Before attending my very first NASCAR race last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I was just another girl who watched car racing once in awhile only if it happened to be on TV when I walked by. I didn't get it, never mind have any sort of appreciation or passion for the sport. I thought, "How could watching high speed drivers making hundreds of left hand turns going around in circles for hours on a track while racing each other to the finish line be very exciting?"
All that thinking changed drastically when Toyota Women Influencers Network (TWIN) hosted me and ten other influential women bloggers for an intensive NASCAR behind-the-scenes immersion trip experience in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is the story of how a unique and tactile opportunity turned me into a new fan of a sport I'd previously known little about.
|Me in a Camry Racecar, Toyota Pavilion, Charlotte Motor Speedway|
As I learned during my visit, Charlotte is indeed rich in Colonial history. But it's also a center for car racing history, too, and the NASCAR organization and the NASCAR Hall of Fame Museum are based here.
|Liberty Walk, just around the corner from NASCAR Hall of Fame|
|Historic Uptown Charlotte, North Carolina|
|Race cars lined up ready for the Start your engines! command|
|Dollar General 300 Winner Joey Logano poses with us, Courtesy of Toyota|
|L to R Dan Zukowski, Pam Jansen, Marc Spiegel of Golin Harris Team|
|Clint Bowyer exults on Victory Lane, Courtesy of Toyota|
|TWIN 11 gals with Denny Hamlin's Mom in center, Courtesy of Toyota|
- Shannon, Diary of a Nouveau Soccer
- Christen, Divas and Dorks
- Kitty, Kitty Bradshaw
- Kristi, Live and Love Out Loud
- Janis (me), Mommy Blog Expert
- Andi, My Beautiful Adventures
- Amanda, Parenting by Dummies
- Katherine, Somewhere in the Middle
- Stacey, Stacey Says
- Suki, Super Duper Fantastic
- Maricris, Zensible Mama
|Here I am in the Toyota Suite overlooking the Speedway, Image by Zensible Mama|
|Some of Toyota and Golin Harris staff who made this dream trip come true|
|The M&Ms Camry Race Car was one of most colorful on the track|
Video by MommyBlogExpert.com
Just as exciting, Toyota provided us with a personalized and informative guided tour and Hot Passes to walk the grid, visit the garage and pit stops, and to go inside the roped off area at Victory Lane to help Toyota team driver Joe Logano celebrate his win. Another Toyota team driver Clint Bowyer (we got to meet and talk to some of his team's members in the pit before the big race) took the trophy for the Saturday night race. So I have a feeling that us TWIN gals were lucky charms for both these guys in Charlotte.
|My tickets & credentials for Charlotte Motor Speedway|
|Clint Bowyer's pit crew chats with us before the BofA 500 win|
At his namesake shop -- also the setting for the Fan Fest -- 3-time Super Bowl Championship coach Joe Gibbs treated us to a fascinating presentation just for our group and a walk on the floor of his working shop. During our Charlotte visit we visited Michael Waltrip's shop which offers tours to the public,too. Then, at another legend's racing shop we got to meet, chat and have lunch with retired race car driver super star Darrell Waltrip. Here we enjoyed his walk down memory lane museum of historical cars that he's personally driven -- a favorite stop for many of us including me.
|Joe Gibbs and TWIN gals at his name sake shop, Courtesy of Toyota|
|Vintage Fire Suit on display at Darrell's Harrisburg, NC shop|
|Darrell Waltrip tells us about modern car racer safety equipment|
|Lunch with Darrell was entertaining and informative, Courtesy of Toyota|
|TWIN bus mate Katherine, Somewhere in the Middle, checks our itinerary|
Since no Toyota event is never complete for me without a community service element, I was also excited to be there when Samantha Busch, wife of driver Kyle Busch, was declared winner of the Toyota Racing Breast Cancer Awareness T-shirt Contest benefiting non-profit Breast Friends.
|Two of the the Toyota Breast Friends T-shirt Finalists|
|Driver Kyle Bush reveals winning design by his wife Samantha, Courtesy of Toyota|
|TWIN gals congratulate Samantha on her win, Courtesy of Toyota|
|Office Depot Pit Crew rolls their car to the track after inspection|
|I took this shot of our photographer snapping photos of our group|
|Me in one of Martin Truex Jr.'s fire suits, Image Courtesy of Toyota|