My Dad was kind enough to take his boys (his sons, grandsons and step-sons) to the NASCAR races at MIS yesterday. This was our first NASCAR race ever so we had no idea what to expect. My Dad had us get there very, very, very early to make sure we could enjoy every morsel of the event. There was a ton of pre-race activities and we spent hours wandering from tent to tent getting free swag and people watching.
My step-brother Mark is the real fan around NASCAR racing, while my brothers, Dad and I have never watched NASCAR and had no idea what was going on. Mark answered all of our dumb questions and helped us get what was going on. We had no idea who we were getting our pictures taken with or whose numbers we were wearing.
You could get your picture taken with all sorts of cardboard cut-outs of the racers, which we did regardless of who they were. Steve-O found his new hero, the Cheerio driver guy (Steve-o's diet consists ONLY of Cheerios as a part of an experiment that he has submitted himself to on behalf of the children of third-world countries. Very noble).
At the Toyota booth, you could get spray-painted tatoos of their drivers numbers, so of course, we all did. While in line I asked the fella with the mullet behind me what number I should choose and he told me who the top 3 most popular numbers were. I ended up getting #20, Tony Stewart (who came in 3rd). Nate got the same number, because it's also his football number (chosen because it is also Barry sanders number). I considered getting the tatoo on my neck, but then re-considered the combination of paint and sun-burn giving me a semi-permanent NASCAR tattoo.
Notice that Dan and Dad are both wearing collared shirts. When Jon arrived, he was wearing one also. He seriously thought that you had to wear one to get into the hospitality tenet. When we first arrived, we met up with Kevin at the National Guard booth, they had a fitness competition which you could win t-shirts, hats and frisbees. Jon asked if I would do the push-ups to get him a NASCAR t-shirt so he wouldn't have to wear a collared shirt around. We all got into it, I got 70 push-ups in and won a shirt. The kids participated in the two-minute hang as well. Note that Kevin, Drew and I are all wearing our t-shirts here.
We wandered around and had a couple of beers checking out the rest of the tents until we stumbled around the Navy Seals Fitness Challange. They have a series of events that you do back-to-back to see if you could qualify to be a Navy SEAL (the greatest, most elite warriors in the world). The SEAL who was running the event was calling out to the all of the guys without shirts on that if they thought they were man enough to not wear a shirt, they should be man enough to take the challange. For the record, Kevin and I had our shirts on at this point. We got to talking with the guy and he goaded us into doing the challange, at which point we felt obligated to remove our shirts. It consisted of a rope climb, sit-ups, push-ups and then chin-ups. I don't remember my wall-climb time, but I got less than 60 push-ups, 50 or so-sit ups, and ten-pull-ups (all to strict Navy SEAL Form)
Even at age 37, I found that I can qualify for SEAL training. I also found that if I ever try out again, I should do it without two beers in my belly on a hot day. Both Kevin and I felt like crap for a couple of hours afterwards.
One of the best parts of the whole event was the people-watching. As you'd probably guess, the event involves a lot of tattos, beer, mullets, raunchy t-shirts, tube-tops and no shirts. They were very strict on what you could bring in, so you knew the pros that had the see-through back-packs filled with their head-phones and radio scanners to listen to the pit-crews.
One of my highlights was watching a couple get married at the event. They really love their NASCAR apparently.
We ran into these two guys - "Fanny pack guy with the collared shirt" and "backwards hat with the barbwire tattoo and budweiser guy"... Oh wait, that's my brother and brother-in-law.
Ok, so about the actual race itself. Michigan International Speedway is huge. It holds a billion people, all baking in the hot sun. I think they purpsely face the stands so that the sun shines on our necks (hence, the term red-necks). The cars are loud and fast. We had great seats.
I decided to root for #20, Tony Stewart, since I had his tattoo on my arm.
We kept trying to show Steve-O where the cars were, but he had a tough time figuring that out.
All in all, it was a fun day. I can now say I've been to a NASCAR race, and I actually read the re-cap today on the race in today's paper, which is the first time I've ever read anything about car-racing.
You can see the rest of the pictures online here.