When my daughter was much younger, her favorite movie was Cars. It played constantly in the background as she colored and pretended and ate snacks. I still have a good 80 percent of it memorized, which is a good thing as a few weeks ago we were offered prime tickets to a NASCAR race and the movie script was all I had to rely on for knowledge about what was going on around me.
We have an old friend who works for NASCAR and he enjoys seeing his friends around the country when he visits various tracks. Our closest race was the Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway so off we went, deep into horse country with Ben’s mother in tow, to visit Jim and take in a race.
We picked up our “Hot” passes and draped them around our neck, feeling very special indeed. Hot passes (plus the Senior VP of Race Operations) get you pretty much everywhere including into the pit row while the race is going on. What?! “Hey, Jim. Can I help fuel up the Target car during the race?” No, but we did get a tour of the garages, then to go to the driver’s meeting then wait behind the scenes as the drivers got announced to the crowd, picking up autographs left and right, then present a pre-race award (which I was really hoping would be a giant check but wasn’t). And the race hadn’t even started yet.
When the race began, we took our seats to watch from above for a bit. Luckily, a very nice seat neighbor let us have some ear plugs. Oh, my lord are those cars loud. Hearing loss averted, we enjoyed the first 100 or so laps before heading down to make use of the hot part of the hot pass.
With the amount that happens in the pits, I can’t believe they let people just wander around inside during a race. It’s intense but also oddly quiet down there while the cars are racing. The action, when it does happen, is swift, but the wait for action is long. Minors aren’t allowed on pit row when the cars are racing so the kids hung out on the other side of the fence, just behind the Target crew. Because I made them.
Thank you, Jim! It was such a treat!