Borne under a bad sign (5): Fanzonephrenia


Self-portrait with garage window. Who wasn’t taking pictures at Daytona last Saturday? Put ’em all in a pile and the digital stack would surely kiss the moon.

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As the rain falls and falls this dreary Friday afternoon (Sprint Cup final practice cancelled, Nationwide Series qualified highly dicey, and even tonight’s Truck Series opener beginning to go glub glub towards tettas up, I thought I’d entertain the listless troops with a pack of my Fanzone Fotos from last Saturday when I attended the Bud Shootout, with random and occasionally Lebowskean commentary.

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You shoulda heard these threshold prepubescents carry on about how hot the team members on the other side of the window–working either for Kyle Busch or Tony Stewart. And what they wanted to do with them. Heavens, where were those bad girls when I was 14?

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Montoya’s car in the garage. Last year we saw Montoya make a huge surge toward the end of the season. Some say he was figuring out the driving, but I also think that some of the teams were catching up with Hendrick Motorsports — the Blue Duece team of Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Montoya. Their cars just got faster and faster.

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Up on top of the Sprint Cup garages at Daytona, fans (who’ve plunked down the $25 Fan Zone charge) can get a view of pit row–often catching drivers and other luminaries as they go about their business. A mosh pit of fans collected down next to the fence at the south end of the garages, calling out drivers as they walked past, desperate for an autograph. I guess they were desperate; they called out Reed Sorenson (above) with as much intensity as they did for Juan Pablo Montoya or Micheal Waltrip.

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Some guy being escorted by some gal. NASCAR must hire a whole stable of fillies to usher these semi-luminaries about.

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Kurt Busch crew members chill in the barely warm afternoon sun. I can tell them now that all their efforts came to naught in Saturday night’s Shootout, but why spoil it for them?

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Michael Waltrip waves to us up above the garage after a fusillade of “Hey Mike!  Mike! Up here!”-s. Cameras clicking away like a flock of startled pigeons.

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Rick Hendrick of Herndrick Motorsports. Pretty gregarious guy, smiling, shaking hands, signing autographs in the garage. Hey, if two of your drivers had just qualified 1-2 for the 500 (with one of the others earning the #3 spot by winning the first Gatorade Duel on Feb. 11), you’d be pretty perky, too.

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Dick Berggren, lead pit reporter for NASCAR on Fox, on the prowl.

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And of what use would any of this be without a little trackside romance? I have no idea who this pair is, but the guy came out of the Kyle Busch garage from one direction and the girl came from the other, met at a midpoint and talked for some twenty minutes, hopefully about Talledega nights to come and not custody issues.

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#48 team Chad Knaus, perhaps Jimmie Johnson’s better half. Monte acknowledged that Knaus’ self-avowed rep as “a real asshole” is true, but no one says four consecutive championships is the product of character and charisma. The armorer of the hero is usually an offensive, foul-smelling practitioner in black arts, and Knuass is probably no exception. I saw the first episode of “Jimmie Johnson 24/7” online, and Knaus’ comments were from what looked to be a very expensive, very empty home. Still, he could be coerced over to sign a few autographs.

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A crew member of the No. 48 team. It’s said that most pit crew guys were college athletes; the same HBO documentary showed Jimmie Johsnon’s teammates doing daily calesthenics. I wondered what Kyle Bussch’s pit crew does for exercise, ’cause routinely they’re the fastest at getting the No. 18 back on the track. Probably race around some track following a fake track bunny or something.

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Juan Pablo Montoya enters pit road. He could not be coerced over for autographs, and though he’s top-shelf material nowadays, many fans didn’t seem sure they wanted his autograph, anyway. The barriers to NASCAR competition are many indeed. Montoya doesn’t seem to mind,though. Monte told me over breakfast that he only talks to TV media, the guys who will give him the best visibility.

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Leaving the area above the garages, I couldn’t help snap a pic of this sizeable female fan. Race day is for flauntin’, if you’re a track chick, and many had plenty to flaunt. Loud and proud, even if way too much information.

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Constant viewing at garage windows. I can’t think of any other sport which invites fans into its presence–or seems to, at least. Always, always, always there is enough distance to distinguish ordinary Joe from Front Row Joe — a plate of glass, a bit of fencing, some guy in a uniform with a walkie talkie. We are left looking on from The Other Side, jaws gaping, pictures snapping, capturing all the evidence of our nearness to a form of greatness we can hold. For a week or so, at least.

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Announcers for the Speed Channel getting ready for the ARCA race. They weren’t on-air; perhaps they’d gone to a commercial, or the race segment hadn’t begun. They had that blank sort of look when the cameras aren’t live, in a vacuum of sorts, shuffling papers, straightening collars, taking notes from an off-camera producer. Who knows. They were there for us in the Fanzone, more of that Live! feel they try to milk. And who doesn’t want to be caught on camera and broadcast around the nation, that smiling doofus in the brown jacket next to the girl with the big bazoombas holding the hand of the snotty kid with the No. 24 ballcap?

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Let’s call this a May-December Fanzone romance, though it may just be Grandpa showing his grandaughter the joys of NASCAR.

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NASCAR WAG and child. How can I tell? Who has their kid in a matching designer cap?

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NASCAR WAG mom #2, deduced by the repeated presence of the yellow and black NASAR Sprint Cup Series credentials holder thingie. Holding the hand of some or other child of privilege.   thought to sit on that bench for  while longer, snapping pix of chix, but the elements weren’t conspiring to reveal much skin, not like the previous summer’s Coke Zero 400, when the gals couldn’t wear too little.  Oh this is getting dull and the ARCA race is nearing: lets end here and see if there’s a seque to the Advent of Danica, if I have time and interest in droning on . . . Latest word from Daytona is that Nationwide qualifying and the Truck race will happen, by God, if it takes all night.

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