From Charlotte to victory lane with Kyle Busch at Watkins Glen, I can truly say that I had one heck of a summer vacation. There have been so many special moments this summer that I will never, ever forget. Friendships were developed and vital connections were made. So much accomplished, so much done in the last two and a half months.
Myrtle Beach and Charlotte kicked it all off in June. Time at the beach after a long school year was the perfect remedy to tired head full of biology and algebra. Charlotte, NC was as perfect as I thought it would be. The Charlotte Motor Speedway carries so much history and getting a private tour of all that was breathtaking. Following that up was the Hall of Fame. I learn more and more every time I enter that place. It is purely awesome.
My NASCAR-themed summer continued at my first race of 2013. New Hampshire. Every day there, the experience just got better and better. That weekend was filled with lifelong memories and new friendships from within the NASCAR circus.
Getting to go in the flag stand for the first time ever and wave the flags during qualifying on Friday that weekend was incredible. That day was followed up by another phenomenal one. Trackside was where it was at. Once another great edition of the show concluded, it was time to meet two of my favorite people to interact with on twitter. Rutledge Wood and Kaitlyn Vincie.
Both knew who I was and we all had a great conversation. Kaitlyn is living proof that dreams do come true and her path to reach her goals is inspirational. Rutledge always provides a laugh that sometimes can be much needed.
The best weekend of summer didn’t end there though. Sunday was quite the day. Winning a garage tour from the MWR Girls was likely the best moment of my year. Getting to experience some of my dreams like going inside a Sprint Cup hauler on race day and walking through the garage was simply amazing. Besides all of that, I built some great friendships with the MWR Girls themselves that continued at Watkins Glen a few weeks later.
The tour concluded early in the morning, but that day’s events were far from over. Pre-race pit access gave me a chance to walk the pits for a few hours prior to the race and I stretched that time out as long as I could. I waited for one of my idols, Samantha Busch, to emerge onto pit road for the race and the moment she did only made my summer better. We talked and walked with her husband to driver intros and that conversation was ever so uplifting. Sweet comments from her are some that I will always cherish.
The conversation led to an unexpected walk down the pre-race grid where I wasn’t supposed to be. Another incredible event from that magical day. To say the least, those days in New Hampshire made up one of the best race weekends I have ever experienced.
Summer kept rolling a few weeks later at Watkins Glen. Sunday brought lots to the table to make that day another unforgettable one. It all started by getting to catch up with the MWR Girls. A nice chat with some of my favorite friends left me smiling for the rest of the day. That smile grew once I met up with another friend pre-race, Samantha Busch.
Another great conversation led to a statement that I never saw coming. “If we win, you’re coming to victory lane with us” Samantha told me. That quote will forever be etched in my head. During that race, I felt what it was like to be Samantha. My nerves were driving me crazy as I watched Kyle contend for the victory. I took a chance late in the race and headed for the infield in case he pulled off the victory. And low and behold, he did. That led to Samantha bringing me along to victory lane where I experienced the highest of highs.
The celebration for Kyle’s win went on and I found myself celebrating as well. As Kyle and his team enjoyed their win, I found a familiar face standing next to me. It happened to be Joe Gibbs and to be right next to one of the most successful team owners in NASCAR had me in awe. What a day that was.
Those were the events that highlighted my summer. It’s rare that I can say my summer rocked, but this year is one where I can firmly say that. As another school year lies ahead of me, I will think back on these amazing experiences every time I need something to smile about. A summer that sped by way too fast has come to a close, but the adrenaline from my racing-filled summer will live on forever.
By Jason Schultz