Because I was in Daytona last week to observe everything, I ran around scribbling notes constantly in a notebook. Not once did anyone ask what the hell I was doing in the middle of the team strategy meeting or in the Series driver's meeting run by the race director. No, instead, they were uniformly helpful when I stopped a random crew member to ask how much the car's tires weigh. When I grilled a spotter on how he prepares for and then does his job during a race. Or when I sidled over to a driver to ask what his "homework" was after Thursday's afternoon practice. More than anything, they seemed amused, to be honest.
I returned home with buckets of information and pages of notes. And of course, lots of photos.
The funny thing is, as I show the photos to friends, family, and co-workers, I'm almost surprised at the looks of shock and awe on their faces. It takes their reaction to remind me just how spectacular my experience was, because I've become so used to the kind of access and perspective I get at races. (Not that I don't continue to appreciate it.)
So yes, I sat in the pits listening to the team radio for 15 or more of the 24 hours. I attended the all-driver meeting held by Race Director Paul Walter. I met Lyn St. James. I got drivers to detail the speeds and gearing at different points around the track. And I stood on the spotters' stand at the top of the Daytona International Speedway.
All because I asked nicely and have a legitimate need. All because the racing world is populated with incredibly generous people (especially the guys at The Racer's Group who hosted me).
Now it's time to write!