For Memorial Day this year my husband and I went with another couple, our friends Jeff and Ali, to the NASCAR race in Charlotte, NC. It was my first race and my first time camping in the infield. I knew it was going to be an experience like no other, but I had NO idea. The thing that surprised me about the entire weekend was that it really wasn’t about the race itself. Of course that was central to all of us being there and the periodic qualifying and practices kept our focus on the race track and the fast cars circling it. However, the atmosphere in the infield was that of one big party from sun up to sun down and all through the dark hours in between. There was an air of camaraderie among all the campers that I had never experienced. Everybody was there to have fun and they were going to make sure you did too. More than anything else, what made my experience this past weekend was the cast of characters we met.
Shortly after we arrived and got set up, we noticed what we would later dub “The ’50 cent’ mobile”- a tricked out Cadillac Escalade EXT truck – pull up next to the huge and very expensive RVs across the street from us. Out came Joel who owns his own Race Tour company. He was delivering case after case of sodas, water and beer for the customers arriving to stay in the RV for the weekend. He asked us if we wanted a tour of one of them. I had already changed into my “race wear” which consisted of halter swimsuit top, black skirt, cowboy hat and flip-flops so I felt a little funny climbing inside this plush vehicle, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to take a peek. It was gorgeous! When he told us it used to belong to Lenny Kravitz I had a minor lapse in judgement – I threw myself on the bed in the master suite, rolled around and licked the headboard. Just kidding, I didn’t do that. But I wanted to. We learned a lot about Joel’s company. It would have cost us $4,000 to get tickets to the race, stay in the RV and have Joel and his employees cook for us and bring us unlimited drinks. I hated to tell Joel that my husband does that for me for free. Well, he has his price but it ain’t $4,000. In between the two RVs Joel had set up, were tents and tables and a “DJ station” for the parties they were throwing over the weekend. Our luck was just getting better.
After getting the grand tour of Lenny’s bus, we were sitting around our campsite when around the corner came Rocky. He was camping in the spot behind us and was from Bishopville, SC. I don’t know where that is but they must teach bullshit as a major at Bishopville U because he was well versed in it. Pretty much the only reason he came over was to apologize in advance for the loudness of his generator. “No problem!” we said. This was before he cranked it up. Which he did immediately after leaving our campsite. That was the last time we spoke in a normal tone of voice. I never thought I would have to use the earplugs we brought for the race cars in our own camp site. I’ve never been one to condone vandalism, but I had serious fantasies of pouring sugar in the gas tank (Jeff’s idea) or taking a hammer to one of the spark plugs (Squeaky’s idea- you’ll meet him later).
Unfortunately it started raining that night so we spent the majority of it in our camper and then packed it in early. At some point it must have stopped raining because I was woken up by the party going on outside Joel’s RV. In particular, there was one extremely loud woman who kept asking at the top of her lungs if the men around wanted to see a certain part of her body. I never heard anybody take her up on her offer. When I saw her the next morning I understood why. I guess Joel hadn’t bought enough beer after all.
The next day we met some boys on the other side of us that were from West Virginia. We met Darryl, Bob, and Bill but I never got the name of the man with the red hair. He was a sweetheart. He had lost his wife to breast cancer a few years ago and had sold everything he had to pay for her treatments. Coming to the race was the one thing he looked forward to every year. When I told him I had done a ride-along in one of the cars the previous November, his face fell in disbelief for just a split second before his wide grin returned. “Man, if I could EVER do that, I would be the happiest man.” I could tell that was completely true. At that moment, I wished I had an extra $110 to make his dream a reality. Later that day he brought over a plate of wings they had just cooked (and were very yummy) and we shared with them some of the straw we had brought with us to soak up the water and mud from the rain the night before. On Sunday, I also sprayed his chest and back with sunscreen because he was getting fried and as a fellow pale skin and freckle sufferer I could sympathize.
Speaking of wings, the ones on our grill brought Tim around. He is a NASCAR photographer for Tony Stewart and got a good shot of my friend, Ali, sucking on a chicken bone. He also got one of my husband with sauce all over his face like a two-year-old. I’m praying that will show up as a future label on a bottle of Tony Stewart’s barbecue sauce. Speaking of the sauce, he gave us a bottle which was very nice of him, even if it was three years old.
Saturday afternoon was the Nationwide race. Our site was in turn #3 which apparently is kind of boring. Plus, we didn’t have one of those cool “piece-it-together-from-plywood-PVC-pipe-and-duct-tape” platforms for the top of our camper. But Jeff knew someone who did. We packed our coolers and drove down to turn #2 where we met another Jeff and his buddy “Squeaky”. Nicer people you will never meet. They were very generous with their space and accommodating with their amenities. Believe me, their port-a-potty came in very handy. Their platform, which was a marvel of 2X4s and plywood, was fairly solid looking but I’m afraid of heights and it scared me to death. It was about 10 feet off the ground and built on top of a trailer with wheels. To get up there you had to climb a ladder… and I don’t climb ladders. Add to that the fact that the platform had no railings, that it shook every time someone moved, and that my husband would dance dangerously close to the edge just to freak me out and I was as nervous as a midget wearing brown leather in a football game. Jeff told me not to worry, that the more beer I drank, the less I would care. I reminded him that the more beer I drank the higher the probability that I would fall off the thing. Nobody did, though. Squeaky was a big guy with a big laugh and I loved watching him throw his head back and cackle. He also amused me when we went back the next day to watch the Coca-Cola 600 on their platform. It’s a very long race and I guess Squeaky was getting hungry. Up came a folding table, a cutting board, a knife and a bag of potatoes and onions. There he sat while race cars flew by cutting up vegetables for his dinner. I asked Squeaky where his apron was and I was happy when I was rewarded with a hearty belly laugh.
Of course, I can’t talk about my weekend without mentioning Ali. She is a crazy woman. She says anything to anybody but she’s hilarious and pretty so she can get away with it. It’s highly entertaining and one of the things I love most about her. I also discovered that she will take a ride with anybody, anywhere. For instance, Friday night a motorcycle drove by and she yelled out, “Hey, can I have a ride?” and when the bike rider slammed on his brakes and motioned for her, she ran over and hopped on. Unfortunately it wasn’t until I stood in the road watching her disappear that I thought, “Crap. This is how most CSI episodes start out.”. Of course she was returned safely a couple of minutes later. She did the same thing as a golf cart full of older men drove by. Much to the delight of the old geezers, she hopped on and away she went. Only this time when they returned her, another golf cart full of Air Force pilots was just leaving our area. “THAT’S the cart you need to hop on, woman!” I chastised her. She promptly turned around and asked the pretty pilots if she could be their “cart bitch” for the evening. They laughed and blew her kisses as they drove away. I was sad we let them get away.
After the Nationwide race on Saturday night we went back to our campsite and ate dinner. As the sun went down Joel’s party cranked up and before too long we were in the street mingling with our neighbors and others who were driving or walking by. One group Ali and I accosted were a lovely trio of Marines. As someone gave the boys bottles of water, Ali and I begged them for a picture and hugged their necks. Apparently the fact that they were young and wearing uniforms gave Ali and I the idea that we could treat them like they were our own pretty pets we could freely (but still respectfully) scratch behind the ears. We were like two girls in a candy store. No, not a candy store – an adult store. Where all the blow up dolls are gorgeous, chiseled, military boys. They didn’t seem to mind and gladly hung out while we got our fill. The one who got the water for them was a buddy of Joel’s – a guy named Mike who is a Chicago police officer in the anti-terrorism unit. He was a bigger shit talker than Ali and the two of them got along famously and kept us in stitches. He also enjoyed our smoked brisket and chicken very much. I guess Joel didn’t buy enough food either.
Anyway, the darker it got, the rowdier the party got. Darryl from West Virginia was the drunkest person I’ve even seen that was still able to walk and form syllables. None of them made sense but he was trying. He also kept injuring himself and every time I saw him he had a new bloody cut on his leg. Somebody really should have taken him to the infield care center. I would have, but at one point I looked to the left and before my eyes was a beautiful sight. The Air Force boys in their nicely fitting green jumpsuits were back and looking for a good time. The adult store just got a new shipment, ladies! Ali smacked me and told me to get my camera which I did, quickly. They were very, very good-looking but up close I really understood that they were babies. I felt a bit like Blanche Devereaux or Samantha from Sex and the City but then one fly boy named Adam flashed a dimple and I didn’t care so much. They gave us Jell-O shots which we gladly accepted but then Ali had to get sloppy and dribble hers down her chin. Adam offered to get it for her (with his tongue of course – OMG!) but I warned him she had been “marinating” in the sun all day. I really just wanted him to lick MY face instead. After the Jell-O we thanked them and told them to go find themselves a young hottie. Dimples said he was just fine where he was and that we looked like we were in our prime – he could see it in our eyes. (Yeah boy, nothing gets past him. I guess our panting and pawing and general fawning didn’t scream “COUGAR!!” loud enough. He saw it in our EYES.) I gave him another hug and told him he was adorable in that “Honey, you can’t handle me” kind of way and sent him over to Joel’s table where they were doing shots and beer bongs. When they sought us out later to hug us good-bye, we found out that some of them were doing the pre-race fly over the next day. Be still, my beating lady parts.
When we left the fly boys, Ali and I went back toward our (very understanding) husbands and hung out by the music. I’m not sure how it happened, but another young 21-year-old thing started talking to me. He was in Rocky’s crew from Bishopville, SC. He told me he was trying to escape an 18-year-old who was into him. Apparently he liked older ladies. After pointing her out she bored holes into the back of my head the whole night. I was waiting for a cat fight that thankfully never came. We leaned against Arnie’s pick up truck and talked and talked and after we supplied him with a couple of rum and cokes, he gave me pretty much the biggest compliment you can give someone in the infield. He said, “This may be wrong to say out loud…” (How many GREAT conversations start like that? I love when sentences begin with that statement.) He continued, “…but I can NOT take my eyes off your boobs.” Apparently he skipped class the day they went over the chapter entitled “How Not To Be Too Obvious” when he was studying bullshit with Rocky at Bishopville U. Even so, I giggled like a school girl and said “THANK YOU!!”. I mean, he had given me lots of very sweet, non-boob related compliments earlier and I had totally busted him several times already focusing somewhere south of my chin. And, It’s not like we were having heavy conversation and my boobs were distracting him from hearing my plan for world peace. Besides, he felt better after he got it off his chest and no longer tried to “hide” looking at mine. After that, he pretty much just talked directly to my fascinating boobs. I don’t blame him, really.
But then there were the people in the peripheral who you never actually met but were entertained by. Take for example the people in the “Hooters” bus. It was one of those run down old school buses that someone has souped up to take to the race. They pulled up and immediately pulled out the “Hooters” banner. Then came the tiki bar with the “Hooters” umbrella and lots of orange and white balloons. But where you would expect to see lots of short short wearing ladies, there was only one blonde with a bunch of older guys. We found out later that she works at a Hooters and these guys were her “regulars” who treat her to the race. Yeeeaaahhhh…. Well later on she had some friends visit and the show began. One of them wore a black dress that was intentionally too revealing to show off her red frilly boy shorts underneath. Pair this with black combat boots, a bad dye job and an obvious cocaine high and that’s better than any movie you could pay for. Pull up a chair and pop the popcorn! Then out came the Slip N’ Slide around the corner. I think it was a little premature because people hadn’t had enough to drink yet. Except for this one girl. She also wore boy shorts and each of the 15 times she slid down the plastic that was slick with dish soap and water, those suckers got jammed up further and further into her ass crack until they were virtually gone.
There’s also the tale of the Miller Lite girl who Joel had hired. Apparently he had met her earlier in the day by the haulers. She was one of the cuties companies hire to do PR. You know, wear something skimpy and stand around handing out can coozies or some such. Well, Joel hired her to come do “PR” for HIM after her shift with Miller Lite. Much to the chagrin of one of Joel’s employees who was hoping to “hire her” too, she brought her husband. Unfortunately the husband got drunk which left her quite irritated and wide open to any advances. It was like watching a game of roulette. Where’s the ball going to drop? And who’s will it be? Okay, that was crude, but it was like a damned soap opera. Until my husband stepped in and decided to be Dr. Phil. He sat the couple down and had them tell him all about their courtship and fresh two year marriage. According to Phil, at the end of the therapy session they walked off hand in hand totally in love. According to Jeff, Joel’s employee was following close behind still holding out hope that things would fall apart and glaring at Phil who had cock blocked him so hard even his grandchildren aren’t going to have sex.
And that’s pretty much how it goes in the infield. You find yourself looking at things you’ve never seen in your entire life, saying things you’ve never said before and meeting people from ALL walks of life you don’t normally hang out with. There’s the West Virginians without two cents to rub together next to the $80,000 Escalade and $500,000 RV. The young girls in bikini tops next to retirees. It all makes for a wonderful experience that is incredibly fun and immensely interesting. And I’d do it again in a heart beat. Between the scantily clad Hooters girl and her friends, Rocky’s generator making me feel like I was trying to sleep in the middle of the midway at the State Fair, and the rubber coming off the race track it’s a sensory overload for your eyes, ears and nose. But next time I’m going to have to ask Squeaky about his nickname. And bring a smaller halter top.
Copyright 2010 by Me