In honor of the 57th running of the Daytona 500 later this afternoon, I give you my story of the one and only time I was fortunate enough to attend Nascar’s biggest event just 3 years ago…
I lived in Florida at the time, and I had decided to take a bus ride to and from Daytona to watch the 500 and tailgate. After trying to convince about 10 different people to go, I had no luck. I was new to Florida and worked with a majority of older folks with families and responsibilities and kids. They had no interest in going to a race, but I was absolutely ready to rage with the Rednecks.
I looked around on Craigslist and found a random guy who organizes bus trips to the 500 every year. The best part: unlimited beer, wine and food. I didn’t care how much it was, because I was sold the minute I read “unlimited beer”. So I boarded the bus at 5 am in a wall-mart parking lot on the day of the 500 and we were off. My first beer was cracked at 5:30 am on the bus. The weather was overcast that day with a 50/50 shot of rain. We were in good spirits at this point.
On the way over to Daytona, I realized that I was by far the youngest on the bus. It was a bunch of overweight middle aged men and their frumpy wives.There was one younger couple, so I made friends with them on the way over to the track, but they were some strange birds as well. The drive itself with no traffic would have probably been about 2.5 hours, but there was so much traffic that it ended up taking us close to 4.5 hours. We arrived around 10ish and there wasn’t any rain up to that point. They pulled out the food (shitty hotdogs and hamburgers) and beer –which ended up being about 400 random ass beers. It was like he went to a supermarket and bought a 12 pack of every kind of beer there. It was really really bizarre. The most beer he had was beast light (Milwaukee’s Best), I remember that thinking that it couldn’t get any worse then that.
Around noon the rain started. The race was supposed to start around 3 (I believe), but then it got moved back to 4 then to 5, then to 7, and eventually it got cancelled. This was in 2012 when they had the race at night on the following Monday. That was also the same race that there was that big fire-ball on the track that delayed the race.
Anyway, back to the tailgate story.
The set up was real shitty, and the rain/wind/cold weather was not helping anything. I vividly remember just sitting by myself under one of the empty luggage racks that was open on the side of the bus. It was dry and I was happier than a bird with a french fry. I just sat there chugging beer after beer and watching all the interesting people walk by. I chilled in there for a solid two hours until I had to pee. so I finally ventured out into the rain, found a port-o-john and bought a poncho. Then I meandered out around the stadium’s exterior.
Let me tell you this. I’ve been to all sorts of Baseball/basketball/hockey/football stadiums, but this track was absolutely massive compared to any stadium I’ve ever been to. I’m talking at least 3 times the size. I believe we were parked on the west side, and it was like a mile from gate to gate on the same side. In the middle it was cool because everyone had their specific driver trucks slinging merchandise, and there were all these places where you could buy headphones to listen to the race. Almost everyone had a pair, and I didn’t know what I was doing (obviously) because I didn’t want to shell out 40 bucks for something that I may not even need.
I walked around, and decided to buy a shirt to commemorate this once in a lifetime event. I ended up with a blue long sleeve shirt that just says Daytona on the back. To this day it is still one of my favorite shirts. I found it hilarious how everyone kept asking “who my number was”. Nascar fans don’t root for ‘names’ like Stewart or Earnheart Jr. they root for ‘numbers’ the 20 or the 88. It’s like an entire little subculture that these redneck families have. Some all rooted for one driver, others had about 8 kids wearing gear for 8 different drivers, It was really surreal. Everyone there was extremely hammered, because they kept delaying the start of the race. Good people for the most part, and just trying to get a good buzz on before going and watching cars make left turns for 4 straight hours.
I decided to venture in to the track around 5pm when it looked like the race was finally going to get underway. If you didn’t already know (and i’m not sure why you would), but one of the greatest things about the 500, is that they allow you to bring coolers of beer inside the track. Think about how awesome that is, given the the unbelievable pussification of the law-suit happy society we live in today. Bring in as much beer as you want in a cooler as big as you want. Isn’t Florida great? I just had a soft cooler of 6 beers, because I was already slurring words and walking like I was on a rocking boat out at sea. Eventually I found my seat in the stands just beyond the finish line. I sat for a few minutes and then decided to make my way over to the infield party. I was lucky enough to have a buddy hook me up with an infield party pass, and it turned out to be the greatest thing ever. I took a bridge over the track and entered the grassy infield with tons of tents, food, music, and girls. It was LOUD as fuck out there. I began to stuff my face with ribs, pork, brisket, and other stuff while I took in the new scene. It was heaven. I honestly don’t remember another time in my life when I was around so many attractive women. There were 9’s and 10’s walking around everywhere. Promo girls, Nascar WAGS, hot friends of Nascar WAGS, gold digging groupies, MILFs, etc. You name it, they had it. I may do another blog later solely dedicated to Nascar wives. Comparing the quality of people of the outer track to the inside track is like comparing the quality of a McDonalds double cheeseburger to a filet mignon.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures from this because my phone was dead. I was ‘having so much fun’ by this point, I just vaguely remember being bummed when they eventually cancelled the race around 7:00pm. Nascar rescheduled the 500 it for the next evening, but I knew I couldn’t go because I had work, and I didn’t live that close to the track. Eventually, I found my way to the bus and passed out for the entire ride back. It was a hell of a day.
PS- I LOVE Denny Hamlin at 14/1 to take the checkered flag today. complete racing odds Here