[las vegas- the photo travelogue]
After having such a fabu time with the Divas during the Phoenix race last fall, how could I resist an invitation to head back to Sin City for some fun and racing excitement?
Short answer - I couldn't.
Plans were made, tickets bought, and the next thing you know, I'm back in Vegas! Wooohoooo!
(Note: I didn't win anything in the casinos. Dr. Dick will be so disappointed...)
Look Ma...big coloured rocks! In Las Vegas!
(I seem to have been infected with my Vanna White syndrome again. Just go with me on this.)
My first full evening in Vegas, we decide to snag tickets to meet one Elliott Sadler, who has a signing going on at M&M's World. Though we had a bit of a ticket snafu *coughs and grins*, we met ESad, who was kind and friendly. Sadly, my photo got corrupted, but Sky's turned out great!
The big news of the night - Elliott cut his hair!!
Sadly, I have no photo evidence for the rest of our evening, because it would have looked damn uncool, and we divas always look cool. ;-) We decided to head to Mandalay Bay for some drinks and to meet up with some other gals coming into town for the race. We're cruising through the casino after arriving 3.7 seconds before, and I look over and see someone vaguely familiar.
"Hey, Sky? Isn't that Ron Malec?"
"There." *Marissa gestures without being obvious*
*casual glance from Sky* "Oh yeah. That's him."
We wander around, and then Malec (who had since been joined by Danny Emerick), wander around. We go back to the casino area, they go to the casino area. We go into the bar for a table and a drink, THEY go into the bar for a table and a drink. We get up to take off, they get up to take off.
The least they could have done after following us around was buy us a drink. ;-)
We did snap a few photos of our casino boys the next morning at the track: Danny Emerick on the left, Ron Malec ('s ass) on the right
Time to hit the track! We arrive and Sky, with skillz I cannot begin to touch, scores us some pit passes and we head infield to watch the action.
After some recon, we determine that one of our Cheesin' Chad celebrities is in the house.
The Lowe's Photographer Man.
(By the way, that recon involved us pointing and saying, "Hey. That guy has a big honkin' camera and is taking pictures. Could it be? Would it be? The Lowe's Photographer Man?!")
Do you think he sensed he was being carefully watched by some Cheesin' Chad gals? ;-)
Now, we know lots of you gals have a real zen for McCray, so we grabbed a photo of him for ya in his new yellow duds. Looks weird in yellow, no?
We decide to watch Quals from pit road, and see all the drivers walking out for their qualifying runs. Most of them make a beeline for their cars and wait until it's their turn, but a few take their time - including Kyle Petty - so that they can sign autographs and meet the fans. Kyle was incredibly patient and gracious, even when the fans from HELL descend on him.
I digress. Let's get to the good days at the track. Saturday...
a small detour to look at the F-16 on display (and have a photo op, of course,
of these SpeedGirls!)...
...we decide to take in all the practice action from the garage area, and on our way to our perch, see DW being absolutely mauled by a crowd of fans. We grab a quick photo and move on...
is pretty uneventful, but we do get to see all the garage activity and crew
activity. Naturally, we saw Mr. Knaus and the trusty clipboard from afar, but
to be honest, we spent most of our time making fun of the special uniforms being
sported by the Newman crew.
Oh honey, no.
In any case, I had to grab this shot after the last practice. I love it when the drivers actually help out and push their car - as Junior is doing here with his crew. For the record, every time I see Jimmie, he does the same thing. :-)
We cross back to the other side of the track to take in some Busch series action, and have fabu seats in turn 4! Immediately after the Busch race, we head over to the Speed stage, where we are ready to watch some NASCAR Performance taping. ;-) We are, like, the first ones there, so we get a front row spot! Naturally, we kill time by snapping a few photos. Look Ma! I'm gonna be on TV!
(Oh yeah. It was a tad sunny that day. I'm all about the SPF 4390490745, baby!)
We wait. And wait. And wait. Still no television show going on. Only later do we find out that Dr. Dick Bergren was lost. *giggles*
Finally, FINALLY it's time for the show to start. Bootie comes out first to huge screams. Chad then follows him out to even louder screams! Sky and I are in the front row, and he sees us immediately. We do the whole big-smile-wave-blush thing, and he sits down and gets wired. Sky is waving her signs (one that says "Silly Boys...NASCAR is for Girls!" and one that says "Cheesin' Chad"). Bootie keeps looking at us, and he and Chad start passing notes back and forth.
(What is this, junior high school, boys? *grins*)
Finally, the show starts, and throughout, Chad keeps glancing our way. We make eye contact, I grin, he looks away. We make eye contact, he grins, I look away. Through the whole damn show. *grins*
The crowd was pretty rowdy, but we all tried to behave ourselves. The little DJ dude had told us that Chad had "special gifts" for the crowd, and for us to stick around after the show. We're figuring either autographs or, like, a breakdancing routine or something.
Finally, the show wraps up, and everyone in the crowd is just dancing around waiting for whatever is going to happen next. Dr. Dick disconnects from his headset, and come down the steps to the fan area. He makes a beeline for ME, and comes over to chat.
"So where are you from?" Dr. Dick asks.
"I'm from Indiana!" Geek!Marissa answers. (Oh yeah, the Hoosier pride was comin' though.)
"Indiana? Are you an IndyCar fan also, or just a NASCAR fan?"
"I like them both, but my heart is here."
"Are you having a good time in Vegas? Have you done any gambling?"
"Not yet, but I'm hoping to this weekend."
"Well, good luck. I hope you win!" Dr. Dick smiles at me, I smile back, and just like that, he's gone. He didn't talk to any other fans...he just barreled down the stairs, talked to me, then turned tail and went back behind the stage.
Wow. I feel like a a celebrity.
Or a freak. Do I not fit in with everyone else at the track? Now I'm beginning to worry...
In any case, by this time Chad and Bootie have been unwired, and the crowd is going apeshit because Chad has just stood up with four Lowe's hats. He waves them around and everyone starts making like they are the defensive line for the Packers - bumping and tackling to get a hat. Chad tosses one to the opposite side of the stage than us, then deliberately walks over to right in front of us, gives me a big smile and tosses the hat directly to me. I mouth "Thank you!" with a big dopey grin, and he mouths back "You're welcome".
No need for THIS girl to make a tackle to get a hat! I got connections, man!
After tossing the last couple of hats, Chad makes his way down the stairs and comes right to us!
(I could get used to this, y'all. Celebrities making their way to me and making time for me, instead of vice versa. If only I had this kind of power at Koodie Hoo's when they aren't any tables left.)
We do the whole "Heeeeeeeey!" greeting (god, I'm such a hick!), and Chad talks to us as people are shoving things in his face to sign. He's frantically signing while asking me if I'm having a good time. (In typical smartass fashion, I said "Nah. This is terrible. I'm miserable here." He laughed.) We talk about where we're staying, gambling, seeing them tomorrow during the race, and all that lark. Sky insists that we get a picture together, and he graciously agrees.
By this point, the crowd is gathering, so he continues to move down the line, but over his shoulder calls out to me "Thanks for everything. Really."
Hey man, no problem. Happy to help. *sighs*
Anyhoo, we wander over to try and get Bootie to sign for us, and Chad is still being mobbed. I pipe up, "Wow. What's it like to be a rock star?" and he laughs again. We manage to snag another photo with him, this time for Sky.
There's that Cheesin' Chad smile we all love!
I think what really makes this shot, though, is the fact that I timed it perfectly to catch the guy's ass in the background.
Yeah, professional photog. That's me. ;-)
Anyhoo, we catch Bootie right as he's finishing up his autograph session. He smiles and signs our tickets, and asks if we thought the show went well.
"I thought it was a great show!"
"Yeah, we watch you guys all the time!"
Bootie smiles, tells us to have a good weekend, and takes off.
What a fabulous day! :-)
This one is just for Carrie...Robby Gordon was not only signing autographs at his hauler on Saturday, but he was also selling merchandise. We like a man who not only multitasks, but doesn't mind helping out wherever. Rock on. :-)
Sunday morning...once more we cross under the track to hit pit road and see what activity is shaking out. We wander up and down pit road, say hi to Murray Timm (From Kyle Busch's team) and Caleb Hurd (from Jeff Gordon's team), and take a few photos...
(Of course, the obligatory HMS team shots, as well as a Tony Stewart pit box shot. Gotta give a shoutout to my hometown boy, plus my dad would kill if I didn't get at least one Tony picture in during the weekend. *grin*)
While we're just hanging out, the activity in the Lowe's pit begins to get a little busy. I spy Matt Clark cruising around, and he keeps looking at Sky and I (but then, how could you not want to stare at us babe?). I doubt he remembers us from Phoenix, but in any case, I decided an updated photo was in order.
"Matt? Do you mind if I have my picture taken with you?"
Matt smilingly agrees, and I once again have a photo with the pit crew coach. Thanks, Matt!
They begin clearing us off of pit road in preparation for the beginning of the race, so we grab one last shot of the cars on the grid...
...then head to our seats in turn 3. We had a great time watching the race, and it was all capped off with seeing Jimmie win. I've never been present for a Jimmie win, so that was pretty special. We managed to wander back to the car (after scoping out the JJ hauler, which was packed after the win), chat up some nearby race fans, dodge the traffic and head back home.
Ahhh...what a weekend! I had such a fantastic time, the weather was flawless, the company great, the experiences memorable, and I now have the coolest.picture.ever:
Thanks, Chad. You're a rock star. :-)