Daytona 500 Experience

Saturday 11/14/2009 Day 2: Daytona 500 Experience

On Saturday we traveled up Interstate 95 to Daytona to tour Daytona International Speedway and the museum. When we arrived we were able to hop onto a tour tram and get onto a tour of the infield. I was surprised that the speedway actually seemed smaller than I thought it was. Seemed like if you were watching a race that you would easily be able to see all the action around the track. It is a large track, don’t get me wrong, but I was pleasantly surprised at the sight lines.

The tour took us into the infield through one of the tunnels under turn 4. The tour guide told us that the Italian Auto Club currently had track time, and we were treated to a steady stream of Ferraris, Mustangs, and other sports cars zooming around the track. Pretty much EVERYONE on the tour was more excited to see the cars racing by than look at the row of garages or grandstands and safety fences.

Daytona Cars
Daytona Cars

Daytona Cars
Daytona Cars

Daytona Cars
Daytona Cars

Daytona Cars
Daytona Cars

The banking of the track is REALLY steep, at 30 degrees in the corners. The tour stopped near the new winners circle for us all to get photos there, and view the VIP suites high above the speedway. Still, most people were trying to get views of the sports cars on the track.

Daytona Speedway
Daytona Speedway

After touring the speedway we went into the museum. There were multiple interactive racing simulators (some cost money), lots of cars on display, and lots of Richard Petty memorabilia. Matt Kenseth’s 2009 Daytona 500 winning car was on display right out of the winners circle. There were lots of bugs and gunk on it, and the fenders, front and back, were bashed in from the bump drafting. Really cool.

Kenseth Car
Kenseth Car

Daytona Museum
Daytona Museum

We watched an IMAX movie in 3D which was pretty good, and then went out to the track to watch some more auto club racing from the turn 4 grandstands. The cars were fast, and you could tell the grandstands were huge.

Daytona Seats
Daytona Seats

More Cars
More Cars

More Cars
More Cars

Overall it was a really nice day, and we spent about 4 1/2 hours at the museum before heading back to Coca Beach.

As always, larger pictures of our full trip to Florida are available from my Flickr photo gallery. Day 3 includes our trip to see the gardens at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne and the beach.

Vacation Mode

Well August is traditionally a vacation month, and so far this month I’ve been to Saratoga twice and spent a week in the Adirondack Mountains near Tupper Lake. Too many photos to handle. For now I will direct those interested in seeing Horse Photos from Saratoga to view them in my Flickr Gallery.

Kensai Saratoga
Kensai Saratoga

I have added a few photos to the Infrared Photo Gallery as well, including this image of a snake sunning itself on a dock in the Adirondacks.

Snake IR
Snake IR

Cigar Mile 2008

I’d been looking forward to this race for a few months, as my wife and I were going to be in Philadelphia for Thanks giving, and I knew it wouldn’t be too much trouble to go to New York City from there, rather than driving the 6 hours from Western NY. I was really surprised to see Harlem Rocker as the morning line 15-1 long shot. But I felt good because I knew there was money to be made. I met some friends in NY for the day and saw a couple other HR fans there too.

Took a lot of photos in the paddock area, and generally had a good time. The race was incredible. We were able to get right on the rail and watch Harlem Rocker go by. We were ecstatic and screaming like crazy. Did he win? Who won? And then when he was posted winner we were all yelling and high-fiving and running around like idiots. It was awesome. Then they took it all away. And we were sore losers. We called bullshit and called out Prado a bit.

From the replays at the track it really looked like Harlem Rocker had a half length lead when he cut over. Now that I watch the replay again, I can see Prado pull up a little. But still, like Pletcher said, he had every opportunity to run, and HR went past him. It begs the question, how much room do you need to give before taking the lane? I thought he had a half length at least. If these were two cars, and the white car had passed the brown car and pulled in front of him, then the brown car decided to speed up and go past the white car, would we have said someone got cut off here? Unlikely. Harlem Rocker had the speed, took the position, and then if Tale of Ekati wanted it back, he needed to move and take it.

My friend Mark’s brother John summed it up best, he said: “I’ve seen horses lose after doing less, I’ve seen them win after doing a lot worse, but not in a graded stakes race.”.

The most disappointing thing to me, is that at Aqueduct they have a wall where they post the winning silks for the last 5 years, and all the photos of last winners, and HR will not be up there, and probably nobody will remember how close it was, except us.

Harlem Rocker is quite a fine animal, and he has a lot more white than earlier this year. He’s a fine horse.

It was disappointing to see both Springside injured and Wanderin Boy breakdown.

We all made some money, with Harlem Rocker as such a long shot, and Tale of Ekati too. My friend Mark and I would have each been at least $200 richer had he won, and if I had boxed my trifecta instead of wheeling it, I would have hit that one too. Enjoy these photos of my day at The Big A. The photos are a bit “noisey” but with the time of the year and the time of the race, it was basically twilight and my digital elph doesn’t really do that well in low light situations. I am extremely happy with the photos I got, but you can see my Harlem Rocker photos from the summer time are much crisper.

Springside
Springside
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker Paddock
Harlem Rocker Paddock
Harlem Rocker Warmup
Harlem Rocker Warmup
Tale of Ekati Warmup
Tale of Ekati Warmup
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Visionaire
Visionaire
Tale of Ekati
Tale of Ekati
Bribon
Bribon
Arson Squad
Arson Squad
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Paddock
Paddock
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker
Pletcher, Coa and Harlem Rocker
Pletcher, Coa and Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker and Eibar Coa
Harlem Rocker and Eibar Coa
Gomez and Coa
Gomez and Coa
Coa on Harlem Rocker
Coa on Harlem Rocker
Harlem Rocker and Arson Squad
Harlem Rocker and Arson Squad
Cornellio Velazquez on Storm Play
Cornellio Velazquez on Storm Play
Ramon Dominguez on Kodiak Kowboy
Ramon Dominguez on Kodiak Kowboy
Eibar Coa on Harlem Rocker
Eibar Coa on Harlem Rocker
Eibar Coa on Harlem Rocker
Eibar Coa on Harlem Rocker
Eibar Coa on Harlem Rocker
Eibar Coa on Harlem Rocker
Eibar Coa on Harlem Rocker
Eibar Coa on Harlem Rocker
Edgar Prado on Tale of Ekati
Edgar Prado on Tale of Ekati
Cornelio Velazquez on Storm Play
Cornelio Velazquez on Storm Play
John Velazquez on Wanderin Boy
John Velazquez on Wanderin Boy
Ramon Dominguez on Kodiak Kowboy
Ramon Dominguez on Kodiak Kowboy
Twilight at the Big A
Twilight at the Big A
Harlem Rocker leads the pack to the Finish
Harlem Rocker leads the pack to the Finish
Tale of Ekati battling Harlem Rocker
Tale of Ekati battling Harlem Rocker
Closing in on the finish
Closing in on the finish
Closing in on the finish
Closing in on the finish

Some wide angle shots.

Stretch Run
Stretch Run
Stretch Run
Stretch Run

Photos shot with a Canon SD850IS.