(Originally posted by Matt Archuleta to Planet-IRL.com.)
I decided on the spur of the moment to go to the IRL finale. To my surprise, Homestead-Miami Speedway had been moved to the surface of the sun.
It only took me two planes and one layover to get there — eat your heart out, NASA! You ain’t got jack on me!
If you weren’t at the race and want to know exactly what it felt like to be there, grab a gallon of gasoline, dump it on your head, and light it. Multiply that feeling by 10 and you’ll get pretty close.
I had a blast at the race. My buddy Paul Dalbey (aka @Fieldof33 for the Twitter folks and IRL Editor for Planet-IRL) and I roomed together for the weekend. He hooked us up with media passes, so I got to wear a blue vest and take some radical photos with my disposable camera that I took with me. You should have seen the looks I was getting from the teams — heck, I should have mounted a tripod underneath it for good measure!
The media room there was top-notch. Any time someone would walk by, I would be typing away, sometimes even with the computer off and hoping they didn’t notice. The only other thing I could have used but didn’t think of until later was a nice pair of bifocals to add to the ambiance.
On the first day at the track, we took a lot of photos. Paul was scoring a bunch of really good interviews. I was getting some really good pics, all into myself and my photog skills. Lo and behold, I scope out Emma Dixon in the pits. So, all cool, I stroll up by her and start focusing — bad ass photog, I’m thinking to myself — and then reality sets in: I hear a voice nearby, and it’s Paul stating, and I quote, “Take your lens cap off, dude. You look like an ass.” At that point, he could have thrown me in his pocket I felt so small.
For those of you who know how I am, I can dish it out and I can take it. Did I say it was hot? Oh, yeah, I forgot — I smelled like crap, too. I got a brand new stick of deodorant, and in the morning before we left, I opened it thinking it was a twist-off cap (brain-off mode) and destroyed the whole stick. So, my pits were hating life pretty early in the day, and so were my nostrils. There were parts of my body drenched that I didn’t even know could sweat — not a good vibe at all.
After practice and qualifying were over we were leaving the track, and Paul (Chitwood) Dalbey missed a turn in our soccer-mom minivan — right where a police car is parked — and went up the median. He did it once more the next day (at an undisclosed location). The second time, we caught some pretty good air. Oops… he didn’t want me talking about that. Umm… never mind.
We went to meet some Twitter friends at a restaurant called The Cheesecake Factory. First thing I thought was, who the hell eats cheesecake for dinner? I’m friggin’ starving, here — that won’t work at all! I asked Paul, and he informed me that they have everything there, so I calmed down after that. I had a delicious steak and talked to all my new friends about our united love of the IRL, and then it happened — BANG! I thought, WTF was that? Plates on the floor and waiters looking nervous, I look downed. My shirt looked like a seagull flew through the door and took a dump right on it. My first reaction was to fall on the floor and yell, “I’m hit, I’m hit!” (hoping it would result in a free meal), but I just got a speck. Brian (@brianjee) was on my right side — poor dude went to the bathroom right away. I didn’t see the carnage on his shirt, but with as fast as he went to the bathroom, it couldn’t have been something to look at if your squeamish. Paul was at the end — I didn’t see how bad he was plastered, but I know he got it, too. It looked like ranch dressing to me, but I was told it was thousand island.
I just wanted to give a fully detailed description for the Twitterers who were wondering what the #CheesecakeDebacle was. After all that, they wanted us to move because people were waiting — talk about ass-backwards! We went back to the room and crashed hard after that.
On race day, we got up early to head to the track. I met Lisa Kenny (@lmkenny) for the first time — she’s Planet-IRL’s webmaster. We all went to the @VisionRacing tweetup, and there were lots of cool tweeps there. A major shout-out goes to Vision Racing — they know how to take care of their fans! I’ve said it 100 times: other teams need to follow their example. It would definitely bring lots more fans in. Hello, are you listening, other teams? To all other Tweeters, sorry I didn’t get to meet you.
The Grand-Am race was before IndyCar race — it seemed like forever. I took my camera into the pits just to get in and hang out, but I didn’t really take any pictures. I stood next to the camera man and pit reporter for a while just eavesdropping but wasn’t really feeling this race. I started getting dehydrated, so I made a bee-line for the Gatorade dispensers on the fences and started chugging a few cups. Someone must have noticed me because no normal guy drinks Gatorade like a camel, so I was promptly asked to leave by a behemoth of a man.
I talked to TJ and Bev Patrick this weekend about the Danica Hitler video. TJ said he loved it and sent it to everybody he knew. Bev asked if I had done any other ones.
As for the race, Dixon and Briscoe were going for it the whole race, lapping everybody. Franchitti was cruising and saving fuel — brilliant strategy. But I would much rather see a race to the finish, not a race to the gas pump. Anyway, the tortoise beat the two hares for the championship! Major congratulations go to Dario Franchitti.
I posted a picture of Scott and Ryan in the media center after the race. The poor guys looked really bummed. Both of them deserved to win it. I felt the worst for Briscoe because it would have been his first.
We went and had dinner after it was all over and met some more really cool IndyCar tweeps. We ended the night at a retro disco bowling alley to talk some more racing and have some cocktails. The whole weekend, I’d bet we got between nine and eleven hours of sleep total, so if you see any mistakes in this, I don’t care. I’m tired.
Here’s a list of all the tweeps that I met up with this weekend. If your not following them, add them — they’re all cool people! If I missed you, let me know: @VisionRacing, @SpeedFreakBash, @gassracing, @vc46880, @GoDanica7, @lmkenny, @Fieldof33, @the_race_gIRL, @99forever, @happyfish103, @jrandrews79, @rentzbk, @brianjee — and a shout-out for some extra laughs this weekend goes to @shitmydadsays.
Photos I took from the track are posted at http://www.flickr.com/photos/41074137@N07/.