The first thing we did when we got to the Speedway was take the FanWalk. You pay just a little bit extra, and you can walk through a tunnel under the track to visit the infield and see the garages, drivers, crews, and cars up close. It was stinkin' awesome. TOTALLY worth fifteen bucks!! This is the tunnel under the track:We walked around to the area where we got to see Victory Lane, where the winner goes to receive the trophy after the race.
And then we got to see the garage area and all the transport trucks.We weren't actually allowed to go IN the garage, but we got pretty darn close! They call the fence where the fans can stand Autograph Alley because sometimes the drivers, owners, and/or crew will come by and sign autographs. We didn't hang out long enough to get any, but it was neat to be so close!We were there during the time when the driver's for Sunday's Sprint Cup race (the major leagues!) were having their practice! So they would drive a few laps around the track, then come into the garage for an adjustment, then drive a couple more laps, come back in, etc. So we got to see our favorite drivers drive by several times! (Warning: Turn your volume down! These videos are loud!)
In this video, you see Tony Stewart (#14), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88), Jeff Gordon (#24), Jamie McMurray (#1), Jimmie Johnson (#48), Juan Pablo Montoya (#42), and J.J. Yeley (#36) drive by. Some of these are the biggest names in motorsports! And they drove not 20 feet from where we were standing! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!
You can see in the above pictures that the very first berth in the garage from where we were standing was the Lowe's #48 - Jimmie Johnson's team. Jimmie is Justin's favorite driver, and he is THE single best driver in all of motorsports, so it was so cool that we were able to see his car and team so close! His crew chief, Chad Knaus, was standing on top of the big transport truck to watch Jimmie's practice. (Read Justin's 2007 tribute to Knaus here.) It was so cool to be able to see him in action! And then when practice was over, we actually got to see Jimmie himself get out of his car and walk over to the truck! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek again!
Too bad my camera snapped a half second too late to catch Jimmie between those two people! Ah well, here's Jimmie's left side anyway (mostly hidden behind the man in black in the center). Jeff Gordon, my favorite driver, was in a garage berth a bit further down the line. So I was able to see him walk from his car to his truck, but it was too far to even try to get a picture.
This was so awesome - Justin and I were totally starstruck! We looked at each other several times and said "I can't believe we're here!" We've been NASCAR fans for about 5 years now, so this is a BIG deal for us!
Note: A friend gave us the tickets to this race completely free, and that was such a blessing!! Many, MANY thanks to Steve and his family who provided this amazing experience for Justin and me!!!