Jenny Johnson's Day at NASCAR: "It Was So Baller"
Mike and me on the track
Writer, comedian, Friend of Paper and unequivocally one of the funniest -- and bawdiest -- women on Twitter, Jenny Johnson, will be sharing her thoughts on sports, America, and other odds 'n ends in a new recurring column. This week, she introduces us to the world of NASCAR. Read on.
I love stock car racing. Shut up. Don't judge me. You're judging me. I said don't judge me, you dicks. Anyway... I had the wonderful opportunity of going to the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California for the Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race as the guest of driver Brad Keselowski who drives the #2 Miller Lite Ford for Penske Racing. For those of you who don't know what any of that means, it basically says I'm super awesome, I smell nice, so I get to do cool stuff cuz I write filthy jokes on the internet and people like it so they invite me to fun shit like car races. I can feel your jealousy now. Boy, how dumb you must feel for judging me earlier. Who's laughing now? Me. That's who.
So back to my redneck day.
I invited my good friend, comedian and writer Mike Burns a.k.a. @pizzanachos69 a.k.a. @DadBoner to join me for a fun-filled day of racing. I've gone to NASCAR races my entire life. I had always gone with my dad, and we'd drive in his pick-up truck and tailgate in the parking lot, listening to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard. We'd drink beer and eat beef jerky like REAL Americans (it's okay if you want to pause to put your hand over your heart and recite the pledge of allegiance). My race day experiences had all been similar. Always with my dad and always at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. Since my dad passed away a couple of years ago (not to bring the party down) I hadn't had much desire to attend another race, but when this opportunity to go to a different track with my good friend came out, I couldn't say "no." I thought my dad was probably gonna come back from the dead to kick my ass.
Since I NEVER drink and drive, I hired a car and driver for the day. It was...a little different pulling up in a blacked-out Cadillac in the infield directly in front of the track. While Mike and I tailgated in the parking lot (and drank Miller Lites as our driver rapidly picked up the cans and threw them away for us) I could feel this was going to be an entirely new race day experience for me.
Mike and me and our Miller Lites
We got a nice morning beer buzz going and made our way into the track flashing our fancy passes that pretty much were all-access excluding getting in a race car and actually competing in the race. It was so baller. They even let Mike and I fill out our own names on our passes -- he decided to stick with his Twitter handle @pizzanachos69 while I opted for a more subtle and ladylike name so I wrote down Spinderella.
We met my friend Rutledge Wood who hosts Top Gear on the History Channel for a first-class tour of the garage. Rutledge is extremely popular with NASCAR fans. Not only do people love his show, but he used to be a fixture on the SPEED Channel during all of the races before the channel went kaput. I will say this, Rutledge signed every autograph and posed for every picture. Unbelievably nice guy. Really made me and Mike look like a couple of garbage assholes.
Rutledge took us over to meet Brad's teammate, driver Joey Logano. Brad had been nice enough to provide me with my very own Miller Lite cap so I could fit in with the crowd AND support him. Joey gave us a tour of his team's hauler where they have their race cars (they bring two cars to the track in case they end up having to go to a back-up car, which Joey did have to do because he had wrecked his primary car in practice the day before). It was something I had only seen on TV and I have to admit I was geeking out over the experience. We then made our way to the main stage where, to my surprise, Rutledge was introducing the drivers to the sold-out crowd along with special guest star Gonzo from The Muppets. Yes. Gonzo. I know. Now I FINALLY got your attention. I was star struck.
Hanging with my friend Brad Keselowski
As all 43 drivers were introduced, they walked across the stage, then got into the back of a truck where they were driven around the track to wave to the fans. Rutledge had to leave after driver introductions, so we met up with Matt Dusenberry who is the Director of Business Development for Brad Keselowski Inc. Matt led us to Brad's car on pit road where I could say "hi" to my pal before the race started. Now if you've ever watched a race, during the national anthem the drivers, their crew chiefs, their spouses, kids and pit crews all line up together by their race cars. It was extra fun to be able to stand there during all of the pre-race ceremonies. Being a lifelong racing fan it was a bit surreal to be standing there with everyone as it was something I had only seen from afar.
Before the race was about to start, we made our way to our super pimp suite courtesy of NASCAR entertainment. While Mike and I had said we would drink Miller Lite all day for Brad, they only offered Coors Light in the suite. Felt like we were really slumming it, but we managed to choke them down anyway like true American heroes. Looking around our suite we spotted a star-studded group of celebs. The Old Spice guy, the guy with the dreads from TMZ, Deebo from Friday and a guy with knuckle tattoos that looked kinda familiar but I couldn't come up with his name (think he was an X-Games dude or custom chopper guy or something), then me and Mike who write jokes on Twitter. Had we all taken a picture together, it would have made Ellen's Oscar selfie look like nothing but a group of well-dressed turds.
Gonzo and me
The race got under way and we watched from our kick-ass seats, drank beers, laughed our faces off, and only got up for pee breaks. Unfortunately my least favorite driver won, but that was the ONLY downside. All and all it was the perfect race day. Thank you for reading about my redneck day. If you need me I'll most likely be with my trainer trying to work off all of the calories I consumed that day.
Huge thanks to Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Rutledge Wood, Matt Dusenberry, Zane Stoddard and Kim Ricard for all of their hospitality and to Mike Burns for being awesome.