Friday, July 25, 2014

4th July at Daytona International Speedway

It might sound like fun spending time in Miami for so many weeks but as the time moved on it was becoming increasingly stressful for us as the shipping company changed our estimated leaving date to early/mid July but as early July approached there was no exact date and we knew we were not going to achieve this date.  We constantly contacted the shipping company to be told nothing and provided with no confidence as to when we would actually be shipping.  The weather was getting hotter with storms almost every day and the first hurricane of the season – Arthur formed off the coast of Florida it felt like a very vulnerable position to be in.

So, as a treat we decided we would take a trip to Daytona International Speedway and although most of the Nascar racing takes place in the Autumn and Winter there was a Subway 200 and Coke Zero 500 taking place over the Independence day weekend.  Although the bigger race was taking place on the 5th, we decided to attend on the 4th as a nice was to celebrate but also because it was significantly cheaper. ;-)

An arrival we were soon sucked into the excitement, we were even enjoying a trip on a big yellow US school bus from the carpark to the circuit.  We arrived early afternoon armed with coolbag, waterproofs, suntan lotion; it was going to be a long day since the main race was not until the evening.  We had some fantastic seats just opposite the finish line and were happy to sit and watch practice.  The photo below is just before practice, the cars are lined up in the pits on the track, the stand behind Amanda is where the chequered flag/finish line is, what a fantastic view! And although there was little atmosphere at this point as there were only a handful of people it was still fantastic.

Yes there are no there are no other people as we arrive early

Our fantastic view
Mark and I both were both looking the part with our Daytona/Nascar baseball caps.

Even as the cars jostled for position on the grid we were excited, these cars are not the top league of Nascar but almost a secondary league of up and coming stars, they were qualifying in the afternoon for the big race in the evening.

The first time the cars drive by at close to 200mph the sound is incredible; there was no taking it easy during qualifying and this lead to various crashes which must be a big disappointment for the drivers so early in the day.

As qualifying finished our first rain shower of the day started, but thankfully it was not too heavy. They soon had the drying machines our on the track, unbelievable that they have huge hairdryers that dry the 2.5 mile strip of tarmac, good old Americans and their disregard for climate change ! We set off to explore the stadium and because there were still not many people around so we got to see the track from all angles.

Next up to race were the big boys of Nascar racing, this was the qualifying for the race on the Saturday.

It was a shame that they rain came in again and they were unable to complete the qualifying, we took shelter but so many people just sat in the rain!  The crowds were now gathering but the rain had delayed the start of the race and now there was a whole gaggle of dryers out on the track.

There was a big opening ceremony with the national anthem and various veterans commemorated, all very patriotic and the track looked amazing all lit up.

National Anthem

Stadium all ready to go for the big race

The race was 200 laps with 40 cars, the average speed is around 190mph.  When the cars are around the far side of the track we could still just see them from our seats and there is never ending commentary and video footage.

I always imagined watching 200 laps of a 2.5mile banked oval track would be dull, but I was so wrong. From lap 1 there were 40 cars,  2 or 3 abreast and inches (or less) apart. As the outside cars came out of the slipstream they slowed so to ensure they made it passed, the cars behind would touch their bumpers and add their 500HP to the equation. Amazing at nearly 200mph !

There were pit stops right in front of us, crashes and action on virtually every lap, we spent all our time on the edge of our seats or more often out of them with the rest of the crowds.

The winner was decided on the last lap 200m from the line, phew we were exhausted.

It was a really cool event, not even spoiled by the 250 mile drive back to magnum, arriving at 3.30am the next day.  

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