Sunday November 7, 2004

nascar in phoenix


After 5 consecutive weekends of ConQwest, we finished up in Phoenix and took a field trip over to the Phoenix Internation Raceway for some NASCAR action.


Random Sunday afternoon and we jumped in our rented minivan and drove 40 mins out to the middle of nowhere. We found parking at a farm about 1/2 mile from the racetrack.


Walking is for city folk. The guy that sold us the space in the lot upsold us on a ride to the track in his pickup. Me and Slavin riding in the back... (I ain't never been in the back of a pickup truck)


... Liz Cioffi riding shotgun.

The guy dropped us off near one of the gates - the whole race was pretty much sold out. Our only chance for tickets was at another gate on the other side of the 1 mile track (imaging walking around 3 Yankees stadiums).


Remember, walking is for city folk, so we hopped in the back of this golf cart...


... accompanied by this dude...


... who screamed "Look - I'm grabbing my titties!" right when as I took this shot.


Anyway, we got dropped off at the ticket booth only to find out that all the "seats" were sold out. No standing room instide the stadium either. Instead, all we were able to get were "hillside" seats. $30/each.


Hmm... "hillside". We'll just walk right on through the main gate. Not so much. "Hillside is on the other side of the race track" (remember 3 Yankee stadiums).


So, we started the trek over - passing each driver's mechandise trailer on the way. Usually the carts are reserverd for the handicapped (not sure how we fandangled a ride in the first place) but the drivers wern't having any of us hitching a ride on our trek to the hillside. (even after failed bribe attempt)


So, finally, hillside.


And this is what $30 bucks buys you - a spot on the hill. No chairs, bleechers, etc, just a hill some dirt and some rocks.


Though, you'd be surprised, the view from the top of the hill ain't that bad.


A little panoramic perhaps? [much larger]


So, okay, I know you think NASCAR sucks, but you have to learn how to watch it (kind of like how I'm sure baseball sucks if you have no idea what's going on). The trick is to pick a driver and follow him for the duration of the race or the season or one's lifetime (actually, most fans have favorite drivers the way we city folk have favorite baseball teams).

You may recall from the pics above that my friend Kevin is sporting a UPS jacket. True, it was supposed to be an ironic NYC thing, but in NASCAR country, kid has BFFs wherever we look (well, kind of - UPS car / driver wasn't even in this race, was he?)

Another thing I am confused about: how does a superfan pick a favorite driver? Do they pick based on the drivers' hometown? Or do they pick based on the driver's sponsor? Are there people that are that into Home Depot or Viagra or M&Ms or Chex Party Mix (for real) that they'll dress up in sponsor getup? (I'm being 100% serious! If you know, email me.)

Oh, so anyway, this tower - the leader board - is in the middle of the racetrack. Constantly changing to reflect lap counts and position.


Most of the fans are listening in on CB radios - listening to the drivers talk to the pit crews and such I guess. They rent CB scanners all around the track (though we didn't spring for one).

(Here, watch this video for the full effect.)


The cars move pretty fucking fast - and the whole place reeks of rubber and smoke (in a kind of good way though). Also, it's super loud even 800 feet away from up on the hill. I can't imagine how loud it is down in the stands.


For most of the race, the cars are all over the track (not bunched up like in the pic above). BUT when there's a wreck, they wave the yellow (caution) flag which means all the cars get in a single file line and continue to do laps at like 1/4 speed (which I don't really get since, say, if you lapped someone the rules then give them a chance to catch up).


Anyway, when the caution flag is over, the pace car gets off the track and then all the cars (which are now bunched together like the pic above) switch into super-fast gear all at once, and the place gets super loud and all the superfans go apeshit.

Which is another weird thing - no one cheers or anything until (a) this rev-up thing down or (b) until the last 2-3 laps of the whole race (like 236 laps total). Really different than anything else for that reason - and with everyone listening to their headphones, its not the most social of scenes.


Then there's the crashes - we saw like 4 crashes. (of course, you can't see a hell of a lot from way up on the hill, but the smoke is crazy)


Kevin, UPS superfan. (I decided my driver is going to be the guy who drives the Sharpie car - yes, like the pen. #97, bitch!)


Kevin using mobile telephony technology to share the NASCAR thunder.


We rolled into the race about 2/3 through it - any earlier and I would have got a little sick of it.


Pleanty of people watching though.


Such as these superfans - most of the red (#8) is for Dale Earnhardt Jr., the #3 is for Dale Earnhardt Sr., the duffle bag of Budweiser is for drinkin' and the good'ol American flag is for wavin'.


Some of these guys set up tents w/ grills, generators, TVs, etc. (I won't even begin to describe the RV scene where people camp our for days with satellites and shit.)




Chicks apparently dig dudes in race car t-shirts.


We stayed till the very end (saw Dale Jr. win in the last few laps), trekked down the hillside a little early to bump up the quality of our view.


Me and Cioffi.


Lots of tallboys.


Just as the race ended and everyone started packing, the rain came in. As in the EXACT moment the cars rolled across the finish line it started to rain.

(What do they do if it rains? Just race through it? Cover the track?)


Hot dogs. Big and meaty. Just like Frank L.


No golf carts on the way out for us. We made the trek through the parking lots, through the mud and back to our rented family caravan.

Seriously, next time NASCAR is on the TV, watch it for like 20 minutes and see if you can get it. Pick a driver and go with it. And then buy a Home Depot jacket. Seriously, that's hot.

Sun 11/7 @ 4:28 PM | # link| Comments (0)
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