Behind the Scenes with NASCAR's Weekend Workhorses
We're all used to seeing our favorite driver either in or around his car, and we're used to seeing the haulers that transport them from venue to venue.
What most people never get to see, or see only very infrequently, are the true workhorse vehicles of a NASCAR event weekend.
Of course, I'm talking about the golf carts and the driver motorhomes.
You'll never see one of these make a lap around the track, but without them, each race weekend would be far more difficult for the drivers, for their teams, for the media, for the track personnel, and for various vendors and VIPs.
While covering the Pepsi 500 weekend at the Auto Club Speedway earlier this month, I was fortunate enough to get a look at the driver and owner motorhome lot as well as the carts parked in and around it.
With a little help from some friends (and some pretty big clues outside), I was able to figure out who owned a few of the motorhomes.
Figuring out which cart belonged to which team, driver, or vendor was a much easier task, although oftentimes the drivers used different carts than those shown here.
The Goodyear Racing Vendor Cart
With all the running around that the tire specialists and handlers from Goodyear have to do each weekend, life without this cart would probably be impossible in this day and age.
What Can Brown Do For You?
Although not a cart I imagine too many people ride in, a few of these carts could be seen darting about the premises making last-minute deliveries to those at the track.
The No. 88
One of many six-seaters, this No. 88 National Guard Cart sat guard between the motorhome lot and the rear garage entrance.
The RPM Cart Experience
In the line of cars between the driver/owner motorhome lot, and the garage back entrance, sat two carts from Richard Petty Motorsports.
I'm guessing that being a passenger in the front seat in one of these is quite a different experience than being in the passenger seat of one of the Richard Petty Experience stock cars, circling the track at 165 mph.
Although, the way some of these carts speed around behind the scenes, getting drivers and others from here to way over there, can be somewhat exhilarating, I'm sure.
The Air Force Stretch
Although Reed Sorenson's No. 43 Dodge was only sponsored by the Air Force for two races and the Pepsi 500 was not one of them, the cart was still there and in use.
I'm assuming it was used for the driver and/or team members, although, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some active-duty personnel using the cart at times during the weekend.
Discount Tires Stretch Cart
Along with the others lined up at the back of the garage sat this cart with the Discount Tire sponsor logo for David Ragan's No. 6 Nationwide Series car.
Planning on Going Off-Roading, Robby?
Although I could not confirm that this was in fact Robby Gordon's cart, I find it hard to imagine who else's it might be.
It was definitely unique amongst the golf carts.
Again, I never saw Mark Martin actually sitting in the back of this cart, but it was parked beside what I was told was his motorhome and the No. 5 and sponsor paint job give clues as to which team it belongs to at the very least.
Mark Martin's Motorhome
Although I never personally saw Mark Martin go in or out of this motorhome, I was told it was his. And the cart sitting beside it here increases the evidence substantially.
Bearing flames matching those of the JR Motorsports logo, Dale Earnhardt Jr's motorhome was unique amongst most of the more traditionally painted motor homes.
A Dale Jr. Cart to Match the Motorhome
Unlike the blatantly obvious No. 88 National Guard Stretch Cart, this cart was more simple, reflecting Junior's tastes by matching his specially painted motorhome.
The Skull And Crossbones
I missed this completely the first time I passed it, and I was almost close enough to reach out and touch it. The airbrushed skull, crossbones, and flame were one awesome sight to behold...
I half-expected Ozzy Osbourne to pop out of some part of the motorhome, mumble something incoherently, then stumble back inside...
The Fine Detail on Junior's Motorhome
Not only were there incredible skulls airbrushed on the front and back of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s trailer, but if you look closely inside the flames, you can see the detail continues there...
Rowdy's Home Away From Home
A number of clues (see other pictures) gave this away as Kyle Busch's motorhome.
Unfortunately, this weekend he spent more time inside the motorhome during practice and the races, than he did on the track due to illness.
The Best Seat In The House
The left side of Kyle Busch's motorhome, with an M&M's cart parked in front. The ladder up the back and platform on top allow a driver's friends and family a great view of the track from the inside.
Some M&M Stretchmobiles
All weekend long there were quite a few carts parked around Kyle Busch's motorhome.
There were these M&M's stretch carts, a couple of normal-size M&M-branded carts, and the one he actually was transported in.
M&M's Stretch Cart
A little more detail on one of Kyle Busch's stretch carts. In this it is possible to see the M&M's facial expressions, as is often possible on his racecars.
Race Day At The Busch Place
Not only are the motorhomes incredibly large (and I'm guessing quite plush inside), they also include the amenities of a home for those wanting to sit outside as well.
These chairs and the TV screen were setup a few hours before the race was to begin on Sunday.
Tucked away a little further from view was the cart I actually did see Kyle Busch ride in on one of his many trips back from the track to his motorhome after being relieved by another driver.
And One For The Road
After giving up the seat in his car for the second race in two days due to illness, Kyle Busch and Samantha Sarcinella are whisked away from the pits/garage area back over to the motorhome park in the silver cart bearing the No. 18 with the blue flames...