Saturday, March 17, 2012

Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday

Happy Saint Patrick's Day. Since my grandfather was a staunch Orangeman, I tend to downplay the green on the 17th but Irish eyes seem to be smiling this morning.

First thing, we climbed into the car and drove across the campground to the shower building. It wasn't nearly as busy as I expected and I managed to find a free shower stall right away. My only complaint was that the little change area didn't have a bench of any kind. It would have been easier if I was wearing sleep pants and Crocs, but I managed to enjoy the hot water anywaay. After getting clean, I took advantage of the coffee they had made outside while talking to some other Mainers (not Bo's group) out front.

After driving back to the campsite, we walked up to the main road and surveyed the "unofficial" vendors. There were many selling diecast replica cars but one had a series of plastic display cases for these models. I had never seen that before. Some were just plain cases while others had themes like the three vehicles Kyle Busch used for his Bristol Sweep or all seven cars King Richard used for his championships. These make the replicas much more attractive in my mind.

Darryl Waltrip Diecast Replica Display Case

I was looking for souvenirs for Sandy. Her favourite driver is Kevin Harvick, so I managed to get her a can koozie and a ticket lanyard with #29 on them. I also found tie-dyed Bristol shirts. Real tie-dyed, not a silk screened fake. Across the road, I bought an official race program and a race pin. I have a pin from each race I have attended.

Sam Hornish Jr. signs autographs

We took the merchandise back to our tent and then returned to the track because Nationwide qualifying was scheduled for 10:30. On the way, we stopped at a replica Bowyer car for publicity shots. Unlike the real thing, this one has a door.

Heather in Clint Bowyer's car

Tom tries the 15 on for size

And me (I use the sponsor's product often)

Reaching the track, it was time to find our assigned seats. Kulwicki Grandstand, Section L, Row 57. We knew that this was pretty much on the line between Turns 1 and 2. We climbed some stairs to the first level. then we climbed some more and went out into the stands. Then we climbed a long way up to where our seats were. It was nice that they were on the aisle but there were lots of stairs.

The track as seen from our seats

Tom using his new DSLR camera

Fine looking fans

We watched the qualifying intently even though we didn't bring our program and couldn't remember who was in which car most of the time. Give us a break, we follow the Sprint series a lot more closely.

Everyone knew Danica's car

After qualifying, we went up a couple of rows to the top concourse and found a table for lunch. I had Arby's while Heather and Tom had Godfather's Pizza. We shared the table with another couple from Maine, this time a little older. Veterans of New Hampshire races, this is their first time at Bristol.. The New Englanders seem to be everywhere this weekend.

Lunch time at the track

After lunch, we headed down the outer stairwell, all twelve industrial sized flights of metal steps. We wandered through the merchandise trailers and vendors looking for some things Heather wanted.

Heather and Tom discuss souvenirs

Danica is everywhere

Who says the Waltrip team doesn't have a sense of humour?

Too funny (too true)

Nothing is serious with the 55

Scanners with screens, in car cameras and instant replays

Our stairwell is behind the Food City banner

Another brand of legal moonshine

Deep fried Oreos??

Yes, deep fried Oreos

Modern high powered ice cream maker

Back at the track, we paced ourselves as we climbed and climbed. Someone could make a fortune selling oxygen and nitroglycerin at the top of the stairs. We met a nice couple doing Bible outreach and talked to them a bit. I didn't for one minute let them know my true beliefs. They are volunteering here and there was no need to cause them any consternation.

Raceway Ministries

Our tent is on the other side of the parking lot

It sure is

I saw these two haulers somewhere on the road last summer

We took our seats in time for the driver introductions. Kyle Busch got the biggest boos.

Kevin Harvick on left

The stands are far from full

Danica in green

Some typical NASCAR race fans

Lots of people in the pits before the race

The green flag drops

The race got underway at 2:00. It was relatively uneventful for a Bristol race. The reconfigured track seems to have led to a lot more mannerly driving with a lot fewer cautions. In the end, Elliott Sadler in the 2 car won it going away.

Spotters on the roof

Sadler wins

Back at the tent, we needed more water. We decided to drive out and do some shopping. First, we went towards Bristol and stopped at Subway. On the way, we passed an erratic old pickup truck driven by an older man drinking from a Pepsi bottle. No one was willing to bet that it was just Pepsi in the bottle.

No one ordered the featured sandwich

We stopped at the liquor store across the street. I was looking for Catdaddy moonshine for a friend back home and maybe a bottle of Popcorn Sutton moonshine for myself. Since Popcorn passed away, they have been making his shine legally. Having had the real stuff, I wondered how the legal stuff compared. Amazingly, the store had big displays of both kinds. There was a video playing of Popcorn's funeral and they were trying to sell by the case. I bought one bottle of each, with the Sutton coming in the traditional mason jar.

The next stop was Walmart where I got a car charger for my new phone and a copy of the video game Plants and Zombies. Tom said I needed it. We got a case of water for what one bottle costs at the track and we each got an eighty-eight cent plastic rain poncho. Then we headed back to the track. Surprisingly, it was 7:00 PM and we were not allowed back into the campground because cars and people were still leaving. We returned to Walmart where I set up the voice mail on the new phone and we checked Email (since we hadn't been able to sign on wth the Rocket Stick at the campground, probably due to too many people with too many phones).

The track is inaccessible

Cloud formations from the Walmart lot

After 8:00 PM, the left turn into the campground was still blocked but, after going up and making a U-turn, they allowed us to make a right turn into the property. Back at the campsite, we decided not to go to the Saint Patrick's Day party that George Wendt (Norm from Cheers) was hosting but we did notice they dyed the creek green. Heather and Tom took a walk while I talked to Judy and Steve.

Heather and Tom relaxing

Steve and Judy in green

I turned in fairly early, again serenaded by generators and loud partiers.

On a sad note, I spoke to Sandy this afternoon and she told me that fellow Freedom Rider Al Barrowcliffe had succumbed to cancer. Al was a good man and we will miss him. Our thoughts are with Ruth and the family.  Rest In Peace, Al.

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