Hello NHRA.com readers.
I spent my first off-weekend of 2014 back at a race track, but not an NHRA race track. I headed south to Homestead, Fla., to go to my first NASCAR race with our social media specialist, Leah Vaughn, and Paul Mecca, who handles new business development for DSR. Paul is well-versed in the NASCAR world, so who better to learn the stock car racing ropes from?
We arrived at the track on Saturday afternoon in time to watch the final Sprint Cup series practice. It was eye-opening to see how different the stock cars are compared to what I’m used to with NHRA nitro racing. After watching practice, we got to walk around the garage and mingle. One of the first drivers we ran into was our NAPA Auto Parts teammate Martin Truex, Jr. It was cool to meet Martin and talk auto racing. He and his NAPA team attended their first NHRA last year at the 2012 Charlotte Four-Wide Nationals.
Later, Paul, who worked for NASCAR before coming to work for DSR in 2001, took Leah and me around and introduced us to some big names in NASCAR including Jack Roush and “the King” Richard Petty. Wow, two racing legends and both raced NHRA many years ago. Meeting Richard Petty is like meeting auto racing royalty. What an honor.
After spending time in the garage socializing, we headed down to pit road for all the Nationwide series pre-race festivities. I had to get used to all this new racing terminology, garage and not pits and pit road and not staging lanes. LOL While on pit road, we got to spend some time with the Wallace brothers, Kenny and Mike. No, we didn’t meet Rusty. Kenny was excited to meet the girls behind the @ShoeRacing Twitter account. He told us he loves following our adventures in NHRA-land and is a ball of personality.
We watched the Nationwide race from pit road. It was exciting to see how the teams operate during a race because it is so different from what we see in an NHRA race. My favorite part was watching the teams go to work when their car came in for a pit stop. It’s a much quicker version of our post-run service in the pits.
It was a different type of race day for us on Sunday. We got to the track in time to watch some of the cars go through tech inspection. Following inspection, we got to spend time with NASCAR marketing team members. They explained all the ins and outs of NASCAR marketing. We discussed that Don’s company, Schumacher Electric, is the official battery charger, jump starter and inverter for NASCAR and how they activate the relationship.
The marketing team brought us to NASCAR’s version of hospitality, which was called “the cabana.” It was made to look as though we were in South Beach Miami and was located in the middle of turn one. It was sponsored by Sherwin-Williams and was very unique with the South Beach art deco colors.
After mingling in the cabana, we went down to pit road and watched NASCAR’s driver introductions and pre-race ceremonies before heading up to the Homestead-Miami suite to watch the race. Pre-race at a NASCAR race is very exciting. It’s like a band walking on stage to begin a concert, but unlike NHRA, the stock car racing fans don’t have access to the drivers and cars as they do in our sport.
Meanwhile, back at the shop things are rolling along early this off season. It looks like a few teams will be testing in South Florida next month. I’m told Tony, Antron and TJ will test on Dec. 10-11. The dragsters want to focus on clutch improvements and TJ just got his seat poured and they want to get acclimated to a new driver.
We’ll be decaling the 2014 NAPA Auto Parts, Valvoline Max Life and Rocky Boots Funny Cars in the next few days, so we will have some cool photos to share with you over the next few weeks.
It’s been quiet with our drivers. TJ has been around the shop with his new team. Antron is racing RC boats in Louisiana and Matt has been sporting his Rocky Boots and doing some hunting near his home in Virginia.
If anything exciting breaks, I’ll be sure to check in (plus you can follow me on Twitter, @MeganFessSchu), but if not, please have a safe, happy and filling Thanksgiving holiday and weekend.
All the best.