Tuesday, February 25, 2014

#56 The Great American Race: The Daytona 500

When we were given the opportunity to spend this winter in Florida, we knew we would have try to go to the Daytona 500.  Ronnie has been a race fan for..like forever.  Me?..well my brother is a NASCAR fan too.  Because of their knowledge, I cannot help but to know a little about it's history and the competitiveness of the sport.  We purchased our tickets on our trip to Daytona Beach back in January and just kept our fingers crossed that all would work out for us to attend the race.

Of course there is a lot to tell..now that the race and the day is over.  For anyone who wishes to know if we stayed for all of the rain-delayed race or if we left out early, you can scroll down to the end of our blog to find out.
We got to Lot 7 where they offer free parking around 8:00am.  We had no issues with traffic.  We even enjoyed our ride to the track on the shuttle bus where we met a couple from Oregon.  She was a retired middle school science teacher and we kidded each other about the school bus ride being too much "deja vu".

We easily found our seats and were excited that we were finally at the Daytona 500.  This was sort of a bucket list thing for us and as you can see we were the early birds.
Our seats were located where you see the gentleman with the orange vest.  He is bending over wiping the dust from the chairs.

Since we were there early, it gave us the opportunity to stroll around and take in some of the sights.  We walked down to the track where the pre-race activities where being held.  We saw the pit areas, some track repairs and lots of excited race fans.

The race activities began on time with the Budweiser Clydesdales, the parade of Race Drivers, of course the National Anthem and a remarkable fly over by the Thunderbirds.  It was an inspiring site.
Click on the photo for an enlargement to see the Aircraft.

As the drivers were given the green flag, the sound the engines made as they accelerated was deafening.  We brought ear plugs with us but decided to rent the headphones instead. What a difference that made for our experience.  It blocked out the roar and we only heard the announcer and some of the radio chatter between the drivers and crew chiefs.  Now some of that talk was funny!

We were really having a good time until it started to rain and heavy too.  We were prepared with rain ponchos, sweat shirts, a blanket and even towels.  We were hoping for a short delay but unfortunately it turned into 6 hours.   We met Ivan and Georgina who were also standing around waiting for the race to restart.  As we shared stories, we discovered they were from England and Ivan raced motorcycles.  Ronnie and I enjoyed getting to know them and our conversations helped the time pass by swiftly.  We learned that Ivan had raced in Isle of Man TT and he is an accomplished and talented racer.  Ivan Lintin's website and driving awards can be viewed here.

Once it finally stopped raining it took about 2 hours to dry the track.  They still use the jet dryers but now the track crew also has new specialized track dryers.
Finally the race was restarted. 
These are the damp, chilly and dedicated fans of NASCAR.

Around Lap 118 the Announcer exclaimed that the drivers were racing as if it was their last lap, the radar was showing more rain headed towards the area and we could see lightning off in the distance. At that point, we knew there would be a possibility of the race ending at any time.  We also knew we had a distance to walk back to the shuttle loading area and with the possibly of waiting for it in the rain with many, many other people, we began to get concerned. So..we decided to call it a night.  That's right, we left the race before it ended and we missed seeing Dale Earnhardt, Jr win the 2014 Daytona 500 and the wrecked mess afterwards.  Yet it still was a memorable time chocked full of exciting moments and interesting people, even if there was a tortuous rain delay.  Would we do it all over again....yes!


  1. We thought about you and wondered if you made it to the race. How disappointing to miss the end but it sounds like you hung in there a lot longer than I would have been able to :) One thing to cross off of the bucket list!
    See you soon!

  2. I am glad you got to go to the race too bad you didn't get to see the end live!! Way to go Dale Jr. Miss you guys! Took off some time from work last week to enjoy time at Page Place and the weather was great!

  3. The last time I went to the Daytona 500 was 1978! Things have certainly changed over the years. I'm usually one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. Terri stays home and enjoys the quiet time. :)