Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Epic Weekend (A Non-Tri Post)

Wow, what a weekend! I decided to rest my hip for the weekend and the wife and I headed to Charlotte for the races this weekend and it was a blast! My wife and I took about 500 pictures or so over the weekend, but I'll post a few of the good ones in a bit on here.

Well Friday we took our time and headed the 2 1/2 hours west to the Queen City, and we stopped by the track to get our tickets and buy our Pit Passes (so worth it) and headed to the hotel to check in. After we got the dog settled, we headed downtown to Speed Street, a NASCAR themed carnival and went to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Once inside, we looked at the various exhibits, drove in the simulator (very cool), tried out the Pit Stop Challenge, where you have to jack up the car, change a tire and fuel it, and do it fast. I wasn't fast. It took me 30.3 seconds, or about the time enough to lose a lap waiting for my slow-butt to get the car off the jack, so yeah, didn't get any calls to work in a pit crew for either races! The simulator was cool, you sit in a mock-up of a race car and drive around the track to qualify. Out of all visitors that day, I was 16th, so not bad (in comparison, I would not have qualified for the Sprint Cup race, but would have lined up 40th for the Nationwide Race). As we were getting ready to leave, it started to POUR outside so we decided to eat there in the Buffalo Wild Wings that was attached, and by the time we ate, watched a little TV and paid, it had let up and we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the race.

Saturday was a longish day, as we headed to the track around 10am so we could look at the trailers and gather as much free stuff as we could carry. As we made our rounds, we went to the US Army area, as they had a really nice spread there, so we rode a helicopter simulator (uggh, upside down!) then I heard that they were running a push up competition, so I asked what the record was for the day, and it was only 60, so I said I'll do it, and managed to knockout 70 before I got up, since it was 93* and I was sweating like crazy, so I told the NCO that I was in the Army, so it was kinda cheating, but I set the record for the rest of the day and got a free t-shirt to boot, nice. We left that area and headed to our seats, which were just down from the start/finish line and only about 35 rows from the track, awesome! After a few, we then headed down to the pits, since I wanted to get some use for the price we paid, so headed down, but couldn't get into the pits because the pits were "hot" (yeah there is a joke in there somewhere), so we waited by the gate and I almost ran into (and over) Jack Roush, the Cat in the Hat, who owns something like 5 teams, and a few other folks, so that was a blast. We headed back to our seats and watched a fun and boring (no crashes), but hey, almost got to watch either of our favorites win the race.

After the race, we headed back to the hotel to check on the dog, who was in heaven with good AC and two beds to sleep on, so we relaxed for a bit, headed for dinner and then went to Ikea (my wife’s favorite!) We ended up making it an early night because of the heat on Saturday, so we went to sleep with us and the dog on a full sized bed, not too much room for us!
Sunday was a nice day, staying cool for a bit, and we headed to the track later, since the race started at 6:30pm, so we were in no rush. We finally parked and walked back to the track for the big one, the Coca-Cola 600! We found our seats (we ended up with 3 pairs of tickets cuz no one wanted to come and use them, so we choose our original seats in Section 237 on Turn 2. After that we walked down to the pits again, and walked along side the Clydesdale horses from Budweiser, which was cool (felt bad for the poo picker guy) but we saw a few racers in golf carts, including I think Greg Biffle “punking” Jamie McMurray, by yelling out his name so the fans mobbed him, kind of funny! We got into the pits and got Rutledge Wood’s (from Speed and History Channels) got to see Victory Lane, with cars from the movie Cars 2, including Tow Mater and Larry the Cable Guy. We then walked pit road (VERY COOL) and took many pictures in front of pit stalls of our favorite drivers.

While walking thru the pits, you have to keep your head on a swivel because there are so many people, most of them famous, so as I got money from the ATM, I almost ran into the Papa John’s guy, then we went over near the gate to the driver’s meeting area and got pictures of all the drivers on their way in. Most were cool and waved to the camera, but a few, like Juan Pablo Montoya, was a complete d-bag and grumpy as hell. Oh well, he is that way on the track too! But after they all came past, we headed to the garages and got to see all the cars up close and personal. Even the NASCAR officials stopped and chatted with us, which was way cool, nice to see everyone so open and friendly. I even got 5 lug nuts for my nephews from the #39 Army car. That will make their days! The highlight was as we were getting ready to head to our seats for the start of the race, we ran into Captain Jonathan Hilstrand of the Time Bandit (from the Deadliest Catch) and got his autograph and a photo with him and he talked with us for like 10 minutes, which was awesome since his boat is my wife’s favorite on the show. It made her weekend right there.

We got back in our seats, and watched the driver introduction, which were military folks from all services and the best part was that my neighbor on Ft Bragg introduced my favorite driver, so double bonus on that. So we settled in for a long night of racing after that. 600 miles is a LONG way, but it was a good time. We left at 500 miles, so that we could beat the traffic and watched the end of the race in the hotel. All in all, it was a great weekend.

On the exercise front, I didn’t run, bike or swim, but I did walk and do push ups, but still, it was a nice relaxing weekend.

The next post will be about exercising, I promise! Take care everyone!

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