Earlier in the summer I attended the Indianapolis 500. On Sunday, July 31st, 2011 the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) hosted the 18th Annual Brickyard 400, which was the first Brickyard 400 I had ever attended. I didn’t know what to expect. I had never been to a NASCAR Race before. I wondered how the NASCAR cars would compare to open wheeled cars.
Before the race I went to the infield. We passed by the Pagoda and noticed a big crowd, so we went to see what was happening. Security blew whistles and one white van after another pulled up through the crowd of people. I saw the majority of the drivers and family members as they walked through the Pagoda to the otherside to prepare for the race. It was amazing to be so close to the drivers.
Before the race, I watched Desert Storm/Shield Veterans, Mayor Greg Ballard, Rascal Flatts, Reba McEntire on the winners podium. At the end of the National Anthem there was a US Navy T-45 Goshawk Jet Flyover and hundreds of red, white, and blue balloons were released into the sky. I loved hearing IMS Chairman of the Board, Mary Hulman George, say those famous words “Gentlemen, start your engines.” I was very excited that Hope Solo, US Women’s Soccer Goalie, came to the Brickyard to drive the 2011 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport pace car around for two laps before the start of the race.
When I was walking through the tunnel to get to our seats I put my hand on the top of the tunnel and you could feel the cars drive over your head. Every time the cars passed by your entire body shook. The NASCAR cars are definitely louder than IndyCars.
Once in our seats we watched the cars race around and pit. During the middle of the race Kyle Busch was leaving his pit while his neighbor, Tony Stewart was entering his pit. Kyle drove straight while Tony drove left into him. Both cars were damaged so they entered the pits and both pit crews took out sledgehammers and started beating the car back into shape. The sledgehammer is definetly something you definitely don’t see in open wheel racing.
I really enjoyed the unique designs on the NASCAR cars. My favorite car was Kyle Busch’s M&M Car. Even the tires advertised M&Ms with the multicolored M&Ms in the center of the tires.
As the race neared the end, it was anybody’s race. After most cars pitted during the last twenty laps it was certainly unclear who was going to win it. When Jeff Gordon entered the pits he was in first place but when he came out of the pits he was in 18th place. Nothing stopped him though. He sped past 16 drivers and landed himself in second place on the final white flag lap. Paul Menard still stood in front of him. On turn four Gordon was close enough to catch Menard, although he didn’t pull it off. Menard came zooming across the bricks for his first NASCAR win. He drove his yellow 27 car in circles with smoke filling the air. The last five laps was pure adreneline.
I was glad to see such an exciting finish for my first Brickyard 400.
What was your first Brickyard 400 experience like?