Wednesday, March 13, 2013

NASCAR weekend in Vegas!

I've been a NASCAR fan for several years now, but I've never actually been to a race before - even though they come here to Vegas every year, and we've lived here for the past 13.

This year, hubby bought a pair of tickets to the Sunday Sprint Cup race for me and my younger son to go - and then, thanks to Green Valley Grocery's Facebook promotion and Budweiser, I won three days worth of tix to the best tailgate-type party you could ask for (free food and free beer with a great view... what more could you want?).

We started out on Thursday (3/8) with the grandstands and Neon Garage open to the public for free. Here's a picture of my son in front of the Neon Garage display wall:

The view from the ground floor of the Neon Garage:

[That's Danica Patrick in her Go Daddy #10]

...and the view from the upper level:

[Kyle Busch in the M&Ms #18]

That night, we went to Sam's Town Live to see our favorite driver, Dale Jr. He was every bit as charming and funny as we thought he'd be, and then some. Thank you for a great time, sir!


[Posing with Dale Jr.'s #88 AMP Orange Chevy. Not the best pic - lighting a bit low - but you get the idea.   We learned that orange is Dale Jr's favorite color, AND his favorite flavor of AMP Energy drink. Also that the Orange AMP mixes well with vodka.]

Friday (3/9) was the first day of partying. We were supposed to see the Sprint Cup Qualifying runs, but that got rained out. Yes, even in Vegas, things occasionally get rained out. We spent about an hour watching the big machines trying to dry the track while we about froze. But it was fun anyway. Tommy was a wonderful host all three days. Thank you too, sir!

Saturday (3/10) was nicer weather, but still a bit cold. We had walked a long way in and had a long walk back to the car, so we only stayed for about half of the Nationwide race, then left ahead of the traffic and caught the very end of the race at home.

[This was the view from on top of the camera crew's tower. You can't see it well, but there's a fence right in front of the people lined up watching, then the access road with the huge safety fencing - THEN the track just below that. We could see the whole track *except* for that one section right in front of us. Not too bad considering the price of admission and the percs.]

Sunday (3/11) - finally, the big day had arrived! We partied before race time, then took our seats in the stands to watch the race. Here's a pic of the Thunderbirds in their last flyover until sequestration is fixed:

Now, here's what it looks like (from row 8) when they go by with the pace car around 55 mph:

and THIS is what it looks like when they're racing by at 180 mph or so (boogity boogity boogity!):

Pretty cool, huh?

Once the race was over we went back for some final partying while we waited out the traffic. It was a gorgeous day and the fresh fruit platter was my favorite (even over the hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, chicken, etc. on the grill and all the salads, etc etc etc).

[Yep, that's me hiding behind the sunglasses and under the ball cap with long sleeves. See, I get a sunburn just thinking about being out in bright sunlight...]

So there you have it. Our first big experience with a NASCAR weekend. It was absolutely AWESOME. We walked our feet off, but it was worth every step.

[This is a map of the facility - we were parked way out on the other side of the helipad, out from Gate A. BIG place. Lots of helicopters to watch as we walked, though. Very cool. ]