No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

The Great American Race

February 27, 2015

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The Great American Race

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I am a huge fan of racing, mostly open wheel Indy Car racing but I also enjoy other forms of motorsports to varying degrees even the occasional NASCAR race, but despite having attended literally hundreds of races in person, I had never been to the crown jewel of NASCAR, what is known as the Great American Race, the Daytona 500.

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A few years ago, I purchased tickets and traveled to Daytona and did all the pre-race activities, but it just so happened to be the first and only time in the race’s history that it got rained out and was postponed until the next day. I was unable to stay over for the race and spent the majority of my time there trying to avoid the torrential rain showers. The experience soured me from trying again for a couple of years, but when I heard this was going to be Jeff Gordon’s final run at Daytona I thought it was worth trying again.

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I have attended a number of NASCAR events, a few Brickyard 400 races and a good number of races at Michigan International Speedway when I was younger, but my true passion is always Indy Cars. Still I was willing to give Daytona another chance, I think in many ways it is similar to the Indy 500 in that it is as much an event as it is a race and I always enjoy attending big events.

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I arrived pretty early in the morning because I had Fan Fest passes, which is a pretty cool deal. Not quite Paddock access, the Fan Fest pass allows for access to the track, most of pit lane and a large fan area of the infield which includes windows into the actual garages and a raised platform that is literally on the roof of the garages that allows fans to look down and see work being done on the cars. It is a pretty cool set-up.

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 photo 162_zpsiy5zoegs.jpg Vince Vaughn

There was a lot of excitement as the countdown to the start of the race started and I wondered around taking in all the action as they prepared the cars, sending them through technical inspection and then rolling them out to the pit lane in their respective starting positions. I was able to watch a live tv interview with the Grand Marshall, actor Vince Vaughn before grabbing a spot in the VIP section for the pre-race concert featuring Kid Rock.

Kid Rock- “First Kiss”

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I have never really seen, or really been much of a fan of Kid Rock, he did perform at an Indy 500 Carb Day concert a few years back, but I left quickly to avoid the drunken masses at that show. This time the crowd was not too bad at all, it was after all pretty early in the day. Kid Rock was actually pretty entertaining. He played just a few songs but he was good, the crowd was appreciative and I had a great spot up close to the stage which was nice.

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I made it up to my seats, which were high, high above the main section, only about 5 rows from the very highest point and with an incredible vantage point to see everything, in time for the driver introductions and the command to start engines. It was a pretty awesome panorama laid out before me, under mostly sunny skies with a few puffy white clouds.

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The race was really good, far better than I would have imagined. I can’t abide watching long NASCAR races on TV, but in person it was pretty cool. Jeff Gordon started on the pole in his final Daytona 500 and dominated the early going before falling back a bit midway in while Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhart Jr. and Joey Logano traded places at the front.

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The final 30 laps or so were thrilling with cars stacked three wide row after row as they jockeyed for position with Logano eventually establishing the advantage and coming home for his first Daytona 500 win ever. It was fun to watch and perhaps even more so since his pit stall was just across the track from my seat.

It was a great day all around and I was happy to add the race to my ever-growing list of major events that I have had the good fortune to attend. Not sure if I will rush back any time soon, but I certainly would not rule it out either.

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