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Monday, May 18, 2009

A BIG Day at the Races!

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There is no way to explain clearly the excitement and enthusiasm, the downright joy and jubilation, that a 12 year old boy experiences when told by his daddy that he has 2 tickets to attend the NASCAR All-Star Race at Lowes Motor Speedway.  Nope, I can't begin to tell you the lifetime memory that day had on my boy.  All I can do is show it to you in pictures and share with you the stories they told me about their dad & son day out this past Saturday.

There is something else you need to know about this experience.  I gave Big Bear and Matthew both digital cameras.  I gave Big Bear my Nikon D300 with the Nikkor 24-120 zoom lens (He insisted on taking the Nikkor lens and not the Tamron - men.  He should have taken my Tamron 28-300 zoom lens. Live and Learn).  And I gave Matthew our Olympus Camedia Digital Camera, showed him how to use it, and let him have at it.  More than anything, I wanted Matthew to document his day with Dad - from his perspective.

Let me tell ya - give a kid a camera and you'll be surprised, shocked, and smiling ear-to-ear when you see the pictures.  So, I am going to share with you all the pictures that Matthew took and a few that Big Bear took this past Saturday, and I'll tell you who took the picture too in () parens.  It'll be fun.  You'll see.   How about I start by telling you that Matthew took the picture you see of himself above.  Is that a happy boy or what?



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(Matthew) Yep, from Matthew's perspective, Dad's a big man.  His hero.  His mentor.  His buddy.  And, they were going for the ride of their life - together.



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(Big Dad) Enjoying his experience with his son.



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(The Waiter) A wonderful lunch at Harper's Restaurant in Charlotte before the big day at the races.



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(Matthew)  He saw Charlotte and threatening skies while heading down the highway, and said a little prayer that the weather wouldn't spoil his perfect day with Dad.



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(Big Dad) They rode in golf carts to and from the parking lot.



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(Matthew)  He saw big balloons and clear blue skies overhead reminding him that he was really at the Speedway and his prayers for a clear day had been answered.



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(Matthew) Wow!  Race Cars!



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(Matthew) And Lug Nut!



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(Big Dad)  Lug Nut was tickling Matthew and putting his hand over his face teasing with him.



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(Big Dad)  Dad took pictures of Matthew taking pictures.



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(Matthew) Oh My!  Strange banners flying overhead.  I guess Geico had to get in their 2 cents worth since Nationwide is a sponsor at Lowes Motor Speedway.



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(Matthew)  Ya think he had his eye on some goodies at the souvenier store?



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(Matthew) Matthew had his eye on the Jeff Gordon race car ...



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(Big Dad) Because for Matthew, Jeff Gordon is bigger than life.  His race car hero.



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(A Lowes Speedway guest) A nice person took this picture of Dad and son at the speedway before the big race.  Dad bought Matthew his Jeff Gordon car and a hat too.



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(Big Dad) They met Trooper M.W. Whitener and Matthew's eyes got as big as saucers when he saw all the stuff in his car.



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(Big Dad) So, Trooper Whitener gave Matthew a thrill and let him sit in the driver's seat of his State Trooper car. 



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(Big Dad) After Matthew sat in the Trooper car, he stood on a Big Dang Truck.



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(Big Dad) Yeah Man, these are some Big Dang Trucks!



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(Big Dad) They found some of the local wildlife to be very entertaining.



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(Matthew) They are in their seats now, and Matthew can hardly contain his excitement. He couldn't believe how many vehicles were in the infield of the racetrack.



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(Matthew) "So Dad!  Ya Ready for the Big Race?!!!"



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(Matthew) "Whoa! Look at this place.  This is so cool!"



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(Big Dad) "Look Matthew - What's that on the other side of the track?"



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(Matthew) "Look Dad!  It's a little stunt car!"



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(Big Dad) This sure looks like fun.



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(Matthew) "Look Dad!  The race is starting!"



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(Matthew) "I do wish I wasn't ..."



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(Matthew) "... so short."

And so, Big Dad took over all the pictures from here ...



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There they go, making their entrance with the pace car.



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"Matthew Look!  Here they come!"



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"Matthew, this is so cool, bud!  This is great!"



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"Looks like someone has issues."



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And so, the race had begun, with a lot of excitement on a clear day.



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It was dark now and between races, so the celebration continued with an exciting fireworks display. 



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Everyone in the bleachers were having a NASCAR Good Time.



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And chuggin' down a few beers ... just a few mind you.



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"Look Dad!" yelled Matthew - "It's our Man - Jeff Gordon!  Go Number 24!!!"



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"Yeah Baby!"



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"There's our guy again!"



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It's a race to the finish!



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Jeff Gordon and Sam Hornish, Jr. are neck-in-neck.



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"Woohoo!  Our Man's in the lead!"



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It's a grand day at the races.



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And a fun day in North Carolina.



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Big Bear and Matthew met a lot of nice people at the races.  Everyone was having a great time.  This is what we love about North Carolina - the nice people.



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I will say this - the next time any member of this family goes to the races, we're going prepared - with earplugs or earphones.  Big Bear and Matthew told me that if we were to turn the stereo up in our family room full blast and then double it, that's how loud the noise was from the engines.  It was deafening.



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Then it happened.  Kyle Busch cut Jeff Gordon short and caused him to wreck.  Darn.  He was in the lead too.



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Uh, yep, I think we second that reaction.



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"Can you believe that guy?  I mean, who does he think he is?"  "Well, bud, I don't know, but I don't know who you are either."



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Tony Stewart went on to win the race.  It was an exciting day.



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It was filled with fun, fans, and fireworks.



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Most of all, it was the most exciting day Matthew had ever had.  The fact that he shared it with Dad made it that much more memorable. Matthew is now a NASCAR fan for life!  Go Jeff Gordon!

And, a very special "Thank You!" to our neighbor Pat Garvey for giving us the tickets to the race. 

The End.


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