Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday Raceday at MIS

So you may recall that Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers is a supporter of an organization called Farm American. Its purpose is to promote agriculture to the non-agricultural public. Quite simply, to promote the concept that, although other segments of our economy rely on imports, our food supply is best and most safely provided by American farmers and ranchers. So this weekends NASCAR race at Michigan International Speedway will have the #78 Furniture Row car displaying the Farm American paint. Well that race is tomorrow. Today's race was of the NASCAR truck series: The VFW 200. Liquid, through Albert Bancroft, was able to obtain tickets and a track suite to watch this race, and some 23 Liquidites and family were able to go watch. We left St. Johns early and arrived at the track in Brooklyn around 8:30 am. We were met by our hosts, some from Furniture Row racing, and Albert.They have let Liquid use their show car at various events around the country. I have featured several mentions of it here on the blog. And here was the car again, waiting for all of us to assemble and be photographed. It was a beautiful morning.
Well wouldn't you know it, but three of us were called out for a secret event. So Jean, Dennis and myself were escorted to the track where we got to ride in one of the pace cars, a souped up Camero. Thanks to PR man Jeff Owen for setting it up. Our driver was an actual NASCAR truck driver, Dakoda Armstrong. (And that is my bag of crossword puzzles and magazines, not a purse. Well maybe it is, not that there's anything wrong with that.)
I don't follow truck racing, and did not know who Dakoda was at the time. But he was a very nice guy in his first year as a race truck driver. And he just turned 20, and he was driving us around at over 130 mph! I looked him up on the internet when I got home and found his website. It seems that he grew up on a large grain farm in Indiana. I didn't know at the time that he was once a farmer or I would have introduced him to Liquid. Although I guess he had enough on his mind already. But he was a very nice guy, and I'm sure the girls find him easy on the eyes. So he became my new favorite truck driver.
Here is the view as we went around the track. We made three lightning laps. It was really fun. That Camero is not very roomy, but is built for speed.

After our ride we got to look at the race trucks. I will say that they really don't look like trucks as they are so low to the ground and it looks like the body is shorter from top to bottom. The beds are covered too. And look at the camber, or tilt, of the left side wheels. I guess that is to better grab the banked track. The trucks then went out to qualify for race position yet that morning.

Later I saw Dakoda and his crew waiting to qualify. I guess that some of the sponsors like his farm background, as there are several ag businesses on his truck. He did go on to qualify for the race.

Up at suite level, you can see what they call the Midway, or where team merchandise is sold. I took a quick walk through earlier, but unfortunately, I did not see the Danica Patrick merchandise trailer at that time. It's the green one in back. Well it was too far to go back down, but I probably would have found something of Danica's worth having.

Then after truck qualifying, they let the Cup cars out for a practice. The "Cup" cars are the ones that will race tomorrow. It is the big leagues of racing. We had scanner radios that let us listen to the drivers talk to their teams as they tried for last minute adjustments. It was fun to see. Below is a stream of cars going down the pit road to the track. Unfortunately, all of my pictures of the cars on the track are blurry due to speed. The posted speeds of laps on the board was around 187 mph. Below we see the #78 car in the middle driven by our favorite driver, Regan Smith.

The cars would go out for awhile, then go back to their garage, then back out, then back to the garage, and so on, trying for that magic adjustment. Below is Regan on the side of the track doing something. Hopefully it is the right stuff.

Then I saw the #88 driving by the parked and waiting #98 truck of my new favorite driver Dakoda. I don't need to say who #88 is do I?

And at 12:30, the trucks were off and racing. Here is the view to the left from the Farm American suite.

And then we had a special guest: Regan Smith. He dropped by for the proverbial Meet and Greet, answered questions and signed autographs. (I noticed a lot of the drivers would gladly sign autographs, unlike other sports stars.) I have not seen him before, but he is genuinely very nice and friendly. He seemed like he enjoyed the visit, even though he probably has to do this type of thing often. But he was really supportive of Farm American and thanked Liquid for it's support of that.

And he posed for pictures, here with Albert in front of the Farm American poster. Then he had to go start loading up on pasta (from American wheat), the energy food for tomorrow's race. He is scheduled to be at the Ashley plant open house next Wednesday. But I know he would rather see the farm and race tractors.

After that, it was back to watching the trucks go round and round. Here is the view looking right.

I went outside the suite to look at the stands. Unfortunately, truck racing does not seem to be a huge draw. I don't see how it continues with low attendance, but what do I know? Maybe if they used regular stock pickup trucks hauling fertilizer totes it would bring in more fans.

And after 200 miles, your winner was Kevin Harvick, who is also a Cup driver. Sadly, Dakoda got taken out by a big wreck not too far from the finish. It wasn't his fault as he did not make any errors driving us around earlier. There is a truck in all of that tire smoke from the victory burnout.

And like all champions, he stands on the door and waves. Maybe our fertilizer truck drivers should do that after making a delivery. I will get right on that. (What is Tapout you may ask? Fighting clothes like for ultimate fighters. Probably not going to wear any of that on the upcoming tours. But a nice win for the sponsor none the less.)

So it was a great day, something new for us. Thanks to Albert, Farm American and Furniture Row racing for such great hospitlity. And tomorrow: Good Luck Regan!