Sometimes NASCAR drivers really do turn right ...


Really. I really do know that the track is called Infineon. But to me, it will always be Sears Point..Infineon. This is where I saw my first NASCAR race. Surprisingly enough, I did not grow up living and breathing NASCAR. I came because someone offered me a ticket, cold beer, hot sun and fresh duck sausages. We had a caravan of six pickups, we had battery operated margarita makers to pass the time getting to the tailgate site. We hung out in the sunshine for a long morning of good food and good, cold beer.

To give you an idea, this is what it looks like driving to park at Infineon. The track is just over the rise, you park in the hillside grass:

Infineon_2009_040_medium

 

The race started without us. The folks who brought me had no sense of urgency to be there for the first laps. We parked in the far fields above what is now Dale Earnhardt Terrace and we had quite the walk to get to our patch of hillside.  We sat in the dirt above the track, coolers and blankets and beers all settled in. I could hear the engines around the track, but had no idea what to expect. And those cars roared up that 170 foot climb into Turn 3 and I fell in love.

Looking down from Turn 7. You can see the straightaway to the Checkers at the right side of the photo. This is also where you'll see the only traditional grandstands at Infineon Raceway.

Infineon_2009_130_medium

 

Sears Point, ok ok, Infineon Raceway, was built in 1968. NASCAR didn't start racing here until 1989. The road course replaced Riverside as the west coast road course. Riverside International first hosted races for NASCAR in 1958. The course out at Riverside was 2.631 miles long. It had 11 turns. In 1958, it was one of three road courses; there was the infamous Daytona Beach & Road Course, which is considered a road course, but in some ways it is a confusing-to-categorize type of track; there was the newly opened California road course, Riverside International; and there was the Bridgehampton Raceway in New York.

Today, NASCAR races at Watkins Glen and Infineon. Watkins Glen actually hosted a race as early as 1957. Buck Baker won that race in his Chevrolet. NASCAR took a hiatus from the track until 1964, but it was again, only on the schedule for two years. It wasn't until 1986 that NASCAR made the track a regular part of the schedule - I wonder why?! That is actually something that I will ask some folks about. If I can find an answer, I will get back to you!

NASCAR fans either love or hate the road courses. I think that they are great fun, but most certainly prefer the ovals. If you are going to be out there this weekend, we'll be tailgating both breakfast and dinner in parking lot 14. And we'll be sitting in Turn 7- come say hi!

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