Sunday, November 2, 2008
a day at the races
my first day at the track, and ... wow. we didn't get a lot of time with mario, but it was amazing. we got to the texas motor speedway at about 9 a.m. and headed to the infield, where they were setting up the area where the tailgate party will be on sunday. we hung out there for a bit when darcie, mario's brand manager and my contest contact, got a call from mario saying he was here early, and can they send the helicopter now? I had been pretty excited that we got a driver to bring us in. I didn't know a helicopter was an option.
when he landed, we met him for about 15 seconds, then our handlers -- i have handlers this weekend -- took pam and i on a vip tour of the track. i have rarely felt so important. These guys, doug and bruce, were amazing, driving us around to the garages, the pits, the infield, the midway, and eventually to our seats in the suite and the winner's circle. we got another few minutes with mario, and by then rachael was there, too, at the sprint trailer on the midway, where they were doing a q&a session. pam and i got to stand on the stage during the event, then they were whisked off again.
after the race, we went over to the speedway's country club, where mario, rachael and dallas chef tim love competed in an iron chef-styled event called the asphalt chef. it was a big party, with each chef contributing some appetizers, and i have to say, rachael's bacon & deviled eggs, pictured at left, were the best thing i had there. the picture doesn't look great, but they were actually very attractive in addition to be excellent. there were party favors: everyone there got a pair of orange crocs. oh, and the secret ingredient in the asphalt chef challenge was chili peppers, and mario, who was paired with driver juan pablo montoya, won. he made a shrimp summer roll and grilled flank steak with two pepper sauces. sounded good to me.
tomorrow is the pace car ride, then the tailgate party. i am really looking forward to the tailgate party.