Sunday, July 14, 2013

Daytona Days

My four days at Daytona International Speedway last week were incredible! From Having my own desk in the media center to sitting on James Buescher’s pit box during the Firecracker 250 to being in Victory Lane while Matt Kenseth celebrated his win to seeing the view from the press box, my trip was filled with experiences that most fans only dream about! I also got to tour the NASCAR headquarters, meet many of the talented people who make the sport so enjoyable, attend the Daytona Rising groundbreaking, and even interview several drivers!

Nationwide Dash for Cash Kickoff: Between rain showers Wednesday, three of the Dash for Cash drivers-Brian Vickers, Elliot Sadler, and Austin Dillon- painted their numbers in the grass of the Daytona infield. Afterwards, everyone gathered at the backstretch to see each driver shoot off fireworks just like the ones that are shot off after the race! (see Fast Cars and Fireworks for more!)

Austin Dillon painting his number in the grass

Learning about fireworks 

Interviewing Austin Dillon

NASCAR Headquarters: The Daytona NASCAR headquarters building is an AMAZING! Each floor has an racing related item to go with it. The 5th floor has pit crew gloves on a wall because they have 5 fingers. The 6th floor has lugnuts on a wall because each lugnut has 6 sides. There are also lots of pictures from NASCAR history on the wall that were fun to look at! I even got to meet Mike Helton while I was there!

View from the 8th floor--not a bad view huh? :)

Gloves on the 5th floor

NASCAR headquarters building

Media Center:  The media center was where I spent a lot of my time-it was a busy place! This is where the drivers do their press conferences and the media can ask them questions. Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Carl Edwards, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart, and Kyle Busch were some of the drivers who had press conferences in Daytona. I even asked Matt Kenseth a question during his press conference!

Dale Earnhardt Jr's press conference

Daytona Rising Groundbreaking: We know NASCAR drivers can drive race cars, but can they race tractors? That was put to the test Friday morning! Three pairs of drivers- Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne ad Darrell Waltrip and Larry McRynolds- raced tractors for a chance to break ground on Daytona Rising. The race was just like a real NASCAR race complete with driver introductions, the National Anthem, and even a Victory Lane celebration for the winners! I even snagged some dirt from the event (hey NASCAR Hall of Fame! Call me if you want some historic dirt!)

2 of the tractors that were raced

Greg Biffle and Trevor Bayne holding up their trophies

Brad Sweet: My first one on one interview of the weekend was with Brad Sweet, one of the drivers for JR Motorsports. He was really nice! I was nervous beforehand but I had fun! We did the interview inside his hauler. I’d never realized how small there are! There’s not that much room to move around! (Did you know his favorite junk food used to be beef jerky and cherry Coke?! Check back in a few days for the full interview!) Thanks Kelly Lumsden for setting that up for me!

Interviewing Brad Sweet

Danica Patrick Interview: I was a little nervous before but there wasn’t any reason for me to be! She was so nice! I had hoped for a good way to break the ice with her and it came the day before at her press conference! You may have seen that Danica started her press conference off with “Happy 4th of July!” but what you didn’t read is she also said, “First off, the 4th of July attire award goes to you.” And guess who she pointed at! Me! So on Friday before we started the interview, I gave her the Best Dressed Driver Award!

Yesterday during your press conference I was the one-
DP: Oh yeah! You had the outfit on! And you have the next best outfit on! Girl you got it going on!
So I brought you an award for the Best Dressed Driver! ( I gave her a little pink card with Best Dressed Driver written on it)
DP: Ohhh! (laughs and sticks it on her shirt) Thank you! (talking to photographer) You tell me when you have enough pictures of the Best Dressed Driver!
The rest of the interview was so easy and I loved every minute of it!
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen, NASCAR via Getty Images

Danica and me

Interviewing Danica

Pit Box: Ever wondered what the view from a pit box looks like? I got to see on Friday night! I sat on James Buescher’s pit box for the whole race. Being so close to the pit stops was really cool! It was a different view than I had ever had before and it was one of my favorites! Thanks so much to James Buescher and his crew for letting me sit up there!
Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton, NASCAR via Getty Images

Watching the race

View from the pit box

Victory Lane: After the Nationwide race I got to take a trip to Victory Lane! Matt Kenseth almost over me when he was driving into Victory Lane, but I got out of the way just in time! Victory Lane was cool! I watched Matt Kenseth climb from his car and get a Gatorade shower before he did interviews and started his hat dance!

Matt Kenseth celebrating in Victory Lane

Press Box: I think the press box at Daytona and the pit box are tied for the best view I’ve ever had at a NASCAR race! In the stands, it’s hard to find a seat where you can see every part of the track, but that’s not a problem from the press box! You can see all four turns, the backstretch and the tri-oval all from one seat!  I could also see the two boxes next to the press box. One was where MRN called the race from and the other was race control!

View from the press box

Daytona has been one of my favorite racetracks since my first race there in 2010. Not only is there lots of action on the track, there’s lots of activities to do off the track! Just like every other track the merchandise trailers are parked outside the track, but unlike any other track, Daytona has a place where fans can go to get closer to the action! In the infield, there is a Sprint Fan Zone where you can look through windows and watch what happens in the garage, see the cars go through both inspection stations, and  even watch the race from on top of the garages on the fan deck! There is a stage where drivers make appearences and music groups perform. You can even go out on the infield grass for driver introductions, sit on the track, and sign your name on the Start-Finish line! There’s so much to see and do and it makes your race experience so much fun! If you ever get the chance to go to Daytona, GO! You won’t regret it!

This experience would not have been possible for me without some special people in NASCAR. I would like to thank them for all the opportunities and supporting me in my dream to work in NASCAR!