Sweltering heat and blistering pavement surround the 1500 acres of Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS.) However, inside the gates one gets the chance to see one of ten tracks, state-of-the-art garages, luxury suites fit for the casino elite, and enough energy and excitement to last a lifetime.
I must start by saying that I have never been a big NASCAR guy or follower of races on tracks like LVMS but when you hear that the sport is larger than soccer there's got to be something to it. Sure you race around at 90mph+ on the smaller tracks and over 180mph+ on the superspeedway at such a close proximity that you could actually shake hands with the other drivers but is there more to it? Is it just the speed, adrenaline, and rowdy fans? Wow, carried away already-why don't we start from the beginning?
A group of us (me, Emma, Julia, and Adam) ventured to Las Vegas from Southern Oregon to film a FiestaMovement Mission video. The FiestaMovement is a project through Ford in which 100 ‘agents' embark around the country driving the Ford Fiesta. Just one thing-the Ford Fiesta isn't released in the US yet. These 100 Germany-built cars are now infiltrating the US via all the social networking sites (YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, FaceBook, 12Seconds, Blogs, etc.) Each month, we film one mission based on a theme to post onto YouTube. This is all to promote the US release for the 2011 model. To see more about it and to check out our profile (including pictures and videos from the LVMS) go to: http://fiestamovement.com/agent16
I must say if you haven't been to LVMS and you live nearby...what are you waiting for? We were treated to a tour of the facility from Mysti Den Hoed, Administrative Assistant of Racing Operations. Her passion for not only the track itself, but for the sport, is a small sampling of how devoted racing fans are. She took us onto the track in a van and calmly said, "there's going to be a small bump." We hit what seemed like a 50-degree banking (really, only 24) and thought we were going to flip over in this mini-van. (Full disclosure...it was a Chevy van...sorry Ford.) I would post what speed we traveled but not sure what the legal limits are let's just say that Mysti went the fastest she could safely go with 4 passengers. During the tour, which is available to everyone, we saw the luxury suites, the garage, and several other tracks at LVMS.
Mysti turned us loose after the very informative tour. Our heads were about to explode with more NASCAR and track facts that could be fit in our brains. We piled into the Fiesta for some track adventures of our own. Naturally, we headed back to the superspeedway to see how the Fiesta could handle. After taking to the superspeedway with Sebastien (an instructor for the Mario Andretti Racing School) we asked if he had any advice after speeding comfortably around the track at 100mph. His advice, "Don't go that fast." The Fiesta seemed very tuned into the track as I drove it 90mph+ around and around again. Felt much like the drive back to Oregon on a flat highway (minus the CHP's involvement...but that's another story.) Handling was very nice and I probably would have gone a bit faster if it wasn't for seeing the ambulance standing by just waiting to jump into action. After 30 minutes of filming at the superspeedway, which would have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience on its own, we moved over to the Bullring track. (Called the Bull Pen all day by Emma and Julia...they thought we were at a baseball game!)
The Bullring offered even more challenges as it was much shorter with tighter turns. The Fiesta handled great and I'm sure that a pro driver could have taken it much faster. We spent 45 minutes taking turns on the track and amusing the gallery up in the press box. They had to come down to see what we were doing when I was racing Adam. I was in the Fiesta and he was on foot. I won. He's pretty out of shape! To give you an idea of the track, at 50mph it felt like we were going to die! Later that night we watched drivers take modified cars and trucks hitting speeds of 100mph including a young man, age 14, driving the #3 car. Amazing! (That's another blog though.) We were alone on the track and could swerve and follow whatever line we wanted-these drivers could pick the bugs from the car windshields ahead and behind.
Exhausted from a full day of filming the evening was drawing near the end. The checkered flag was about to wave on our night and though we spent most of the day at LVMS driving the Fiesta on the superspeedway and the Bullring, the real discovery was a new sense of appreciation for the crazy talent that it takes to be involved in this sport. We didn't see the rumored drunk and rowdy car fanatics, but passionate diehards who love what Las Vegas MotorSpeedway has to offer.
(If you would like to contact Brad you can find him on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/followthefiesta)