Bowman Gray Stadium is known as "The Madhouse," and it surely was one on Saturday night. It was amazing how they can pack in so many fans at such a small track all while feeling so close to the action. The fans' reactions to their favorite or least favorite drivers being introduced added to the drama of the event. While some of the racing was a bit dull and follow the leader, the exciting atmosphere surrounding the roar of the engines elevated the experience to the next level. I also enjoyed the "choice" rule. For those not familiar, one lap prior to the green flag one of the track officials placed a cone in the middle of the start-finish line. Each driver then would choose if they would like to start on the inside or outside line when the race restarts. This made things very interesting, considering that the inside was by far the preferred line. It made for some very intense racing though with cars racing side by side for several laps, occasionally with the car on the outside line powering into the lead. This is exactly what Burt Myers was able to do later in the race and took the win in the GMAC Insurance 200 modified feature, only a few weeks after a scary super modified wreck where he suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung.
Myers also competed in a late model stock car a couple days earlier at Richmond International Raceway, as I attended the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown and NASCAR K&N Pro East Series races. RIR's slogan is "Racing Perfection." While I had a good time, I wouldn't necessarily say the racing and the facility was close to perfect. It could have had something to do with the impending weather, but there were some other factors that turned me off. I understand that the racing program had to be rushed along a little bit, but they could have said something over the public address system. I was expecting a brief intermission and while I waited in line for food the East Series race started, resulting in me missing out on the first ten laps. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I haven't been to a high level NASCAR track since Daytona in 2008, but it seemed like everywhere I wandered in the midway there was a track worker telling me that I couldn't go any further. Also, the grandstand ushers kept telling fans to keep moving along when the track was quiet or while just a practice session was going on. I would expect that immediately prior to race conditions, but the fact was the stands weren't completely packed so what was the point? Were they practicing for Saturday evening? I don't think I ever felt so restricted as a fan at a race track. Maybe it's too much to gripe about such little things for Thursday night at a NASCAR facility, but the fact was I didn't feel 100% content being there. Despite this, the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown was entertaining and I'm sure it raised a lot of money for a good cause. I just hope that Denny Hamlin and his fellow NASCAR and Late Model Stock Car friends and competitors consider going back to their roots next year with Southside Speedway opening back up.
Photos can be seen at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.563204407069.2069888.37801386&l=f887e6820a. Video from the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/ajcrdstr24; however, I ran into a problem with the Bowman Gray Stadium video editing. Somehow all of the footage was corrupted and permanently deleted. I may be experienced with computers, but apparently I lack the common sense to save raw footage on my hard drive before editing. Oh well, it is what it is. If you want to see some excellent footage from The Madhouse, go to http://www.youtube.com/racingrulz.
For the next couple months, I'll be taking a little bit of a break. I'll be staying local with my first visit to Port Royal Speedway for some dirt racing during the month of May. I'll be leaving behind the camera and Flip Video, but expect a recap from the experience and perhaps a brief preview of one of the single most exciting race days of the year, the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600, later in the month!
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