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Sunday, May 20, 2012

EPIC Memories!

{CAUTION: Very long blog post! Put your readers on!}

Where do I start? At the beginning I suppose...way back, a little over thirty years ago on a beautiful Palm Sunday evening...oh, too far? Ok, how about I start with last Thursday? 

Alright, when my epic adventure began was really last week. I retweeted a post on Twitter from Miss Sprint Cup (@MissSprintCup) without really thinking about it. Turns out I was one of the first however many to retweet the post. I won two tickets to the Sprint Cup Pit Crew Challenge. We've always wanted to go but have never had the chance.

A dear friend, Sara, came down from Kernersville, NC to spend the day with us and attend the event together. We had an epic lunch, sitting on the bus inside the legendary Lancaster's in Mooresville, NC. After that we headed over to the NC Auto Racing HOF & Museum. We looked around a bit but realized we were short on time so we made a quick pit stop at Wal-Mart and headed home. 

After making some neon signs to try to get on tv with, we scooped up my daughter and headed over to Turner Motorsports. We delivered some goodies to Ted Bullard, their Chief Marketing Officer and dare I say a good friend? Well, on the way to that status I hope! We were sitting there waiting for Ted to come out to say hey and who walks out? None other than James Buescher and his adorable wife Kris! 

They said hey as they walked out the door and my husband says, "Wasn't that James Buescher???" I said yes, he got so excited he knocked his sunglasses off his own head! James & Kris walked back in and came over to us! My hubby got James' autograph! Kris told me that she had said to James outside, "I think he wanted your autograph but was too shy to ask." Tell me that is not the most awesome couple in racing y'all!!!! Then Kris took a picture of us & tweeted about how sweet WE were! WHOA!!!!!

They chatted with us for a few minutes, during which my son told Ted that he wanted to sit in the race car (show car). Ted, being the awesome guy he is, picked up my son, Baby Bear, and put him inside the car/truck. Kris took a picture I think. There was so much going on and honestly I was a little star struck at how amazing the Buescher's were/are! Baby Bear totally tried to put the belts on, he wants to drive so bad it's almost scary! Too expensive! But if it's his dream, well hopefully we can make that happen!

Next into the truck was George. If you have not already, you need to check out this picture of him as he was climbing out:

We had a great tour around the shop, it was so different to see some of the cars not in there where we had seen them lined up before...made it sink in how it was race weekend and all. My daughter, Honey Bear, was in heaven as she stood next to Kasey Kahne's truck and his car. George got a second autograph, from Miguel Paludo! Have I mentioned this was our most epic trip to Turner to date? 

We all hung out in Ted's office till literally the shop was closed and locked up for the night. We had some great conversations about the #TMSFanCrew and more! Every time I get a chance to talk with Ted it is an epic good time, I have such respect for positive people who know their passion and go for it! We got to sneak in a quick hug with the amazing Ted's even more amazing & beautiful wife, Merrily before we scooted out the doors!!

After our scramble to find a sitter and get the kids there, we headed out to Time Warner Coliseum in Charlotte, NC, barely making it in time to see the first challenge. I was hooked the second the buzzer went off. I was screaming like a die hard fan from way back. To be honest, I kinda am one of those.

I think the pit crews are the real rock stars of our beloved sport of NASCAR. Oh, and if you dare to disagree with me that it is a sport than I point you to exhibit A. Go to the pit crew challenge yourself, sit close enough to see the action first hand...than come at me with your theories. I dare you. No I double dog dare you. But I digress! (For the record, even if you're wrong, you are entitled to your own opinion.)

So yea, I always knew that the pit crews were the superstars who make the drivers look good but I will never forget the amazing skills being highlighted that night. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been able to witness that. It made it totally worth completely losing my voiceou. I'm seriously not kidding y'all, I couldn't even squeak Friday morning!

We're up to Friday morning now, right? We lounged around a little after getting my daughter off to school. I remembered talking with Sara about Penske's Race Shop and since it is literally down the road from us we decided to head up there and look around. It was really cool, in my humble opinion. Of course, walking around the shop one on one is the best experience, but the observation deck at Penske is wild. It's a walkway that literally goes almost the length of the shop and you can stand up there to watch the guys work. Plus it is an open air experience, you are in the race shop while you're above it and so you still get all the smells you get on a traditional tour. Mostly. 

Since we were out and about, and since we're part of JR Nation, we decided to head the few minutes down the road to JR Motorsports next. We were walking around their gift shop when the gals behind the counter announced they had free tickets for that same night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race! No purchase necessary! Um...YES PLEASE! Double bonus? Free shop tour! 

Now, this shop tour was pretty inclusive, we walked past the offices of the likes of Tony Eury, Sr as we headed into the shop. We saw so much I can't begin to describe it all. I will admit, when I saw the #3 Wrangler tribute car I got chills...and when the tour guide reminded us that it was the last ever tribute that Jr did for his dad I felt a few tears escape. 

I am in love with the sights, sounds and smells of the inside of the race shops. If I could go every day it still would not be often enough. I know my passion, It is NASCAR. More importantly, it is the behind the scenes heroes who work on making those cars rock, and the pit crews who win races a few seconds at a time!

We got home just before my daughter came bursting through the front door with her own epic news! She passed her EOG's! (NC's End of Grade standardized tests) So when we shared our plans for the night we asked if she wanted to invite a friend to come with. Her friend was jumping up and down excited about it. Score one for the parental units!

Packed up and ready the five of us head off to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC. We hit up the Will Call window and left extra tickets for Merrily who would arrive in a little bit. We headed inside to find we were seated just before the Start/Finish line on the front stretch. Not bad! After a mix up with kids tickets (my bad!!) Merrily, her mom, her son, her neighbor & neighbor's son all joined us.

I was still nursing my voice back when our boy, James Buescher, took the lead! It was all over for my vow of silence at that point. I would buy a bottle of Chloroseptic the next morning. Or two. Hey, they might make a good sponsor for our guys at Turner...oh, but I digress!

In the end, all three Turner trucks would end up with some bad luck but we cheered them on to the end. We know that our team is dominant this year in both its main series and we look forward to many more trips to victory lane regardless of how the 'hometown' race went!!

I stayed up too late talking with all my amazing friends on Twitter about my epic night until the internet went out. The alarm clock at 6:00 the next morning was a harsh reality but I drug myself outta bed and got ready for another memorable day. I had no idea it was going to turn out as insanely epic as it did! I have to say since this is getting so be continued! 

Thankful for: too many blessings to list! My cup & saucer overflow!
2nd thanks: NASCAR fans who rock my world!

Lessons Learned:
*Even if you think you left early enough on race didn't!
*I will never get tired of chatting with my friends about #TMSFanCrew & NASCAR in general!
*My husband has a silly side!! He may have missed his calling! LOL
*My son has discovered a passion for racing! We may be in trouble! Ha!
*My daughter has discovered her as well & is making plans already to achieve them! So proud!!

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