Monday, June 21, 2010

Tez's Sonoma Weekend Report

**Ok, I won't be putting all my pictures up...this will be far too long as it is just with the ones I've picked**

Since Kristen nicked the race and qualifying titles, this shall have to suffice :P

I suppose that's as good a place to start really. For the second time in my life, I catch a plane to hook up with people I've only previously known online. Worked out just fine the first attempt, so I figured I'd approach it the same way in the hope that, unlike the song by Split Enz, history does repeat. And, lo and behold, from the instant Kristen laughed off my rant about the BART tunnels cutting my phone coverage at the critical moment, to the look she gave me that basically said "is that it? Where's the rest of your luggage?", I had a good feeling this weekend was going to be a classic (as I said at the time; if I can last two weeks out of that same backpack, five days is easy).

Being a morning person, much to the chagrin of my girlfriend who prefers to sleep until the crack of noon at the earliest, getting up at six on Friday didn't bother me much. After picking up RA6AN and dumping some of our stuff at the hotel, we ventured out for qualifying day. RA6AN and I were seated right alongside Victory Circle, so we had a pretty good view of the haulers and we were able to snap some shots of unsuspecting people (none as good as that shot of Chad though)...eventually, after we realised who the heck they were and got the cameras ready in time *rolls eyes*

Rick Hendrick being inducted.

The defending race winner.

The prerace favourite.

The Brew Crew going through their final checks before qualifying.

Clint must like getting his photo snapped...saw him a few times.

Who'd have picked Joey to be the highest finishing JGR driver?

Jeff giving tips to the rookie...maybe on the bump and run?

Yes, I was hoping Jeff turned to his left as well but he never did...the nearly shaved head next to him was Jan Magnussen by the way. And yes, that is our very own Kristen in the Blue Deuce shot. She claims she heard someone calling her name which is why she turned around...I say she saw Dale Jr and was wondering if anyone would notice if she bolted off after him ;)

We moved down towards the flag stand for qualifying which was rather strange for me since I assumed that, since he's from California, Jimmie 'Vader' Johnson (I'm sticking to the Yahoo! nicknames for them now) would have gotten cheered when he went to the top of the timesheets but the roar when Kasey knocked him off left me scratching my head before RA6AN said he's from the wrong part of California. It was around this time that my 'Team Kiwi Racing' shirt got recognised and we chatted to the people behind AmbroseChick's twitter (I think I'm still part of that group on actually) which was a very cool deal.

After deciding to go early again on Saturday - Kristen picking my weakness and stopping for coffee - I wandered, which soon became staggered, up the hill to turn two since I wanted to snap some pikkies of the cars coming through there at relatively slow speeds. We didn't stay for the West Series race in the end and managed to catch the last 20 odd laps of the Nationwide race from Road America once Jon got booked in.

Speed leads Truex and Hornish up the hill.

David and Jimmie heading to three.

Ambrose starting a hot lap.

An RCR and MWR truck minus the trailers.

Last shot was from the hotel on Friday night while the one before it is what I was hoping would happen Sunday afternoon (it was taken during Friday practice) *sigh*

The link (told you I'd find it, guys!) and photo below probably won't make a lot of sense since they both really were "you had to be there" moments we talked about on the way to dinner Saturday night.

The morning after Marcos announced he was heading over the Pacific.

Sunday dawned and, again, taking the offer of Starbucks in the morning, I arrived at the track with Kristen. After the hardest working non-payroll person in the Penske organisation went off to the garage, Jon and I went out onto pitlane, passing the time by chatting to a few of the many Aussies in attendence - it almost felt like a V8 Supercar race for me - before meeting up with RA6AN and Hoosier who managed to not get as sunburnt as us at Pebble Beach the day must be all those trees that litter the golf courses. Just before that, Kristen gave us a world class tour of Kurt's pit area which was highly impressive.

I'll confess to not taking many shots during the race since I figured that, between the four of us, we'd have enough photos over the course of the three days so I'll just put up two; my boxing kangaroo flag on the start/finish line during the prerace and the race winner taking the chequered flag.

It brought him luck for a while...and it got on 'Trackside'!

Jimmie ticking off a place he hadn't won at before.

Now, I want you to take a good look at that group photo that Kristen posted on her race day blog. See my smile and wonder if that's how I really felt? Well, the photo below I took in my hotel room (with the aid of the camera timer of course) after Jon and I had got back is a better reflection of my feelings I reckon...they say a picture is worth a thousand words but I'm pretty sure this has just one; bugger.

Marcos gave it his all, but came up empty in the end.

However, I've moved beyond it now. I am very proud that Marcos took the fight to Vader since it had all the makings of another Phoenix 2009 Autumn (hey, I still write 'tyre', you're not getting me to call it 'Fall') race until then.

The story doesn't end there for who should I run into at SFO but Mr M. Waltrip. Had a very brief chat with Mikey since our lines were moving in the opposite direction, he just gave me a rueful nod and a "thought we had it" before I wished his teams all the best for next week...even me with my limited knowledge on personalities could tell he was still crushed over the ending (heck, so am I!).

I'll close with this; I thoroughly enjoyed going to this race in 2006, no question about that. But the 2010 version was so much more special as I went with three amazing NASCAR fans that I have no issues at all adding to my met-in-real-life-so-they're-not-only-online-anymore friends list. Thank you Kristen, RA6AN and Jon for making a very cool weekend even better.

And that is why, despite my having a sore throat (remind me to never use the air conditioners in that place again), despite my legs feeling like lead and despite my boy fluffing the best chance he's had yet to win a Cup race, my smile in the group shot was 100% genuine.


  1. Condolences, Tez...

    Here the band was all set to strike up a rousing rendition of "Waltzing Matilda" and the old girl's feet came out from under her. Hell, I'm not anywhere as near vested as you are and I felt terrible too!

    Marcos scored a lot of points with the fans. Watkins Glen will be his, mark my words!

    It's fitting that your weekend ended seeing Waltrip, don't you think?

    Thanks for the insights...

  2. Great blog, Tez! I enjoyed reading that and I share the feelings with you, and the many others, of disappointment. Here's to The Glen!

  3. How fitting you ran into Mikey at the airport!

    Loved re-living the weekend via your blog...from BART to the checkered flag I had a great time with you guys!

    (See mom, Tez isn't an axe murderer like you feared...)

    Oh and I am stealing that pic of me...I have so few that actually prove I am out there! LOL

  4. Great article, Tez. Looks and sounds like you had a great time. Was gutted at the end for Marcos, but..................

  5. I was starting to get prepared for the dash over to victory circle, Dwindy! And yeah, was cool to see Mikey...I think he spotted me first with my Marcos cap, lol

    Ta, Amanda. Vader was getting booed and given thumbs down every time he crossed the line in those last few laps, it was rather amusing now I think about it...I guess everyone wanted to see someone new win.

    Funny you should say that, Kristen....when I first met the girlfriend, that was her thoughts too! And go ahead with the pikkie, I took 2 so I'll send them both along with the Jr ones (any point sending the shots of Kurt since you were right there most of the weekend?).

  6. Cheers, Total. We all had an awesome time, was great to catch up with a few of my fellow bloggers and it went by far too quickly. From what I heard, the race was pretty decent to watch on TV so I was happy about that for you guys since that was my worry going into the weekend :)

    And yes, going down the front curveaway (well, it certainly isn't straight, lol) isn't the place to be saving fuel. He should have done it going down the hill through the esses towards the hairpin...hindsight and all that I guess.

  7. It was great meeting you Tez :) It wasn't meant to be for our boy but ah well life goes on. Jimmy Who's crew chief Chad said on NASCAR Now yesterday that Marcos had the engine cut off as he passed the #48 pits so that should have been more then enough time to restart the engine b4 hitting the hill... the real question is why did Kerr tell MA to conserve fuel... I'm still not over it. Aussie media coverage has absolutely caned MA as well which pisses me off even more. Anyhoo... great blog mate!

  8. Good article Tez. I missed the race but from what I hear Gordon was taking out the contenders that could win so JJ could have a free ride to the winners circle.

    I hope Marcos and Kurt remembers this in the next race. I know I wouldn't forget.

  9. Great stuff, Tez! Looks like you guys had a blast in NoCal!

    We were thinking of you when Ambrose was leading, and at that dreadful ending. X(

    Can't wait until he gets in a top flight Cup car....soon!

  10. Tez, had a fabulous time! Great perspective on the race, and great shots! I'll have mine up in the next day or so. I sure hope we can do this next year!

  11. great meeting you too, Indy! Neither Jon, RA6AN or myself could figure out why the heck they told him either...just one of those deals ultimately I suppose.

    so *that's* what Jeff was doing, thanks for clearing that up for me, photo! :P

    we sure did, Gene. I was stoked I made the trip down this time, hope to do it again :)

    I look forward to yours, Jon. And yep, if the idea gets floated, I'll gladly put my hand up for it!

  12. Thanks Tez for sharing the experience. As for Marcos, there's always Watkins Glen!

  13. and woah boy, will he be fired up for Watkins, CR :P

  14. Sounds like an amazing experience. I did see the flag on Trackside. I was on the lookout throughout the whole program lol.

  15. cheers, jm! I think going with a small group of friends is an ace idea...can chat about anything and you don't get that 'lost in the crowd' feeling like you can with a tour group :)