April 11, 2010

Gentlemen... Start Your Engines!

In case you were wondering where we were off to, Daytona would be the answer.

The Daytona International Speedway... to be exact.

It was time for my husband to redeem his 50th birthday gift. Guys at work had suggested I get him a ride in a Stearman, but like me, he's not much into flying. Unlike me, he likes speed. So I bought him 8 laps around the Daytona International Speedway via the Richard Petty Driving Experience. (None of us is into NASCAR, he's just a motorhead and likes speed.)

He was thrilled with the gift and we needed a weekend where the weather was cool and that all of us could attend.

This was the weekend... and we had a blast.

Rarely do we go away together as a family, even for a weekend. Usually one person is missing, typically my husband as he's working.

He hunted around and found us a cheap hotel as finances are tight, that would sleep the five of us comfortably, no small feat. We ended up staying in an Extended Stay, which I absolutely DO NOT recommend unless finances are an issue. Being that they were, we'd do it exactly the same way, but I will say it's the worst place we've ever stayed.

And we will forever laugh about it.

We did stay two nights as Daytona is 3 hours from here and he had a 9:30AM reservation. I thought since we never got away as a family, we should stay that one extra night and hit Daytona, a smart decision that was extraordinarily rewarding.

That first night in the crappy hotel, my husband dropped the a/c down to 75 degrees. I had said I wanted to sleep with it more on the chilly said and there were blankets so he said, "Fine". We just didn't know the a/c was broken; we think it got down to 58 degrees, I thought everyone was happy and snuggly, I was miserable and put my fleece on, and the cheap blankets were made out of some material that was like wearing paper, but with blanket texture, and wouldn't keep a menopausal woman warm.

We all awoke, thinking everyone else had been happy with it, only to find out all of us had in fact been miserable and didn't sleep. I was the only one who'd essentially woken up and put on a jacket to sleep in, which is funny in itself.

The next night, we kept the a/c off, and all roasted to near death.

Not a lot of sleep... BUT THAT is NOT why we were there!!!

I don't typically put pix of my husband up. It's not fair to drag him into this blogging gig as it's my thing and he didn't ask for it, so all pictures will be in the extended entry, with captions.

The day of, I bought him 3 laps with an instructor, where he would ride as the passenger so he'd get the feel of the track. He objected at first as it was more money (even with a huge 'day of' discount), but I thought it was important because 1) I knew he was nervous, 2) I wanted him to really have a GREAT time, and 3) I wasn't sure if he died doing this if it negated his life insurance and I wanted to make sure he REALLY was safe.

The laps with the instructor are at 170 mph. They're zippin' right along! It is cool as hell to watch, in particular when you know someone in the car.

I think what really made the weekend was that my best friend of 30 years happened to be in town with her husband and son, the infamous Mr. Smoochy Pants, who I have blogged upon before, and so they MADE A POINT of joining us, taking pictures, and hanging. It was PFB who had suggested this great gift as she'd done the same for her ever lovin' husband for his 40th.

After the ride, we ate lunch on the beach, it was wonderfully relaxing, went back and did the Daytona Experience which was wonderfully fun, took the tram tour of the Speedway which was wonderfully educating, and then went to dinner at a quaint little diner in Ormond Beach called Betty's A1A Cafe, which I HIGHLY recommend because it wasn't touristy, the food was wonderful, and I loved our waitress. (They have homemade pie!)

A good time was had by all and we'll go to Daytona again. We won't splurge on the driving experience (that set us back some cash), but we would go and hang in Daytona for a weekend as their beach is very upbeat with positive energy and I really think we'd have a good getaway weekend.

I have been asked if I would do this driving experience, if it is something I'd want. And the answer is a firm NO. I'm a pit crew girl. If I could have my dream, it would be to work in a pit crew. As I watched the 3D movie at the Daytona Experience, I was most enthralled with the pit crew and how they operated and repaired things during the race.

Unfortunately, I was beset with small stature, there is far worse to complain about, but I'm not exactly built to work in a pit crew, not even on a lark if someone told me there was an opportunity. It's not to say I wouldn't pull 1000x my weight to do what I could to measure up, but I'm not stupid. Those men are strong and agile. I'm agile... but that's about it.

Seriously, if they had a true pit crew experience, I'd be still be hard pressed to keep away. THAT would be cool as hell.

And so... to the Extended Entry for... the rest of the story.

Oh, and I informed my husband we must go to the Daytona 500. No, I'm not into NASCAR, but it would be a life experience and it being but 3 hours away, I need to be able to say I did it.

So... it's on my list and my husband is aware. Me who hates crowds... it's a must.

daytona 11.jpg
Waiting for his turn.

daytona 16.jpg
Strapped in and getting the final words.

daytona 12.jpg
When you take the class, they don't just turn you loose on the track. They have you follow a pace car that slowly builds up your speed. This is pace car in front and my husband following. It's early on, so he was more than the 3 car lengths they ask for. He got up to a lap of 147 mph, their target.

daytona 9.jpg
My Men.

Bones and Smoochy.jpg
Gratuitous picture of Bones and Mr. Smoochy Pants, who I just always want to grab up and hug, but whose space I am careful not to invade because he's a big boy now.

Posted by Boudicca at April 11, 2010 07:07 PM

OMG! I love Betty's!! They have GREAT pie! I cannot believe you mentioned them!I used to stop there whenever I was in Daytona for work (every 3 weeks). Oh......she has great pie....Now you know it's bad, when I'm homesick for Orlando! lol

Posted by: Tammi at April 11, 2010 09:25 PM

Tammi- Is that not the greatest little restaurant? Believe it or not, my husband found it doing a search on his cell phone for top rated restaurants. We were both all over it... it just sounded quaint.

I had the seafood cake that was outstanding and the chocolate cream pie? Mmmmm. I wanted to try all their pie!

Folks... if you're in Ormond Beach, go to Betty's!

Posted by: Bou at April 11, 2010 09:35 PM

I work with a woman who has younger school-aged children. Instead of paying for the expense and headache of a 'Chucky-Cheese' type birthday party, they take short family trips together. She says she'd rather spend a little more money making unique family memories. Glad y'all were able to do that!

Posted by: Mrs. Who at April 11, 2010 09:46 PM

Mrs. Who- When the kids were younger, we did that every quarter, we just went away somewhere close. Now, we just flat can't get to it. Someone always has something, their tastes are so different now, and with working as much as we both do, we're typically exhausted, even if we could afford it.

We've never done the bday party thing. My kids have enough stuff.

We need to do it more though... get away.

Posted by: Bou at April 11, 2010 09:51 PM

Wow - I'm so glad you all had a terrific time!

The one time I was in Daytona (to take our son to see Embry-Riddle University), it was COLD and I got food poisoning. LOL - all in all a miserable experience. At the moment it's not high on the list of places I want to go again. ;-)

As for the driving vs pit crew... I'd be out there with your husband whooshing around the track. I'm thinking both my husband and my son would be in the pit crew messing with the cars if they could. My daughter would be saying... "Cars??? are you serious??? Where's the nearest bar? I need a drink if I have to sit through this!" LOL.

Posted by: Teresa at April 11, 2010 11:03 PM

So ... does he get to keep the suit?

Wouldn't that be stylin' to wear driving to work?

Posted by: The Thomas at April 11, 2010 11:28 PM

I've always wanted to do that drive. I've been to the Daytona 500, I've done a pit crew experience during a Nascar race at the Poconos (I won it). I've worked a pit for dirt track sprints as a the gas-girl...All way fun! So glad you were able to experience all that. The boy and I love weekend trips! In fact . . . planning a Fla. one soon!!!

Posted by: oddybobo at April 12, 2010 09:57 AM

Those are great photos! That looks like it was a blast!

Posted by: PeggyU at April 12, 2010 11:24 AM

Heh! You've never stayed at the Chalet Kristy in Helen Georgia. The cabins are OK, but the rooms really suck.

Since I can no longer do a stick shift, do they let you just do the ride with a driver? I'd love to go around the track at 170 mph.

Posted by: Denny at April 12, 2010 02:57 PM

We were so happy to be there with you all to share the experience. The rumble of the engines is so awesome and we can't get enough of watching the cars. thanks for letting us in on the celebration. You KNOW we are all about going to the 500 race, too. I'll start checking on tickets for next year!! :-)

Posted by: pfb at April 12, 2010 09:57 PM

I told my husband about this and he thought it was very cool indeed. I think now that he would love to not only do the laps, but then head down to help the pit crew afterward. LOL.

After I told him about your husband, he told me his sister (who is so painfully shy it's incredible) went to a track and sat in a car for laps while someone from the track drove. Apparently she loved it. I don't know why I never heard about it until today... heh.

Posted by: Teresa at April 12, 2010 10:25 PM

Geez, I thought I heard cars on the track this weekend (I live 5 miles from there).
Don't forget there is also a race in July and it's at night, just so ya know you have options.

I've moved here from Ohio in 1974 and have never heard of Betty's. It is now on my list ;-)

It's nice to hear about someone coming to Daytona and actually having good fun. Kewl.

Posted by: Jean at April 13, 2010 07:30 PM