Last September, I attended my very first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH.
This was no doubt the most exciting and all-time best weekend of my life, and hopefully I'll get to go again next year.
Other than just sitting down in your assigned seat in the grandstands and watching the Sprint Cup race, there are so many other things to do during the weekend.
So I am going to share the ten things you must do when attending a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, to make your weekend just that better. If you've never been to a race before, I suggest you try the things on my list if you ever get the chance to go some day.
10. Shop 'til you drop!
When you first arrive at the race track, you will be absolutely amazed at the amount of souvenir stands; I don't think I had even seen them all.
In every parking lot or camping area, you'll easily find these white tents with tons of NASCAR gear to please any race fan. Though they are pricey, there is some pretty cool stuff you can find.
You will also be astonished by the amount of big eighteen wheelers parked outside the grandstands, all souvenir shops. There is literally a souvenir shop for every single driver in the field.
And the prices are actually cheap; I bought myself a wonderful Jeff Gordon hat for $15, where I would have paid $30 to $40 for the same hat at Wal-Mart.
Everything they sell is high quality, so spend your money like a crazy fool and buy enough gear to make you look like the biggest NASCAR fan on the planet!
9. It's party time!
I guess it's because everyone is at the same place for the same reason, but everyone seems so nice at a NASCAR race.
So as you walk in the parking lot or through the camping lots and you see some tailgaters, don't be scared to stop by and begin a conversation. You'll then realize that you're in their little party, drinking beer and having a good time.
We actually started talking to these tailgaters who were parked beside our rental van.
The races on Saturday were over so we decided to drink a few cold ones before heading to the hotel.
As we spoke to the tailgaters, we realized that more of their friends and girlfriends had arrived and that we were kind of in their little party.
They didn't mind that we hung out with them, they actually cooked us a few hot dogs on the grill, which by the way saved us some good cash that we would have spent at a restaurant.
So when you're at the race track, try mingling with the other fans and you could end up having a great time you weren't even expecting to have. Just remember that everyone around you are NASCAR fans, so that's the perfect way to start a conversation and make some new friends.
8. Check out the cool cars on display.
At some place around the race track, you should find the area where all the show cars are on display.
This is a really neat thing to check out. Get to see some NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars up close, you might even get to sit in one and dream that you're driving at 200mph.
Not only stock cars are on display, but drag racers, sportscars(racing machines and the real street cars), sprint cars, and so many more.
7. Autographs anyone?
Don't you sometimes wish that you could just go up to your favourite driver and have a short chat with him, then get his autograph afterwards. This is possible when attending a NASCAR race.
If you are associated to any sponsors that are involved in NASCAR, try getting your tickets through the company.
Usually, the sponsors have pre-race parties, where drivers make appearances and sign autographs. If you are in some way associated with the sponsor, you should get invited.
If the aforementioned is not possible, get to the track very early on Sunday morning. The previous day, check at your favourite driver's souvenir truck for the time he will be present to sign autographs.
Get in line and you should have no problem getting an autograph.
6. "Clear, clear all around."
If you don't understand what the title for No. 6 is, it is a phrase used very often by spotters to tell their drivers that there are no cars beside them.
To listen to these spotters, along with crew chiefs and drivers, buy or rent a scanner.
Scanners can be bought or rented conveniently at the race track.
When you attend a NASCAR race, there's one luxury you lose from the television, and that's knowing what's going on with the drivers.
On TV, the play-by-play analysts will tell you everything you need to know about all drivers. The way to find out at a live race, is by using the scanner.
Listen to every single driver complain about his awful handling race car, and the crew chiefs telling them what to do.
You can also use your scanner to listen to the radio broadcast, so it's like sitting in your living room again with analysts guiding you through the race.
Here's a small tip, if you plan on buying or renting a scanner, check the Internet at home before leaving for frequencies of each driver and copy them down. It seriously cost me five dollars at the race track for a small piece of paper that had a list of radio frequencies.
5. Oh, the pretty girls.
This one is pretty much for the men.
Not only are the cars beautiful, but the girls aren't too shabby either.
Remember those show cars I mentioned earlier, they usually have hot models (the type you find in car magazines in their bikinis) standing next to the cars, just looking pretty so the boys can stare.
So have fun guys, there's a lot to look at!
4. We now gladly present...
If you didn't have the chance to get an autograph and meet your favourite driver, then be sure to stick around for the driver introductions.
You won't get to meet the drivers and talk to them, but they are standing right in front of your eyes. The same drivers you idolize every weekend through the television screen, are right there in front of you!
Driver intros always happen on the finish line, on a big, fancy looking stage.
It's also the perfect way to get you revved up for another awesome race!
3. The SPEED Stage
For anyone who is familiar with the SPEED channel, this is you absolutely cannot miss.
Get to watch great, live talk shows in person, such as NASCAR Trackside, NASCAR Live, Tradin' Paint, NASCAR Performance and NASCAR Raceday.
This is another good chance to get to see your favourite drivers up close. Drivers get interviewed by the SPEED crew all the time.
It's also a great way to keep you posted on what's going on in the garage area, such as who was good and bad in practice, who got penalized for something, or any kind of news that could happen throughout the weekend.
The great thing about it, is that it doesn't take a VIP pass to visit the SPEED stage. You don't have to pay to be there. You just walk up and enjoy the show!
And who knows, you could get spotted by the camera so all your friends can see you from home!
2. Support the support races!
At every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, there are other races that lead up to the big show.
Other races include the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, ARCA Re/Max Series, NASCAR Camping World Series (East or West), etc., depending on which race you attend.
I am definitely happy I got to see the support races at New Hampshire, because they were all great.
The day started off with the NASCAR Camping World East Series putting on a great show, with Eddie MacDonald pulling a last lap pass on former Winston Cup driver Steve Park to win!
Then the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour put on the best show of the weekend. Watching them go around a one-mile track was like watching Talladega, and I'm not kidding. Three or two wide racing everywhere, lead swapping each lap, lots of wrecks and some intense battles.
Finally the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series gave us something to cheer about as Ron Hornaday would win as he battled with Johnny Benson.
But the real fun began after the race when the crews of Todd Bodine and David Starr began to brawl in the pit lane, which made the fans cheer louder!
It was funny how no one paid attention to Ron Hornaday doing burnouts; I still wonder why we would rather see a shoving match than a race truck burning out as much as he can.
1. Feel the rush!
If you want to feel the ultimate rush, a feeling so great you will never be able to experience it anywhere else, then follow these simple instructions.
Find the fastest spot on the race track, which is usually the entrance to turn one right before the braking point.
Stand as you close to the fence as you possibly can and wait for a car to come towards you at full speed.
When that car goes by, the big rush I was talking about will be realized.
There is no better feeling in this world than a car going by at high speeds, with the sound of the engine like thunder, only a few feet away from you.
It's very hard to explain, but once you try it, you will immediately know what I'm talking about.
If you don't want to miss some racing action while doing this, try doing it during practice or qualifying.
So if you do these ten things when attending a NASCAR race, you should be in for the weekend of your life.
For all of you race fans attending your first race in 2009, I hope you have an awesome time!
If you're not sure about going, I say you should go because it will be the most awesome weekend of your life!