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Race Day June 24, 2012

Posted 04-06-2013 at 04:16 PM by LilyLady

For his birthday, my daughter gave my husband a race day package. We made the appointment and his race time was set for 2:00pm June 24, 2012.

It was, to use DH's words, "a blast". (Yeah, okay. Maybe.)

The track was located in Hampton, Virginia. To get there, we headed north/west on IH 64. That route required us to drive through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. Actually, we really can't drive much of anywhere without going through a tunnel or a bridge/tunnel in one direction or the other.

We thought (actually, I thought) it would be a nice way to spend the afternoon. Head out after lunch, drive up to the track, etc. My husband was getting fidgety, so we decided to leave early. His ride was set for 2pm and here we were - leaving at 11am! All I could think was, "how are we going to kill time until his ride starts?" I needn't have worried.

We got on the interstate and had been on for barely two miles when we saw the FIRST traffic sign telling us there was a 6-mile backup to the tunnel. Uh-oh. We kept on going and the signs kept on showing longer and longer backups! When we slowed down and came to a stop, it was a nine-mile backup on our side. The opposite side was at a complete stop in ALL lanes leading up to the tunnel. Here's a picture of what the tunnel backups can look like....

Here's a tunnel backup at its worst...

Fun, huh?

So we sat in a horribly long line of cars, turned off the a/c, turned on the radio and waited for our turn to creep forward 6-8 inches at a time. It took us 30 minutes to travel one-fourth of a mile! Such an enjoyable way to spend a hot, humid Sunday afternoon. My dear hubby had brought a bag lunch with him. He ate his sandwich and corn chips while sitting in the car.

Finally we began to move. By then it was around 1:15pm. Now I was getting a bit concerned about the time. If a person misses their scheduled time at the track, there's a $10 cancellation fee charged to the credit card if the package is a ride package. If it's a drive package, the cancellation fee is FIFTY DOLLARS!

We made it to the track with ten minutes to spare. I parked the car and off we went. But...but... what? Where is everybody? The track office was closed, yet we could hear cars driving on the track. So I made sure hubby had his diabetic bag, his ride package voucher, that he changed into tennis shoes (required) while I got my purse, put up my keys, put my reading glasses in my purse, put my cell phone in my pocket (which in hindsight was rather stupid because without my glasses, I can't read the stupid screen when I get a text! I'd had the reading glasses out to read texts on the cell phone to and from my daughter when I was trying to find another way around that traffic. Which also didn't work, because there's no alternative to having to cross the water. Unless I could fly over. Please no remarks about having left my broom at home, okay?)

Finally! We made it out of the car and were on our way over to the track. Nope, not yet. He had to go to the bathroom. Which was closed. There were port-a-potties in the parking lot. (You have GOT to be kidding me! No thanks... I'll wait. You go ahead, dear! Have at it.) Then wouldn't you know it? The urge to go hit me! OMG! Now what? Hubby said, "It wasn't too bad." (Uh, yeah... for a guy! So there I went, into the unknown, grimacing for all I was worth. No way was I actually going to sit on that thing! Without going into a comedic or disgusting story - depends on your outlook I guess - suffice to say that I managed it by using several contortions - standing, twisting, bending, etc. Sheesh... and I'm not a little person. It was difficult at best. 'Nuff said.)

So by then we had been joined by other folks who had ride or drive race packages. The general consensus was that we all would have to squeeze through the end of a gate to the track, quickly cross the track (in between the cars that were racing, mind you) to get to the infield. So off we all went. My cane-using, diabetic, race-fan husband literally scooted across that track! (Amazing... that short stuff can be fast when he wants to!)

Then came my turn. To begin with, I barely got through the gate opening. I wish I had thought to take a picture of it. So then I was standing in the outside (upper) racing lane! And what happened? In the heat, my brain decided to take a vacation! I kid you not, I honestly stood there and thought, "Wow! It all looks so different when you're on the track."

By then, my husband and the other fans were yelling at me to 'come on! Hurry! Get off the track!" and then I became aware of really loud engine noises. (Dear God! Those cars looked huge from that angle!) I guess the key words were 'get off the track'.

I moved.

Me and my bad leg rushed (well, actually more like a fast walk) across that track trying to get to the infield. (When did they make tracks so wide? It seemed as if it was a half-mile across!)

Finally I reached the infield when I became aware that the pace car was behind me gunning his engine as he drove by me and entered into a turn. My ever-so-knowledgable husband informed me that the pace car driver was letting me know I was in his way. (Well, guess what, buddy? I have a few things I'd like to gun my engine about too!) My attitude was changing, no doubt about that.

After that, we found the trailer for the customers to sign in. Hubby signed in, got his wristband where they wrote that he was ride package #9, scheduled for 2pm. It was already about 2:15 but it seemed as if all the appointments were running a little late. (Something about all the cars having to slow up a bit because there was somebody on the track. Aw crap! Who would have thought? You know what? I'm big, but I'm not THAT big. Me being in one lane would not have affected those cars in the lower lanes. Seriously.)

So anyway, he waited patiently in line. He didn't have to wear a driver's suit after all. It was only required of the customers who were paying to drive. We watched one man have a lot of trouble getting into the car. One of his knees wouldn't bend enough to get through the window. My husand and I hoped that fate wouldn't befall him too. I think it made him more determined than ever to get in and out of that car with no help. His turn came up, and he did it! He climbed into that car like a pro. He was supposed to ride for five laps, but the driver did six. At the end of the last lap, he asked my husband if he'd enjoyed himself. Hubby replied that it had been a blast. The driver told him, "I really didn't have to ask you that question. Every time I looked over at you, you were grinning from ear to ear." Then my dear hubby got himself out of that car and walked over to where I was waiting. He was still grinning. He really had a good time.

As we left to go across the track to go back to the gate to leave, all the race cars on the track stopped racing.

(That was probably just a coincidence. Surely they wouldn't have stopped those cars for just one person, would they?)
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