Daytona Day 2-Nationwide Day

Friday, July 4th was our first day out at Daytona International Speedway.  The day started off a little rough. The mark from City Walk and the loaded Corona’s was still there. I thought a good 20-30 minute shower helped but that was until I decided to move around a whole lot.  The breakfast buffet with a mix of fresh fruit and grease really helped.

We were all concerned that they were getting us to the track so early.  The Nationwide race was starting at 8 o’clock. We got to the track around 12:30.  For those unaware, Nationwide is the Nascar equivalent of the Minor Leagues or Junior Varsity.  The only difference is sometimes or many times the big stars of NASCAR drive in the Nationwide race as well as the Sprint Cup race, which is the varsity.  They had qualifying going on for both races on Friday afternoon but seeing one car go around the track twice can get boring quick.

As it turns out, there was plenty to do to fill the afternoon. We followed the advice of our tour director and bought Fan Zone passes. This allowed us into the infield as well as partial access to the garages, pit road and all that was in the infield. It was $30 but well worth it. We checked out the infield. The rv and tailgate setups were insane. They really have to be seen to be believed. It was neat to see the cars and drivers up close as well.  The other highlight of the day was the product/sponsor area. This is where I got the fabulous Royal Crown and National Guard photos.  There were all sorts of games to play and freebies to pick up.  Julie is a marketing person and she was talking to the booth people and the majority of them seem to travel with the circuit. It must make for a very different lifestyle.

The coolest thing about the product area though was the number of servicemen around. Each of the services sponsors a car so each had a large booth area. They were handing out freebies and flags. I know I thanked each one for serving that I came across. They seemed to appreciate it. Other people were doing the same and also taking pictures with them.

We circled back to the bus on occasion to break the heat. We also went and had dinner at the Hooters across from the track. Believe it or not this place was packed. The White Trash weekend was on! We also went and picked up some more ice for our coolers.  The track allows you to bring in a cooler that will hold a 12 pack or so.  Honey, we’re not in the Northeast anymore!

The sun set for the NASCAR race which meant a lower temperature which made for a very nice evening. The Nationwide race does not get anywhere near the same attendance as the Sprint Cup. Our tickets were general admission. We settled in about 10 rows up from the track on the front stretch between turns 4 and 1. 

Julie made another key move for the weekend. She bought the Sprint Track Buddy deal, I forget what they call it. You get one handheld video device, then you get headphones with it as well. It was fantastic. On the video, you can choose your feed between the general race feed or the view from 4 or 5 drivers cars. On the audio, its the same, you can have the play by play or you can choose to listen to one of the driver’s radios. It rocked, hilarious to hear the dialouge between the driver, crew chief and the spotter. The language can get rough and alot of Southern accents. It was great because it deadens the noise from the track and you feel completely tuned into the race.

Julie and Ed got big bonus points on Friday night. We had probably the most excited little boy in the entire track sitting in front of us. He was probably about 8 and with his grandparents. Whenever anything about Dale Earnhardt Jr. was announced or shown on the videoboard, the kid would litteraly jump up and down.  Julie gave him control of the handheld device and Ed gave him his headphones to wear for the night. The kid was in heaven, I don’t know if he looked at the track twice all night but he was having a blast. Julie and Ed made the kid’s night, fantastic job!

As soon as the cars passed us on the first lap, I was hooked into seeing races live. The power, speed, smell and sound of it live is amazing. How fast and close they go to each other is amazing. You see it on tv but its nowhere near the same. The skill the drivers have is really off the charts.  The race itself was quick. I think there were only three caution flags.  Dale Jr was in it all night but did not take the checkered flag. I want to say Denny Hamlin won, he had the best car all night. They had a mini fireworks display after the race and we were the last three back to our bus! They gave us an hour to get there. We probably got there within a half hour but everyone else was ready to go. It was nice, we picked up and left as soon as we loaded up.

We had a fan take a photo of us post race. You can see that I am the only one without any race gear. We fixed and that good for Saturday’s race. Photo proof will follow.

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