Saturday, April 21, 2007

A Time to Reflect

Last weekend, I had a wonderful time visiting with friends at the Texas Motor Speedway race. I flew out on Monday.

While at the airport, I heard CNN talking about some shootings at a University in Virginia. I noticed it, and had momentary fleeting sadness at the death of two students.

Upon arrival back in Vegas, I walked into my house to discover CNN had been on all day. My family had been glued to the set for hours. The deaths had numbered 30 at that point, and the word massacre hit me hard.

Sometimes we need a reality check to slap us upside the head. No, I don't know anyone who attends that school. I had no connection to anyone involved in any way. However, I felt similar shock to what happened at Virginia Tech, just as I felt the same shock at the bombings in Oklahoma City, or the death of Jim Jone's followers, the Columbine shootings, or any number of other shocking incidents.

I am shocked at so many young lives suddenly gone. I am shocked at the young man who did this. I have to wonder what actions led to so much hatred and anger. I think of how one person can so negatively impact so many people, and the power he wields even in death. It stuns me.

My deepest sympathies go out to all who are affected. I have no words to console you. No words are adequate to soothe your grief. Just know that I, and a nation, are sending our thoughts your way.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Them Texans ain't so bad, at TMS!

Texas Motor Speedway! Things ARE Bigger AND Better in Texas! Having returned from my first trip to this raceway, I flew away from the experience totally exhausted and thrilled to have been there.

Texas is famous for its host of friendly outgoing souls. This is so true! We had a loosely planned, last minute weekend, and I met with my buds from Texas, and a few others from the rest of the world. My thanks to Phil, Jenell, David, and guys are the best of hosts! The SFCers who also attended provided me with certainty that there are still some good folks left in the world. Thanks Robin, Mel, and Alnee! And to a certain SpotterDude, you may not have remembered who I was, but I appreciate being included in a special presentation. You have ALMOST converted me back.

The other favorite saying about Texas is ....if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes! Over the course of 3 days, I experienced rain, hail, tornadoes, freezing, biting winds, and baking sun. All in three days. Fortunately, the tornado did not come near the RV park at the track, as we had folks who were unable to make a run for safety. While all of the Texans were as reassuring as possible, this writer used to live in Oklahoma, and is very familiar with the damages that can happen from this kind of unusual weather.

I had many opportunities to meet other racing personalities. Once again, I cannot believe how so many drivers, owners, and TV personalities are so open to their fans. And oh...RICHARD PETTY! It is wonderful to meet a hero!

Oh yeah...the racing? WONDERFUL! The Cup race had some long, green flag runs, but the end was amazing. The crowd was on its feet for 20 laps. TWENTY laps!!!! It gives me solid hopes that in just a few years, Vegas will have just as exciting finishes.

Just a few notes about the weekend:

  • I am sure that Eddie Gossage was relieved that the tornado did not touch down at the track. The RV park had most of the 'roads' clogged with folks trying to get to the grandstand. By the time we looked to join the 'rush to shelter' the roads were full of pick-ups. We realized that we had some who could not make a run for it, so we elected to stay. I am sure that Eddie will check out that evacuation plan, and in the future, there will be a more comprehensive plan for evacuation.
  • The track information has very specific rules about cooler sizes. Unfortunately, the security staff was not enforcing the rules. I saw coolers that were far to large to fit in the rows, and some sitting in the stairways. I have no objection to coolers, but some of the seating areas could have used more leg room, and adding the coolers made it dangerous to try and climb over seats to head for the 'other facilities.' Twice, I stumbled over others' coolers.
  • What's the Buzz? Where in the heck did all of the bees come from? In the last 60 laps, suddenly there was a group of bees flying around. Smaller than a swarm, it was still enough to make a few allergic folks flee in panic.
  • Leaving TMS is the same as leaving the Vegas race. Just expect to tailgate, and hang out for a few hours. Traffic will be non-moving for at least an hour.
  • Nationwide...thanks for the trolley's and golf carts! They were a life-saver!
There is no sound in the world like the sound of a full field of roaring sports cars passing by on the parade lap, except for the sound of the full field passing by to the green flag!

There is no view like the brightly colored cars zooming by so fast that you can't even focus on who is who, unless you pick them out and stare at them through the turns.

There is no aroma quite like the exhaust and the smoke from the rubber from a burnout!

There is no crowd experience quite like the crowd at TMS...a mere 170 thousand of my closest friends.

There is no experience ever quite like a race. And a race at TMS is just that much more special.