(Tonight's post was written by Cayden)
I’d been looking forward to NASCAR as soon as Whitney’s dad mentioned it on my first trip to Dallas. I’m a big fan of cars. There’s just something about hearing the powerful roar of an engine and the change from a roar to a purr as the car shifts up through the gears.
With London being home to many wealthy people, you can often be walking down a street and have a Ferrari, Lamborghini, or Aston Martin roar on by, turning heads of both men and women in the process. OK, the women are probably admiring the rich kid driving the car more than the car itself, but it turns heads nonetheless.
So Sunday was my last full day in Dallas before I flew back to London on the Monday. After a few days of sickness and no real quality time with Whitney, I was in two minds about NASCAR. Yeah, I was excited about experiencing the day but it was also a day that I wouldn’t get to spend with Whitney. If I were living in the same country and seeing her every day it wouldn’t have been an issue, but when you’re 5000 miles apart, you kind of want to spend as much time as possible together when you get a chance.
I dragged myself out of bed, though, leaving Whitney tangled in the sheets.
Whitney’s dad, her brother Corbin, and I went to the race with a family friend, Darren. We picked him up on the way and grabbed breakfast at Whataburger. I’d always been curious as to what Whataburger would be like as it’s another thing we don’t have in England, and I got to sample one of their breakfast burritos. Something I like about Dallas is that there is such a Mexican influence, and it’s rare to go to a restaurant without seeing a burrito on the menu of some sort. I’m a huge fan of the sandwich but a burrito is a very close second, so I feel my eventual transition to Dallas life may not be too difficult after all.
On picking up Darren, whom I had never met, the first introduction of the day came. Darren obviously knew Corbin as he was a family friend, but didn’t know me. Whitney’s dad first introduced me as Whitney's boyfriend, Cayden...then a bit of a pause, and said, "my future son in law."
I’d never been introduced as that before, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t freak me out a little hearing it. The moment passed though and my thoughts quickly returned to the burrito.
NASCAR day would have been only the second time I’d spent time with Whitney’s family without her being there, the first being the Aquarium day which went well. NASCAR day was a guy’s day out. It started at 9am and went through to about 7pm, with the beer starting at about 10am and the Jaegermeister around noon. My stomach was still a little delicate from being sick the past few days but I managed to keep up with drinking beer. Oh and I also got to appreciate the use of a koozie to keep my beer cold. Not so silly after all.
When we arrived at the track, it was everything I expected it to be and everything I’d been warned it would be. There were campervans and trucks everywhere, the smell of BBQ meat from the tailgating going on, and the smell of gasoline in the air.....does it get any more manly than that? What would be hell to Greenpeace would be heaven to me.
Ok, the majority of those in attendance resembled what most would describe as ‘white-trash’ but who am I to judge? They all seemed to having a good time and seemed friendly enough. We had VIP access passes through Whitney’s dads company and got to tour the garage and pit lane before the race.
There were crowds of fans gathering outside a few of the team trailers but I wouldn’t have had a clue if a top driver had walked on by and said ‘howdy’ to me. What really hit me was the size of the grandstand where people would sit.
In England, the largest stadium I’d been to had 75,000 seats, but this grandstand held 200,000 people and was just along the home straight. I’d never seen anything as impressive as that. This stand definitely proved the old adage that ‘everything is bigger in America’. Ok, maybe some of the beer bellies could have proved that, too.
After touring the garages we met up with a friend of Corbin's. This group went all out for their tailgate and I was impressed. They had arrived at 6am with a marquee tent, fan heater, stereo system, huge flat screen TV hooked up to a satellite dish, which they had set up and was screening the days football games. Throw in there the gas BBQ, crates of beer, and full bar of spirits they’d lined up and they were set for a pretty good day ahead.
Whitney’s dad introduced himself to Corbin’s friends’ dad who was hosting this awesome set up and again introduced me as ‘the future son in law’. After a few beers and time for the first introduction to settle in, I felt a little more at ease knowing he knew I was serious about his daughter.
Before we headed into the stadium, we decided to grab some food. We all ordered a Philly Cheese Steak roll and it was sooo good. Another thing which could help me settle in to life in America I think.
While we were in line waiting for our food, we saw the BEST T-shirt ever that some guy was wearing. I regret not taking a photo of this because it was pure brilliance. The back of the guy’s t-shirt read ‘You talk about white trash as if it’s a bad thing.’ In a more urban type area he’d probably have been looked down on but I have no doubt that on race day, he was idolised. Hell, even I have to give it to him for wearing that t-shirt. If any of you know where to get one of these, please let me know via twitter ☺
So inside the stadium it was packed and the view of a couple hundred-thousand people to my left made the occasion. Hearing them all cheer on hearing those words ‘GENTLEMEN, START YOUR ENGINES,’ it was an experience to be had. The start of the race was amazing, the roar of engines as cars exited the pit lane and rose through the gears, again, it was a sound that gets the adrenaline pumping.
After this though, the race lost it’s momentum. As was explained to me, you only really know who was going to win the race in the final 20 or so laps, which for me meant that the race was about 150 laps too long. The experience was great but it’s a little lengthy. Had there been more crashes it would have made it more entertaining but maybe another time.
After the race had finished we left the stadium and it’s only then that I realised how loud the cars actually were. Three hours of roaring engines left a ringing in my ears for the entire journey home and in to the evening. Now what comes with 200,000 people attempting to leave an area at the same time? Traffic. We were in traffic for what seemed like hours and we were all starting to feel a bit hungry.
On the way home, some young kid in his pimped up car thought he’d try to race us. He was confident, wanting to impress his girl in the passenger seat.
Whitney's dad yelled, "Oh, this kid doesn't think he can beat me, does he??"
Little did the kid know, Whitney’s dad was packing 330 horses under the hood of his car. As we left the lights our car left him for dead and I’d have loved to have seen his macho reaction turn to embarrassment.
Nothing like winning a race to end race day.