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.
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.
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.
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!