As a die-hard NASCAR fan, I have always wanted to go to a NASCAR race and see what goes on during the weekend. For me, its basically been a dream so to speak. Watkins Glen International was the one place i wanted to go to watch my first race because its my home track.
I was not planning on attending the race that weekend. I was thinking more along the lines of prepping for college the next week, and getting mentally ready for it. However, thanks to Jeff Gordon and the Jeff Gordon Network, I was fortunate enough to win 4 tickets to the race that weekend.
I know what your thinking. How in the world did you win tickets to the race from JGN? Here is the story. All i did was retweet one of Jeff Gordon's tweets (which i have no idea what it was about) on Twitter. When i got notified that i won the tickets, i was very shocked, and ecstatic. The Friday i got the tickets, i was eagerly ready to go.
The following I'm about to share with you, is what i experienced during the weekend. The pictures you will see are from my personal collection.
The Race Day Activities
When i arrived at the track on Sunday morning, it was kindof crazy. Parking was insane, and the fans weren't all that excited or optimistic because rain was in the forecast all day Sunday and all day Monday. I got to the track hoping to see a small portion of the race considering they had a window around the drop of the green flag.
While I had the opportunity (atleast before the rains were suppose to come down), i walked around the fan experience area where there were all kinds of things to do. There was the Sprint Fan Experience, there was the NASCAR Race Day booth, there was a whole lot of things that I could participate in. It was crazy, but yet exciting to say the least.
First off, I went over to see what was going on in the Sprint Fan Experience. Things were cool, and exciting there.
Once i arrived at the Sprint Fan Experience, Jeff Gordon was onstage with Miss Sprint Cup. I listened to Jeff as he was talking about prepping for the race, and hoping that the rain would not postpone the race.
After Jeff Gordon left, i decided to check out the other places that were around. I first went to the Team Chevy booth. Over in that area, there was several show cars, including Dale Earnhardt Jr's #88 National Guard Chevy.
After seeing the showcars, i also saw a Chevy engine that goes inside the race cars as well.
After seeing the Team Chevy booth, i then got to see one of the best places I've seen while i was at the track. I got to see a good portion of the garage area.
The view wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. I was able to see the cars go through pre-race inspection. I also heard the crews fire up the engines and test them. That was pretty cool. After viewing the garage, I went to the NASCAR Race Day stage, where i participated as a member of the crowd. I don't have pictures, but i can say that i was on TV. I was able to see myself on TV waving my hat in the air from the big TV screen next to the stage. After the fun time at the Race Day stage, i went up to my seats to get ready for the race.
Race Time (Part 1)
When i was walking to my seats, i was wondering what kind of view i was going to have when watching the race. That's one of the things that i was most excited about all weekend. On my ticket, i was in the blue grandstands. I had no idea where that was. When i finally managed to get to my seats, i was amazed as to how incredible the view was.
In the picture above, this was my view of turn 1. This was a great view for me because i could see the cars come into the turn, along with the small straightaway. I could also see the cars coming out of pit road. It was a great view.
Overall, it was a great view all around, and it really surprised me that i got seats in that area. I was thinking that my tickets were for a horrible section of seats that allow you to see only 1 part of track. That's wasn't the case.
Now lets get into what was the horrible part of Sunday. After standing for the national anthem, it started to rain very hard. It poured very hard, and it did so for several hours. After waiting in the rain with a very wet poncho for 3 hours, NASCAR called the race and I went home. Luckily for me, I didn't have college until later in the week, so I decided to go back on Monday.
Race Time (Part 2)
After the rain-out on Sunday, i went back to the track Monday morning. I wasn't very optimistic about seeing the race because rain was in the forecast once again. It actually sprinkled on my way to the track. But once i got there, it stopped raining. When i got to the my seats, I had that enjoyment and optimism that the race would begin. Fortunately for me, it did begin.
Hearing the roar of the engines coming down turn 1 was kindof like music to my ears. I enjoyed it alot. When the cars went by, it jolted my seats, and it made my heart race. It was very enjoyable. After watching the cars go by, i just sat back and enjoyed the race.
One of the most memorable experiences of my first race was seeing the wrecks that happened near my seats, or happened right in front of me.
I actually was looking towards turn 1 watching Denny Hamlin coming into the turn during the halfway point of the race. All of the sudden, I see him head for the tire barriers. Ultimately, he lost the brakes in his car, and crashed head-on into the tire-barrier. After it happened, the announcers mentioned a similarity to Jimmie Johnson's wreck at the Glen in 2000 when he was in the Nationwide series. It kindof was alittle similar.
The one wreck of the race that i will always remember, was the wreck that happened on the final lap of the race. As Marcos Ambrose, Brad Kesoloweski, and Kyle Busch battled for the win, Boris Said made contact with David Ragan after coming to the small straightaway in turn 1. After the contact, Ragan went across the track, hit a cement wall, and came back into David Reutimann. Reutimann ultimately hit the safer barriers right in front of my seats. Unfortunately, i do not have pictures of the accident at hand.
After the accident happened, NASCAR called the caution, and Marcos Ambrose went on to win his first race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He really was a force all day long. His car was fast, and i enjoyed watching him battle Kyle Busch during the majority of the race.
After the race ended, I was very happy with how the race ended, and i thought that i made the right decision to come that day. I went home extremely happy.
Overall, the environment around me (including the pre-race activities on Sunday) was a very positive one. I did not see anything that was either questionable, or inappropriate as far as rowdiness, etc. As far as I'm concerned, I had a great experience at Watkins Glen, and hopefully i will go back there again next year, and for many more years to come.