Charlotte – May 23, 2009 / Coca Cola 600

NASCAR goes to Charlotte NC in May for two of their biggest races. The first is the All-Star Race. This year that occurred on May 16th, which was a very special night for me personally. My guy, Tony Stewart #14 (OfficeDepot/OldSpice/Chevy) crossed the line for his first win as an Owner/Driver. Only the 2nd guy to do this since the All-Star Race began.

The second big race, The Coca Cola 600 was scheduled to occur on May 24th. But between these two weekends Charlotte advertises the wazzoo out of these events calling this time as SpeedWeek! Culminating with a city celebration in the streets of downtown Charlotte which they call SpeedStreet! Food, fun and come meet NASCAR drivers.

Ok, so I’ve never been to SpeedStreet. We’re going to Charlotte for a family wedding which will give us a chance to attend the festivities. The three of us don our favorite driver T-shirts. SirEvil wearing his #88 National Guard shirt for Jr. I grabbed my Tony #14 shirt, and the little kid is wearing his brown Army #39 Ryan shirt. We topped that off with our matching straw Nascar hats, with our event and driver pins stuck all over them. I’m looking forward to party and excited to go…… Until we actually get there.

Where were the Driver booths and merchandise? We walked to every corner, nook, an section of “speedstreet” and all we saw were Sponsor booths, giving away free stuff. The little kid (who is about to turn 6) was run over 3 times by the rudest people trying to grab the free stuff. A very large black woman knocked him to the ground and about stepped on him just so she could grab 2 boxes of free Reynolds wrap. All we were trying to do is look at the cup car sitting next to the free wrap. You know…enjoy the real reason for this party in the first place, the cars, the drivers, the fan excitement! I was SO pissed!

We walked down a big hill to a section where we were told the merchandise trailers were. The “official” guide didn’t have a clue what we were talking about, because there was nothing in that section except a Chevy display, Jr.’s car and a few games for kids. Back up the hill to the one and only merchandise booth we saw. I walk up to the table and say to the sales guy “I’m looking for a Tony 1st win shirt”. His response? “Tony who?”. WHAT?! I step back, point to the shirt I”M WEARING and reply “Tony who?”. A sales guy next to him says “I thought it was a 1st win for all of them”. The 1st sales guy says “We have other shirts for him” pointing to my shirt. I answered “I wouldn’t buy dog shit from you now.” and walked away.

First rule of sales “Know your audience!”. I was so disgusted with the entire atmosphere and attitude of not only the organizers, and some of the booth workers, but of the attendees as well. Decked out in all our NASCAR gear, we saw (and yes I counted) only 23 other people with race shirts. I walked up  to one guy, shook his hand and said you’re one of the only other people we’ve seen who is wearing a driver shirt. And then we left.

I don’t want to make it sound like we didn’t see and talk to some nice people. We did. But they were few and far between. The most disappointing part of the entire experience was what wasn’t there! Never again will we go back. What a waste of time.