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Drivers, buckle up and start your engines because we are in for a bumpy ride! Before a beautiful Sunday evening in September, the only things I knew about NASCAR and race car drivers were from either Talladega Nights, Cars and Herby Fully Loaded. From an outsider’s perspective, car racing is basically where a bunch of cars drive around in circles until however many hours and laps go by until they cross that checkered finish line. Drivers stop every so often during the race to, get their tires changed and anything else fixed by their pit crew and are on their way to continue repetitious laps – somehow without losing their place in the race. There is so much more to learn about this American sport.
History Note: The first race was actually in France (Paris to Bordeaux and back) but the first organized race took place in Chicago.
When I say Las Vegas has it all, I mean that this city really has it all. About 30 minutes out north of the Las Vegas Strip is a 1.5 mile race track, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Also popularly known as the home to EDC every May. I received tickets through work for the South Point 400, an annual race sponsored primarily by South Point Hotel & Casino as one of the first races of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Playoffs. I was definitely excited to go because of three major things:
- Free tickets (and who doesn’t love that)
- Photo Ops
- Hot race car drivers
I called up a friend to tag along and share this experience with me (and this way I wouldn’t be the only one who didn’t understand what was happening). We were excited to see what NASCAR and racing was all about, and seeing as this was the final night of playoffs, I figured why not? Our knowledge levels of NASCAR and racing were very much the same: very little.
Finding parking at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway proved to be difficult than expected considering the staff guiding traffic was less than helpful. For reference, I was told to make a u-turn on the opposite side of the road into oncoming traffic and “Yeah, I guess you can park here.” Thanks, guys! I definitely suggest you look up where your seats are at so that you park in the lot closest to your section. We were sitting in the Richard Petty Terrace, so we parked closer to Gate P for easy entrance and exit.
So, another little tidbit I didn’t know about races is that the sound of the cars going around the track is astronomically loud. So loud that, if you value your hearing, which you most definitely should, you should bring ear protection. I am not exaggerating when I say that the speedway was physically vibrating due to how loud it was. Most of the seasoned race watchers will have noise cancellation headphones. Thankfully, sober me is always taking care of drunk me and I always keep a pair of ear protection in my purse for such times. Note: If you do happen to need ear protection, plenty will be sold at the race. You may purchase foam ear protection for about $2. If you would like some heavy duty ear protection you may also purchase some here.
Although I didn’t know so much about this sport, I was still fascinated by the race and the drivers driving around the course. It was honestly mesmerizing seeing how hard and fast, (some may say lightning fast) the pit crew was working to get their driver back on the track. And yet some how, that same driver that was in first ended up staying in first for so many laps in a row. Yeah, I don’t really understand racing, but that was impressive in it of itself.
What I really want to know is what happens inside the pit. While there is not much going on in the stands besides true fans watching their racer (hopefully) dominate the track, it seems as if its a party in the pit! Maybe one of these days I’ll be able to get the full ‘race day experience.’ Until then, I will watch these cars whiz by from afar.
Until next time,