It’s well documented on this blog that I’m a car chick, although not so much a fan of NASCAR. However, since Daytona International Speedway is in my neck of the woods; and I’m a Trinidadian, which automatically makes me a maco, I go to watch the races there. Cars, motorcycles, donkey carts or whatever– I’m there. Okay, I was kidding about the donkey carts but you get my point. Oh and for the record, if there was a Global Rallycross round at the DIS (because the E in ERC stand for European and beggars can’t be choosers); I just might pitch a tent on the infield. I’m just saying. This past February, my nephew and I went to almost every single event at the Speedweeks. It was fun but exhausting. We also tried to catch a glimpse of one of our favourite TV personalities, Top Gear host Rutledge Wood. However, I didn’t know when he was going to be there and we kept missing him. This past weekend, we had tickets for both races and my nephew asked, “Are we going to look for Rut?” I said no but then I made a joke on Twitter and got a pleasant surprise.
That’s right, the man in plaid himself, told us to stop by. How cool was that? Arctic! We arrived at the Speed stage just in time for the last half of the show. I’ve been there before but not with the lights, cameras and action. The audience area was in a word: nuts. Fans screamed wildly and two people from Speed keep the excitement pumped up during commercial breaks with giveaways. Nothing gets people more excited than free stuff. I moseyed to the front, but avoided the melee of happy people in the very centre. They jostled for position with signs to support their favourite drivers and say hello to folks at home. Even I waved, when in view because…that’s just what you do. Anyway, we saw Marianela Pereyra, Rutledge and race car driver Juan Pablo Montoya play a shooting game with Nerf guns. This was when I realised that Rutledge’s popularity is quite high. The crowd chanted his name loudly when it was his turn to shoot. One vociferous fellow playfully heckled him about his aim being affected by his thick glasses.
It wasn’t long before the show was over and the crowd dispersed. We hung around and realised that the crew had disappeared as well. Juan Pablo Montoya was signing a few autographs offstage, so I went to that area in search of Rutledge. I spotted Danielle Trotta who filled in for Krista Voda that day, and decided to meet her. Somewhere along the line, my manners ran off and I forgot to remove my sunglasses. The truth is I got star struck. Danielle is a beautiful woman and disarmingly so. I’m straight but was downright goofy in her presence. She was thankfully kind and even looked for Rutledge for me. Marianela was there too but I didn’t hazard saying hello. She was also a sight to behold with gorgeous skin and buckets of coolness. Danielle directed me to the other side of the stage but there wasn’t anybody there at all. Bummer. We hauled tail to the track and got there in time for the pre-race activities. Despite the failed Rut Hunt, we had a blast at the Subway Jalapeño 250. I was very happy to meet Danielle and can now say that I’ve experienced the wildness of Trackside’s mosh fan pit. Life may hand me lemons, but my lemonade is delicious.