While I didn’t really grow up knowing much about NASCAR, I wasn’t completely sheltered from the racing world either. Every once in a while, on a Saturday evening in the Summer, we would head to the Onaway Speedway for the races. It’s one of my happier memories from childhood. My sister and I would each claim a race car and cheer him on to victory. We might even get our own little checkered flags to wave!
Fast forward twenty-ish years and I found myself with the opportunity to head to Charlotte, North Carolina to be immersed in the NASCAR world, thanks to Toyota Racing. Since most of my race car and NASCAR knowledge comes from those memories and Days of Thunder, I thought it might be fun to learn a little more from the professionals!
Let me just start by saying that the world of NASCAR is simply amazing. It is this multi-faceted beast. A sport with so many ‘moving’ parts that truly would not work if one of those parts just up and quit. Or even wasn’t working properly. Every part depends on the parts around it. And, thanks to Toyota Racing, I got a peek at all of those moving parts!
I’ll give you just a quick overview of what I experienced over the weekend but will definitely be writing about it in more depth in the weeks to come!
Friday morning we ushered off to Fan Fest at Joe Gibbs Racing — an expo-type day where fans get to check out race cars, meet drivers, and just have a fun time! While we were there, we had the chance to meet key members of the Joe Gibbs Race Team, including Coach Joe Gibbs himself, JGRTeam President J.D. Gibbs, up & coming driver Darrell Wallace Jr., Maggie Martin (the account manager for sponsor Dollar General), and Bryan “Boris” Cook (Digital Marketing Manager extraordinaire).
Then we went on a tour of the Joe Gibbs Race Team shop! This is wear the magic of race cars happens!
After a lovely lunch at The King’s Kitchen, a non-for profit restaurant in uptown Charlotte, and a short break, we were off to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Nationwide Dollar General 300!
Our view from the Toyota Suite at turn 4 was amazing and the perfect way to watch my first NASCAR race! We ate, drank, listened in on the drivers and pit crew chiefs! It could not have been better. But then it did get better! With just 25 laps to go, Joe Gibbs Racing driver Joey Logano was in the lead and we were told that we could head down to Winner’s Circle! Fingers crossed that he remained in the lead!
We ended up with a front row spot at Winner’s Circle, watching as Toyota driver Joey Logano and the team celebrated their Nationwide victory!
After a very short night’s sleep (who could sleep after all that excitement), we were back at it Saturday morning! This time we were visiting the Michael Waltrip Racing Shop! But not only did we get a tour of the shops, but we also got an inside look at Michael Waltrip’s office and the opportunity to ‘suit-up’!
Then we were treated to a very special lunch at Darrell Waltrip’s Race Shop with very special guests Darrell & Stevie Waltrip and Jeff Hammond!
The three of them were amazing! So many stories and such amazing hosts! They even put up with our shenanigans as we slid in and out of every single race car!
After lunch, and a lot of laughing, we were headed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America 500 Sprint Cup Race.
We had time to walk around the “midway” and Toyota’s PitPass Display, cheer on the winner of the Toyota Racing For Awareness contest (Samantha Busch), and tour the NASCAR Spring Cut Series garages and Pit Road!
Before heading back to the Toyota Suite to watch the race, we had the honor of speaking with some of the women involved in NASCAR, including reporter for SPEED TV Wendy Venturini and Jodi Geschickter, one of the owners of JTG Daugherty Racing.
Exhausted, we all nestled in to our comfy seats in the suite, plates filled with delicious food, and watched as Michael Waltrip Racing Team driver Clint Bowyer took home the checkered flag!
It was a winning weekend for Toyota Racing and I could not have been more honored to be a part of it!
Thank you so much Toyota Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, Darrell & Stevie Waltrip, NASCAR, and Clever Girls for an amazing weekend!! And, if you need me to fly out for the remaining races as a good-luck charm, I’m pretty sure myself & the other TWIN ladies would be more than willing!
And don’t forget to tune in this weekend as the teams race for victory at Kansas Speedway!!!
You can view more of my pictures from the weekend over on Flickr!
I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating, although all costs with this trip were covered. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of Toyota. But I’m pretty sure they were happy about those wins Friday & Saturday as well!