I was in Miami 4 weeks ago for my first ever Nascar race. Leroy & Clarkson was kind enough to send me down there along with a crew of 3 other dudes to get the full Nascar experience; so as to better design, animate, edit, and creative direct a graphics package for the Speed Network.

We arrived on Saturday night and got a room at Townhouse on Collins & 20th. That evening in Miami was relatively uneventful. Drinks in the warm 78 degree air of the rooftop bar of Townhouse. Dinner at Nobu. More drinks at the always epic Delano, and the obligatory stop at the Deuce on 14th. We finished up at some horrendously cheesy Latino club on Ocean Drive, where the semi-topless leopard-skin bikini-clad girls dancing on the bar (that lured us in from the street) were quickly replaced by some gigantic gay dudes dancing to reggaeton. Talk about a bait-n-switch. My comrades kept giving me the “dude, why the fuck did you take us to a gay Cuban nightclub?!” look.


The event in question was the Homestead Ford 400, the very last race of the Nascar season, where the cup chase champion is crowned.

We headed out to the racetrack in the early morning. It’s about an hour from South Beach. The amount of police presence on the street as you approach the track made it clear they were expecting a massive crowd.

As we got closer I started to get oddly excited. I have virtually no interest in racing, or just about any sport for that matter, but I have long been aware that there was this huge chunk of American culture that I was embarrassingly ignorant of. I mean, Nascar is immensely popular in the states. Second only to football. And I think they actually generate more revenue than any other sport. It’s akin to knowing nothing about the superbowl for your entire life, then sort of stumbling upon it one day and being like “DAMN… who knew?”.

Our first hurdle was getting our all access super mega duper backstage press passes. This took place way out behind the track. One thing that is immediately clear at any Nascar event is the amount of sponsorship in play. Logos logos logos, for as far as the eye can see. And each sponsor has a large crew of people needing restricted passes of some sort. So all of that needs to be sorted out far in advance of race time.

This took place in a small building and truck trailer way out behind the track. The chick in front of me in line was wearing the most awesome race day outfit. Checkered flag knee-high boots, black pleather Checkered mini-skirt about half an inch below her finish line, and a rather flattering checkered halter top that did its very best to uplift her large, sagging breasts. She had tattoo of two crossing checkered flags on her right rear muffin top. The makeup and nails were similarly on theme. I wanted so bad to take a photo, but I was not prepared to get in to a fight with her bearded biker boyfriend.

We finally got inside the gate at around 11am - plenty of time to get the full tour of the grounds before the action kicked off. Our only task, other than soaking in the Nascar culture, was to photograph and film whatever elements of the environment we could possibly use for the graphics package.



Once inside the gate we got a taste for the midway that exists outside of the track – an endless, dizzying circus of automotive industry-sponsored attractions to lure potential customers in with raffles and games of chance and huge displays of bad-ass gas-guzzling wonder. It was a sight to behold. Logos as far as the eye can see. The Ford pickup truck remote control car speedway. The Border Patrol recruiting station and sponsored stock car display. The Coke Zero country music jamboree. The Penzoil this. The Chevy that. And on and on and on. The sheer scale of it all was impossible to ignore. Loudspeakers were blaring a cacophony of car-centric carnival barker shtick in every direction.

We made our way over to the Speed Race Day broadcast center sponsored by Home Depot. Our generous benefactors were there in full force, in the middle of a live broadcast to a growing crowd of Nascar enthusiasts. We weaved in amongst the crowd, trying to soak it all in and not look like total doofuses.

I was impressed by the brand loyalty displayed by the race fans. Almost every single person was wearing a shirt that represented their favorite driver, and thus the companies that sponsored him. In addition, I saw countless people with tattoos of their hero’s car number. I have seen a fair number of NY Yankees tattoos in my time, but this was some next level shit. Especially considering that drivers do indeed change sponsors and car numbers in their career. These people were die-hards. That is something that I cannot help but respect.

After an hour or so in the midway, we asked to be taken into the infield, to show us where the real racing preparation was going down.



The infield was packed with thousands of VIPs. Who the hell knows who they were. Friends and family of drivers? Nascar people? TV network people? Employees of car sponsors? Wealthy fans? I have no clue. All I know is that there was a mess of mutha fuckaz back there, and everybody was flossing their all access pass.

The infield was fascinating. The amount of unfettered access we had was truly hard to believe. If you have any kind of pass, there is virtually NO division between you and the drivers and their pit crews. You can stand right there as they pull the car out of the truck, and right there when they push it up to the inspection station. You can run your fingers over the hood. You can take photos of the car’s interior. You can walk right up to where the pit crew is preparing for the race and just stand there, ice -grilling them if it tickles your fancy. You can walk out on to the freakin’ race track and graffiti your name on the 3rd turn. There is almost no area that is off limits. It’s fucking crazy. Like being able to walk out to the 50 yard line before the super bowl and sit down and text your ex-girlfriend. NUTS. In our post-9/11 world, I have never seen any public event with so little security and so little restriction.



The start of the race is truly epic. After all the drivers have been introduced,a woman comes out and sings the national anthem. And when she does, every single person in the entire place takes off their hat and bows their heads. People come out of the garages and buildings expressly for this purpose. Total silence. Total reverence. When she finishes, an oversized 6-wheel pickup truck comes around the last turn, dragging behind it the biggest American flag I have ever seen. It was like a giant cape, flowing in the wind. The crowd leaps to their feet and goes nuts. And just as the flag crosses the finish line, 4 fighter jets go ZOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM right overhead, buzzing the stands. And just as that happens, fireworks explode in the center of the infield. Then the engines start. Like I said…. EPIC. It was seriously one of the most patriotic moments I have ever witnessed.

So finally, after being there for almost 5 hours, the race starts. The cars do a few laps with the pace car. Once he gets out of the way, everybody floors it and the low rumble becomes a deafening scream. Like fifty 747s taking off at once. It was thrilling. I totally get it.

Sadly, our mission that day was really about shooting B-Roll before the race started. So once the cars were out on the track we couldn’t do much else. We stayed for a bit longer before heading back to the airport.

All I can say is, if you have the chance to go to a Nascar race, do it. You’ll feel 10x more American.







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