As a long time NASCAR fan, I've seen my fair share of races at my "home track," but on May 1-2, 2009, I had my first opportunity to take a look beyond the grandstands of Richmond International Raceway as a credentialed member of the media.
It was an experience that I will not soon forget.
Many thanks to Bleacher Report for helping to make this happen. Your support and encouragement does not go unnoticed.
Here is an up close and personal look behind the scenes at what goes on before the race begins.
Once you're in, you'll never want to come out!
Kara Martin, Unprofessional Photographer.
Through the looking glass.
A look at the Sprint Cup haulers lined up on the infield.
How Pit Crews start their day.
No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet and No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet.
The No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet and No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge.
The No. 88 Amp Energy Chevrolet.
The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge.
The No. 18 M&M's Toyota.
No. 24, Dupont Cevrolet
The No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet.
No. 55, Napa Toyota.
The No. 07 Jack Daniels Chevrolet.
This was the only hauler that had a full service grill in front of it.
A view from the infield looking out.
Stewart-Haas Racing equipment cover.
Chevrolet Camaro. Official pace car of the Crown Royal Presents The Russ Freeman 400.
Official Sprint Cup pace cars.
The skies over Richmond threatened to open all afternoon...
...and eventually they did! Many thanks to Casey Mears' hauler for the shelter from the storm.
There were tables and tables of these.
There would be no racing without A LOT of spare Goodyear Eagles.
Told you, can't have enough tires on race day!
A much smaller version of the ones they use on the track.
Used at the entrance to pit row for safety.
A line up of 18-wheelers used to haul the race cars.
We all have one of these just lying around, don't we?
Right before a second downpour.
All cars are manually pushed to the inspection area.
Every car goes in...
And eventually come out.
All cars must pass inspection before they can race.
The No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet.
Every race car is manually pushed to it's individual pit box.
Home of Kevin Harvick's crew on race day.
Home of Kyle Busch's crew.
A driver's view.
Left Turns Only!
Last turn before the start-finish line.
The Commonwealth Tower.
This is where the magic happens.
The end result.