NASCAR Salutes Military Spouses
My husband, Kevin, and I went on an adult only weekend trip part of NASCAR Salutes Military Spouses to Pocono 400 NASCAR race sponsored by Coca-Cola Racing, USO, and NASCAR. It was such a fun day at the racetrack in Pennsylvania! My husband and I are no stranger to NASCAR. We have been to several NASCAR races in the past such as Daytona, Fontana, and Las Vegas, but none of those races compared to the experience we had at Pocono.
About NASCAR Salutes Military Spouse Event:
NASCAR is an event like none other. It is a full weekend of practice rounds and races working up to the main race. Our one day at POCONO Raceway was for the main race of the weekend, the Pocono 400 which consisted of 160 laps around the “Tricky triangle”. We had tour guides from Owen Marketing, Coca-Cola Racing and more that took us backstage and treated us like celebrities. A NASCAR cameraman followed our every move, and we had bumps in with drivers (yes, I mean unintentional bump-ins), team owners, crew chiefs, engineers, public relations from Coca-Cola, and many NASCAR employees.
It was a day complete with garage tours to one-of-a-kind behind the scene events such as: driving around the Pocono Raceway 2 times in a Pace Car with NASCAR employee and former CEO of Pocono Raceway, Brandon Igdalsky – let’s just say, he was very comfortable with the track!
About the day:
The weather forecast called for afternoon showers, but the rain held out and we could not have asked for a better day. We had breakfast in a sky lounge suite and met countless local track employees that were so proud and excited to work there from the elevator operators, the bartender, to the chef! After breakfast we had a question and answer session with Austin Dillon and Bubba Wallace.
Meet & Greet:
Austin Dillon was raised around NASCAR since his grandfather is a team owner from back in Dale Earnhardt (Senior) days. When he made it to NASCAR, Austin asked his grandfather to take the legendary #3 out of retirement so he can drive it. For reference, the #3 car was retired after Earnhardt’s tragic accident in 2001 at Daytona that cost him his life. Austin was a wealth of knowledge and even spoke about his wife and how safe of a driver he is while driving on real streets since he knows what a crash feels like.
Bubba Wallace followed and really took his time with us to answer questions and take pictures. Bubba compared race teams and highlighted how some have a lot of money and sponsors while others do not and how that manifests on the track. He also mentioned, if he finishes in the top 5 that is considered a win for him and his team.
Behind the Scene Tours:
Next, we took a tour through pit row, victory lane, a car hauler, interview on SiriusXM radio, and more. While touring Denny Hamlin’s Hauler, a team engineer discussed the amount of engineering that goes into the car and gave us a brief explanation of what kind of parts were stored on the hauler. I really appreciated this part of the behind the scenes tour because the engineer took time out the busy race day to talk to us. As we finished up in the hauler, NASCAR Salutes Military Spouses told us we would be walking on stage during the driver introductions and that I was teamed up with Denny Hamlin. I was like no way, I was just in his hauler!
The tour guides introduced us to drivers we were going to walk with. Denny Hamlin looked at me and asked are you ready? I was nervous and not sure what to expect. Before we walked out, we had a chance to talk about his daughters, girlfriend, basketball (he is sponsored by Michael Jordon), and more. When it was our time to walk out, I had no idea what to expect except to follow him. All I remember is we passed through a doorway, we were greeted by a sea of people in the grandstands and on the track. As we crossed the stage, we shook hands with everyone then he waited for me at the bottom of the stairs to make sure I was ok (video HERE). Denny is a down to earth, nice guy!
I would have to say from meeting the drivers and hanging backstage, NASCAR drivers are very professional and athletes I am excited to support. They all seemed like normal people, not full of themselves as other athletes sometimes are. You would likely not even know you were meeting a racer unless you already knew what they looked like.
In closing, I hope that I have encouraged you to go to a NASCAR race! From the driver introductions, to the roar of the synchronized engine start, and the all the things that happen during the race (accidents, pit stops, etc.), you are going to have fun! Many tracks have events like Pocono’s mini carnival and, of course, the fan area where you can purchase driver merchandise.
My Personal Tips:
You may even see drivers or the wives of drivers walking around where you can ask for autographs. Like above, we saw Samantha Busch, wife of NASCAR racer Kyle Busch who ended up winning the race. As a bonus, at every race we have been there have been other celebrities like actors and other professional athletes. And if you love to tailgate, tailgating at a NASCAR race begins hours (sometimes days) before the race begins and even some hang out after the race to BBQ to let the traffic die down. NASCAR race days really is an entire day. As you plan your NASCAR trip, make it a family trip, a girl or man-date, or even parents date day!
Go HERE to see the official NASCAR schedule.
In closing, I leave you with this meme of my husband (Mr. Spenderella) who thought is was fun to collect lug nuts from pit row. He said he felt like Tom Brady…sort of!
And the video NASCAR put together of the day:
Thanks USO, Coca-Cola Racing, NASCAR and Owen Marketing for making NASCAR Salutes Military Spouses an awesome day.
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