With all respect to the Marx Brothers.
This olelongrooffan was lucky enough to score a killer pass to the NASCAR Speedweeks and I thought I would share with my fellow Hoons this olelongrooffan’s experiences on Saturday out at the self proclaimed World Center of Racing, the Daytona International Speedway.
First off, I must thank my
little younger brother, thejeepjunkie, for hooking me up with that pass and look forward to spending more time in the Pits with him later this week.
As usual for NASCAR events, there is no way this olelongrooffan is going to pay those outrageous parking prices in the storefront parking lots across International Speedway Boulevard from the Speedway. $30-$100 depending on how close you want to park. Well my fellow Hoons, this olelongrooffan did his usual park free at the US Post Office, a mere 12 minute stroll north of the Speedway on Bill France Boulevard (thanks to my fellow taxpayers for this privilege). I arrived at the information booth just outside the NASCAR Turn 4 tunnel and grabbed a ride on a stretch golf cart to the FanZone and strolled on into the garage area to begin the festivities for the day.
A Day At The Races, 2/12/11
And the cockpit of the same race car.
And I was able to get this image of Michael Waltrip’s #15 Toyota Camry. The Bud Shoot Out, as well as the Daytona 500, is one of the few races he is planning on running this year. Good luck Mikey.
As Sprint Cup practice was going on when I arrived, the Chip Ganassi/Juan Pablo Montoya dudes were atop their transporter taking in the on track action, both visually and electronically.
And this is this olelongrooffan just trying to get artsy-fartsy for all my fellow Hoons out there. EPIC FAIL!!
After wandering around the Sprint Cup garages for a while, this olelongrooffan finally meandered out onto Pit Road and gave a note of thanks to thejeepjunkie once again.
As the NASCAR practice session was coming to an end, I tried to capture a few images of the cars exiting the track and
the above image is the only one I was able to get with a car in it. Just to let my fellow Hoons know how slow my digital is, the #20 had just entered pit road when I started taking this image. The pit lane “Commitment Cone” can be seen in the center of the above image.
As I was walking down Pit Road, I noticed someone, at some time, had been shaving tires alongside the fence.
And this is the view I had of the grandstands, ironically, the only place where my HOT PASS would not allow me access!
In the ARCA race, the Lucas Slick Mist 200, the Venturini Motorsports team fielded a total of five cars out of the 43 cars that started that race.
And here are a few of them lined up in the ARCA garage area (also home to the Continental Challenge race cars during the Rolex24) waiting to head out to the track for their race.
Of course, a mandatory image of the transporters in the ARCA garages.
I took these couple images to compare the differences between these ARCA cars and the NASCAR Cup cars.
Other than Hoosier tires, they look pretty much identical to me.
And that generator above? Like all of this type of circle track race cars, it powers a device to heat the motor oil prior to starting up these cars.
A couple of pace cars.
and some of the templates ARCA uses during the tech inspections.
The ones in the above image are used to check the “roundness” of the rear window. Those pointy pieces on each side fold out and “hook onto” the top of the rear window and the longer part fits a few inches down the window. The inspectors then have a gauge they use to determine the acceptable variation of the curve of the rear window.
And this dude from Venturini Motorsports, giving this
official SpeedTV dude an earful, sure enjoys a nice spaghetti dinner every so often. Oh yeah, have I mentioned how much this olelongrooffan misses Speedvision lately?
And who says a day at the races is all about
These images I got while they were pushing the ARCA cars out onto pit road for the line up prior to starting the race.
These folks were part of the security team surrounding the logo painted grass sections of the infield so as to not allow me or my fellow race fans to walk across those logos. Although, it is perfectly acceptable for Carl Edwards to slide across them, backwards, at 150 miles per hour!
And an image taken of the Daytona 500 Club Tower from across pit road.
Some black steelies clad in Hoosier rubber. Orange tape on the right side tires, green tape on the left.
And of course, this bin of lug nuts reminded this olelongrooffan of my olestationbus.
The DeWALT drill shown in the following image is used to scrape the paint from around the holes in those wheels so the glue used to attach the lug nuts stays adhesive.
And yeah, the gratuitous image of my signature on the start/finish line, just below the yellow line that cost Denny Hamlin his victory in the Bud Shoot Out.
The ARCA cars lined up as seen from the start/finish line.
Again it’s not all about race cars. Hey what are you thinking? This is the spectator side of the driver introduction bandstand. A side I had not previously seen.
It seems in races past, I was always on the business side of this bandstand.
And over at Bob Schacht Motorsports, racing is not the only thing on that team’s mind either.
In a post this olelongrooffan did earlier this week about my experience at the Rolex24 race, I commented they, as well as NASCAR, use these grooved tires to set up the car for tech inspection. They are only used to roll around in the garage area and are not utilized for racing purposes.
This is an image of Kurt Busch’s new ride for this season. Seems Roger Penske (saw him in the garage area BTW) shuffled up his drivers and added Brad Keslowski to his Cup team in the #2 Miller Lite car and put Kurt Busch in the #22 with the newly acquired Pennzoil/Shell sponsorship.
And DuPont went from being a primary sponsor of Jeff Gordon’s
#24 to become a secondary sponsor and the “Drive to End Hunger” became the primary sponsor.
And Kevin Harvick, after losing Pennzoil/Shell, picked up Budweiser for his Richard Childress race team.
I can only wonder how much these owners spend to rebadge all their race cars, not to mention crew apparel and the transporters.
And of course, for all of my family and friends up there in the Ozarks,
this olelongrooffan had to get an image of Jamie McMurray’s Bass Pro machine. That Toyota truck in the background has a hopper designed to dispense stay dry on the track when needed. And today it was needed alot!
As Ryan Newman’s #39 was going through tech, the wrenches flooded it and when they were trying to get it started, smoke just poured out of the exhaust pipe and a shot of flame erupted from it when it fired! Pretty cool and all of us spectators jumped back when it happened.
I then headed back out to the pits to watch the start of the ARCA race.
And this olelongrooffan, while not being a big fan of wrecks, decided to go to the garage to see the #94 which had just previously wrecked. As I approached the gatekeeper, I asked him which way did the #94 go? “Just follow the fluids,” was his response. And I did.
And turned the corner to see this DIG, Dead In Garage, race car.
It was surrounded by all of these ARCA red shirt wearing dudes who were just standing around as if something was going to happen. So in typical olelongrooffan fashion, I asked one of them what was going on? “We are just waiting for a hook to come and get that car into a garage so the crew can get our stuff off of it.” What stuff? “Well for a few races during the year, specifically the high speed courses, ARCA provides shocks to the teams and we then get them back so they can be returned to the manufacturers for testing. We also provide transponders to track their position on the track. They are in that big box and cart over there.”
Well, if my fellow Hoons here in the Hooniverse have learned anything about this olelongrooffan you know what transpired next.
Yep, I thanked that official for the information and headed over to see those shocks and such.
After that, I headed back to the Cup garages to see if this olelongroofan could find some more cool shit to share with my fellow Hoons. It didn’t take long.
I spotted the UPS sponsored team’s generator and its cart was in the shape of the ubiquitous UPS truck!
Over in the Tracker garage, I spotted them working on a pair of Jamie’s cars, other than the one that is still going through tech for the Bud Shoot Out.
Apparently Jamie had bounced off the wall in his 500 car during practice and they were getting a back up car ready to replace it in the 500. This is an image of the “passenger” side of it with the skin removed.
This is the removed skin, appropriately enough, leaning up against some trash cans. Uncharacteristically for this olelongrooffan, I did not get an image of the entire car with its side skin removed. Sorry about that.
I did, however, get an image of some more of the cars and trucks used during the parade portion of the races.
I then headed down to the aero portion of tech inspection and got a couple images of the application of some of the
templates used by those inspectors
to gauge the acceptability of the design of those Cup cars.
When I was down on the far end, it was all pretty much serious business but on this end, the atmosphere was quite jovial. The reason? Well the gray haired boss of this crew, seen in black clothing at the right front of Joey’s Home Depot car, is a pretty funny guy and he keeps the atmosphere around him pretty light hearted. Several teams passed through while I was loitering about and all of them greeted him with hearty handshakes, a few hugs and lots of laughter. So of course, this olelongrooffan struck up a conversation with him. Turns out he has been doing this for 15 years and was the most senior of any of the officials on the NASCAR Sprint Cup team. I had to ask him what were the credentials of these inspectors and how did they get on the crew? “Most of them have worked in lower level series as inspectors and we promote from within and that’s how they got here. They all travel from race to race and NASCAR picks up the tab for pretty much everything. During the week, the majority work in the NASCAR offices in Concord, North Carolina.”
And yeah my fellow Hoons, the lower level series these guys started in are all based out of North Carolina or out west and short of moving to either of those places, the possibility of this olelongrooffan becoming a tech inspector is remote.
After concluding that conversation, I decided to continue to wander about. I spotted these gas cans belonging to Greg Biffle’s team. Their covers are decidedly more upscale than the Gatorade cups I spotted on the ARCA team’s gas cans.
And after completion of their tech inspections, the teams park the cars just inside the entry to the Pit Road in the garage area.
Now all of these teams have covers for the cowl intake area of their race cars and some of them are pretty clever. For instance on the Caterpillar sponsored machine, there is a
lilwillie CptSevere loves so much as a device to provide assistance in the removal of that cover.
While I was there, I saw the #10 ARCA car crash into the wall right at the start finish line and these trucks are pulling jet blowers to clear the track of any remaining debris. And yes, they are as loud as a jet engine but do a jam up job of clearing that surface.
I then headed over to the ARCA garage and spotted some of the carnage that accident caused. Yeah, sawzalls abounded over there.
As well as a whole bunch of “kitty litter.”
I am not sure why these guys are working so feverishly to get this machine back on track. The entire front end is shot and there was less than 10 laps remaining. This olelongrooffan would have merely loaded it on the transporter and headed for the garage to get it ready for Talladega in April.
And this tire was the cause of that multi car pileup. Right after I got this image, three Hoosier apparel clad dudes showed up and carried it away. I suspect their tire engineers have their work cut out for them this week.
And while the only difference I could see between these ARCA cars and the Cup cars was the number of turnbuckles on the rear spoiler (ARCA=6, Cup=5) on this Venturini owned Camry, it no longer matters.
Out at the Hollywood Hotel used by Fox and SpeedTV for their broadcasts, I was able to get an image of their props and yes, this olelongrooffan did try out that shifter!
And, presumably, this is what the foam section inside the skin of a race car should look like.
And this shows the cockpit of that cutaway used for demonstration purposes. Is that a cup holder I see?
Then it was time for the driver’s introduction for the Bud Shoot Out. For about 45 minutes before the introductions for a race, the powers that be at the Speedway set up some staircases to the grandstands along the front stretch to allow fans to come down to the infield and check it out. Credentials be damned. They are then hustled out immediately after the introduction and only those of us with adequate credentials are allowed to remain.
Well, during the introduction of the ARCA drivers earlier, the fans were permitted to wander along pit road almost undisturbed during this time. However, for the Bud Shoot Out,
most of Pit Road was roped off to keep the spectators away from the cars and in controlled locations. Of course, this olelongrooffan asked one of the supervisors of that security detail why that was the case. He basically said that very few fans actually know who the ARCA drivers are and less security is required for them as opposed to the Cup drivers.
This olelongrooffan has long since previously realized that during this time of spectator overload, I need to find someplace else to be and this event was no different.
As such, I was able to spot this on the cowl of Jamie MacMurray’s Bass Pro car.
Yeah, his secondary sponsor is McDonalds and that is
Ronald McDonald hooking a big future Fish Fillet sandwich.
And of course on the cowl of Kyle Busch’s M&M sponsored
race car was this big green one.
Driver introductions were over and I was able to get a few images of Pit Road while those uncredentialed spectators, as seen in background, filed up into the grandstand area.
After Jeff Burton finished putting on his “fire shoes” this olelongrooffan engaged him in a brief conversation revolving around his tenure at Richard Childress racing, his relationship with teammate Kevin Harvick and
his relationship with Jeff Gordon after that race in Texas last year. He chuckled when I brought that up and mentioned it was a heat of the moment deal and he was lucky Gordon didn’t kick his butt! We laughed and then I asked him about his political aspirations once he left the Caterpillar team. He looked at me with a bit of surprise and asked me if we had had this conversation last year. I replied yes we did and you evaded the question that time. “Well consider that my answer this time also,” he replied with a gleam in his eyes. “Good Luck in the Shoot Out,” I said as I took my exit.
Right after that image of Jeff Burton was taken my elcheapo 28dollar ebay digital decided the 114 images it had on it was enough for the day and stopped working. It was okay though. I knew once it settled down it would be fine, and it is. Anyway this olelongrooffan was planning on heading back to the Taj Mahal as the 8+ hours I had been out at the Speedway was plenty and I was a bit chilled due to the mid 40 degree weather.
So, right as I was leaving Pit Road and heading toward the garages, who do I see but thejeepjunkie heading right at me. Yeah, in a crowd of 80,000 spectators we unexpectedly run into each other! “Hell longroof, don’t you answer your phone?” Well, as I had been around rather loud noises all day, the fact I didn’t hear my cell ring is no surprise.
Well my fellow Hoons, as tired and cold as this olelongrooffan was, I certainly was not going to abandon thejeepjunkie in the pits for the Bud Shoot Out so we hung out a bit. We watched a few laps and decided to head on out for our respective abodes. After all, IMHO other than the experience, the best place to watch a NASCAR race is on the garage or back porch TV.
As we were walking out, we came to the place where the golf cart had dropped me off earlier in the day. I told thejeepjunkie that I had asked the driver of that shuttle cart earlier in the day when they quit driving and his response was about midnight. So, I knew we had a chance to catch one out of the infield to the area where thejeepjunkie had parked. We waited a few minutes and one didn’t show so I asked the waiting bus driver if he could get us a cart and he, erroneously, replied they had all gone home.
So I resigned myself to walking through that tunnel and beyond to thejeepjunkie’s waiting ride. Unbeknownst to me, while I was over talking to that tram-like bus driver, thejeepjunkie had spotted a tour bus with the baggage compartment open. Inside was a cooler and a few 24 packs of the blue canned beverage thejeepjunkie so desires. As I am walking back across the street to where thejeepjunkie was waiting, I see the driver of that tour bus hand thejeepjunkie a couple cans of that cold St. Louis based beverage!!
We hoofed it through that tunnel which is the same age as this olelongrooffan, got to the other side and proved that tram bus driver wrong as there were 3 or 4 limo golf carts sitting there with their drivers shooting the bull. We climbed into one and asked for a ride to thejeepjunkie’s Ranger and were delivered safe and sound.
And during that ride, this olelongrooffan heard thejeepjunkie pop the top of one of those cans and he said to the driver of that limo cart and this olelongrooffan
“What a way to Celebrate Life!”
And this olelongrooffan concurs with thejeepjunkie’s observation.
Stay tuned for more from the Speedway events later this week.
But, Man, if they only turned right more often…How much more fun this would be?