Maine, New Hampshire, NASCAR, sunburn, and shopping – Part 2

Day 3 – NASCAR at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway

We stayed in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on Saturday and Sunday night, just about an hour from the race track.

After Jeff ordered our tickets for the race a while back, the racetrack called him up and offered him half price pit tickets.

OK!

The race wasn’t until 1pm, but we headed out early so we could get there by 9’ish and find a place to park and hit the pits 🙂

It was forecast to be 36°C and feel like 46° UH OH!

The race track is in the country on a normal 2 lane paved road with paved shoulders. On the way in, they made it a 4 lane road by making the paved shoulders lanes, and made 3 of the lanes inbound lanes to get us all in.

There are A LOT OF PEOPLE at a NASCAR race. So many trailers and campers. Many people camp there for the entire weekend and watch the other races and timed trials and practices.

We drove past many parking lots until we found one that we could actually see the track from off in the distance.

We filled Jeff’s backpack with bottles of water, slathered on the sun screen, and started our hike towards the track.

We stopped at one of the tram stops to catch a ride, and a guy in a golf cart swung by and drove us right to the infield entrance!

Entrance to the infield
Entrance to the infield
Trailers and cars everywhere. This is at the back of track where some of the trailer folk were reserving grass space to watch the race from the hill.
Trailers and cars everywhere. This is at the back of track where some of the trailer folk were reserving grass space to watch the race from the hill.
In the infield!
In the infield!

 

Pit row!
Pit row!

So many people huge coolers in. I couldn’t figure out how they could drink so much beer. People had lunches, sandwiches, beer, water. And I think some people just brought their coolers on wheels for a quick place to sit down.

Danica Patrick's set up
Danica Patrick’s set up

We walked around the pits a couple times. There were no racers there, just their pit crews. Almost every team had a guy prepping the tires, doing something with the lug nuts, and squeezing a tube of something. Ask Jeff, he was paying more attention.

While we were in pit row, they started lining up the cars on the track.

Here comes Kurt Busch's car.
Here comes Kurt Busch’s car.

Jeff’s favourite racer is Clint Bowyer. So he’s mine now too. Here is Jeff at his pit stop:

Jeff at Clint Bowyer's pits
Jeff at Clint Bowyer’s pits

Every pit stop had a lot of tires (they really have NO tread, just a big flat rubber surface), lots of tools, cordless batteries charging, computer screens all over the back, and a portable generator.

Here is the side/back view.
Here is the side/back view of Bowyer’s pit stop.
The garages
The garages

We had hoped/thought the pit pass would get us on the other side of these security folks, but that was not the case. I don’t know what credentials all those people had to visit the garages, but it was more than our pit pass wrist band permitted.

PIt row, looking at the cars lining up.
PIt row, looking at the cars lining up.

There were 4 or 5 planes flying around all morning with banners. Is that form of advertising effective? One was even for a Call before you Dig service!?!

Souvenir alley was behind the grandstands. All the food and beer counters were under the bleachers.
Souvenir alley was behind the grandstands. All the food and beer counters were under the bleachers.

The clouds were such a relief. It was SO HOT and sweaty!

Jeff bought a couple t-shirts and we ate some expensive food and downed a $4 pop each. I think we were half through all the water bottles we brought in before the race even started!

We hung out as long as we could in the shade of the grandstand. We hiked up to our seats in row 41 about an hour before the race.

This pit crew did group exercises before the race!
This pit crew did group exercises before the race!

 

Driver introductions
Driver introductions

 The seats were a long metal bench with a back. Super comfortable at first, but got a little hard after a bit. Lots of people brought or bought padded butt cushions.

Stands filing up
Stands filing up

No one sat beside us. There seemed to be several available seats, but the ridiculous heat could have scared (or killed) some people off before the race.

And they're off!

And they’re off!

We wore ear plugs, but because we were higher up, it didn’t seem near as loud as the Canadian NASCAR races we’ve gone to here at James River.

The cars went by at a crazy fast speed! It made all the crashes seem a little surreal. There was one right in front of us. I saw it coming and it felt like slow motion, even though it must have happened in less than a second.

Crash!
Crash!

There were a lot of yellow flags in the race. Some felt a little manipulated, but then they brought all the cars back together to start. That was exciting. Everyone stood on their feet each time the green flag was waved.

Because the track is just a mile track, the cars lapped each other so it was a little more complicated to follow. It felt like when we went to an NFL game. It is more work to watch it in person than on TV. The TV crews do all the work and decide for you what part of the game/race you’ll watch. When you are there live it’s all up to you 🙂 Sometimes I’d find myself just staring at one part of the track, usually this corner, but then I’d realize I have the whole rest of the track to look at too!

There were a bunch of crashes, but nothing too ridiculous. No cars flying into the stands 🙂 Some shredded tires, and lots of pit stops for new tires.

 

Bowyer takes a pit stop
Bowyer takes a pit stop

We re-applied sunscreen during the race, but still missed a few spots. There were so many people without shirts, or in tank tops, or string bikinis. I swear they must all have been hospitalized the next day with severe burns.

Brian Vickers (#55) won the race. Bowyer didn’t ever advance past the 8th spot he held for a bit. The Busch brothers seem to draw the biggest reactions from the crowds – mostly dislike, especially for Kurt.

With a yellow flag near the end, Tony Stewart ran out of gas with half a lap to go. Vickers made it across the finish, but then he ran out of gas before he could do his burn out spins (fine by me!)

It took about an hour to walk back to the truck in a mob of people. Took another 90 minutes at least to get off the grounds, but once we were in the truck with A/C and more water to drink, we didn’t care!

Lots of people stayed to drink/camp/party/wait for the cars to thin out before they were leaving.

We heard on a police radio as we walked by that someone had their Harley stolen 🙁

The road was switched to have 3 outgoing lanes. It wasn’t too bad at all, especially since we were turning left to go east. The two right turning lanes were backed up for a couple kilometres.

Road after we left the race grounds
Road after we left the race grounds

Two of the oddest things we saw at the race:

  • Lady beside us reading a novel DURING THE RACE!
  • About 10 rows ahead of us two shirtless guys had coolers full of jello shooters. They would turn around randomly during a yellow flag and everyone would be jumping and shouting and begging with their arms up and they threw these plastic cups with yellow shooters all over. Carpe diem and YOLO, but I still wasn’t swayed to consume a mystery jello shooter from a shirtless sweaty man at a NASCAR race.

Lisa

Lisa (Verkley) Schuyler is a blogger reporting live from her new home in Canada's Yukon Territory. Often found wearing a hoodie, covered in pet hair, Lisa is a mis-placed forester who now spends her days engineering happiness for WordPress users. Lisa loves nature, animals, and most importantly, her handsome husband Jeff.

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