It is still so hard for me to believe, but today I attended my very first NASCAR race. It was a dream come true! I have been looking forward to it for months, and I am so grateful to my friends who put the day together. It was thrilling.
The day began at 3 am with me getting ready. My friend picked me up at 4:15 am, for the first leg of picking up friends along the route on the way to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. We got there at 7:30 am and already the track was well underway for a busy day. We walked around saw the haulers and did a little shopping. I was pretty impressed that the teams really keep the price of souvenirs pretty low. I got a license plate bracket and a pin for $18.
My friends who have gone to races all over the US, made the arrangements for the day, and did an incredible job. We were seated in Turn 11 with an incredible view of the race course. The tickets also included a Q&A session with Jeff Gordon. We were very close to the stage. I am so impressed with Mr. Gordon. He seemed so genuinely nice and down to earth. He was so nice to the kids in the crowd. Truly a class act!
As we were leaving the session we got to see the cars going through inspection. It was awesome to see the cars up close. In addition, we happened upon a place in the fence where we could see the drivers's leaving the driver's meeting. Apparently, Ryan Newman walked right past me but I missed him. But we were standing right by Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, and Robbie Gordon. It was a bit overwhelming to see everything up close that I have loved for years on television.
Attending a race is an incredible experience. I was not prepared for how the engines just roar, and you literally can not have a conversation with the person right next to you. (My friends had arranged for scanner head phones, which were a saving grace!) The paint schemes are more vivid than they look on television and the cars are going so fast that you can not focus your eyes on them.
After the race, instead of jumping into the car to sit in traffic that did not move for at least an hour, my friends had packed a tailgate party. We barbecued hamburgers, had a peaceful dinner under a nice canopy, and relaxed. It was a perfect end to the day, particulary before we got into the SUV for another 3 1/2 ride back home.
I am so grateful to my friends who made this such an incredible experience for me. Their planning, and race know how made this such a special day that I will never ever forget. I am also so grateful to my daughter who spent the night last night and gave up her Sunday to watch Liesl for me. It was a generous thing to do and gave me such piece of mind to know Liesl would be well taken care of.