Monday, July 30, 2007

Brickyard 400

No matter what they try to call it ("Allstate 400 at the Brickyard")--it will always be the Brickyard 400! I'm not a huge NASCAR fan, but I know a few people who are (Jack Heim, Justin Brownfield, Mathew Eliason...) so by default I have learned a few things about it and caught a few hours (here and there) of races on TV, but my brother-in-law and sister (Matt & Rachel) came to visit and go to the race (which happened Sunday), and they invited me to go with them.

Let me tell you, watching a race in person is SO MUCH better than watching it on TV--although you probably know what's going on more from home! I had heard that the cars whiz by so fast that I didn't think I'd even be able to see them and that it was super loud at the track. Matt and our friend Warren Powers got seats in the Paddock and Rachel and I had the cheap seats in the First Turn Terrace, but it was so much better than what I'd thought, actually! Since Rachel and I were on the first turn the cars came by "slowly" enough that you could make out who each one was clearly and get a good view--even though we couldn't see the Jumbotron (unless you got a peek through the bleachers behind you) and seldom heard the announcer, we had a good idea of what was going on. And Matt's recommendations of ear plugs was a great one, even though it wasn't as loud as I had expected it to be.

We didn't leave Lafayette until after church Sunday morning (we got out of town around 11:45), then we stopped at Subway (Thanks, Warren!) for a quick bite for the road, and we found the same free parking spot Matt & Rach had found last year. We were inside the gates by about 1:15 probably, but by the time we picked up our drinks (lots of walking) and got to our seats it was about 2:00 and the race was on! I was honestly expecting to be somewhat bored but found myself not wanting to leave my seat for the next 4 hours until the race was over, so Rach and I both ended up with some nice sunburns to show for it! :) Our seats on the first turn ended up being quite good for seeing the 2 crashes that happened on that turn. We enjoyed cheering for Jeff Gordon and were pleased with his 3rd place finish. I'm sure the people behind us were quite disappointed when Dale Jr.'s engine blew near the end of the race (they were pretty loud at first!)--but we got to see that firsthand because that happened on our turn, too! Rachel and I got pretty good communicating with gestures, pointing, and lip reading--and by pointing to my "cheat sheet" of driver information.

All in all, it was a great day. The weather was perfect--not too hot, a perfect day to sit out in the sun, Jeff Gordon finished in the top 3, we got 2 free cokes, and we had fun! We met up and wandered around the infield for a little after the race then ventured out into traffic around 7:00 p.m. It took about 3 hours to make the normally one-hour trip home because of traffic and a semi with a blow-out (we think) backing up the already busy interstate. But we still made it to Cracker Barrel before it closed and had a meal there (we didn't exactly get what we ordered, but that's a different story...I guess you're stuck with what they have left at the end of the day)! Then we had cupcakes back at home to celebrate Matt's 24th birthday! Happy Birthday, Matt!

I would highly recommend going to a race if you get the opportunity. I learned more about racing and really enjoyed it!Rachel & Matt, Warren Powers, and me at the track.

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