Sunday, January 26, 2014

Daily Debris - Day 1 in Charlotte


                           Rendering of NASCAR Hall of Fame, Courtesy of the City of Charlotte

Usually mild mannered public relations woman/NASCAR blogger/Fantasy NASCAR columnist extraordinaire has hit the streets of Charlotte, N.C. No, not that way. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m here covering the NASCAR Sprint Cup Media Tour, which starts tomorrow.

Throughout this week I will be filing news stories on racing teams and NASCAR industry news, but I also invite you to follow this column, which we have dubbed Daily Debris. Here I’ll provide you with the meanderings of a “very young” middle-aged woman who spent a majority of her off time in her 20s and 30s following the likes of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Yes, and Arlo Guthrie, etc. Now I crave the smell of a race track, the vibrance of a competitive race and the sheer joy of everything stockcar or truck racing.

One thing hasn't changed over the years – my viewpoint. At best it’s a tad snarky. At worse, it’s about a half a bubble off, as one ex-boyfriend once said. Anyway, as Larry McReynolds says “reach up there and pull those belts tight.” You’re in for an interesting ride.   

Day 1 – Arrival in Charlotte, NC
I could tell it was going to be a great trip from the moment I got to BWI (Baltimore/Washington International) Airport. I must have answered some question correctly at security as they put me in the TSA Pre-check line. I didn't have to remove any articles of clothing or even my laptop. I must admit that I did miss that x-ray machine thing where I get to put my arms up like I’m in the midst of a bank robbery. I always like to put my feet in the exact position of the foot print outlines like it is some obscure game of Twister. Interestingly, the TSA folks are never as amused about my being amused by it though. Oh well.

My flawless one hour, five minute flight ended as the plane taxied on the runway to provide one of my first “Ooh moments” – one of the Roush-Fenway jets sitting on the tarmac. My taxi ride downtown was uneventful until we reached the NASCAR Plaza building. It was a pretty awesome sight, kinda spine tingling, and then I saw it – the Chiquita banana logo – right on the other side of the NASCAR logo. I tried to compose myself, but it was seriously funny.

This whole discussion about changing the Chase rules, and making major changes in the sport this year suddenly all makes sense – they are bananas, crazy – why didn't I see this before?

Actually Chiquita Brands leases six floors of the building as their headquarters, which can’t be easy. You know, major brand, NASCAR is always hawking for sponsors. I picture the Chiquita folks dashing for cover every time they see NASCAR staff. “Quick I saw them coming this way, hide.”

I think I should lay off the whole banana angle here because my mind is going to Chiquita on the fender, bringing back Viagra on the hood. It could be a great tongue-twister (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) for Carl Edwards, the king of mentioning sponsors, “My Viagra Chiquita Ford Fusion was really fast today, but the track was real slick and ..."

My fixation on the NASCAR Plaza continued well into the evening. After a delightful dinner at La Tagliatella in the Epicenter, I walked around downtown to get my bearings, scope out the Convention Center and get a closer view of the Hall of Fame. I’ve never been to Charlotte, and though I have seen photos of the Hall of Fame, I didn’t realize that it’s visually one big complex. Plaza. Convention Center. Hall of Fame. It oddly reminded me of Graceland somehow – masterful marketing or something. Not sure.

I will say that while I was walking by NASCAR Plaza this evening the cleaning crew was hard at work, but not the least bit NASCAR-like. Hey, I bet we could soup up those custodial carts, slap a NASCAR logo, get some decent speed and perhaps some side drafting out of them. Well, maybe it’s just me.

So I’m off to review the agenda for tomorrow -- the first official day of the Sprint Cup Media Tour. And remember, if anyone makes any snide remarks to you about NASCAR, it’s okay you can agree with them because they ARE bananas!

Follow @SkirtsandScuffs this week as Carol shares stories from the world of NASCAR and her thoughts on the events. 

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