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This Weekend’s AAA Texas 500 Was Awesome [VIDEO]

Tony Stewart/Mark Martin 14
Martin Grossinger

I went to my first Nascar race this weekend (November 3 ,2013) at Texas Motor Speedway. It was everything I had hoped for and more. I ate, I saw, I went partially deaf, and I had the best time.

I’ve never been a huge Nascar fan – I’m aware of the drivers, for the most part I know which driver goes in which car and with which sponsors. Jeff Gordon drives the number 24, he’s got either DuPont or that hunger charity on his car (which I’m pretty sure is a Chevy, but I could be wrong), Dale Jr. is in the 88, he’s got either Amp Energy Drinks or the National Guard plastered across his Chevrolet (?), and Danica Patrick is in the lime green GoDaddy car. I knew of Juan Pablo Montoya from his Formula 1 days, when he complained a lot too.

I went to the Sprint Cup AAA Texas 500 this weekend not really knowing what a race would be like in person. I figured it would be loud, so I brought earplugs. I had planned on eating lots of fried things, I was disappointed in the chicken fingers I had. I did get one of the legendary Bacon & Beer Milkshakes — it was a letdown. They’re close to getting it right, but it’s not there yet.

I was amazed at how close you could get to the cars on the pit lane before the race. They’re right there! They’re smaller than they look on TV! You can ask mechanics questions, take a look at the pit stalls, sometimes the drivers will come out early and sign autographs. I can’t imagine any other sport with this much access. I even got to see a pit stop demo: here’s one of Jamie McMurray’s tire changers showing us how fast he can get the lug nuts off a wheel:

I had my earplugs in and headphones from my rented radio scanner on during the race, and my ears still hurt. These things are crazy loud. I guess the current cars don’t work well in pack-racing, so the field stretches out. Instead of one big, loud roar as the field goes by, it becomes a constant roll of thunder you feel in your chest. It’s awesome, but physically exhausting.

I spent some of the race in my grandstand seat, but spent more of it on my feet, walking around the track. It’s almost unreal how close you can get to the catch fence on the back straight; at one point I found myself three feet away from a group of cars going 190 miles per hour. The wind is incredible, but even more surprising is that as the cars go by, you’re showered with bits of chewed-up tire, track dirt, and who knows what else. The smell is also unreal – racing fuel, burning rubber, beer, and fried stuff. It was great.

What else? I don’t know — if you ever get the chance to go to a race, do it. It’s totally different from sitting at home and watching on TV.

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