Amy spends 72 hours at Daytona one day

My latest adventure began with a body part as they generally do. Except this one didn’t belong to me, unless of course you count the blisters on top of my blisters from walking the Daytona track area. This one was Adrianne’s; her right kidney to be precise.  New Year’s Day she called to wish me a Happy New Year. We started yakking about upcoming plans and I casually mentioned I had been thinking about heading down to Daytona to watch the Rolex 24 race, but I didn’t really want to go alone. I had to hold the phone from my ear when she screamed that she would give her right kidney to go.  I assured her it wouldn’t come to that; I could just email one of the drivers I knew in the race and see if he needed any help in their pit. Once I emailed Bruce Ledoux the plan was formulated rather quickly that he could use some help with the social networking aspect of the race, getting the word out for his Guardian Angel charity fundraising efforts as well as updating friends/family members of the race minute by minute.  We arrived the day before the race to some amazing Florida sunshine. Once we were credentialled we were able to amble around the garage area and we were immediately swept up in the excitement. One of the first things I saw was two TRG mechanics sawing like mad with this supersized file on the rear spoiler of one of their race cars. Come to find out it had had qualifying issues due to a 1mm overage; well that is one way to fix the problem!  Who knew I was witnessing history as that was Andy Lally’s precise car which came from behind to win the race.

We had opted for the full sound effect experience and stayed at a hotel across the street from the track. We headed out the morning of the race will full intentions of walking the whole way.  One of the guys we saw at breakfast at the hotel drove by, pulling over to ask if we wanted a ride.  Sure!  It seems everyone is friends here! Race started at 3:30 Saturday and we were pitside to watch it all.  Consensus was unanimous with all my friends who had already experienced a race of this calibur - you cannot be prepared for the noise.  They were all right.  You feel it through your whole body.  Which of course wears you out extremely fast.  Round about 8pm I decided to leave the pits and take a stroll. Adrianne had the social networking under complete control as she possessed not one but two iphones so I slipped away. Then I left the track; noone would miss me right? I found myself at Hooters with a dirty martini in my hand when my phone texting started going off. It seems our car, the 07 orange CoolTV camaro had crashed.  Thanks to modern technology everyone thought I was still at the track and was asking me for updates.  Mike Kerouac who still thought me in the pits texted, asking what happened. I simply looked up at the TV in the bar and repeated the update that the speed channel showed.  Our car indeed had crashed, pitted and then went back out missing a front fender.  No worries; I could order another drink now.  Guilt did set in and I called my now noise-weary buddy Adrianne saying I would come back to the track and fetch her. We had originally planned to stay up through the night; what exactly do they say about the best laid plans? Anyways, we were in our beds by midnight and planned to get up early to watch the sun rise on the track. Adrianne was successful; I trailed her by about an hour. It seems while we slept, our car had experienced not only a flying roof from the BMW in front of them getting jammed into its radiator, but a control arm issue, and now was being treated for a rear axle meltdown.  I went straight to the pit but was told the car was in the garage being fixed - again.  Everyone was standing around watching the mechanics scramble around the car. With all the car had been through it just seemed like business as usual; just fix this new problem and get it back out there. It had been through so much we were lulled into a false sense that it could be made whole; kind of like when someone has gone through so many sicknesses, weathered them all and you just figure they will just keep beating anything else that comes their way. Well it was not to be with the 07 orange Camaro.  The mechanics whispered amongst themselves and then one of them threw a black sheet over the car. That could not bode well. Very matter of factly they announced we were done. Done?  You mean out of the race?  8am and we were done.  It didn’t compute that we were done. I wasn’t alone in that opinion by the looks on everyone’s faces. It felt like we were all in some hospital waiting room and one moment full of hope for our ailing relative, next moment the monitor line goes straight - or red line in this case.  When I find myself in this situation I feel the warring emotions of remaining in shock, still in place, with a need to commiserate, thus bringing myself down more OR get out of there. Just bolt. Bolting won out.  There was ample time later to do a post mortem. Next item on the agenda was to strap on the feedbag so we found the hospitality tent. That is where I witnessed more history.  As it happened Patrick Dempsey was also hungry. He walked into the tent and Adrianne snapped out of her car death stupor. She jumped up and said she was going to talk to him.  I couldn’t hear what she said but she touched him. I saw her do it.  She patted him on the back and then turned around to give me a wide ear to ear grin. Then my phone started buzzing again. My good bud pro racer Aaron Povoledo asked where I was.  Eating again. Where else?  He was spotting for TRG up on the crows nest which is at the very top of the bleachers - open only to press, VIPs and spotters. He said he was coming over to pick us up so we could watch the race from on high in the nest.  After a nerve wracking ride on the back of his golf cart (major note to self  - rent one next year no matter the cost since there is a lot of terrain to cover) we arrived at the security gate for the nest.  He casually mentioned that we weren’t really allowed up there so we should just say we were press and keep walking. Whatever we do just keep walking. Security did, of course, stop us and tell us we didn’t have the correct credentials, but we ignored them and kept walking.  They yelled after us when we hopped on the elevator that we wouldn’t be able to get past the guards at the top. When we got off the elevator at the top we just told them hey the guards downstairs said it was okay…and we kept on walking.  What a view!  Now that is the way I like to watch a race!  We stayed until  the end of the race and then cleared out before the masses also decided to leave.  All in all, it was a thrilling experience and I am happy to report that Adrianne still is in possession of both of her kidneys. Good show!

Warm regards,
Amy