Monday, February 25, 2013

Bends, Backstretch, and Burning Rubber

I am not a NASCAR fan, but John received two free tickets to the Daytona 500 on Thursday.  I'll try just about anything once, especially if it's free.  Thankfully, a friend was willing to take my hours on Sunday at work so that I could go.  We went to church Sunday morning and then headed down.  Daytona is only an hour away from where we live.  We figured we'd watch a little bit of the race, have the experience of being there, and then head home before the crowd left.  It didn't work out that way.  I didn't want to leave.

We parked behind the track and walked to a shuttle.  As we were walking, we saw the Thunderbirds.  I think they had performed earlier in the morning and were in the process of shutting down when we were there.

I was impressed by the level of organization there was with the shuttle service.  You could tell they had done this sort of thing before.  There was no waiting around to board a shuttle.  Bus after bus arrived to carry people to the track.  The experience was the same when we left.  The only lag was waiting for people to climb on board the buses.  There was a man behind us on the bus talking to his friend about being in the service and having to spend some time in the "Land of the Yankees."  John and I chuckled.  We were definitely in the south.

I got excited as we neared the speedway.  The fact that we actually had the opportunity to be there was thrilling.

Behind the Backstretch
Heading towards the Backstretch 
The Backstretch Gate
After having our bags inspected and tickets scanned, we headed to our seats.  Thankfully, I'm not afraid of heights.  I imagine if you were then climbing the steps to your seats would be a daunting task.

We had fairly good seats.  We were sitting in the backstretch directly across the way from the start/finish line.  We couldn't see the start/finish line, but there were a few Jumbotrons set up so we could see the action on the other side.

In the lake in front of us was a party boat with "Duck Dynasty" advertising all over it.  We were told the entire cast was on board.  I didn't see anybody I recognized from the show, though.

The drivers ran a few warm-up laps behind the pace car before the race began.

Danika Patrick (in green) - First woman to get pole position in Daytona 500.
The K-Love car.
Jimmie Johnson before the race he would soon win.
Once the pace car left the track, the race was on.  There was a great deal of excitement at the beginning of the race, whenever drivers came back on the track after a pit stop, after the yellow caution flag went away, and during the last few laps.  The time in between when they would follow each other in a single file line, lap after lap, was quite boring.  Sometimes the yellow caution flag would go up because of debris on the field.  Once it was cleared, things got exciting again.

A few crashes were within our sight as turn #2 claimed handfuls of cars various times throughout the day.  It makes you feel bad for the teams that spend so much money to be a part of something like this only to be taken out because of another driver's mishap.


These jet sweepers were louder than the race cars.
We had a beautiful day of weather while we were there.  There was not a drop of rain, even though folks were worried it would.  It did get chilly enough for a jacket but then warmed up again once the sun came out.  We left under cloudy skies again, but they were beautiful.  We finished our date with dinner at Red Lobster on the way home.  It was delicious!  The whole day was wonderful, definitely worth blogging about.

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