All posts in Race Weekends

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the hoff hassels our national anthem

Carl Edwards waits to be interviewed post-qualifying for the 300 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Saturday, October 9, 2010 (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Saturday morning at Auto Club Speedway found me inside the Nationwide Series garage watching as drivers qualified for the 300. Driver after driver made their qualifying run and I stood by in the media bullpen area where they keep the top-3 cars. Cars shuffle in and out (and drive by) as the numbers on the pylon change order.

There weren’t a lot of fans milling around in the garage and only a handful actually stuck around to watch drivers get out of their cars and maybe ask them for an autograph. I noticed David Reutimann, in regular dude clothes, standing with the guys from Michael Waltrip Racing. He had on a hat and sunglasses but I still couldn’t get over the fact that people didn’t notice him. I guess it was good for him to not be bothered, seeing as how he’d just come off the weekend before and his infamous incident with Kyle Busch.

As qualifying progressed I watched as Carl Edwards got out of his car, spoke with various members of the media, signed autographs for fans, met with a large group of employees from his sponsor, Copart, took pictures with them, and then went off to the media center. All of that took place in the space of like 10 minutes. Now that’s multi-tasking.

why delana and kevin harvick are the tops

Auto Club Speedway (credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Something I’ve noticed as I go to more races is that I take less pictures. In the beginning I was taking photos of everything; tires, cars, etc. But now that I know the pain of uploading those photos to Flickr and having to write a title for each one, I’m a lot more discerning when it comes to choosing a photo subject.

My Friday at Auto Club Speedway (ACS) began with me walking from my car to the garage and happening to see Travis Kvapil walking out of the drivers/owners motorcoach lot at the same time. I was set to interview Travis a little later on that morning, but he noticed me then. He must remembered me from when I interviewed him at ACS in 2008. This was, and still is, a big deal to me. He knew we had a scheduled interview for that day and he ended up having time right then so we went ahead and got the Inside the Actor’s Studio questioning out of the way.

Because I feel like the underdog pretty much all the time, it felt like a super cool “win” to walk through the garage, past crew members and whoever was around, with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver who actually REMEMBERED ME. Which is why Travis Kvapil is a super cool guy in my book. He really is genuinely nice and I cannot wait for a Sprint Cup win to come his way. I’ll talk more about him when I post the interview. He was the first driver to answer a particular question a particular way. How’s that for cryptic? :)

the one where I watch tony stewart woo a lady

I’m finally writing again! I have so much stuff to post for you guys, please bear with me while I get everything up. There are new Inside the Actor’s Studio interviews coming too. I’m in Las Vegas this weekend for Blog World & New Media Expo, but I’m planning on getting a lot of writing done as well. So stay tuned…

Last Thursday I drove seven and half hours down to Southern California for the start of my Auto Club Speedway/Pepsi Max 400 race weekend.

As I was driving I tried to think of new & interesting questions for Tony Stewart. Tony was having an autograph session at the Office Depot in Rancho Cucamonga that day and he had an open media session before he starting signing things for fans. Yet again I found myself having a hard time thinking of more questions for Tony. I really loved how well my first interview went with him that I didn’t want to ruin it by asking more questions and having it be lame.

spending the weekend at auto club speedway

Jamie McMurray, he's on the pole for the Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club SpeedwayIt’s only Friday and I already have so much stuff to share with you guys! It’s awesome. :) Needless to say I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and Sunday. David Hasselhoff is singing the National Anthem and, like, 56 couples are renewing their vows along with 16 couples that are getting married on the start/finish line of Auto Club Speedway. Superfun! Oh and there’s a race or two happening. Jamie McMurray (seen at left post qualifying) is on the pole for one of them, the Pepsi Max 400.

Of course I’m not writing a full post because I’m tired and I have to get up early again tomorrow and I didn’t get a full night’s sleep yesterday (my room makes weird noises at night and trains pass by here). But I can tell you that I had fun watching people flip out when they caught sight of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and I interviewed Travis Kvapil, David Gilliland, Marcos Ambrose, Juan Pablo Montoya, Brad Keselowski and Brad Daugherty. Whew! There’s a lot of great content coming up for sure.

Make sure you follow me on Twitter to find out what I’m doing while I’m doing it.

danica patrick has a stalker?

EDMONTON, AB - JULY 23: Danica Patrick driver of the Andretti Autosport Dallara Honda during the Indy Car Series Honda Indy Edmonton on July 23, 2010 at Edmonton City Centre Airport in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)Or, at the very least, the creepiest fan I’ve ever encountered.

So here I was thinking that nothing that interesting was going to happen today while I was at Infineon Raceway for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma weekend. Today was the Fluid Film Pole Day and oh what a pole day it was.

So I was sitting on the wall behind the pit stalls for Dan Wheldon and Danica Patrick at the end of the IZOD IndyCar Series practice. Wheldon on my left, Patrick on my right. I stayed there through the Formula Car Challenge Race and then for the Firestone Indy Lights qualifying sessions. It was during the Indy Lights qualifying sessions that this young man suddenly appeared nearby.

He had a curious little box in his hand and he opened it. Inside of it was clearly a ring you’d give to a lady you want to marry. He opened it and closed it quickly. He seemed as if he was practicing his proposal. He was talking to himself out loud, like he was rehearsing what he was going to say. He was pacing.

At first, for like one minute, I thought that he might be some super sweet & romantic race fan that wanted to propose to his longtime girlfriend around the sport for which they shared a love.

But then I quickly started to think that that wasn’t the case at all. I believed that he wanted to propose to Danica Patrick despite the fact that she’s already married and that her husband was there today.

a frenchman, a cougar and some very strong words

Fans at Infineon Raceway before the start of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 on Sunday, June 20, 2010 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)On the morning of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 I attended the NASCAR Tweetup held in front of Victory Lane. It was there that I met an awesome ‘Fabulous’ reader, Angela (aka @caligirl88 on Twitter). She was super nice and she totally surprised me because I wasn’t expecting to meet anyone that read my blog. Thanks again Angela for your kind words!

After checking in with Dawn, my fabulous friend who is the queen of efficient packing for NASCAR races (she also makes great cupcakes!), I headed over to the driver’s lounge for the driver’s meeting. For some reason my memory of that room was that it was much, much bigger than it actually is. Once the meeting started we were packed in there like sardines. Even some drivers and crew chiefs had to stand.

Nothing earth shattering happened in the driver’s meeting but I like being in there and knowing that I’m in there with ALL 43 drivers. It’s kinda neat. Matt Kenseth was the first driver in the room, showing up 30 minutes early, which is smart move if you want to get a seat. I find his punctuality refreshing. :)

Post-driver’s meeting I met up with Kristen (read her blog) and the No. 2 Miller Lite “Brew Crew” as they walked their Dodge through inspection. I don’t remember if I’ve ever talked about Kristen before, I apologize if I’m repeating myself. Anyway, back in 2007 she won the “Miller Lite Next Great Sportswriter” Contest and she got to spend a bunch of time and race weekends with Kurt Busch and the entire team doing interviews and writing. She’s been their “unofficial tool cart girl” ever since and she’s superfun to hang out with. We have an awesome time swapping gossip and chatting about this and that.

So Sunday was no different, we got to watch as some Cougar tried to hit on one of the Brew Crew dudes. This woman was a piece of work. I hope she doesn’t read blogs. Anyway, she seemed a little tipsy to me. A couple inspection stations later we saw the same woman touching a security guy. Hilarious.

Ron Malec (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Oh! So this is good, remember how I said Ron Malec probably thinks I’m some crazy person following him around? Well the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy & crew were in front of the No. 2 in line for inspection. So the entire time I’m standing with Kristen, Ron Malec is in front of us pushing the 48. I’m dead serious when I say that it was purely a coincidence and the last thing I want to be thought of is as a pit lizard. I have no desire to lick anyone’s helmet (although I’m sure that Cougar did!). I’m just an appreciator of good lookin’ dudes, so of course I took yet another photo of him (see right).

For driver intros I didn’t go behind the stage, thought it better to stay out on pit road. There cars were lined up one-by-one side by side faced out instead of in the usual two-by-two. It looked good and was a better use of space, in my opinion. I walked down to Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet because I know Lisa, who is a PR person on behalf of Office Depot. I never know where to stand on pit road for the Anthem and all that, so it’s nice to know someone and have a place to stand where you don’t feel like people are looking at you like “What is she doing here??” I don’t know that people actually think that but it’s what I think they’re thinking and it weirds me out. :)
Tony Stewart
Anyway, Tony’s dad, Nelson Stewart, was on hand for the day, he even walked out with Tony during driver introductions. He was at the car when Kevin Harvick stopped by specifically to talk to Nelson and give him a hug. It was a cute moment, photos of which you can see below.

After all the invocation, National Anthem and the command to start engines I walked pit road to get a spot behind the pits to watch the start of the race. Luckily, there was a spot right where I wanted to be, right behind the start/finish line. I stood on top of the little wall that sits at the back of the pits, right in front of the grandstands and got the best view of the green flag to start the race.

I hung around down there for a little bit and then headed to the media lounge tent to hang out away from the sun. I ended up meeting a French guy named Mat who was attending a NASCAR race for the first time. He was stranded outside of the garage because he lost his Hot Pass and his roommate that he came to the race with was nowhere to be found. We had an interesting time trying to talk in between the roar of the engines and me trying to understand his accent. It was fun though.

With about ten laps left I went down to Turn 11 to see what I could see and got a front row seat to Clint Bowyer’s caution-less spin out. I asked one of the photographers standing next to me if they could send me the photo and Tyler Takeda of The Madera Tribune obliged (see below). I was too busy screaming, “Ahh! Whoaaaaa!” to take a picture myself.

Clint Bowyer (33) gets turned around into the side of Elliot Sadler's car Sunday during the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. (photo credit: Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune)
Clint Bowyer (33) gets turned around into the side of Elliot Sadler’s car Sunday during the Toyota Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma. (photo credit: Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune)

Instead of rushing over to Victory Lane to take my usual picture of the winner driving his car in, I decided to pass through the garage. It’s an interesting place to be post-race since cars are coming in smashed up and crew members are rushing around trying to be the first team out of the track. Those guys are super fast, it’s amazing how quickly they can pack up. Maybe they can help me out the next time I have to move?

I was there when Boris Said’s crew chief Frank Stoddard yelled at Tony Stewart — as Tony was climbing out of his car — to “Come on! You fat fuck!” Tony just sort of waved him off and went into his hauler. I wasn’t quite sure I had heard him right until I locked eyes with a smiling crew member walking toward me. It was then that I knew I had heard him perfectly and rushed off to the press conference room where my cell phone was charging to send out a tweet about it. Funny stuff. (If you want the full story on what went down and caused that outburst check out the article over at

Although now that I look at the photo I took in the garage just before Stoddard make his comment, I think Tony might have said something first (see below).

Inside the garage - Frank Stoddard and Tony Stewart - Sunday, June 20, 2010
That’s Tony on the far right getting out of the car and that’s Frank Stoddard in front wearing the #26 Air Guard uniform.

And so that was my day at the Toyota/SaveMart 350. Photo fun time below!

Cars lined up for the start for the Toyota/SaveMart 350
Cars lined up and ready to go on pit road for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 on Sunday, June 20, 2010 at Infineon Raceway.

Eva Busch
Eva Busch, wife of Kurt Busch, walks down pit road to her hubby’s car. If I ever reach a point where I can have an assistant at the track their entire job would be to take pictures of WAGs. Between making sure I got pictures with my cell phone for tweeting and my regular camera, I missed stuff! Grr!

Kevin Harvick and Nelson Stewart, Tony's dad

Kevin Harvick and Nelson Stewart, Tony's dad
In the second photo here, of Kevin Harvick greeting Tony Stewart’s dad Nelson, you can see the top of Tony’s head. He was kneeling to do something with his shoes.

The No. 39 Haas Automation pit crew
The pit crew for the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevy lined up for the National Anthem.

The green flag drops for the Toyota/SaveMart 350
The green flag drops for the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Infineon Raceway. My view! So cool.

Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick. Yet another one of my “I don’t know how I got that photo” photos. :)

Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson
Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson

Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. pulls into the garage after the race. So glad he finished 11th! Now he’s 13th in points! Yay!

a wall of crew chiefs

Cars lined up before the start of practice on Saturday, June 19, 2010 at Infineon Raceway (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)Saturday is always my favorite day in the garage because it’s all about practice and we haven’t reached the max level of wandering people that will be around come Sunday.

Something I hadn’t realized about the garage at Infineon is how perfect it is before the cars roll out for the first practice session of the day. Infineon’s garage stalls are all in one long row. You walk a straight line and you get to see everyone. This is especially eerie when all the drivers are sitting in their cars with their visors up just waiting for the call to drive out to the track.

It’s the only time when they’re basically a captive audience. You could jump out in front of their cars and do a little dance or hold up a big sign saying whatever you want and they have to watch because they can’t go anywhere. I didn’t do a little dance, I just tried to take pictures but I recommend that if you’re going to get a garage pass make sure it’s on a day when the guys are practicing. It’s the best time.

to infineon and beyond…

No. 83 Red Bull Toyota at Infineon Raceway on Friday, June 18, 2010 (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)I know I’ve used that title before but I love it. :)

Friday at Infineon Raceway was day one of the Toyota/SaveMart 350 festivities. It was a pretty big day for me because it held actual things for me to do. My usual shtick is to just show up and let things happen but this time I setup interviews with drivers. Since things went so well with Tony Stewart and the Inside The Actor’s Studio questions I decided to make it my “thing” for now and to get as many drivers to answer the same questions.

On my schedule for the day were one-on-one’s with David Reutimann, Regan Smith, AJ Allmendinger and Elliott Sadler. I’ll write about each of those experiences in separate posts. Stay tuned for those.

Back in the media center I sat in on press conferences for Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, and a little bit of Denny Hamlin.

Tony Stewart’s presser was, of course, by far the most entertaining of the bunch. His session was after practice and he wasn’t very happy with his car. I think that Southwest airlines should use his press conferences as the basis for one of their “Wanna Get Away???” commercials. I had this uncontrollable urge, every time someone asked something cringe-worthy to look down and start playing with my cell phone. There are always a few questions that bug Tony and after sitting in on a few of his pressers I’ve learned that Tony is a lot better when you ask him questions that are very real to him. He laid it out pretty plainly that he only cares about racing. He wasn’t in the mood to get all theoretical or philosophical about racing after having a crappy practice session. It wasn’t helping that people were asking the same questions they’ve asked year after year, my favorite being “Should there be a road course race in The Chase?” That was the one that really bugged him and got him to eventually say that he had no interest in giving his opinion on such things, he just wanted to race.

where the rubber meets the grass: experiencing major league baseball as a nascar blogger

AT&T Park - Stay off the grass sign (photo credit: The Fast and the Fabulous)The facts as I knew them before I arrived at AT&T Park last night:

1.) There was to be a group media session with Kurt Busch and David Ragan an hour before the game started.

2.) Kurt and David were going to take a lap around the field at some point in between innings with the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota showcar rumbling behind them.

3.) David and Kurt were going to lead the crowd in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch.

4.) It was NASCAR Night at the San Francisco Giants vs Baltimore Orioles game

I parked at one of the piers just down from the ballpark and walked superfast to the place where my credentials were waiting. This was my first time attending a Major League Baseball game as a credentialed member of the media. I got to go because of Infineon Raceway and the fact that it was “NASCAR Night.”

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.

all-star race: a big, crowded racing event thingy

Charlotte Motor Speedway Pit RoadI arrived at the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race to find a bajillion freaking people in the infield. Okay, maybe not a bajillion but it was a whole hell of a lot of people. Walking through the garage, okay, only one side of it (The Dale Earnhardt Jr. side, of course) was packed with fans and people that were clearly only on hand because some companies were doing some serious entertaining. Women in heels so high it was obvious they’d never been to a race before and men pointing to cars to tell those women who the drivers were but got the names wrong. Men, if you don’t know who someone is just say that you don’t know. It’s okay. The garage was filled with all kinds of people and it was seriously hard to walk like two feet.

The whole day felt weird for me because 1) I hadn’t been to a race since last year’s Pepsi 500 in So. Cal. and 2) my first day ever at Charlotte Motor Speedway was also race day and I’d never done that before. Usually things ramp up, ya know, qualifying then practice then racing. I had missed stuff. But whatever, it was still great to be there.

welcome to charlotte

Charlotte, NC - photo by dawngrif/flickrOn my flight into Charlotte the guy sitting next me was watching the first season of “Lost” on his DVD player. He had never seen the series before and decided to get started on it on the plane. So while our plane was experiencing some serious turbulence I saw the plane in the very first episode of “Lost” go DOWN. Why of all the TV series you could choose to watch on a plane would you pick the one about a plane that CRASHES?

Yeah, I don’t know either. Anyway, my flight was happily uneventful because I made it to Charlotte safe and sound. Guess what the first thing I did was, after calling my mom to tell her I made it in ok and that I hadn’t been kidnapped like that girl in the Liam Neeson movie “Taken,” I picked up a Cinnamon Dolce Latte from Starbucks.


When I got to Hertz to pick up my rental car I was super excited to find that I got to drive a Volkswagen Jetta. My car at home is a VW too, so it was nice to drive something familiar. Oh, and here’s a tip from your friend Valli: If your rental car service has a self-service kiosk you should use it. I ended up getting out faster than the people who decided to stand in line. I was in my car and driving out while the people who had gotten to the counter well before me were still waiting.

I opted out of getting a navigation system from Hertz and instead used my cell phone and Sprint Navigation. I didn’t have to pay extra for it and it worked just as well as any in-car navigation system.

Driving through the streets of Charlotte, on my way to my hotel, I marveled at the fact that I put myself here. It’s one of those moments where you say to yourself “Holy crap, I’m actually doing this.” I must be serious about this whole NASCAR thing if I chose to fly across the country to attend a race.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter this weekend, today is the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and tomorrow the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.

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.”