If you've read my previous UCAPs, you may recall that my husband, Mark, works for The Richards Group, an advertising agency here in Dallas. Home Depot is one of the company's biggest clients, and as an audio engineer, Mark handles all of their radio commercials and some of their TV ads.
Much to my surprise, in early March 2002, one of Mark's connections came through with Pit/Garage Passes. Mark thought Mom and I would enjoy the passes more than he would, so he was off to Lubbock to visit his nephew from San Francisco while Mom and I headed to the races.
We tried to take lots of notes and I shot 27 rolls of film, so I hope we've captured the experience to your liking.
We tried for weeks to get information about the passes. We didn't know when or where to pick them up, or even what days we could use them. Since we knew the passes were available, we hadn't bought tickets to the race. As the date drew near, we began to worry that either our plans would fall through or the passes would only be good for pre-race activities. I even called the Speedway office to get information. I was told I had to contact NASCAR on Thursday when they finally arrived at the track. Fortunately, Mark's contact came through on Wednesday night with information on where to get the passes, etc.
After dropping my son, Steven, off at school, we headed straight for the track. We picked up our Pit Passes at the TMS Credentials office, but were told that we didn't have garage access. Fortunately, we had been told by Mark's contact that our Garage Passes would be available at the NASCAR Registration Office in the infield, but that office wouldn't open until Friday morning. Since there really wasn't much to see in the infield on Thursday, we decided to spend the day shopping for souvenirs outside the track.
I was determined to find a black and white Dale Earnhardt uniform jacket. I had tried to buy one the year before, but after Dale's death, it was almost impossible to find anything related to the infamous Number 3 at a reasonable price. I didn't have any luck at the track either. After wandering up and down the midway looking at every trailer, we finally gave up and headed for Speedway World, the track's store in the speedway office.
We decided to stop at the restrooms before we left (the track has no restrooms or portable latrines anywhere near the souvenir midway). Inside, we met the grandmother of Johnny Sauter, driver of the BGN #2 car. Foolish people that we are, we heard her say that she was his grandmother, but the reality didn't sink in until she was gone. I'm sure she thought we were rude, but in all honesty, we're very friendly people -- we're just clueless, that's all!
We spent the evening running errands. It took us two trips to the Grapevine Mills Mall before we found the right store, but I finally located some Dale Earnhardt jackets. They weren't the exact ones that I wanted, but by this time, I was so frustrated that I was willing to take ANY Dale Earnhardt jacket. I wound up with a solid black, cotton jacket with red trim and the GM Goodwrench logo. Close enough. I REFUSED to borrow my daughter's Jeff Gordon jacket a second time, as there was no end to the ridicule I suffered when I did so a few years before.