Day 7, Monday, May 29, 2023, Happy Memorial Day!
We finally got to watch the race we traveled so far to see, the Coca-Cola 600. PLUS, we got to watch the 300-mile Xfinity race. Yep, that is a total of 900 miles of racing. It went down in history as the most miles raced in one day in NASCAR history.
Unfortunately, we woke up to dreary weather again. The steady mist had not yet let up, even by Monday morning. We were on our 3rd day of rain, not what we wanted to see. The Xfinity race was scheduled to start at 11 am and then the Cup race at 3 pm. (I know some reading this may not know the difference between the two but think of it as minor league baseball vs major league baseball. The Xfinity drivers are the level just below the very top level in NASCAR which are the Cup drivers.) The skies were slowly clearing out by the time we needed to walk over to our grandstand seats to watch the first race so we loaded up the bags and headed that way. And guess what? They were able to start the race….but….they only made it through the first 40 or so laps before the skies opened up again. We sat for a bit, hoping beyond hope that they’d get things started again but it was only about 10 minutes later that the announcers said this race was being red-flagged, cars were being pushed back to the garage, and they would come out and finish it AFTER the Cup series race at 3 pm. Back to the camper we went to sit and stare at each other and hope for better weather by 3 pm.
We walked back to our seats in the grandstands at about 2 pm, this time much more hopeful because it had actually stopped raining and the sky was clearing. We even saw the SUN for the first time in 3 days as we were walking over. The Coke 600 race did not disappoint. It is considered one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events. It is a race that every driver wants to win at least one time in their career. It is a race held on Memorial Day weekend, there is always a lot of pomp and circumstance as they spend a lot of time recognizing our military and those who have given their lives so that we can have the freedom to even watch a sporting event such as this. It is also a race at what many consider to be their home track since it is in the heart of the community where all their race shops are. And, to top it off, it’s the longest race of the year. So, it was a big deal, for Johnny especially, to finally get to see this race. It was 600 miles of very exciting racing with several of our favorite drivers battling it out for the win. Johnny’s favorite driver, Kyle Busch, even had a Days of Thunder move going at one point as he wrecked and was driving backward around the track for several hundred yards. In the end, one of my favorites, Ryan Blaney pulled off the win. Not only did he win but he also broke a 59-race winless streak for himself.
The Cup race was finally in the books but we still had an Xfinity race to finish. It was 9:30 at night but they still had to get this race in on Monday so they started rolling the cars onto the track even before the celebration was over. Our kids were over it by that time. Six-hundred miles is a lot of racing to watch, and even though their daddy and I are die-hard fans, they are casual fans at best. But, they love their daddy and knew how much it meant to him, so they stuck it out and, with only a little complaining, watched with us.
Overall this weekend was one we will always remember. It did not go exactly as we’d planned but we still made the best of it and ultimately saw everything we came this far to see. Oh wait…we’re not done yet, that was just stage one of this vacation. Yep, we’re on to stage two (racing references for those who don’t know). We’ll be working our way down the Carolina & Georgia coast over the next few days. Bring on the salty air!