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NASCAR at Phoenix Raceway

We were invited by Capital One and GM BuyPower Card for a day to experience NASCAR with Driver Austin Dillon (#3).

GM BuyPower Cardmembers can earn toward the purchase or lease of a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac vehicle, including 5% earnings on their first $5,000 in purchases each year, with 2% unlimited Earnings on purchases after that. This card option is Great for NASCAR fans because GM and Capital One just announced that the GM BuyPower card will now allow card members to redeem their earnings towards statement credits for qualifying purchases of vehicle care and GM extras, such as SiriusXM® subscriptions. The next NASCAR Cup series National Championship will be in November, so you can be prepared!

Austin Dillon has driven the #3 car for 7 years for Bass Pro/Tracker Off Road/E-Z-Go/American Ehtanol/Symbicort/Rig Up Chevrolet Camero ZL1 1LE. He drives for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), which is Austin Dillon’s grandfather.

In 2018, Austin Dillon won the Daytona 500 with a last pass lead for the win.

We have previously written about Phoenix Raceway for their Christmas light show, but seeing it during the day in its full glory was so much more fun!

If you have not been to a NASCAR race, let me tell you-There is a lot to see and do. And, I had a lot to study and prepare for! Luckily, My friends at Capital One and GM BuyPower Card gave me many study guides to prepare me for my NASCAR debut. And, my husband will laugh heartily for writing this-my children’s obsession with the movie “Cars” early on in life was somewhat of a preparation. My oldest had me do a lot of research on different types of cars, racetracks, haulers, and garages. I have to take each “mom experience” that my children give me and apply it to real life.

Preparation and Parking

First, to note, there are a lot of different parking options to choose from when at Phoenix Raceway. You can prepurchase parking online, and I highly suggest looking at their site to do this before you arrive. I also suggest purchasing ear protection. My husband and I have huge headphones like these, but you can also use earplugs.

We had parking passes for the green area, and then we proceeded to the infield. Infield is the center of the track. In order to get “Infield” you need to have passes that are “Hot” or “Cold” passes. The passes are prepurchased and need to be picked up at the credentials building near the Civic Center Library. It is helpful to have a lanyard to store the passes in. Security wants to see that you are where you are supposed to be at all times. The lanyards are also sold at the infield in case you do not have a lanyard. You will not be permitted to the infield if you do not have a Hot or Cold pass.

Hot Pass Vs. Cold Passes

What is a Hot or Cold Pass? No, it has nothing to do with hot or cold lunch!

From www.racedaysponsor.com (paraphrased for brevity): Hot and Cold passes come with the exact same access to the track, but the big difference is the time when you can be at the track. Cold passes make you leave the pit & garage area when the cars are Hot. With the hot passes, you can have access to the drivers for pictures and autographs, if allowed. Also, with hot passes, you can watch the race from ground level on pit road.  

We had the Hot passes, and we also had additional special access because we were with a PR crew that worked with Austin Dillon, so our experience is not a typical Hot pass event.

Our First Experience!

The first thing we were able to do, other than meet our hosts from Capital One, GM BuyPower Card, was to get in line to take a pace car ride with Austin Dillon! Honestly, I couldn’t sleep so well the night before because I was so excited thinking about actually driving with a NASCAR driver. The Pace Car wasn’t a car, but a Chevrolet Silverado with a backseat. It was super roomy inside and felt like a car. Even though we were speeding at about 100 miles an hour.

My husband, Scott, did a Time-Lapse Video

And, if you are looking for a slower, but still fast experience. Here is my version:

austin dillon with vicki and scott
The team we toured with

We had to also take a picture with our driver. Five out of Five stars for Safety and Conversation! Would drive with him again. I also asked what Austin drove when he is not driving a racecar-He drives a Chevrolet Suburban!

Hauler Tour

The Haulers are all available for people to look at the outside, but we were able to go inside on our special tour. I had no idea what the inside of a hauler looked like.

hauler austin dillon rcr

The Haulers are the way to get the race car to the tracks. If you have children that are a big fan of the Disney Cars movie (yes, I am referencing that again!), you’ll know that racecars really don’t drive on the street. They are very low to the ground and their tires do not have treads! The racecars are “hauled” around in these trucks. I noticed they were super tall. And, we had an interesting “cover” as well. It isn’t just for shade!

hauler

The inside of the hauler was extremely clean. Each of the compartments held different pieces for the cars. One of our hosts told us that a whole car could pretty much be rebuilt out of all the items in the cabinets. And, yes, Austin was hanging out talking with his crew in the front while we toured.

video on board the hauler

Wondering what the crew was doing in the garage? No worries, just check out the garage cameras! No need to call or walk over!

engine

An entire engine is housed in one of the cabinets, ready to go! I have to say it was one of the cleanest engines I have ever seen!

But wait, there is one more surprise in the Hauler!

Surprise in the Hauler!

camero

Above the cabinets was a ceiling and space for TWO cars. YES, two cars! I never knew that the haulers could carry two cars, but there are two identical cars for Austin Dillon in the same Hauler.

Back to this picture, the “shade” feature is actually the ramp to get the cars on and off the hauler! Everything on the hauler was so space efficient. My husband and I joked that I probably would need about four trucks if I were in charge of packing . I’m a notorious overpacker!

To The Garages

We were able to go into the garage and take a picture in front of the car right before the race. We had special permission to do this and were escorted to have this photo opportunity. While we were there, someone snuck into a garage and tried to hand me their phone. He wanted a picture with the car and promptly got escorted right out. So, unless you get special permission, please don’t do this! They take security extremely seriously and I wouldn’t want you to miss the race!

The crew asked if I had any questions about the car. I’ll fully admit, I don’t know much about cars other than it’s time to get gas, get oil or something sounds funky I had better bring it in. So, when all else fails in the department of knowledge, I resort to humor.

I said “So, it doesn’t look like there is room for a car seat in there, so I think I’m out for purchasing this particular model for my family car. But, how about cupholders? That might make or break the transaction if I need a quick car for a getaway vehicle from a whining child.”

Luckily the guy I was talking with humored me and said “Well, there aren’t any cupholders, but Austin carries 7 lbs of water on him. (Like a camelback for running). And, he has airconditioners in his helmet and on his legs. The car gets up to about 140 degrees inside.”

That I didn’t realize. So, yea, not a baby-friendly car at all! 140 degrees inside!

We also saw Richard Childress as the car was being prepared. Many people who were checking out the car were very excited to see him!

More excitement before the race

We headed over to where Austin’s Pit crew was and noticed that there was a concert going on! So, we looked closer and saw it was Blake Shelton and Pitbull!

Scott and I moved up a little to catch a better look and were invited to cross over the pit line to get a better video!

Pitbull and Blake Shelton were filming the intro set for the NASCAR season! Super cool! You can tell we were not too far away.

Next we headed to where the cars were set up before the race. We had another picture again with Austin Dillon. I don’t have that picture yet but hopefully will have it soon. While we were waiting, Blake Shelton came walking by to shake hands and wish the drivers good luck.

Yep, We were right there. I didn’t say anything to him, but I was amazed by how tall he was up close. He was on a mission! Some of the reporters kind of had to walk around me and I was just clicking away on my phone.

The Race Begins

We headed over to the Pit area for the next adventure.

pit area

This station is the hub for all the activities during the race. It may look like a small area, but it is bustling with about 10 people who are all supporting Austin during the race. On the bottom are his pit crew who do all the mechanics, and on the top is the crew chief and the technological advisors (more on that it a bit).

We saw the pit crew from the ground doing an amazing job pushing through the quickest fuel-up and fix I have ever seen. Did you know these fuel tanks weigh about 90lbs each? YOWSAS! Each car has less than five minutes when they pull into their pit to fix their car or they are disqualified.

We went up into the “box” and got to see the race from an elevated position and got to listen to Austin speak with his crew chief. It was super amazing to hear the strategy throughout the race. Above their heads, they also had TVs showing the race.

Another pit stop for Austin.

Unfortunately, Austin had an issue with a tire during the race and the right side of the car got mangled. I don’t know the full damage of the car, but unfortunately, it wasn’t able to be fixed in under 5 minutes on the Pit, so he was unable to finish the race. Definitely a disappointment. However, I was glad we were able to see what we did see.

To the Stands.

At this point of the race, we went to the stands, which meant going under the race track through a walking tunnel.

I am very glad we had guides throughout this because I am pretty sure I would have been lost! Just to note, there is food on the infield and lots of bathrooms and games for the kids. You can see the race, but not from an elevated position. Your best bet is to go to the stands.

There are 42,000 seats to choose from!

There are also camping/RV spots available as well as hillside spots too. Yes, you can sit on your RV and watch the race.

Back at our seats, which were right around turn four, we were able to see the caution flag wonderfully. Also, the direction that the stadium is placed is perfect for catching afternoon shade.

Not only is there a yellow flag, but a cactus is lit up to tell the racers if it is yellow (caution) or green (full speed ahead).

The full speed of the cars was amazing! You couldn’t hear much when the cars were at full speed, so the headphones that the gentleman ahead of us was wearing was great if you wanted to get into the action. They were available for rent at the stadium and were the same ones we listened to when we were in pit row. The Listeners don’t get any interaction with the driver, but you can hear everything going on!

Across the way, in the infield, was a huge screen to show viewers what they couldn’t see on the other side of the track.

As for food, beverages and bathrooms, there was plenty of options available underneath the stadium. Non alcohol and alcoholic beverages were in abundance.

When we left, there were many different vendors set up around the outside of the stadium, and I had to take my picture with the Oscar Meyer Weiner Mobile as a fond farewell to our amazing day.

Shuttles golf carts are available to take you back to certain areas for parking, or at least get you closer to your parking areas. Please tip them! I was happy to get a ride for about 1/2 a mile on our trek back to our car.

Our day was amazing and will be something that will be looked on fondly as one of the best experiences for my husband and me. We don’t get a ton of “date days out”, but this was definitely a day that we have already been telling everyone about.

A big thank you to Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing and Team, GM BuyPowerCard, Capital One and Phoenix Raceway for inviting us to spend the day with you!

The Basics

Phoenix Raceway

7602 S. Avondale Blvd.
          Avondale, AZ 85323

We were invited by GM BuyPowerCard and Capital One. All opinions are 100% our own.

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