I'm back with NASCAR tips gleaned from our second experience attending the Auto Club 400 at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. Two years ago, we broke the bank on decent seats and individual headsets with television monitors. We also worried over the restrictions and came overly prepared with a packed lunch and tons of water. This time, we bought cheap tickets and rented cheaper headsets, all purchased just a few days prior to the race. We arrived with only the essentials, like hats, sunglasses and sunscreen. We kept it simple.
The first new tip - parking is free, but free comes at a cost. The free lots were a parking nightmare. The last time, we navigated the free parking. This time we shelled out twenty bucks and we parked at a business near the track. It was a short walk and paved, much nicer than parking in a dirt lot. The other upside was we were able to quickly park and getting out was a breeze. This was the best money that we spent the entire day.
The company name included my maiden name, Hansen. A sign of a good day ahead.
Our first stop was to take a look at the events map. Modern Family star Eric Stonestreet was the Pace Car Driver and Dwight Yoakam was the Honorary Starter. I don't watch American Idol, but the top ten contestants sang a beautiful version of the National Anthem.
Tip two- buy the Pit Pass.
We skipped it our first time to the track and we were sorry to have missed it. The Pit Pass is only ten dollars and it really adds to the experience. It's cool to be able to walk on the track and take pictures on Victory Lane. I had a feeling that pretty much everyone else had experienced this before and they were uber-fans waiting for specific cars and drivers. We were clueless. We just wandered around and took a ton of pictures. Everyone on the track is really pumped for the race and it's an exciting experience.
We wondered why some drivers didn't have crew guarding their tires. Maybe there was more security than we realized, but it seems like tampering could be a big problem. We were close enough to easily reach over the barricades and touch the tires.
Tip Three- Get the smoothie. Seriously, it's yummy stuff. To that end, we found most of the food at the Auto Club Speedway to be tasty and not ridiculously over-priced. We didn't have alcohol, so that might have been costly, but a few hot dogs, a bag of kettle corn and the smoothies, kept us full and in budget. It was much easier than our previous experience, when we decided to follow internet advice and pack a lunch. Packing a lunch was an enormous hassle.
Tip Four- Splurge on seats high up. Our bargain seats were crap because we couldn't see most of the track. They were also kind of close to the action, bringing to mind one of my favorite horror film franchises, Final Destination. Luckily, there were no major crashes and nothing came flying at us, but we were uncomfortably close to the track.
It was a sold out stadium and after multiple restarts going into the final lap, Brad Keselowski pulled out a surprise upset. The only lap that he led was that final, crucial lap. We were rooting for local boy Jimmie Johnson or Tony Stewart. Next time!
We had another great day at the Auto Club Speedway and we will hopefully be back in 2016.