My article below appeared in the April issue of Hill Country Happenings.. Click here for more articles and information about happenings in the Texas Hill Country.
I love the month of April! I know….. I say that every month, but April is better than most because it’s the start of the Major League Baseball season and NASCAR returns to Texas Motor Speedway. I remember when we lived in North Texas in the 80s, Rick would go stand in line for hours to get opening day Rangers tickets and I would strategically bid my line of flying so I would have that day off. This year we skipped the experience of the home opener as the team looked rather vulnerable during spring training and deserving of the tag, “Texas Strangers.” Will the Rangers make another run to a championship game or leave fans scratching their heads in October? As they said in my cancelled soap — now returning on Hulu — stay tuned!
As I write this article, I am holding my tickets for the April Nationwide race. It is storming outside, indicative of April weather. While I listen to the pounding rain, I think to myself, “Just get it over with now!” I remember back to the first year that the Texas Motor Speedway was open. Rainy weather played havoc on the grassy parking areas where the caravan of RVs gathered for the week of the race. Tow trucks made a mint dragging out the camping homes of race fans. Since we lived 5 miles north of TMS, Rick & I always bid our work schedules around race weekend and being able to get to work. One year, the Sunday race was postponed due to weather. The following day, I found myself in my car, staring at our subdivision with my legs crossed for one hour as inbound traffic to the area was halted to accommodate those leaving the track.
Last year, I got tickets and pit passes for the Nationwide race. I was like a kid in a candy store as I spent the morning and afternoon watching time trials and practice runs from the pit area. It was where all the action was, including driver Ryan Newman, walking inches from me with his hot dog in hand. I even visited with Elliott Sadler’s pit crew and was given a rejected lug nut they had discarded. In the midway, there were huge semis, one for each driver, with multiple displays of T-Shirts, caps and other memorabilia for sale. I stopped at the Danica Patrick area and picked up a bright glow-in-the-dark lime green T-Shirt for Rick, then headed to Kenseth’s semi for MY stuff. Why am I a Matt Kenseth fan? He had a special connection to the Texas Hill Country. A few years ago, he purchased a Mooney Acclaim, which Rick helped build. Matt actually came to Kerrville to take delivery of his plane. He gained several fans from Mooney that year.
The race itself was almost boring after all the other activities. I said almost, right? My ex-boss from Delta, Jan Smith, joined me at the race. After she bought a Tony Stewart T-Shirt, she did a quick change of clothes in the restroom. We climbed about 40 rows to our seats and got all settled in for the race. Suddenly Jan’s hands flew up to her chest! “My lanyard with my ticket! Where is it?” She bolted and retraced her route to the restroom and fortunately found it on the floor of the last row of stalls. She got back just in time for the opening ceremonies. We decided to stay for only part of the race, not wanting to battle the exit crowds. It was a good thing we got an early start since we couldn’t find either car! All I can say is thank goodness for remotes that enable you to activate your horn! Once we left the parking lot, I got a call from Jan on my cell. “You’re going the wrong way! You’re headed towards Decatur!” I surely am glad Rick will be with me this year; he’s got a much better sense of direction.