As many people who follow me on twitter know, I was at the NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races on September 15th and September 16th in Chicagoland. In this blog post, I’ll be writing about my experience at the track, mainly about the Nationwide race. For the Nationwide race, I had garage passes so I virtually saw everything at the track. I saw the good things, and the not so good things and the just plain ugly things that went on at the track involving drivers, crew members and even the media. I’m glad to say I saw more good than bad and ugly.
First I’ll start out with the good. The good begins with the track facility. The staff members of Chicagoland Speedway do such a fantastic job keeping the fans happy. They do whatever they can to accommodate what the fans want. They always try to help to make the experience good for all race fans and if a fan doesn’t like what they see at the track, the track President Scott Paddock fixes it, or at least tries to.
The next piece of “good” that I witnessed at the track came from my favorite NASCAR driver, Brad Keselowski. I’ve been a fan of Keselowski since his early days in NASCAR. Brad Keselowski is one of those guys who is incredibly aggressive on the track. He’ll bump you and figuratively ask you to move out of the way and if you don’t move, he’ll make you move. Off the track Keselowski always takes time to talk to fans, sign autographs for them and take pictures with them and that’s exactly what Brad did for me.
Another good thing I was able to witness at the track involves the car chief of the Motorsports Group owned by Curtis Key. I actually never caught his name but it all started because I took a picture of the team’s hauler. He noticed that I took a picture so we got to talking and the guy gave my grandpa and I a tour of the inside of the hauler. Pretty well all of the underfunded teams and drivers were very kind like Timmy Hill, Morgan Shepherd and Joey Gase (http://turn4racingnews.com/2012/07/27/joey-gase-is-full-throttle-for-success/.) None of them gave us a tour of the hauler but each stopped and talked.
One of my favorite things that I witnessed had to have been something Kurt Busch did. Most NASCAR fans won’t be surprised to see that he’s in this article however you may be surprised where he’s placed. My grandpa and I were walking behind pit road when three fans walked up to Kurt and asked if they could sit on the pit box with him. None of them were wearing Kurt or Kyle Busch merchandise and weren’t in any way affiliated with Monster Energy or Kyle Busch Motorsports; they were just regular NASCAR fans. Kurt said, “Yeah, sure!” and allowed them to sit on the pit box with them. He asked the fans of their name and he shook their hands and invited them up.
Now on to the bad and the ugly. I’m so happy I can say there is much more good found at the track! One of the bad things may not surprise you because it has to do with NASCAR’s poster girl, Danica Patrick. It’s a fairly well known fact that Danica usually only signs for little kids. As nice as it is of her to take time to sign for her little fans, but what about the adults that like her? I was standing beside a man who had a die-cast from Danica’s IndyCar days that he wanted her to sign. Danica signed it but because she was walking, the man was forced to run up to her to get his die-cast signed. When she was finished signing it, Danica handed him the die-cast, didn’t say a word and made no eye contact which I found very ignorant.
The only other thing I noticed that I didn’t particularly like at the track inadvertently involved Danica but it was mainly at the fault of an ESPN camera man. Obviously the most important thing in NASCAR is Danica Patrick; Well in ESPN’s eyes any way. One of Mike Wallace’s crew members for the JD Motorsports team was just walking out to pit road when an ESPN camera man was following Danica out to pit road. Apparently the JD Motorsports crew member was in the way so the camera man pushes him out of the way. I was absolutely disgusted about this. Believe it or not, it is so easy to just ask someone to move out of the way politely but apparently, that’s too easy.
All in all, I really enjoyed my experience at the Chicagoland Speedway. I highly recommend getting tickets here because it is so fan friendly. I would also love to get garage passes again. Not only did I have fun hanging out in the garage, but I also had a chance to observe what really goes in with the drivers, what they really do and what we don’t see on TV. It truly was an eye opening experience.
By Tyson Lautenschlager