Last week, my friends at Toyota reached out to see if I had any weekend plans and invited me to experience the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma Raceway. (OMG, yes!) I had never been to NASCAR so I jumped at the chance for a day of fun at the raceway.
As always, I love bringing my husband to these events. Not only do I get to go behind the scenes with my media pass, but Ernie gets to experience it as well.
Ernie had been to the Sonoma raceway a couple of times to track his Audi, but this time he was able to see professionals have their turn on the track.
We had a late start to the morning (breakfast at Black Bear Diner), so we didn’t get to the raceway until after the start time. After some missed turns and finding exactly where Will-Call was hiding, we made it down to the track. And by down to the track, I really mean down to the track.
Ernie and I had some “hot” track passes that allowed us to walk around and view the track right behind the pit crew. I was totally cheesing and thought it was just the coolest thing ever. I couldn’t wait until it was time for a car to get maintenance.
This is how close we were to the action. Yes, the video is very loud, so be careful!
Here is the moment I was waiting for…the tire change!
I seriously could stay there the whole time to check out the action. It was exhilarating to see what was happening behind the scenes while the driver was out on the track. The pit crew was able to track when the driver needed to come in for a tire change, refuel, or even change out a side panel if there was damage. Boy were they fast! I mean you could blink and the team was in and out.
After the used tires were taken off, the team would burn off the debris and write down the tire pressure. I mean, this is what it looked like what they were doing! Then someone would cart off the tires to the garage.
It was fun to walk around the pavilion to see the garages and trucks that held the cars.
All of the tools and equipment would go underneath, then the race car would ride on top. These trucks were deep!
After walking around and taking in the sights, I really wanted to get down to victory lane. After flashing our media badges, Ernie and I took our place in the winner’s area. It was so crazy when the race had about 1 lap to finish and Tony Stewart edged out Denny Hamlin to take the win. It was a very close race!
After hearing that Tony won the race, the security guards were moving everyone to separate to make room for the car to come in. I was like WHAT?!!! A couple minutes later you could hear the cheering get louder when Tony finished his victory lap.
Suddenly, Tony Stewart’s car was just a couple of feet away from me.
To give you a sense of how close I was to Tony, there isn’t a zoom function on my DSLR lens!
I kept turning to Ernie in amazement. There were no words to describe the energy in victory lane. It was a special win for Tony, who had not won a race since 2013 AND it’s his final NASCAR season!
After leaving the press area, Ernie and I sat down on a bench to relax before the walk to our car. We kept saying to each other, this was an experience of a lifetime.
I have to thank my friends at Toyota for giving my husband and I such a special gift. I had watched NASCAR before, but this was nothing like watching it on TV. We will see you next year, Sonoma Raceway!