Thursday, March 15, 2007

LVMS, Chapter 2!

Going into race week, I was reading all available information about race predictions. The drivers all seemed to hate the track changes, and the collective media was attacking the commentary with a zeal that gladly pointed that there were going to be wrecks.

All of this is old news now. We saw that the Busch race had a record number of cautions. We saw that we really did not have a huge amount of cautions in the Cup race. it possible that the Cup drivers maybe figured out they needed to be a bit more careful? Or did they take a cue from some of the fans who declared..."Shut up and Drive!"

Frankly, this was the first year I have been in the stands (for 5 years) THAT I did not have to fight nodding off mid-way through the race. The racing got better and better. The groove started widening, and the drivers were using both the top and the bottom to pass. And, I saw SAFE three wide driving coming out of the corners!

Was it perfect? NO! But will it be better and better? YUP! The track will actually weather fairly fast out here, as that sun will bake the surface. The truck race will help the seasoning even more. Bumps? Who makes the drivers think their way through the turns! I expect that next year will be much better, and the following year, the track will completely live up to Bruton's expectations.

I listened to a few drivers on the scanner. Many were struggling all day with the set-ups on their cars. One in particular complained about so many items, I am surprised he ended up in the top 15. I swear they changed everything but the ashtray, and it still did not make him happy.

I have heard some drivers still complaining about how horrible it was, and how it was a 'white-knucke' experience. Frankly, it left me feeling that drivers may have become a bit too relaxed in their weekly job. Too bad they had to have a race where they had to run on the edge, and yet still keep from crashing. I am hoping their fear-induced adrenalin will keep their heart valves from getting all plaqued up!

Survival of the fittest? Maybe! The old track configuration had the drivers loving it, but the fans complaining. So, the changes were made with the fans in mind, and the drivers don't like it? Hmmmmm...that is interesting!
If we hear the same griping next year, you can bet that I will have a shirt made with the TMS infamous saying.....'SHUT UP AND DRIVE!'

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Post LVMS Views! Part 1!

I had the best of intentions on blogging daily after the three days of the Las Vegas Motor Speedway event. As you all probably figured out, it didn't happen. However, the guests are all gone! I adore my in-laws, and I am thrilled that we were able to meet with our family and continue this annual event.

Chapter ONE will address the LVMS experience. Next, I hope to discuss the racing, and then one final blog on any thing not covered in the first two blogs.


The NEON Garage ROCKS! The views are incredible! You can view from the ground level, much like Daytona.

You can also work your way up one level, and view the teams working on the cars from both the front and the back of the garage stall.

And from the outside, you can also view the haulers, and catch the drivers moving from hauler to garage.

The details in the brightly colored garage were amazing. There were many, many signs giving you detailed locations of the garage of your favorite driver/team. The food was upgraded in quality from the 'outside' midway, and yet keeping within the same price range! If you were on the second level, looking out to the haulers...they even provided a shelf for you to set your 'favorite beverage' while you snap your pictures.

The bad? Only one ATM that I could find in the whole neon area. The upper levels provide a possible safety hazard in the viewing area of the fan favorites. On Saturday, I made the mistake of passing the upper viewing area of Dale Jr's garage, and it was so clogged that it was impossible to move. Suddenly, when Jr backed out of his pit stall, there was a sudden jump of fans who ran from the viewing area to the outside viewing area, not caring who they knocked over.

The center stage is so very Las Vegas. The "Celebrities:" were a tremendous amount of fun!

Dale Earnhardt Jr and Richard Petty had wax figures made for Madame Tussauds, to be permanetly located at the Venetian. The figure of Dale Jr was not quite right, except they got the stance EXACTLY right.

Richard Petty's likeness was spooky in its realism! Check it out!

(I am still spooked by the realism of The Kings replica.)

Speaking of Richard Petty, for the first time we sat in the Terrace named after him. We sat high enough to have a perfect view of all of the track, and a fabulous view of the exit of pit road. The seats were individual drop down, with cup holders! There was enough room under the seat to hide the backpack, and my purchase from the midway. The only improvement would be signs at the stair level directing folks to their sections. We and several others had challenges finding our way to the right section. A simple sign with the section number and an arrow pointing to the correct side would suffice. The ones out on the concourse were not very helpful, even to the extent the "ticket checker-guard" could not always figure it out! One of them directed me to find a supervisor, and of course, there was not a single supervisor available.

But an added bonus, we were surrounded by a group of fans who had fun, teased us, and we gave it right back. After the race, they hoped we would be back next year in the same seats. The answer? YES!

The track has improved in several ways. The pit road is a great view! It was wonderful to have it moved so much closer to the grandstand. I was delighted to see that a previous rant of mine has been addressed, and they now have Nextel Vision on all turns, including the turn 3 $99-bucks-for-the-weekend seats. Well done!

The worst part of the weekend may stem from something totally amazing. My father-in-law was visiting. A staunch Jeff Gordon fan, he was the first in our family to be a NASCAR fan. At 82 years old, he is the reason the family gathers here every year. This year, we took two cars, to provide for his comfort, and so that he and my husband could park in the handicap parking area. (He has bone cancer, in remission, so walking distances is a challenge for him.)

This was a *very very bad word* disaster. The handicap area they were directed to was behind the drag strip, and there was a one hour wait for the handicap shuttle. After the Busch race, they were funneled out of the track onto Las Vegas Blvd.....going NORTH! They were stuck in slow moving traffic until it connected to the 15, turned them south, and they passed by the track with nearly empty parking lots. After the cup race, it was even worse, taking over 5 hours to get home. And BTW, the rest of us parked in a different parking lot, and it took us two hours to get home.

Now mind you, I understand that traffic needs are paramount. But this so-called handicapped parking area was not near the track at all. There was one closer, but there was no signage on how to get there. It is shameful that a parking lot supposedly set up to help the disabled access and enjoy the race takes the members so far away from their destination, while not affecting many of the others parking lots. I would hope that there were no health issues involved with any of the cars that were pulled over in the desert, as these cars were primarily from that parking lot.

And on a minor note, I think they need to rethink the location of the Speed Stage. It created a very narrow funnel for some of the traffic, and I think would have been served better being further towards the center of the midway, where it is wider. OR, don't have so many haulers or displays gathered around. It was almost dangerous trying to get through that area, all to arrive at your own seats.

Other than that, Bruton Smith has a winner! The track will, in the future, provide for great racing. It deserves a second date!