole experience for you! Totally made this trip even MORE memorable. It’ll all be posted this week for sure.

the nascar hall of fame induction ceremony experience

The inaugural induction ceremony for the NASCAR Hall of Fame was held on Sunday. I was excited that I got to attend and be there for the induction of the very first class. While the ceremony itself wasn’t nearly as emotional as I had hoped, I basically wanted everyone to break down in tears, it still delivered on some great moments.

My number one favorite moment was when Junior Johnson’s son, Robert, introduced him and used words like “heart” and “love.” It was so sincere and just really sweet. When he said, “I love you, Dad.” I was telling myself not to cry, don’t friggin cry!

I guess my bone of contention with the whole ceremony was that I didn’t understand why more NASCAR drivers weren’t in attendance. This seemed like a no-brainer event that shouldn’t have been missed.

Out on the red carpet, which was actually blue, I was positioned behind the crew from SPEED. It was the perfect spot to snap photos of the drivers that did attend this super historic event.

Jimmie and Chandra Johnson were there but they showed up before I got to the blue carpet. In all I witnessed the arrivals of Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Ned Jarrett, Rick Hendrick, Junior Johnson, Darrell Waltrip, Michael Waltrip, Richard Petty, Felix Sabates, Jack Roush, Carl Edwards, Teresa Earnhardt, Taylor Earnhardt, Kerry Earnhardt, Kyle Petty and Joe Gibbs.

My favorite result of that day are the photos that I took which you can see below. I spent some time looking around the Hall of Fame but I’m going to save all of that for another post, plus I’m planning on checking it out again this week.


Kasey Kahne

My best Kasey Kahne photo to date. For the record, I wasn’t making any wild or large movements. It helped that I was standing behind the SPEED reporter who was asking him questions.
:)