Remembering Why We Became Race Fans
It has been the general consensus throughout the fanship and media outlets of NASCAR that this season has been, well, "less than". I've talked about it, DW and Rusty Wallace have broke their silence of the sterility of the sport. Even our very own Dale Jr. took the bull by the horns and has stated NASCAR needs to do "something". Whatever that "something" is, I hope they do it soon, however in a recent article about Jr's remarks, it appears the governing body once again is going to turn a blind eye.
With that said, for the second year in a row towards our vacation's end, we stop in Mooresville, NC. Now, I don't need to tell you folks what that city means to the sport of NASCAR. It's not nicknamed "Race City USA" for nothing, trust me. Upon our stop this year, however, I was able to wander around more race shops, and even stopped at the North Carolina Racing Museum to take a look back. It was here where I was reminded how much hard work and headway was made by the drivers of the true grit era that have landed us on the racing doorstep we perch on presently. For a $6.00 donation, you can take a walk back through time to NASCAR's bootlegging infancy and have an idea what is meant by "stock car". My journey here lasted 2 1/2 hours and I know it could have stretched into much more, but there were race shops to see. However, it was at the museum that I purchased a rim off of Dale Jr's #88 Nationwide Series Car driven by Brad Kesolowski and was given free race-used lugnuts for my purchase. (All proceeds go to a child abuse foundation!)
Of course I stopped at Dale Jr's race shop, and it was unfortunate because I was greeted with the enthusiasm of a tree sloth because the cashier had had a texting fight with her boyfriend and was taking it out on anyone who walked through the door. However, this did not stop me from snapping some great pictures of the "work in progress" on Dale's Nationwide vehicles and purchasing a couple 1:64 diecasts before departing for Penske.
Folks, you all know that I am a Jr. fan through and through, but Penske has a kingdom of a set up and is conveniently located across from the Carolina Beer Company! Here, for purchasing half of a front splitter, I was given a free autographed Kurt Busch picture. (whoopie, right? But hey, another one for the Jerm's Joint Wall of Fame!) My time here was cut short as NASCAR was on site to inspect some portion of Penske's program and did not want photographs being taken of the shop during their presence. (Rest assured, I still snapped a few!)
I had lunch with a fellow Bump-Drafts.com journalist at a racing barbecue right off of NC 150 called "Lancasters". Wow, a true race fans fantasy place to grab some grub. There were so many racing artifacts here to view, it was like eating at the museum. The autographs, the sheet metal, not to mention picking former Germain Racing mechanic turned journalist, Patrick Reynold's brain for 2 1/2 hours was enlightening to say the least! This man would be the equal of a CIA agent in terms of "behind close doors" racing politics!
Then, it was down to Hendrick's shop. They have a great museum and gift shop, and now allow visitors into the race shops. the 5 and 88 are in one building while the 24 and 48 are next door. It was here I got to see the crews working on the Bristol cars. Not as impressive as a veiw as Penske, it was remarkable nonetheless. Floors clean enough to eat from.
After receiving some bad directions, I made it to Stewart-Haas five minutes after they closed their gift shop (which they re-opened for me) and get some vicious pictures of his shop and his winning cars since becoming part owner. This is a beautiful complex and well worth the visit!
Then, after dinner, it was off to the PIT Training Institute to watch pit crew wannabes practicing their future trade on the quarter mile track that surrounds their school. There were calls for two and four tire stops. These demonstrations are free to the public, and truck teams frequently come over to practice as well.
Perhaps the most emotional walk-through was in Welcome, NC on our way home. Here, resides Richard Childress first race shop, turned museum. Up until 2002, this facility was used to house all the cars in RCR's stable. Now, it pays tribute to Dale Earnhardt's legendary #3 complete with all championship cars, and those who had momentus victories (highlighted by his Daytona 500 win car, of course). I burned up a couple cameras here and could go back and do it again. Also, he houses wins from his other cars here, and even not so great moments like Clint Bowyers car when he finished the 500 on his roof and on fire. (Dirt still included!)
Just a brief synopsis of our visit to Mooresville. Pictures coming soon, probably on the Yahoo! Group page as well. Stay tuned for photos, and future articles on the Carolina Beer Company, and Liberty Brewing in Myrtle Beach!
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