You'd think that moving to a northern state would mean saying goodbye to southern traditions. In reality, I've found myself participating in more "southern" activities lately than I ever did when I lived in Virginia. Go figure.
My latest below-the-Mason-Dixon-Line-originating excursion came Sunday, when my husband and I went with a bunch of friends to the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. I had never been to a Nascar race before, so even though I'm not really into watching motorized contraptions drive around in circles for hours, I was kind of excited about seeing what the whole experience was like.
All week, the local weather stations had been preaching sunny, 90-degree weather for Sunday, so in preparation, I got out the shorts and packed about fifteen bottles of sunscreen. The weather stations, however, turned out to be big, fat liars. In reality, we were greeted in Brooklyn by miles of dark, gray clouds, threatening to pour down on us if anyone blinked the wrong way. Finally, the rain made its appearance, alternating between huge plops and fizzy mist. Good thing I brought my rain gear—oh, wait, I didn't. Heh, heh.
Despite being drizzled on for several hours, however, we had fun tailgating and hanging out in between our little convoy of trucks. There was a slight hitch when a power inverter failed to charge a crock pot of buffalo chicken dip, but that was solved pretty quickly with some wires connecting to something under the hood of our car. I guess when you hang out with a group of engineers, there's no real need to panic about anything—it's basically the same as chilling with a group of MacGyvers.
The rain finally stopped sometime after 1 p.m. (the race's original start time), so we moseyed closer to the track to scout out vendors and free stuff. Unfortunately, most of the tables had already packed up, but we did get to hang out with some humongous tractors. That, and we got to see the jet flyover from our walk to our seats. If you ask me, that's probably the coolest part of Nascar, anyway.
We did eventually make it inside the stadium (Is stadium the right word? Arena? Race place?). And man, if you've never been to Michigan International Speedway, you should venture out. Two miles of track sure does make for a big oval.
Now, Nascar races present an interesting challenge: the cars are incredibly loud, and you can't hear anything anyone says unless you pull out your ear plugs and let them scream right next to your face. Even then, it's like a slightly-disheveled game of telephone. The result is a surprising feeling of solidarity, despite the fact that you're sitting among thousands of people. So, being the resourceful (mind-wandering) person that I am, I decided to entertain myself with other activities. This included, of course, accepting my husband's challenge to successfully photograph the Goodyear blimp with my iPhone. It worked...kind of. The result was several miniscule shots of the inflated device, plus a few better ones that were overshadowed by a bald man's very shiny head.
As you may already know, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. came away as Sunday's victor, claiming his first win in four years. Tony Stewart (a.k.a., the guy my dad chose for me to root for) came in second, and everyone else didn't matter. Okay, that's not true, but those are the only drivers I paid any attention to toward the end.
When the racing was done, we didn't even attempt to mess with impending traffic. Instead, we hung out for another hour or so, enjoying a little more picnic time while we waited for more cars to clear out. Luckily, we got out long before sunset, and made our way back home via roads of mutilated traffic cones and nonsensical detours. Nothing like a little road course of our own to cap off the afternoon...minus the smoking wrecks and 200 mph speeds, that is.