Sunday, February 23, 2014

Daytona 500...or Bust!

And we were off to the Daytona 500! I had been struggling to keep it a secret from Jim as it was a present for a special upcoming birthday. Finally, the time was right to spill the beans. Phew...a relief!

Lots and lots of motorcycles were spotted along the way...

We got goofy and made a sign for the window...

Welcome Race Fans! The hotel was close to the track, got pretty good reviews and the price was right. Even better, it was available.

Yeehaw! Roller derby tonight...

Hmmm...that's a lot of advertising for biker lawyers.

Sharing a drink with Mike and Marg, who I coerced into coming with us. None of us really know that much about Nascar, but the guys like cars and we were up for any adventure.

The next morning, we were up bright and early to get to the track.

Along with a whole bunch of other early birds...

You leave your car and walk to the buses that transport you to the track. They were running like clockwork.

Ta da! We're here...

All week they had been forecasting rain, but the skies were blue and it was going to be a hot one.

"Wow" was all we could say when we stepped onto the track. It was huge!

We got to sign the Start/Finish line...

Jim at the Daytona 500!

Barb lent me a sun hat, which was great, until I realized I couldn't put my headphones on over it. Next time I guess I'll stick with the baseball cap.

The Goodyear Blimp and brilliant blue skies. It couldn't possibly rain, could it?

Pit row is where everyone comes in for repairs or tires and gas. I have no idea how they can pick out their numbers in all the confusion.

Lots of tires. They looked completely bald to me...go figure!

This just looks like mass confusion, but somehow they work it out.

Luke Bryan was giving a pre-race concert. I honestly had to say I'm not familiar with any of his songs, and I was definitely in the minority.

Jim checking out Jimmie Johnson's car, the winner of the 2013 Daytona 500.

Jim and Mike...don't you love the checkerboard seating area?

Michael Waltrip (with the yellow lanyard) was broadcasting for Fox News. But strangely, he was also driving in the race. Now that's multi-tasking!

Checking out the cars...

I'm not sure whose pit sign that is, but it was pretty original.

I had decided I was cheering for Danica Patrick; you know, women sticking together and all that stuff. The lady, who was sitting next to me, nicely told me I'd be the only one. Huh!

The blimp, small planes, birds, planes flying banners...there was a lot going on overhead.

Now the stands were filling up...

The cars were lining up...we were getting close!

Luke Bryan performing to an appreciative audience.

What? Still 35 minutes to go?

Driver introductions...they came out to explosions of smoke and great fanfare. Danica Patrick...

Down the catwalk...they are the rockstars here.

Forgive me, real race car fans, if I have some of these names wrong. Tony Stewart...

Paul Menard on the left and the fan favourite on the right, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., or just Junior...

I think this is Jeff Gordon on the left with Kasey Kahne on the right...

Martin Truex on the left with Austin Dillon the right...

Dillon was going to be the first person to drive the #3 car since the death of Dale Earnhardt, Sr. It probably doesn't hurt that he is the race team owner's grandson, but he has definitely earned his spot.

Uh...where did our bright blue sky go? Yes, clear the ballfield...let's get this show on the road.

Those clouds were looking a little angry...

The national anthem was sung with a fly by from the Thunderbirds...

Drivers start your engines! You can't say Gentlemen anymore now that Danica Patrick is driving.


And here they come being led by the pace car.

This was the problem...the track is so close to the stands, that you can't see them going by. Who am I kidding, I couldn't get a picture of them anyway. This was them going by slowly on the pace lap.

Amen for the screen right in front of us.

This was the only spot where we really could see them...

The track at Daytona is so big that you could barely see the cars on the backstretch.

A caution flag came out and everyone dove into the pits...literally. You can see Danica Patrick's green Go Daddy car colliding with another car as she tried to duck into her spot. I just loved the noise!


Jim was listening to three drivers with his headset and heard Danica asking about the damage on her car. The response was something like "Get out there!"

It looked like our luck with the weather was running out...

At first the rain wasn't too bad. We were all still smiling...

But then it turned to torrential rain. We got an alert on our phone about a potential tornado and they asked everyone to clear the stands. OK, this was turning out to be worse than we had thought it could be.

After trying to hide under the grandstands (with a couple hundred thousand other people), it was evident the rain wasn't going to let up.

We stood in line for the buses as it thundered and lightning streaked down. Great with all those metal corrals!

We were absolutely soaked. Who knew jeans could absorb so much water! The rain delay lasted six hours and eventually they got the race in with the fan favourite, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. declared as the winner. We watched the race from the comfort of the hotel room.

So maybe it was a bit of bust...

But we had a great time and just being there was fun!

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