JANUARY 15, 2014 (Wednesday)
Woke up early to beautiful sunshine. Was so glad we postponed our tour of Daytona 500 until today. Got up around 9:00 AM, had breakfast and we were out the door by 9:30 AM. We stopped very quickly at 7-11 for Lexi to get her breakfast, then off to Daytona 500.
Our tour guide was named Ron. He has been doing the tour for about ten years. He was great fun and very knowledgeable. You could tell he loved his job and loved racing. We learned so much from him and got to see so much. We even got to go on the track. Was so glad because we were told it was pretty rare to get to do that due to races and other things going on. The tour was over 90 minutes but time went really fast. At the very end of the tour we got to see the race car that won last year (and of course get your picture taken with it). Really enjoyed the tour and now we’re looking forward to seeing the races and knowing where things are.
Our transport for the tour. They have over 200 of these to move people around on race day. This place is huge.
It was a slow Wednesday and not crowded at all. They accommodate wheel chairs as well.
Car catching fencing surrounds the turns.
Lake Lloyd, created when they removed the dirt to build the banked turns on the two ends.
RV parking with hook-ups all over the infield. Many of the drivers travel in RVs.
Elevators leading up to the private boxes. Ron told us that almost all are leased by companies. They in turn use them to promote their business efforts by inviting customers and potential customers to the races.
Looking to the left.
Looking across where the start and finish line is located.
Of course there is a wet bar and mini-kitchen in the private boxes.
Escalators and elevators and in the future as they are becoming more like a modern football stadium.
Even the flat straightaways have a 3 degree bank.
There are two chairs on top of the sign, two of the best seats in the house for spotters.
A nice man, who thought the zoom was automatic, took this for us.
18 degrees is pretty steep for walking.
Lex at the finish line. It is an 18 degree angle.
Photo op in the winner’s circle. They are practical and nice, they take the one they want to sell you and then they take one with your camera if you want.
That Rolex is a sponsor tells us all the level of money floating around this enterprise.
We got to see the video shown to the crew chiefs and drivers on race day. Very short, very simple, very few rules.
Maximum number of cars on the track is 43, thus 44 garages.
So if you pay lots extra you can walk around the infield and look in the garages when the race cars are being worked on and there are slots in the bottom of the window for getting an autograph from a favorite driver, if you see them and get their attention.
Nice cars to look upon.
Vehicle tunnel entrance under the track.
Vehicle tunnel to and from infield. Big enough for big rigs, RV’s, all traffic.
Lex with last year’s winning car.
Trophy room, lots of engraving and etched photo’s of past winners.
A photo op with green screen. I enjoyed the fantasy of being the winner and having all the photographers taking pictures. Just wish the flashes on the cameras would randomly fire to add to the fantasy.
Bill France Jr. One of the benevolent dictators that created and run NASCAR.
They borrowed a leaf from Hollywood and have their own Walk of Fame.
In memory of Dale Ernhart, died racing in the Daytona 500, on February 18, 2001, in a last lap accident. His death lead to huge safety changes at all NASCAR races.
After the tour we went to lunch at Cracker Barrel. They had a chicken salad special going on that we all three ordered and really enjoyed. We also got a book on tape, “The Perfect Hope,” for the trip to Jacksonville and North to Myrtle Beach on Saturday.
Comfort food and audio books!
Grilled chicken salad with baked potato $5.99, Our drinks were $1.99, overall a great deal for lunch.
We headed for Jacksonville and got there around 2:00 PM. It was about 85 miles and took about 1-1/2 hours. Was so wonderful to see Kitty and Robin. Kitty is Michael’s cousin (mother’s sister’s child). We hadn’t seen them in awhile. Robin has been having some health issues. Sure hope everything is okay. Such a great family. After awhile their son-in-law, Kelly, came by with food. Really, really good food from a BBQ place nearby. We also got to see Kitty and Robin’s other children (Robbie, Kathy and Chris), another cousin (Kitty’s brother) Rick, a neighbor (Miss Kitty), spouse of Chris (Sandy), and a child of Chris and Sandy (Aaron, his girlfriend Taylor, and their beautiful baby Alice). It had been ten years or so since we had seen most of these people. We left around 9:00 PM as we knew Kitty and Robin had to be exhausted. Always fun to catch up with family.
Kathy and Kelly, two of the most generous pet owners I’ve ever known!
Cousin Kitty with her Great Granddaughter Alice. It was so wonderful to visit with Kitty and meet Alice.
It was so good seeing cousin Rick. It had been so long. What a fun visit.
Chris, Grumpy, Robin, Robin Jr and Kelly. After all the stories of Robin Jr’s practical jokes, he probably deserved the horns that some secret trickster gave him.
Lots of laughs, love, and sharing going on today. Was good to hear the stories of days gone by. So glad we had a chance to see them.
On the way home we listened to more of the tape, stopped to get gas in Ormond ($3.45), and got home around 10:30 PM.
Exxon with a food mart.
Fill up at an Exon.
That was our wonderful day. Hope yours was great!