August always brings our annual pilgrimage to the local home of the racing gods, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn Michigan.
We have been going to the race just about every year since we moved to Michigan in 1999. The first year was the Busch race since we could not get tickets for the Winston Cup (back then). We started out with three tickets, but the third changed from person to person, and now only the truely race hardened fans (Paul and I) go every year. Like many other sports you have to enjoy the sounds, the smells, the crushing crowds and prices (like $6.50 beer) to want to sit on a small hard seat getting kicked from behind, your toes stomped on with people coming and going, severe sun burn (even with SPF 350 applied – hey this one day in August is the only time I normally see sun!) beer dumped on your head (which due to the sun burn sort of feels good late in the race!) two mile walks to the parked car (consider it a form of exercise!), a car whose inside resembles a Swedish sauna, and finally a three hour wait to get out of the very back corner of the 8,000 acre parking lot. Although that can even be fun. Remember there are over 100,000 fans 99,000 of which have been consuming alcoholic beverages for at LEAST six hours, many having started the night before. So the wait in the parking lot can be interspersed with a small fist fight or two, a little road (well parking lot) rage, and generally driving by people whose designated drivers failed to remember they were the designated driver! “Oh, I though YOU were the DD this year”.
This year we also had tickets to allow us into the pits prior to the race. Which was pretty fun way to spend the morning! You can see all the pictures, probably way more than you want to see actualy (one of the nasty “benefits” digital photography provides. No expensive film development and printing, then scanning and so on to post onto a web site. Now anyone can crank out hundreds of photos (per week) of the new baby for just about zero expense!) from the main Kazology Page by taking the “August 2006 MIS – NASCAR – GFS 400” link to the George’s photo album, or you can also see Paul’s from here or the main page.
Although it may not look that way, I did pare my album done quite a bit. I did not think everyone would be interested in seeing pictures of the front AND back of the tool boxs belonging to every team in the race (That would be 43 teams, times 2 = more pictures of tool boxs, jacks and tires than a normal person would care about. (Actually that includes me – I think I got caught up in the moment of it all!)
They say an army travels on it’s stomach, but obviously NASCAR travels on TIRES!
Now I like NASCAR racing, and would do a lot of things to get into the area, but one of the most boring jobs seems to be the wheel preparation. Before the race they have to 1) wire brush each bolt hole where the lug nuts rest, 2) clean them with alcohol, 3) paint the lug nut top surface so it is easy to see inside the dusty wheel, with a helmet on, with about 3 seconds to torque down all five lug nuts, 4) apply adhesive to the lug nut, 5) position and glue the lug nuts onto the wheel, 6) then stack them neatly and cover them all up. This is in addition to the work alread done, selecting sets of equal weight and diameter, putting in new valve stems, mounting the tires onto the rims, balancing them (probably more than once), checking and rechecking the air pressure, moving them to the pit area… NOW they are ready to begin the final work. Then remember this is not a set of four tires.
It looked like they have upwards of 15 sets of four, probably more in the back also! So with five lug nuts on a wheel, four tires in a set, and fifteen sets = a lot of lug nuts to prepare. As an aside, as a person in automotive quality I wondered if they 100% checked the threads on every lug nut in the box before they were applied. Imagine one lug nut with missing or even bad thread… a race could be lost in spite of the $100,000’s spent on frames, engines, etc…. Maybe this is an exciting “to-do” while watching The Speed Channel at night in the shop.
Obviously I could go on describing race day for many more pages, I haven’t even touched on the tunnel in and out, the race groupies, meeting the drivers (oh, no? guess I didn’t do that.) but will quit for now.
Hey, did I ever post the pictures of Paul and I racing at MIS? No, I don’t think so…. that was before the digital camera days. I do have a few scanned photos from the event though. I will have to dig them out an post in a blog since there are really not enough to make a photo album out of. They may be in the “Extreme Kasdorfs” album though, now that I think about it for a minute.
Even though #24 did not win, but came in a close second, it was still a pretty good day.
Until the last left hand turn is made,