So, today Gabe and I got to go to the Atlanta Motor Speedway, as part of a Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce event, sponsored by Office Depot. Unlike my mother, I've never been a Nascar fan. I've been to drag races and a demolition derby (which was pretty fun), but neither of those were on my own volition - I was always just tagging along. Likewise, had the Chamber not been holding their monthly networking event at the PepBoys Auto 500, I also would not have attended this. But, I am so glad I did. I really had a great time.
When we first arrived, we saw many RV's and people were camping out in the parking lots, with their portable TVs and lawn chairs. We found our assigned parking lot and proceeded to the gate. There is this moat, a moat of sponsors, basically surrounding the entrance to the speedway itself. Various sponsor tents piped music out to the crowd - it was like dueling rock songs. Gabe even recognized Harvey Danger.
Once inside, we made our way to the pedestrian tunnel that led to the infield (which is quite an envied area to be in, I understand). We saw several more RVs along with many racers' buses and trailers that carefully transport the multi-sponsor racing cars. Office Depot, who sponsors Carl Edwards (#99), had a nice tent with food and free samples. (I love me some free goodies!)
Outside the tent was a mock #99's race car. Also on hand was one of the best things EVER! A Nascar driving simulator! Three people could get in the Nascar Sprint Experience simulator and race at a time. You raced against each other, and 22 other simulated cars. Right off the bat I immediately spun out and got turned around. Once I got turned around and made it back on the track I did okay. I placed 21st out of 22. Gabe came in after me. ;) Yes, that made me very happy. In all fairness, the simulator was a bit odd and it felt almost like you were driving something that was in the air, not like a car on a road. It was a lot of fun.
After racing, we went back in the tent because they were having drawings - with various prizes. I sat down and wasn't really paying attention, because I never win anything, but I heard Gabe say that they were going to call my name. I didn't believe him, but sure enough they did. I won two Grand Stand tickets to Sunday's race! Knowing how big of a Nascar fan my mother is, I texted her and told her the good news. I'm not going to be in town on Sunday, so I'm giving the tickets to her. She's so excited.
It was time to head out to the track because the cars were about to start driving for the qualifying race. We walked back through the pedestrian tunnel and headed up to the grandstands. The cars were lining up. Then, one by one, each car took off with such a force. We stood close to the fence that surrounded the track. The first car that came by was so loud and SO fast! I, intellectually, knew that the cars went fast - 180-200mph, but I was shocked seeing the cars speed by me. I felt the vibration from the cars. I have to say, I was so amazed and amused and excited. It was really spectacular. I had no idea how exhilarating it was. I'm sure I'd get bored with it all after an hour or so, but the short time we watched the qualifying was terrific.
So, thank you, Office Depot and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce!