Monday, September 17, 2012

My Ahh-Mazing Weekend Part 1

Last weekend my husband had a number of events to attend for his job (historical chocolate manager for M&M/Mars) and I happily tagged along.  One of those events was a NASCAR race - the one in Richmond, Virginia on Saturday, September 8.  Well, I'm not a NASCAR fan - football is my sport, however, I like to experience new things and this invite wasn't just a couple of seats in the bleachers.  Oh no!  You see Mars sponsors Kyle Busch's car - #18 and we had full access to...well, everything.

 Rodney, Kyle & Me before the start of the race - Kyle a LOT happier then at the end :(

Rodney and Joe Gibbs - owner of Kyle's car. 

Before the race, I did a bunch of reading about the Sprint Cup and how only the top twelve can race for the championship (Kyle missed it by 1 point!), but I learned so much during my day at the races.  First, there is a ton of effort in getting the car ready - there's a sense of urgency and little time to waste from the crew - but it's not all work as there were plenty of TV screens, showing college football and plenty of food! 

Inside the trailer, I discovered a number of surprises.  I expected the drawers and cabinets full of spare parts, but I didn't expect the "spare" car to be parked above our heads - or for there to be so many computers.  One was just dedicated to keeping track of the weather - storms were coming - we hoped they'd miss us, but we had a rain delay and I watched the big jet engine type dryers dry the surface in an hour.

Spare car on second floor of trailer.

Tools inside trailer

Crew Chief on left and his crew in trailer's office (working and watching football)

The rush to prep the car.

Prepping Tires

When the race started, we hung out in the pit - well, we kept out of the way - I didn't want to slow anyone down.  I must say the pit stops were the most exciting but hard to watch - just as I'd focus on one guy, he'd be done with his task.  The fuel man wore a flame-resistant apron, a helmet with a visor and heavy gloves and I noticed a spray of gasoline when he yanked it out so Kyle could race off.  Then after a stop, four guys would intently crouch over the used tires, with a torch and examine them, burning off...I wasn't sure what (anyone know?). I guessed they were examining the wear and how pitted the tires were.

Pit Stop #2

The front of the pit.

Fuel tanks.

I was fascinated with the whole process, and there's so much more involved than a driver going in circles on a track.  When the engines started, it was very loud (thank fate for ear-protection) and the vibrations from the cars rumbled deep in my chest.  Talking and being heard were impossible when the cars were at full speed.  I thought it funny that the pit crew watched the race on the huge monitor in the middle of the track - but their body language made it clear when they were getting close to a pit stop and for me to move out of the way. 

Oh and the TV doesn't do the speeds justice - it's hard to get a sense of how fast they're really going when watching on TV, but when they rip by you at 150 + mph, it sends an little impact/energy wave right into you.  I don't know if I'm going to become a die-hard fan of racing, but yesterday I kept flipping between the Eagles/Ravens football game (Eagles won - Yay!) to the race in Chicago.

If you noticed I titled this Part 1 - and you're probably thinking what else I did that was Ahh-Mazing - well it has to do with an event at the State Department in Washington, DC.  I'm waiting on pictures - so stay tuned for Part 2!


  1. Fun! I was a big NASCAR fan when I was a teenager - back when Jeff Gordon was at the high point of his career ;) - and I've kind of grown out of it, but I'd still love to see a race some day!

  2. Okay, first. I LOVE you blog background. I was not fond of the other one, so this was a fun find when I popped in to read. Second, you KNOW I love your husband's job! And what a great experience. It doesn't surprise me that you were there and watching everything. You are so great at soaking up details and then putting the knowledge to work in your stories. Will there be a "pit" in one of your books, or something about cars? I don't know, but that's a great talent to have. Can't wait for part 2!


  3. You had me at "historical chocolate manager." LOL

    I'm not a NASCAR fan, but you made this sound like a great day. And I kept thinking, as I was reading the post, "Gee, I'll bet she was wondering how weather would effect the race."

  4. My hubby turned me into a NASCAR fan (Earnhardt Jr is our guy).
    We've only been to one race; I took him to the 50th running of the Daytona 500. The amount of energy coming off those cars literally leaves your body vibrating. You can't help but get caught up in the excitement when you see it in person; it's so much fun!
    Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Chocolate. Did I see chocolate? I love chocolate. As for NASCARS. I may not recognise one if I fell over it. But I'd recognize chocolate anywhere! What a fantastic day you had.

  6. What a cool experience! I'm glad you had and ahh-mazing weekend!

  7. That was cool. Is that the same type of car that is in M&M World, Las Vegas? We just came back from there and spent some time (and way too much money, lol) at M&M World.

  8. Next time invite me as that was halfway between our houses and I have been a NASCAR fan for decades!

  9. HI! just finished all your yelena and opal books - ahh-mazing! just wondering if you are doing any signings around leeds area?

  10. These kind of courses are very important to the society that we live in if these kind of courses were start before the situation was much batter

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