Sunday, April 26, 2009

KBeau Does 'Dega - A Sunday Favorite

In honor of this weekend's race at Talledega, I decided to join Sunday Favorites, hosted by Chari at Happy to Design. Chari has invited us to repost some of our favorite blog posts that you may have missed. I made this post after my first NASCAR race last fall. That was before I "met" most of you, so I am reposting it today for your reading pleasure. Be sure to visit Happy to Design for more trips down blog memory lane.

"Unbelievable. After 19 years in 'Bama they finally made you a full redneck."

That was Hunter's comment, when he learned that I was at the NASCAR race at Talladega yesterday. For years, I have failed to understand the fascination with souped up cars going round and round for 500 miles. Give me a good college football or basketball game but leave stock car racing to the those other people.

Until yesterday I had probably watched NASCAR on television for less than 10 minutes, even though I have lived in the home of Bobby and Davey Allison and Neal Bonnett for almost 20 years. Yesterday I saw a race live from "Gentlemen, start your engines" to the checkered flag.

My friend and painter Joel has wanted to take me to a race for years, and yesterday the timing was right. I met him at 8 a.m., and after meeting up with Linda, Elise and Fallon, we were off to 'Dega. Joel knew all the back roads, so we never got stuck in traffic, and by 9:30 we were parked and headed to the track.

Joel had gotten tickets in the Sherwin-Williams box, and we also had seats in the grandstand. He explained that we would go to the box first for breakfast, but he wanted to be in the stands for the start of the race.

Talladega Superspeedway

First, let me say that the track is huge. It's a 2.66 mile oval, and the grandstands stretch from turn four to turn one, with boxes above the lower level of the grandstand and an upper deck above the boxes. We were in Suite 3, which came with a complete bar, a buffet breakfast and seating for at least 30 to 40 people.

After breakfast, we carried our Bloody Marys down to the track for a tour of Pit Road. I was fascinated with colorful attire of the racing fans. Unlike a college football game where one color predominates, a NASCAR race is a multi-colored event, with fans decked out in the colors of their favorite driver. At Talladega, probably 75 percent of the folks are Junior fans. Junior is Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who drives the 88 car.

Back in the box, it was time for round two of food and drink. For lunch, they brought in stuffed shrimp, beef tenderloin, tomatoes with mozarella and scalloped potatoes with asparagus. At the bar were plates of lemon squares and chocolate chip bars. Yum!

Now that we were sufficiently stuffed, it was time to move outside for the 1 p.m. start of the race. After three laps behind the pace car, the drivers got the green flag, and the AMP Energy 500 was underway.

The noise was deafening, and every time the cars came by, I had to cover my ears. I noticed that a lot of fans were wearing headsets, and after a while, Joel produced a set for me to use. With the headsets on, I could listen to the track announcer call the race and also follow the conversation between one of the drivers and his pit crew.

To fully enjoy a race you have to pull for one of the drivers. Jeff Gordon was our man. When he went out of the race in Lap 53, we turned to Kasey Kahne, who lasted until the Big One in Lap 68. That crash took out a bunch of drivers, and the race was halted for 17 minutes to clean up the track.

We finally decided to join the masses and pull for Junior, who would get a huge roar every time he took the lead. He lasted until the Big One II in Lap 174 that took out a whole bunch of other drivers. Once again the red flag came out and halted the race, this time for 11 minutes.

Another yellow caution flag in Lap 184 led to a Green-White-Checkered finish. Joel explained. By the time the debris on the track was cleaned up the race was in Lap 187, with one lap to go. But the race can't end under a caution flag, so the drivers got a green flag to start racing at Lap 188, a white flag to indicate one more lap at the beginning of the next lap, and a checkered flag for the winner at the end of that lap.

Tony Stewart led the final lap and won the race, but not without controversy. Regan Smith finished first after passing Stewart on the final turn, but he was moved back to the eighteenth spot after it was ruled that he passed Stewart below the yellow line. That's a no-no.

At the end of the race most of the cars had lost their luster, and some were literally held together with duck tape. I didn't look much better. I was hot and sweaty, and my face was covered with soot from the track. And yes, I had a red neck and a red nose too. Next time I need to use more sunscreen.


Valerie said...

Hi Kathy! I've been out of commission with sick little ones, but just spent a few minutes readinga and catching up on your blog! Happy Birthday, Mr. Walker; and so sorry to read about your sweet, but broken, ebay pitcher!

Chris is busy working the race in Kansas City this weekend; albeit with cancellations due to the tornadic thunderstorms! The NASCAR truck race was cancelled yesterday around 5 PM (after fans were told to take cover undere the stands!) and rescheduled for Monday at 10 AM. The Indy car race is tentatively scheduled for this afternoon, but according to weather forecasters it's iffy!

Enjoyed today's repost!
Blessings to you from Kansas,

Valerie said...

Sorry, meant to type the word tea pot, but somehow "pitcher" flew out of my fingers!

Robin said...

Such a great post!!! You are very fortunate to get to start your first Nascar experience in a suite! I've been going to races for 20 years and have never seen the inside of a suite! LOL! If you ever need a tour guide (that is, if you are ever brave enough to come again) just let me know!!


Robin :o)

Keetha said...

So, did you decide it was "fun" or not? I'd like all the FOOD you described, but being a lowly little average "guy" I wouldn't have been in that Sherwin Williams box, so would have missed out on that.

While I ADORE football - - -especially college - - - I just can't "get" Nascar.

marty39 said...

It is so fun to find a sport that you really like. I have been watching Nascar with my sons for years, and football and basketball. I guess I have learned over the years to appreciate them all and really love some. Great fun. Hugs, Marty

Melissa Miller said...

Kathy have you seen "Talladega Nights"?
That movie is hilarious!

Your re-post is wonderful and a perfect choice!

Have a blessed Sunday my friend.
~Melissa :)

Chandy said...

I'm not a full pledged sports fun, but I do like volleyball and hockey. Nascar, I don't get but I'm glad that you were able to experience it in style!

Kathleen said...

Too funny! Great repost..start your engines!

Chari said...

Hello Kathy...

My friend, I'm so glad that you decided to participate in "Sunday Favorites"...and thank you for the sweet "mention" at the beginning of your post!

What an absolutely delightful post! I certainly can understand why you chose to repost this one! sounds like it's in a world all of its own! Hehe! I have to admit that before your interesting and informative post I didn't know much about Nascar! I think it sounds like great fun!!! Wow...they really serve some great sounding food too! Thanks for sharing this fun post, Kathy! I really enjoyed it!!!

Warmest wishes,

xinex said...

How neat that you get to have your first experience in style! Must have been very exciting! Glad you reposted this...Christine

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

So.... does that mean you won't be going back? I might just go and stay in the box and eat all of the time! Do they have t.v.'s in the boxes like they do at other events? That's where I'd probably sit and watch. Fun repost. laurie

Joyce said...


Yes that is my yard (garden as they like to say here). I think about leaving it behind every morning when I open the curtains on the doors that look out on it from my kitchen. And the one who will miss it most of all is probably our pup who you saw in the picture. She loves all that space and flowers and butterflies and freedom. The good news is the house we are purchasing has a beautiful landscape in the back as well. Much more wooded but lovely and I think God knew I was going to need that! In fact the view from the family room windows was one of the deciding factors in our decision to buy the one we've put the contract on.

I know St. Johns well. My husband's office in Annapolis was right downtown at Church Circle. His office window looked into The Treaty of Paris which was just across the street. Great location and we always had a parking space for events in town : ) We lived in Severna Park and kept our boat on the Magothy River. We all have such happy memories of our years there. We have lots of good friends there still and have been back every year to visit. Have you eaten at Cantlers? Best crab feast ever!

Hope your granddaughter arrives on exciting!


Lisa said...

I love your Talladega repost. NASCAR is great fun - even if we have to watch it from the tower seats and not the suite!!! This year made our 16th trek to at least one of the two annual Talladega races. Who knows --- maybe you should try camping at the track next!!! Now that is TRUE Talladega NASCAR at its best!!!!