Nascar Nationwide Montréal, notre première expérience Nascar
In the meantime, for our anglo visitors...
A looming sky and qualifying in session, it was a full capacity crowd. And, the Nascar Nationwide Montreal village was big. Parking for press/media, staff, drivers and family/friends, etc... Logistically(not including attendance) it was bigger than F1 earlier this year. Our 3 Quebecers had great times and the crowd was absolutely wild. But every driver had fans in the stand. Quebec has a huge stockcar fan base and they were all there. This was a treat for everyone including the press.
The Quebec press, followed JV, Pat and Andrew. The Canadian/US/International National news groups were there to cover 'all' the race. :-)
I just wish they could have had more than 1 Nascar-savvy announcer at the track. It was actually sad to hear some commenting on a race they knew very little about. But again, they were there for 3 drivers and it didn't seem to be so much about the Montreal Nationwide and its 43 participants. It was a great field of drivers. Not too many rookies on the course except for the exceptional ones like JV, Joey L, Brad K...
As each car finishes qualifying, they line up on pitlane so that was our first photo session of the day. One by one they arrived. Nascar is impressive. Everything during a Nascar race is setup and fine-tuned but their K-I-S-S approach is golden. As each driver exits his car, it's photo-op/interview time. Each and every driver came out smiling at the cameras. They were on queue.
JPL asked Barry Green how he felt about this race. Barry crossed his fingers(both hands) and gestered towards the heavens. He was absolutely right...
Everything was running a bit late again yesterday. JV who was among the last to qualify had very little time to eat. JV and his lovely wife Johanna went straight to the Braun Truck/Headquarters. I hope they fed him there! :-)
The rain was holding off but big storm clouds were heading towards the track. Fingers crossed, let's get this race going. But, of course at 2:30, we had to go to the pre-race driver meeting. Wow! It was a privilege.
My JV fanship doesn't impede on my love for others... Carl, my Carl was inches away. He's even better in person but most are. I'm not sure how many shots I took of him but certainly never enough. lol
We sat right in back of JV and Pat who sat in the last row of drivers only because they were the last to arrive. Cameras had to be put away during the actual meeting. This is a serious business.
All the drivers, crew chiefs, race organizers and Nascar folk got the meeting started. A quick introduction of the race sponsors and then down to business. The rules for the Montreal Nationwide.
Where to stop, what you cannot do, speeds allowed in and out, etc... I swear it was almost like we were back in class. I didn't expect the drivers to raise their hands and ask questions. With business out of the way, and due to all prior delays, there would not be enough time for the usual race blessing on track.
So, we all stood up and prayed. Personally, I put my head down and closed my eyes "May JV have all the luck. Amen." Pat seemed intent on his prayer. Worked for him! lol
Meeting over and only 2 minutes to get on track at the start line. The drivers all knew what they needed to do and got in group formation quickly.
The photogs got their shots and it was time for the driver parade. Off to find the best spot for this. We were getting to know this circuit better than we could ever have imagined.
The procession of the drivers got the crowds ready for the race. This crowd knows Nascar. Carl, Joey, Brad, Clint had huge smiles looking at this Montreal crowd. I'm sure they were impressed with the great reception.
And then came Boris. He gives as much as he gets. Pointing to the crowd. Standing up in the truck and leading us all on. Come on, he gesters with both arms raised. More, louder, he made sure we knew we were great. How can you not become a Said-Head.
Close behind came Andrew Ranger. A kid in a candy store.
Everyone there was on their feet including the Security, Special forces, fire-marshalls, track staff. Everyone.
The wave began and it is beyond me how any still had enough voice for JV and Pat who rode in the Dodge truck together. The fans went wild. Louder than the sound of his #32. :-)
The pre-race experience was great despite the fact I almost lost a photographer. They gave him an inch and he took a foot. He was being expelled but luckily, a few sweet words and apology accepted. Phew! Back to work.
The rain was coming but maybe, just maybe they would have time to finish.
But when it rains, it pours. Most drivers came in for windshield wipers and some for windshield heater/fans to clear the fog. This was a deluge and the race should have been stopped a few laps sooner.
JV's Team, didn't do the same. Jacques had no wiper and no fan. He couldn't see a thing.
Ranger, same thing but in his case, because his Entry was a special last minute deal, the team didn't have a wiper for this car. So, he came in 5 or 6 times. I can only imagine his experience. He did well with what he had. Is he ready for Nationwide? I'd rather he focus on Canadian Tire series and win that series first.
Wouldn't want him getting in the short way. Never a good thing. There's a process in Nascar and he'll do better winning the Cdn Tire series championship. That will get him a ride for sure in Nationwide eventually.
Jacques had an excellent race up until a greyout where he hit the car ahead of him on a yellow.
Gasp! I swear, it is a very loud sound when done by several at the same time. We all looked at each other and time stood still for a minute or so. Once the shock subsided, we looked for Villeneuve coming in to pit. Damage on the front of his car was major. But he didn't come in just yet.
Many drivers radioed their chiefs saying "this is crazy" "I can't see a thing!" They will all remember this race, that's for sure.
Slowly but surely he continued and lady luck saved the day. The red flag came out and the race was stopped. Jacques finishes 16th. :-)
We're totally exhausted but already thinking about Daytona. It's a dream for now but we are what we dream.
There's more to share and over the next week or so we'll keep you posted.
For now, goodnight JVistes! More photos and videos coming soon.
July 31, 3008
Que dire... c'est tellement difficile de rester objectif reporteur quand tu es JVistes et Jacques participes. Mais, en approchant le circuit tu commences a comprendre la grandeur de Nascar.
Les logistiques pour rouler cette grosse machine c'est pas imaginable. Ça prendra au moins 30 minutes de plus pour les courseurs d'y arriver demain, que ce sera pour les fans. Un véritable village caché. Pas imaginable ce que fera une course Sprint Cup et tout le Tailgaiting qui suits.
Les estrades vides, les mécanos, les bolides et les officiels de Nascar... et bien sur, les médias. Pas de porte-ouverte au public.
La voiture et le crew mécano a Jacques Villeneuve arrivait comme on était la. Mon coeur c'est mit a battre très fort devant cette réalité.
Je voulais qu'on y fasse attention. Hey! watch that wrench and please put it down lightly!. lol
J'avais la chance de l'embrasser mais j'ai opté de lui donner une tendre caresse en lui souhaitant bonne chance de touts les fans JV sur le WWW.
Ensuite, on a enlevé notre chapeau de fans et on c'est mits au travail du jour. Faire le tour de la piste. Trouver des endroits idéale pour le lendemain, check-in au centre de presse et média.
Les courseurs Nationwide sont pas encore arrivés mais le village est prèt pour demain.
Bon, on fait une dernière tournée pour voir les voitures des compétiteurs. C'est nombreux. Tellement de choses a voir a notre première expérience Nascar.
Mais les choses familier on se souvient vite. Mon chum, avec un grand sourire me dit 'Lous, quel son! et sent ca, sent! J'adore cette senteur!' Son expression et son bonheur à ce moment la exacte, je ne l'oublirais jamais.
Un rêve ce réalise encore. :-) Dream big people. You're only as successful as your dreams.
Tranquillement on retourne vers notre auto et le retour au bercail.
On est arrivés au circuit un peu avant les essaies libres. Les estrades se remplisses et les nuages disparaisses. JPL mets son chausuble et part pour sa grande aventure. Il a accès partout. Un métier dangeureux je vous le jure. Tu prends des prisses et tu te recules. À part les photographes et agents de sécurité, il n'y a personne d'autres dans ces zones.
Les essaies du matin débutent et on a capter de bonne photos et vidéos mais c'est la foule qui nous attires. Les fans de course à Montréal sont incroyable.
Avec 9 Canadiens qui participent, donc nos 3 Québecois, la foulle rejouissait.
Pat circules et la foule crie. Jacques arrives, la foule vibre. De bels performance et un super spectacle pour les fans dans les gradins.
Le matin on la passe dans une courbe vite et dangereuse. Ca passe proche, très proche.
Le ciel est bleu et il fait chaud, on retourne vers le centre Hospitalité media pour manger et boire un petit quelques choses. On planifie notre après-midi et on repart pour la prochaine étape.
Trouver l'accès a des Tours de photographes qui semblait fermé hier matin. JPL jumps the fence and he's in! :-)
La chance fait que cette tour, elle est a l'ombre. Parfait! car il fait très chaud maintenant mais on ce plaindera pas.
Moi je restes au garages pour prendre des notes, des bouteilles d'eau et je me place pour capter le retour en pistes pour la deuxième ronde d'essaies.
Il y a retard d'au moins 15 minutes pour réparer du dommage sur la piste(fait pendant la course Grand Prix!!!... wow).
Finallement, les moteurs ce font entendres et je texte message JPL dans la Tour. Here he comes!
JV, Pat, Andrew, et al, repartent pour les essaies libres de l'après midi. La foule aussi bruyant que les bolides. Bravo les Québecois!
On dirait des qualifs. Très beau a voir. Merci aux fans!
De la merchandise Nascar partout... Les fans qui portes leurs couleurs Nascar, il en avait beaucoup. Et, cette année, dans une petite boutique, Ils ont eus le temps de produire des T-shirts Jacques Villeneuve/Nascar. Demain il en aura des T-shirts JV et Pat toute neuves dans les estrades. :-)
Les éssaies cette fois ont fait 2 drapeau jaune. Pas de grâve accident mais un spinout(Jacques passait tout de suite, phew! il passe).
Et le public en on eu pour son argent. Les 3 Québecois dans les Top 10 meilleurs temps. Bravo!
Les courseurs étaient relaxe au retour aux garages. Un qui mérite le fandom c'est bien Boris Said. Des Said-Heads, il en a partout ou il course.
Je vous dirais que il est parmits les courseurs les plus accèssible. Il aimes ce promener avec son épouse et enfant. Il arrète et jases avec chaque fan. Il est simple et gentil mais quel courseur de piste routier!
Et pour moi, le 'highlight' de ma journée, j'ai froller l'epaule à Rusty W. J'ai perdu mon souffle et figer. Rusty! Il était rendu plus loin et mon photograhe occupé à autres choses. Rusty lui, n'avait pas grand temps... le debriefing avec Steve W et le crew chief de son équipe RW. Pas grâve, mon prochain rêve c'est de lui parler à Daytona. A suivre... :-)
Bonne journée les JVistes! Et bonne course. GO JV GO!