Friday, 1 November 2013

NASCAR at Martinsville

We awoke at a reasonable time on the Sunday morning.  The boys even slept till 8am, and we felt refreshed after an early night.  We had a quick breakfast, and jumped in the car.  I did. It realist quite how far we were from Martinsville, it was a good 80 miles!  The journey passed with little event.

We got near about 11am.  We did not hit any traffic till we were about a mile from the track.  We started seeing car parks in peoples back yards, and the traffic slowed up.  We choose to pay $10 to park in someone's back yard, and ended up less than a 5 minute walk from the main entrance

The track is in the back ground of this picture. There were certainly some interesting people.  Lots of tail gating and drinking going on.  We made our way towards the track.  On our left was the commercial area, where lots of big lorries were parked up with their sides open selling merchandise.  We decided to bypass this for now, and go straight in.  After a visit to an ATM of course.

We headed in at the main entrance, which was right by the access to our seats.  After a quick bathroom break, we went to our seats.  Walking into the stadium was someone else.  We have been to concerts etc so we knew what to expect with the steepness of the stairs and the close proximity to your neighbor.  We walked down to our seat, in row 11.

This was our view.  There was a pre-race warm up show going on, so it was quite loud.  Isaac instantly asked for his ear defenders, and never took them off when we were in the stadium.  Seb was not as freaked by the noise as I thought he would be.  We were so close to the front, just behind the start finish straight.  I went and got some food, leaving the boys to watch the show.  And they were actually watching it.  I came back with some 'famous' Martinsville hotdogs (they were nothing special), some crisps, soft dirks and beer.  

There was loads of presentations, advertisements and attempted fund raising, before they introduced the drivers.  They did this by starting at the back of the grid and making the way forward until they got to the 10 drivers in the chase

They then introduced the pole sitter, Denny Hamlin.  These were the bits Sebastian did not like.  He does not like the crowd cheering.  Isaac was fine, as he had his ear defenders on, but Seb would not keep his on.  We then had the invocation, followed by the National Anthem, then the fly pass. This was  Sebs favorite bit so far

The drivers then started their engines.  Loud. So loud.  They did 5 or so laps under the safety car, so not at full throttle.  The safety car went in, the green flag dropped, and they were off.  Then it got louder.  The noise was amazing, the smell was something else.  Something to do with high octane fuel and burning rubber.  A real assault on the senses.  Not bad, but different.  Oliver by now had his head phones on, but it took a lot longer for Seb to calm down enough to put his on.  This racing was intense.  I cannot remember the finer details of the race, but there were 17 cautions in total.  

We had to take a break after about 70 laps, it was so intense.  Martinsville is such a small track, that it did not take long for cars to start lapping each other and be coming round almost continuously.  During our first break, we went and investigated the commercial area.  This was a lot quieter now the race was on, and some of the trucks were packing up.  We decided not to purchase anything, we did not feel we could justify the expense.  From outside the track, you could tell when there was a caution, as the noise level dropped. We headed back in after a while, got some more beer and food, and headed back to our seats.  They were on about lap 180.

We watched about another hours worth before we needed another break.  This time we stayed within the stadium, and took a walk to the other side of the track.  There was a small kids area with a few bouncy castles, and quite a lot of drunk people.  Not to mention the big drop down the side nearest the track.  We did not stay long, but Paul managed to get this photo on the way back to our seats

Yes, that is Dale Earnhart Jrs. Future mobility scooter (made me think of this advert, I love it!)

We headed back in for the final 130 or so laps.  The noise, sight and smells were so cool.  Being able to see all the pit stops was also awesome.  

It was about this stage that Sebastian fell asleep in daddy's arms.  Once we managed to get the ear defenders on him, he really calmed down, and watched the race intently.  So intently, it sent him to sleep (this often happens to me at the weekends....)

As I said there were 17 cautions in this race.  When a caution came out, and the cars slowed down, we were able to see in to the drivers cockpit as they came by, so cool. Some of the cautions were for debris, but most for crashes.  These seemed to happen mainly on the 4th corner, so we got a pretty good look at them.  About 30 laps from the end Jeff Gordon (you may know him as Jeff Corvette in Cars 2) started gaining on Matt Kenseth, and was able to over take him about 20 laps from the end.  This made the crowd very happy.  By now, we had completely lost Isaac's attention, so we gave him an iPod.  Even though he was playing, he would still look up occasionally.  Then Oliver wanted one, and played for the rest of the race...

The crowd: hmmmmm..... The people sat next to me were huge Jeff Gordon fans so they were more than happy.  Some people had their favorite drivers and would be waving them on as they came by.  They love this sport, and I don't blame them.  Some interesting looking people, but no one who put me off going again.

Jeff Gordon crossed the line first, went round, then came back to pick up the chequerd flag, and do the customary donuts and burn outs.  Check out Paul's video 

We left shortly after, and made our way out with the crowds.  We got back to the car with no dramas.  We waited about 30 minutes to get out of the yard, not bad for an event with up to 65,000 people attending.  

The NASCAR was a long day.  But it was worth it.  I am so glad we did it, especially starting on the smallest track in the circuit.  Made it more intense, but more comfortable.  We really got into the racing, even if we couldn't talk to each other while the race was going on.  

Isaac has already said he doesn't want to go to another one.  The rest of us are dead keen.  I have already been looking up the dates....just hope it doesn't clash with the F1 race in New Jersey.......

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