Tums Fast Relief 500 - October 30, 2011 - Martinsville Speedway

Make your own countdown timer.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Repaving the Daytona International Speedway

Hi everyone!  Racegirl is back with us this week to give us an up close look at the repaving project underway at the Daytona International Speedway.  She has some pretty amazing pictures! 

Here’s Racegirl:

I have to admit, of all the times I’ve been to races at the Daytona International Speedway, I never gave much thought to the pavement on the track.  With all the things to see at the race, track pavement was the furthest thing from my mind – until this year’s Daytona 500 that is.  After a pothole on the track gained center stage during the race, I started thinking more about how the track’s pavement can have a huge impact on the outcome of a race.  One small pothole or rough patch on the track can change the race strategy in an instant.

When it was announced that Daytona International Speedway was going to be repaved, I was excited – I was anxious to see what was involved with such a massive project.  And I’ve definitely not been disappointed!  The repaving of the Daytona track is a monumental event – this is only the second time in its 52 year history the track has been repaved!  The project started in July 2010, just after the Coke Zero 400 weekend, and should be completed in January 2011.

The repaving project is no small undertaking – not only is the entire 2.5 mile track being repaved, but also the skid pads, apron and pit road. Before the repaving could begin, all the existing asphalt was also removed leaving the track’s original lime rock base. 

Here are some pictures of the asphalt being removed:

Once all of the old pavement was removed, the actual repaving could begin.  Here are some pictures of the repaving:

50,000 tons of asphalt will be used in the repaving of the track.

50 truck loads of concrete will be used for pit road.

The type of asphalt being used is a high-quality asphalt that can withstand the stress of racing.

According to the Daytona International Speedway website (www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com), there will be no changes to the track other than a new smooth racing surface. The repaving of the track will remain true to Bill France Sr.’s original vision, layout and geometry of the legendary track back in the late 1950s. This should bring a lot of relief to drivers as they develop their strategy for next season’s race – after all, the ultimate goal is to win the “Great American Race”!

Fans can view the progression of the repaving project from a section of the Oldfield Grandstands, which will open free to the public; and track tours are available through attraction admission to Daytona 500 Experience.

I can’t wait to see the track when it’s all finished – a brand new track for a brand new season of racing!  Until next time…

Happy Racing!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's Your Favorite Racing Movie?

It’s another off weekend for the Sprint Cup Series, so we thought we’d talk about a different topic this week on our blog – movies – racing movies that is! 

We have a lot of movie buffs in our office and we all have different ideas of what the best racing movies are.  Since we couldn’t agree, we thought we’d search the web to see what other sources had to say...here is a great list we found from sportsinmovies.com:

Top 10 Auto-Racing Movies:
1.   Le Mans (1971)
2.   Days of Thunder (1990)
3.   Fast and the Furious, The (2001)
4.   Grand Prix (1966)
5.   Winning (1969)
6.   Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)
7.   Cars (2006)
8.   Speed Racer (2008)
9.   Herbie Fully Loaded (2005)
10. 3 - The Dale Earnhardt Story (2004)

A lot of us were surprised that Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby didn’t make the top 10 – especially since that seems to be the movie we could remember the most lines from!  It almost made the top 10, coming in at number 11.  We were also surprised that Cannonball Run didn’t make the top 10 – it was number 19. 

What do you think of the top 10 list?  What’s your favorite racing movie?

Until next week....happy movie watching!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Countdown To The Chase

With just three races left until the Chase field is set, competition will surely be heating up as we head into this weekend’s Sprint Cup race in Bristol.  Kevin Harvick clinched his spot in the Chase with his win in Michigan last weekend and Tony Stewart has moved up to 4th in the points standings, while Mark Martin dropped one place to 13th – just outside of the cut.  Here’s a link to the complete list of the latest standings:


At this point in the season, I always pay closer attention to the standings to see where my favorite drivers rank and to see what their chances are of making the Chase. To me, the end of the race season is always more exciting when my favorite drivers are in the Chase. In our office, we have fans of a variety of drivers – Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kyle Busch just to name a few.  The Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch fans are happy with their drivers’ positions in the standings right now, but the Dale Jr. fans are keeping their fingers crossed for good luck in these next three races, hoping that he will make the Chase.

With all this talk about the Chase, we were wondering – who is your favorite driver (or drivers)?  How do you feel about the last races of the season if your favorite driver isn’t in the Chase? 

Post your comments here or share them with us on our facebook page!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NASCAR's Ideas For The 2011 Season

I was browsing the NASCAR headlines today and came across several articles about some of the ideas NASCAR officials have tossed around for the 2011 season.  Most of them revolve around 3 main topics – the schedule, the Chase format, and the future of the Nationwide Series.

First, the schedule…

Schedule topics being discussed included shuffling the last 11 races of the season.  This would mean that Chase races would be at different tracks on a revolving basis. Scheduling races so that there would be less traveling back and forth from coast to coast was also brought up.  Six tracks were mentioned as candidates for realignment as well – Kansas Speedway, Auto Club Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Atlanta Motor Speedway, New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Kentucky Motor Speedway. Some of the tracks will be vying for a second race, while others risk losing one.  We won’t know where each track stands until the 2011 schedule is announced in September.  Do I hear more races?

The Chase format….

While no specifics were given, it’s clear that NASCAR wants to add some extra drama to the Chase and create a type of system that could add some “Game 7” type excitement to the end of the season. In reference to the Chase, Brian France said "We like the playoff-style format for sure.” France spoke of "having a lot on the line at one moment" in the playoff format. In other sports, elimination comes along with playoff games….does this mean we’ll see the same thing in NASCAR next year?  That could certainly shake things up!

The Nationwide Series….

The Nationwide Series is supposed to be a place for new owners and drivers to get their feet wet and gain some experience in hopes of one day advancing to the Sprint Cup Series.  However, with so many Sprint Cup drivers also regularly driving in the Nationwide Series, it’s becoming harder and harder for new owners and drivers to get the experience they need.  That’s where the changes come in. Brian France’s wish is for the Nationwide Series to evolve into NASCAR’s version of college football – a place where owners and drivers can begin building their identities. According to France, the owners and drivers in NASCAR's Sprint Cup series support keeping the Nationwide series developmental. So next year we could see limitations on how many NNS events Sprint Cup regulars can drive in. Carl Edwards had a few suggestions of his own on improving the series including limiting practice time for Sprint Cup Series regulars that also compete in the NNS and starting Sprint Cup regulars from the back during NNS races.

Who knows which of these proposed changes will actually take place, but they certainly add some excitement to the sport and get everyone talking! 

We want to know, what do you think of the proposed changes?  Which tracks are your favorites?  What do you think of the Chase format?  Post your comments here or on our Twitter or Facebook pages – we’d love to hear what you think!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Look Inside the NASCAR Hall of Fame

Racegirl is back this week to share some stories of her trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame with us - she also has some great pictures!

As the date of my tour of the NASCR Hall of Fame approached, I thought back to my childhood. There were many days I spent watching my father and brother working on cars in the garage.  It was all about the speed and not so much about safety.  They would always take a car disguised as ordinary on the exterior and turn it into extraordinary when the hood was lifted. 

Those memories remind me of what NASCAR was in the early years.  You'd see a car on the raceway on Sunday and purchase from your local car dealership on Monday.  Even though you hear less and less about the race cars with each evolution of the Car of Tomorrow, much of NASCAR's current allure is tied to the romance of good ol' boys in genuine stock cars with big engines.  Most had even bigger personalities that came out when they were gunning around dirt tracks for the win, and they never contained what they really thought during a race. Those pioneers of the sport have finally been honored with the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

As with the speedway, the interior of the new NASCAR Hall of Fame is a full stock car experience.  For me, I felt like I had entered a time machine and gone back to the early years of racing. “Glory Road,” seen from the outside when purchasing your admission ticket is the grand welcoming ambassador of what your day will be like inside the hall.

The view from outside looking into the building:

Glory Road…you can hear the roar of the engines!

Beyond Glory Road lies a comprehensive set of exhibits on the second and third levels. This is the point where the Hall of Fame becomes a museum. You will find a lot of creative and dynamic interactive displays. From the Racing Simulator where you see the race from the driver’s perspective to the Pit Crew Challenge, each display captures your attention and makes you want more racing! 

Here are a few photos of the various areas on these floors:

Racing Simulator where you can try your skills as a driver:

Pit Crew Challenge…watching on television is nothing compared to experiencing it yourself!

The NASCAR Hall of Fame building tells the story of NASCAR’s growth. From the founders of racing who were shade tree mechanics and moonshine running, to the NASCAR of today that has been shaped by corporate interests and commercial opportunities, the track has come to town!

Historic artifacts, interactive features, a cascade of visual images and a sound system so cutting edge you feel like you are in Pit Row during a race - nothing has been left out. About the only sense left unattended is smell. There is no stink of gasoline or burning rubber…..yet!

On level 4, your adventure continues with “the Spotter Ball”, a lot of history lessons and a little color from the help of the M&M racing team.

The Spotter Ball: It just didn’t seem to be this big on the track!

Inside “The Spotter Ball”: As you stand inside the ball, you will hear recordings of real races!

Find out who the most colorful fan is with a little help from Red.My favorite area!

Journey back through over 60 years of exciting NASCAR history!

Overall I felt everyone involved in the birth of the NASCAR Hall of Fame captured the essence of racing. The building offers a sense of movement and speed, with a ribbon made of more than 3,000 stainless steel shingles that partially loops the exterior of the huge building. When lit at night with colored lights, it twists and leaps over the entrance, a bit of drama reproduced on the Hall of Fame logo. The designers used circular movement to organize the interior spaces and curves to make them dynamic.

As my adventure ended and I crossed the finish line, I knew I would go back again.   I have been told by a reliable source that the displays will periodically change out, new artifacts given to the museum on loan will be displayed and most of all, you never known who will drop by on any given day! 

Happy Racing!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

NASCAR Hall of Fame 2010 Induction Ceremony

We're excited to have Racegirl back this week with another exciting post!  She was lucky enough to attend the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and she's here to share her thoughts.  

The Inaugural NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was held Sunday, May 23 at 1 p.m. in the Charlotte Convention Center Crown Ballroom.  I was excited that I got to attend the ceremony and be there for the induction of the very first class. A great historical moment for a sport we all love!

First Up - Bill France Sr.

Bill France Sr., who organized bootleggers like Junior Johnson in North Carolina and the beach racing folks in Florida to create NASCAR, was the first Hall of Fame inductee. Memories were overflowing as John Cassidy, NASCAR's first legal counsel, gave Bill France Sr.'s induction speech to open the ceremony. A lifelong relationship between he and Big Bill began at the White House and continued all the way through to this historical day of induction into the Nascar Hall of Fame. Cassidy spoke about France's many accomplishments, how he built NASCAR from the beaches of Daytona on up -- including overseeing construction of the first super speedways in Daytona Beach and Talladega. He ended with saying "I prefer to call him a dreamer who was a man of action, someone who turns dreams into reality.”  

The King Takes the Stage

Next up to be inducted was driver Richard Petty.  Dale Inman, his cousin and former crew chief, spoke first about the man known as The King and nearly got choked up before handing it off to Kyle Petty -- Richard's son, television personality and apparent stand-up comedian. Kyle Petty immediately livened up the crowd and lightened the mood with a funny story about his famous father:

"When I was growing up, our house was right next door to the race shop," Kyle explained. "Dad would go to work early in the morning at like 7 or 8 o'clock. He was a fabricator -- and back then, everyone worked on the car including the driver. He would come home for lunch when I was young. Then he would lie down in the middle of the living room floor and sleep until 3 or 4 in the afternoon before getting up and going back to work.”

"I never found that strange until you look at his career and you think the man won 200 races, seven Daytona 500s, seven championships -- while working half-days. I just want you to think about that. That may be the greatest statistic of all time."

Kyle closed by adding: "He feeds off the fans because he is a fan. ... That's who he is for the sport. That's what he's meant for the sport. But for me and for my sisters Sharon, Lisa and Rebecca, he's our father. He's always been our father. We love him more than anything in the world."

Richard Petty kept it relatively short, and definitely sweet, in his own comments before closing by saying, "I guess I'm going to do like Gomer Pyle. I'm just going to say, 'Thank you, thank you, thank you.'"  As I listened to Richard’s closing words, I knew one of the many reasons I love this sport – most speak straight from the heart and leave the acting to those who live out in Hollywood.

A Moment of Truth

Bill France Jr. was the third to be inducted. Bill Jr. took over for his father in 1972 and ruled with absolute authority until retiring in 2003. Team owner Rick Hendrick gave the induction speech for the younger France. He did an excellent job of telling stories that illustrated how Bill Jr. was a tough guy with a soft human side.

Rick Hendrick talked about how Big Bill had made his son earn his keep from an early age, having him "sell snow-cones" and escort people out of tracks when they were caught sneaking in without paying. Bill Jr. even ran bulldozers and other heavy equipment during construction of the tracks in Daytona and Talladega.

I didn’t quite understand the inside joke of one story he shared  until reading about it in the newspaper the next morning.  Apparently, Jeff Gordon was having a ‘dispute’ with one of his sponsors prior to racing at Indianapolis. Jeff won that race and when he got out of his car in Victory Lane, he ‘accidently’ knocked sponsor drinks off the roof.  Hendrick shared with us a private phone call he received from Bill Jr. as he stood next to Jeff in Victory Lane:

"You have that little blank, blank, blank Jeff Gordon down here in my office in the morning at 9. If you can't make it and he can't make it, don't you even think about carrying your car to Watkins Glen, you're done." But before Bill Jr. hung up, he had one other message: "but it doesn't affect our fishing trip."

Hendrick also joked that Bill Jr. knew how to stretch a buck. Pointing at the man's 7-foot-tall Hall of Fame spire that was to occupy its proper place in the Hall of Honor, Hendrick noted: "I know Bill was not alive when this was designed. He would have made it so you had to put a quarter in it."

The Last American Hero

Fourth amongst the inductees was former driver and championship car owner Junior Johnson, once described by author Thomas Wolfe as The Last American Hero.

Darrell Waltrip was given the honor of giving the induction speech for Junior Johnson. But before he started with his stories, he looked around the room and made a worthwhile observation. "This room is full of NASCAR royalty," he said. "This [Hall of Fame] truly has become and will become the Mount Rushmore of our sport."

Waltrip also reminisced about when he left Johnson's team to begin driving for Hendrick and told the media, "Shucks, it's like getting off a mule and getting on a thoroughbred." When word of that disparaging comment made its inevitable way back to Johnson, Junior simply replied: "I don't know nothin' about that. But I had a jackass up here and I ran him off."

Robert Johnson, Junior's 16-year-old son did the formal induction presentation for his father. He called Junior a "Hall of Fame dad," and adding an aside "to all of you racers out there who have raced for or with my dad, you know there are two rules to follow when around him. Rule number one, he's always right. Rule number two, if he's ever wrong, refer back to rule number one."

#3 Legend Lives On

Last, but certainly not least, to officially be entered into the Hall of Fame on Sunday -- as if there is any way on earth to rank these inductees anyway -- was Dale Earnhardt.

Richard Childress spoke first about his former driver, making it through several stories before it appeared he might break down. As I looked around during this time of the ceremony, I saw several fans in the audience openly weeping at the memory of Dale Earnhardt.

Childress recalled one time at Talladega when other drivers were complaining that the speed of the cars on the track was unsafe. Earnhardt, he said, did not want to hear it. He said, 'If you're afraid to go fast, stay the hell home. Don't come here and grumble about going too fast. Drag kerosene-soaked rags around your ankles so the ants won't jump up and bite your candy asses’.

Then Childress grinned at the memory of his own story, adding: "That was a classic Dale Earnhardt."

Next, Teresa Earnhardt and the four Earnhardt children took the stage -- including Dale Jr., Kerry, Kelley and Taylor. This was the most touching part of the ceremony.  As I listened to each family member speak with such raw emotion about Dale the husband, Dale the dad and Dale the legend, I knew this was a historical moment in NASCAR history.

Teresa Earnhardt talked about how her husband "could see the wind" when he was driving, and Dale Jr. offered a funny story about racing against his father once during an exhibition in Japan:

"I was racing for the first time against Cup competitors and my father," Earnhardt Jr. recalled. "It was late in the race. I got some new tires, and only had a few laps to make those work for me. I got up underneath him going through turns 3 and 4. I just needed 2 inches to clear him, but I didn't clear him. I slid across his nose and up into the wall. He carried me all the way down the front straightaway with my back tires up in the air -- all the way off into turn 1.

"That was the day I met the Intimidator."Taylor, Earnhardt’s 21-year-old daughter, seemed to sum it up about her father.  "Everyone always tells us that we all look a little bit like Dad," she said. "I think we all act like him, too. We're determined, driven, and stubborn as a fence post. But Dad gave all four of us something. He gave all his fans something. I think that's what makes him a true champion in everybody's eyes."
D.W. Sums It Up

"I always remember how people looked at us and, quite honestly, made fun of us," said former driver and TV analyst Darrell Waltrip, who helped induct Junior Johnson. "That we were a regional sport with a bunch of rednecks that wore ball caps and uniforms with patches all over them.”

"When I look at what Bill France Sr. and Jr. and Brian and Lesa and everybody have done with this sport, to take it from that to where it is today, it makes me very proud."

Junior Johnson said it "couldn't have been a better day," a significant statement from a driver and owner who has been referred to as the "last American hero."

It was a stupendous day that uniformly surpassed my expectations. I lingered for a long while afterward, hoping to get autographs or simply just basking in the moment, knowing history had just been made and that somehow I had been a part of it. As I watched others leave the room where the best of the best of NASCAR had just been, a few who had begun crying during the Earnhardt presentation, continued to mop up tears before moving on.

Brian France commented later to the media, "It was an emotional day, and I didn't anticipate that. I do a lot of things associated with the sport, but this was different," he said. "Obviously the focus was on the five inductees, but it was about more than that. It was a celebration for everybody on a scope that maybe I didn't expect."

Kerry Earnhardt, who looks and sounds so much like his late father that it's almost eerie at times, added that it was refreshing to be open with a roomful of mostly friends and family.  "I think it was more personal for the fans and for the folks out there watching on TV," he said. "It came from the heart from all of us. When you're sitting there reading a script, it's someone else's words put in your mouth. It can't mean the same as what it is when it comes from the heart."

And with that, each of the spires of the NASCAR Hall of Fame's inaugural class now sit on display in their rightful places in the Hall of Honor. The memories and stories attached to each will be shared with generations of racing fans to come.

Come back next week to see more NASCAR artifacts and treasures showcased on the vast walls of the Hall of Fame. I’ll give you an up-close look at the Hall and share some of the highlights from my tour.

Until then,

Happy Racing!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Closer Look at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Point System

This week we continue our theme of how NASCAR is different from most sports by taking a closer look at the NASCAR point system.  The point system is something that has always been confusing to me.  Most sports are all or nothing events…there are no points for coming in second place.  Not the case in the world of NASCAR!

The NASCAR point system rewards consistency as much as it rewards winning. There are two basic ways to score points in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race – finishing position and bonus points. The winner of the race earns 185 points, while the 2nd and 3rd place drivers earn 170 and 165 points respectively. Even the driver who comes in last in the race is awarded 34 points just for completing the race. Bonus points are awarded throughout the race – five bonus points are awarded to any driver that leads any lap. An additional five bonus points are awarded to the driver that leads the most laps.  So the maximum number of points a driver can earn during a single race is 195 points.

Points are compiled over the race season, which begins in February and ends in November. Every race on the schedule is worth the same amount of points, with two exceptions - the Budweiser Shootout and the Sprint All-Star race are not worth any points. Because the races are worth the same number of points, there are no “unimportant” races – Daytona is just as important as Dover. The driver with the most points at the end of the season is declared the champion. Sounds simple, right? Not exactly…

Beginning with the 2007 season, NASCAR changed the point system format. Points are now tallied after 26 races and the top twelve drivers in points at that time are locked into the final ten races of the season, known as The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. This point in the season is similar to the playoffs in other sports. 

At the beginning of The Chase, all twelve drivers have their points manually set to 5,000 plus ten points for every race that they won during the first 26 races of the season. For example, a driver who finishes in the top twelve in points for the first 26 races of the season and has won three races during the season would start The Chase with 5,030 points. For the last ten races (The Chase), NASCAR points are still assigned the same way as the rest of the season to determine the champion – a maximum of 195 points for wining a single race. The driver with the most points at the end of The Chase is the champion.

The Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series don’t use The Chase point format. They simply race every race, tally the points at the end of the season and award the championship to the driver that has the most points.

There has been a lot of debate and discussion over the changes made to the point system in 2007; however, regardless of how everyone views the issue, they can all agree on one important fact:  every race is still equally exciting!

Friday, May 28, 2010

NASCAR - Team or Individual Sport?

Almost a week after the clash between Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch during the All-Star race, the story is still a buzz in the media.  I’ve read numerous articles and blogs on the topic, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus on who was right or wrong in the situation.  Should Denny Hamlin have let Kyle past him since they are teammates? Is the All-Star race different and should all drivers look out for themselves?  There are no clear cut answers to these questions…if you ask 5 different people, you’ll probably get that many answers.

The most interesting question to me is…should NASCAR be treated as a team or individual sport?  With all the attention the driver gets, racing seems like an individual sport. But now that NASCAR allows owners to run more than one car, the sport has evolved into more of a team sport.  It’s a bit confusing because even though the drivers race as part of a larger team, at the end of the season, only one driver can be the champion, not the whole team like in most sports.  So should drivers race differently on the track when they’re around their own teammates?  Should they race less aggressively if it will benefit the team?  Or should they focus on their own success and the championship at the end of the season?   There are no concrete answers to these questions, and each driver probably views the sport a little differently….if they didn’t, clashes like we saw during the All-Star race and other races this season wouldn’t get nearly the media attention they do!

What do you think?  Share your thoughts with us – we’d love to hear them!

Until next time, happy racing!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

NASCAR Traditions

Traditions are good.  Family traditions can be even more special.

In my family we have traditions such as fresh seafood for Thanksgiving Dinner. Another is taking the ‘Tacky Light Tour’ during the Christmas holiday while we enjoy a thermos of hot chocolate and singing Christmas carols. Even a simple tradition of how we all say goodnight like the Walton's when we are fortunate enough to be sleeping under the same roof, is a family tradition I will always treasure.

The first year my husband and I dated we started our own special traditions.  Some we have preserved and continue today.  Some have changed, and others have become fond memories.

One tradition is the love of automobiles …. Corvettes especially!  My husband grew up around generations of Corvettes and was destined to own one in his lifetime.  He did one better - he purchased his second Vette when we first started dating. It was a beautiful black over black convertible that purred like a kitten - yeah, right!  Maybe with earplugs in!

As a proud owner of his new black Corvette, we joined the Black Sheep Squadron, an elite group of more than 1,100 members worldwide. Most members are located in the United States, but they also have members in Austria, Australia, Canada, England, Finland, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and The Netherlands. Members pay no dues. You just have to own a Black Corvette to join.

This group of enthusiastic Corvette owners gets together several times a year in different locations across North America.  One of our first outings with more than a hundred of our new friends was to Daytona.  After a great lunch at one of the more popular restaurants, we headed to Daytona U.S.A. for a private tour and a little racing!  This included laps around the famous Daytona Speedway in our Corvette.  Well, our Corvette and the other 75 that showed up for the fun!

I have to say, I never really knew how steep the banking was in each of the turns until driving around the course that day.  Although our speed was contained by a pace car, the memory of all those Corvettes on the world’s most famous speedway is a sound and sight I will never forget.

Here are some photos from that day.

Meeting of the Vettes outside the track.

Ferrari club leaving the track as the Corvettes take over!

Gentlemen, start your engines!

Oh, and ….Ladies start your engines!

Birds eye view of turn 4.

Not a person in the grandstands that day, but from the level of noise the Corvettes made, you would have thought you were at the speedway in February for the Great American Race….the Daytona 500!

Nascar has its own traditions.  From kissing the bricks at Indianapolis to Richard Petty’s signature hat and sunglasses, to all-star racing in May and earning a stripe at Darlington. These traditions have become important as they connect the fans with the sport and remind us why we love Nascar.

A new tradition is under way with the opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina. The NASCAR Hall of Fame will induct the five members of its inaugural class May 23. I am fortunate to be a part of this highly-anticipated event.

So come back next week to read about my evening with some of the most respected founders of NASCAR.  I will post up-close pictures of the museum and the evening of the inauguration.  A dream comes true for me!

Until then….

Happy Racing!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dale Jr. To Reach Make-A-Wish Milestone at Charlotte

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation since 1999 and is now closing in on granting his 200th wish!  Here is some info from The Dale Jr. Foundation and the JR Nation about the events scheduled to commemorate this exciting milestone.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (April 22, 2010)

In specific terms, the wish is simple - meet Dale Earnhardt Jr., share a few laughs and stories, ask questions like "What is your favorite hobby?" or "What video games do you play?" and enjoy a NASCAR experience that on any other weekend would come through a television.

In broader terms, the wish is even simpler - escape reality.  And through the Make-A-Wish Foundation over the past decade, Earnhardt Jr. has helped kids diagnosed with life-threatening medical conditions do just that by giving his time at the track each weekend with a Make-A-Wish family.

Earnhardt Jr. began his relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 1999 as a driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.  Now more than 10 years later, the seven-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver is closing in on his 200th wish granted, a milestone shared by only a handful of America's top athletes.  Earnhardt Jr. will facilitate No. 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway during Sprint All-Star Race weekend.

"To meet these kids and families is a privilege, " Earnhardt Jr. said.  "A lot of times the Make-A-Wish meeting is the best part of the whole weekend. It's amazing that when you talk to the kids and learn about their lives, you learn a lot about yourself as well."

To commemorate Earnhardt Jr.'s 200th wish milestone, AMP Energy and the National Guard have donated the hood of the No. 88 Chevrolet to The Dale Jr. Foundation for the Sprint All-Star race on May 22.  The predominantly black paint scheme was designed by Earnhardt Jr., and it prominently features the logo of The Dale Jr. Foundation.

"I want to thank AMP Energy and the National Guard for donating the hood of the car, " Earnhardt Jr. said.  "It's their advertising space, they pay for it, and for the second year in a row they were gracious enough to give us prime location on the car and help bring exposure to my foundation and the charities we support, like Make-A-Wish. I think the fans will embrace the paint scheme and help us continue to grant wishes for kids dealing with these medical setbacks, whether it's sending them to Hawaii, hiking the Grand Canyon, or getting a computer to stay connected with their friends. Whatever they want, they should get."

In conjunction with the All-Star paint scheme, TDJF is ramping up fundraising initiatives and calling on fans to raise awareness and money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.  The Dale Jr. Foundation will make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina from its sale of the 2010 NASCAR Day pins, as well as from sales of the 1:25 scale die-casts and T-shirts of the All-Star paint scheme.

Additionally, The Dale Jr. Foundation is honoring the 200th wish celebration by hosting a special All-Star Race hospitality event exclusive to members of the JR Nation Crew, Earnhardt Jr.'s free-of-charge fan club. The hospitality is sponsored by Suave Men and AMP Energy and features a pre-race appearance by Earnhardt Jr. It also includes food, drink, pre-race pit tours, pre-race access to the Creed concert, race tickets in Grand National Tower, souvenir gift bag, and the opportunity to win raffl prizes. The package is valued at $400, but sold exclusively to JR Nation Crew members for $188. Proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit TDJF and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina.  To become a member of JR Nation totally free of charge, visit www.jrnation.com.

"This is a unique opportunity for fans to have an awesome All-Star race experience, see Dale Jr. up close and personal, and contribute to the Make-A-Wish Foundation," said Camille Thompson of The Dale Jr. Foundation. "We take pride in our direct line of communication with Dale Jr.'s fans, and this type of hospitality event was something that was well-received by fan club members. We've done this in the past, and Dale Jr. was fantastic in donating his time before the race to visit his fan club members. We look forward to another strong turn-out on May 22 for the All-Star race."

Friday, May 7, 2010

Darlington - Track Fast Facts

We’re gearing up for this weekend’s race in Darlington!  In anticipation of Saturday night’s race, here are some fun track facts about Darlington:

1.    Nicknames:
“The Track Too Tough To Tame” – rookie racers who hit the wall during the race are said to have earned their “Darlington Stripe”

“Lady In Black” – this nickname came about because the walls around the track are always painted white prior to a race, but are always mostly black by the end of the race because of all the tire contact during the race

“A NASCAR Tradition” - the track is often advertised using this phrase

2.    The track’s unique, somewhat egg-shaped design came about because of a minnow pond located near one end of the track – the owner refused to relocate when the track was built and the track builders promised not to disturb the pond.

3.    The shape of the track makes it challenging for the drivers and crews to setup their cars’ handling in a way that will be effective at both ends of the track since each end is a slightly different shape.

4.    The track is built on an old peanut and cotton field.

5.    In recent years, the track has been reconfigured – the old front stretch is now the back stretch and the turns have been renumbered as well.  Lights were also installed in 2003-2004 to facilitate night races to beat the daytime heat.

6.    Seating capacity for the track now sits at 65,000, but has always been limited by the location of a highway behind the back stretch of the track and the location of another pond (the original minnow pond no longer exists).

7.    Darlington has a legendary quality among drivers and older fans – it has a long history compared to other NASCAR speedways of its era.  Because of this, it’s also the track where many drivers first learned truly how fast stock cars could go on a long track.

Until next time, happy racing!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Whisky River Jacksonville - Grand Opening!

This is where it all began.  A simple sign posted with few people understanding what it really meant.  Until now! 

From This:

To This:

Most everyone in Jacksonville, Florida has been anxiously awaiting the grand opening of Whisky River at the St. John's Town Center.  The Whisky River chain is owned by NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and describes itself as a "unique blend of unpretentious charm, feel-good music and enticing food."  The menu includes all the bar-food favorites like two-wide burgers, chicken fingers, sweet potato fries and pizza.   They also claim to have some hot wings that are "seriously spicy."

I did not make the opening weekend events but read great comments on Facebook and other NASCAR blogs including comments from lots of local fans.  This is how one person described Jacksonville’s latest hotspot:  “Take two ounces of ROCK AND ROLL, an ounce of COUNTRY, add a splash of SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY, mix and serve.”

I became very curious, being the NASCAR fan that I am, and decided to visit Whisky River to see it for myself.  Knowing the crowds that new nightspots can draw in Jacksonville, I decided it would be best to start with lunch first.  Plus, what better way to see the race from Texas than on several different size plasma televisions. 

Here is my report card of expectations BEFORE lunch:

MENU: typical bar food
DÉCOR: lots plasma televisions, more like a sports bar with little or no style
STAFF: Hi ya’ll!
OVERALL:  Not very high expectations

Here is my report card AFTER lunch at Whisky River:

MENU: Enticing menu!  From Killer Wings to Pit Stop Pizza, lots of variety and great size proportions.  In fact, either come with a BIG appetite or bring someone to share the meal with you.

DÉCOR: I was right on part of my expectations.  There were lots of plasma televisions of all sizes! Fun cow printed bar stools and booths.  There is a great outdoor area for dining or just relaxing and watching the race on a Sunday afternoon.

ATMOSPHERE: It's a big place, 11,500 square feet, that's both club and restaurant. Three bars and lots of cowhide-print booths scattered along the front half. The back half has two more bars, a dance floor and a stage. It was very relaxing, at least at lunch time.  Come back later this week to read about the ‘after dark’ Whisky River experience.

STAFF: Friendly, no ya’lls were heard, and our beverage glass was never empty!

OVERALL: Absolutely wonderful!  I am geared up and ready to go back again!

Oh yeah, forgot to mention.  My husband made the observation that there were only female servers and bartenders. He knew that the waitresses were called Whisky Chicks.  He even noticed what they were wearing from their leather vests, blue jean shorts to their cowboy boots.

After eating our lunch, I watched the others around me and listened to the conversations at their tables, as well as with their waitresses. I heard nothing but positive comments about the food, atmosphere and service while we were there.  Others asked what was in the corner section of the restaurant that looked like a saddle.  Why it is an electric bull! One Whisky Chick tried to encourage her guest to get up and take a ride.  But no takers!  Maybe this Wednesday we will get to see the bull in action!

There is even a special souvenir section where you can purchase hats, t-shirts and even a Whisky River custom designed motorcycle or awesome guitar.

Pretty awesome experience and looking forward to Wednesday night when we get to see a live performance of Luke Bryan.  So come back and see more pictures and a special blog about the night life at Whisky River.

In the meantime, check out their website at www.thewhiskyriver.com/jacksonville/
There are lots of graphics, so it may take a minute to load, but it's worth the wait!

Until next time…..

Happy Racing!