Sunday, September 19, 2010

Let's Go Racing Girls! - Day 1

It's official, we are rednecks. The first step is to admit it, right?

(Note from Chuck: I have openly aspired to being a redneck for some time, so I am offended at the pejorative tone of saying we should "admit" it.)

Remember back in May, when we went to see the Lowes' 48 live? Chuck was giddy with excitement just to see a previously driven race car. Last weekend, was NASCAR's return visit to Richmond International Raceway. Can you imagine Chuck's excitement when I got a pair of tickets to both nights of NASCAR for free? I was so surprised how easy it was to get the free tickets by continuing the same purchases we already make. Thank you Richmond Times-Dispatch for Friday night tickets (value $30 each) and Kroger for the Saturday night tickets (value $40 each)!

We had the absolute best weekend, EVER! If you have never been to a NASCAR event, you absolutely must experience it. It is like a combination of a county fair, corporate trade show, and college football game. What was really surprising was how much of it was totally free! Kids were free on Friday, so Chuck took the 2 big girls to the events, practice sessions, and qualifying during the day and then to the Nationwide Series race that night (like Jr. Varsity to the Varsity racers in the Sprint Cup Series). I stayed home with Charly and gave my ticket to a friend who took his son to the race.

Chuck even took Leland out of school at lunchtime, so she could be there all day with her daddy. When her teacher came to the office with Leland, she said "Have fun at the races, Leland!" and Chuck said, "Ummm, you mean our southern heritage social studies field trip, right?" She thought that was hilarious.

After they drove away, Leland was a little sad to leave school early because it was her first Friday, which is computer class day. Chuck told her he could take her back if she wanted, but she was so conflicted with the dilemma that she started to cry. Chuck told her that she could go to computer class every week, but that the race was a special thing that only happened twice a year. After less than an hour at the track, she said "Daddy, you were right, this is way more fun than school!"

When they got there, they made their way through the Midway fairly quickly. The Midway is basically the fair of NASCAR, mixed with a dose of a corporate trade show and a whole lot of southern culture.He was trying to hurry so they could get inside to watch the last hour of practice for the Sprint Cup racers, but even in a hurry, it took about 45 minutes to get through. He said they skipped a ton, but they stopped at the Sprint tent to take pictures with the Sprint Cup trophy and Miss Sprint Cup Monica Pulombo and at the Jimmie Johnson merchandise hauler (18-wheeler trailer). They also stopped at a booth where they played a game to get free seat cushions.

When the cars are on the track it is INCREDIBLY LOUD. It is absolutely necessary to have ear protection or you won't last long. Chuck had brought professional grade ear protection he bought the night before, but he also decided to rent Sprint Fanview - a little handheld interactive TV (only $50 for the full weekend) - and it was the best decision.

(Ashley's sidebar: This is what really made watching the race so much fun for me on Saturday night. You could watch and listen to the race as you would on TV at home. The best part was that you could change your camera view to any camera that was on a race car and you could listen to the communication between the driver and crew chief. That was really cool to watch, especially when they would go into the pit and you could watch the team close up running around changing tires and stuff.)

(Chuck's description of Sprint Fanview: Not only can you watch live race video, but you can scroll through 7 in-car camera views. And, you can pause or resume coverage at any time! Then, you can listen to the race broadcast, or any of the drivers' communications. You can also see crazy in-depth race data with real-time updates. Seriously, why hasn't every sport started this? Imagine how much money could be made doing this for football!)

Unfortunately, Chuck wasn't really prepared for how much the loudness and the ear protection would cause chaos because he couldn't communicate with the girls. He said it was really hard to help convince them that the ear protection would help because they couldn't hear him trying to explain. They kept wanting to fiddle with their earmuffs and Chuck was probably a little too rough, but sure enough there was a few tears at first. Once they got up to some seats right at the start finish line, things didn't get much easier. He broke out their lunches and the cooler, but the girls were not too interested in what he had. Getting them settled in their seat cushions wasn't easy and trying to wire them up to the Sprint Fanview was difficult. It wasn't long before Leland started screaming, "THERE'S JIMMIE!!!" and he realized why he was so excited to share the experience with his girls.

Chuck was surprised that the girls actually kept the headsets on for as long as they did, but eventually they got worn out sitting in the sun. After more than an hour of watching practice, Lucy took a tumble off of the grandstands and started to cry and say that she wanted to go home. Chuck was exhausted, but didn't want to go home without going out in the Midway. He scooped up all of there stuff (1 cooler, 3 backpack/shoebags, three seat cushions, and one sleeping mat which he had originally planned on using as the seat cushions) and got the girls out of the track and to someplace where they could talk. Once there, he calmed Lucy down and convinced them to go do the fun things in the Midway.

The Midway is gigantic. And it is free because it is outside of the ticketed area (at least at Richmond). We recommend you go by when NASCAR comes to your area. Each of the racers have their own merchandise hauler where you can buy souvenirs. Some even have two (and if you are the son of a legend, you get three haulers because an unfathomable amount of people are die hard fans even though you never win races). They also have all of the standard food booths you would find at a county fair. But while those options to spend money were very plentiful, they were far outnumbered by all of the free and fun stuff!

All of the major sponsors of NASCAR set up huge tents with all kinds of free giveaways. Each of the major tents had stages for driver appearances, free race simulators, interactive games, and competitions for free prizes. There were innumerable giveaways and games. They came home with so much stuff - cups, hats, t-shirts, shoe bags (backpacks), matchbox cars, lanyards, keychains, and all sorts of trinkets. Leland calls them all of her prizes that she "won" at the race.

Some of the coolest giveaways were (#1) the green screen photo opportunity in the Chevy tent were your photo is placed in a picture with your favorite Chevy driver (see us with Jimmie, Chad, and the 4 trophies above), (#2) the free Denny Hamlin Fed Ex #11 baseball caps (not the cheap kind, but ones you would pay $15 for, but they were free because Denny is from Richmond), and the free large-size bottles of Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce (our favorite BBQ sauce!). With all of this free stuff, Chuck was extremely loaded down with bags and bags of stuff. He said each of the girls had their own shoebag/backpack with stuff, but he was carrying another 4 bags of paraphernalia, the sleeping mat, the 3 seat cushions they won, and the cooler loaded with drinks and ice.

(Chuck's addition: I was exhausted and looked like a pack mule walking around! Everytime I would bend over too far, the cooler would spill ice water down my back and I would quickly straighten up. I think I frightened some retired military men when I got too excited when I saw the National Air Guard tent was giving away carabiners, so I could clip some of the bags to each other. The larger tents had announcers/hosts with microphones and a few commented on me being "father of the year" and telling people to "take a look at that dad over there bringing his little girls to the race.")

Have you seen this "Design It. Enter It." commercial by Toyota?

Well, we saw that car, which was actually driven for the only time during the Richmond Nationwide Series race! Here are some pictures of the girls inside the M&M #18 (Kyle Busch's Sprint Cup car) and next to the pink #18. Even though we really don't like Kyle Busch, we love the paint scheme on the M&M's #18 and think the ads are hilarious.
A funny story about that pink car with bunnies, kittens, baby seals, hearts, and rainbows on it. Well, when we go to crowded big events, we will write our phone numbers on the girls, so in case they get lost, someone can call us. When they got home that first night, Leland says to me "We had so much fun and someone only had to call Daddy once cause we were lost!"

(Chuck's defense: Okay, it wasn't really that bad. While I was giving the Toyota people my mailing info to get the girls more free stuff, they were drawn in by Kyle Busch's pink car with the horses and cats on it that was displayed. When I turned around, after less than 30 seconds, they were gone. I started to panic as I could not find them and started making circles in an outward fashion. finally, I found them on the other side of the pink car and behind a Toyota SUV on display. They were talking to two Toyota people and one was already calling me on the phone. Evidently, Leland realized they were lost and walked up to them, stuck out her arm with my cell number written in Sharpie on it, and said, "We are lost, here is my dad's phone number." So, even if I am a poor father for losing them for less than a minute, at least I had them trained well enough to know what to do.)

They walked around the Midway for nearly 4 hours, in the heat of the day and with Chuck carrying all of that stuff. Chuck said he was so exhausted he kept trying to convince the girls to go home (he was going back on Saturday for the Sprint Cup race anyway), but the girls kept refusing. They never complained about being tired, but every once in a while, they would trip and cry for a bit, but when he would say, "Okay, maybe we should go to the car," they would cheer up really quickly. Finally, at 6:30 p.m., they went to the car to drop off all of there stuff and take a breather.

Chuck fed them some food and was hoping they would get tired and ask to go home after having spent 5 hours in the sun. Well... they were a bit tired, but as Lucy said, "Dad, I go to race, not go home." His reminder of the loud noises didn't deter them at all. So, he packed up the stuff they needed and headed into the Nationwide race - the Virginia 529 College Savings 250.

If you didn't figure it out - Chuck added quite a bit to my original post.

1 comment:

  1. OMG if this isn't the cutest post ever! I love that the girls are so into racing. :)