It All Starts with a Winning Phone Call
Richard Coughlin from TSN called me to announce that I was the winner of the Pinty’s Epic Wingman Contest – I don’t think at this point I realized what the prize was! All I can remember thinking was how I loved the movie “Talladega Nights”. Once we got the details of this incredible prize, we got booking our flights!
Day 1: Planes, Trains and a Dinner
Our first day was a flight to Toronto, a train into the city and enjoying a dinner with my daughter, then early to bed before our adventure really started to kick off!
Day 2: VIPs Hit the Track
We were up at 4AM to shuttle to the airport and board our 7:30 AM flight. We felt pretty awake at the gateway prior to leaving though – we met Dan O’Toole and Richard Coughlin from TSN who were to be our “Wingmen”!
After flights to and from Charlotte, North Carolina we hit the ground running in Bristol, Tennessee around noon with Richard taking care of all the details. A quick stop for a little freshening up at our hotel and we were off to the track!
We collected our passes, VIP parking and browsed the souvenir trailers then made our way up the elevator to the Pinty’s VIP suite where we met Tony Spiteri, the Vice-President of Marketing at Pinty’s, and his wife Claudia. We were made to feel so welcome in our home base. Tony and Claudia were gracious, genuine hosts and their hospitality was amazing.
Once it was time to head to the floor of the coliseum, the thunder and roar of the cars on the track hit us as cars were doing their laps for Friday night’s Pinty’s Qualifying Xfinity Series race. Earplugs are a must! The closer you walk towards the track, the more the ground and your chest vibrates!
The facility was stunning – everything totally pristine, gleaming steel seats surrounding the entire stadium; the floor was full of race car trailers and pit crews setting up.
We headed to the Apex, checkerboard floor – here we got to hold the trophy for best qualifying run for the Pinty’s Qualifying race tonight, presented by Tony to Austin Cindric.
Next we got whisked off in golf carts to the hospitality village and shuttled into a large room with all the drivers for the night’s race. We had a terrific vantage point to see the drivers as the rules of the race were reviewed and got to partake in a prayer before heading back to mid-track.
We were offered the chance to wave the green flag for the Bass Pro Shops NRA qualifying laps – this wonderful opportunity was probably the highlight of the trip! Vince and I were the first to climb up into the booth and we waved the green flag for Kyle Bush who was #18. Everything was vibrating and shaking – including my heart!
With so much excitement and the incredible heat and humidity, we decided to head back up to the Pinty’s VIP suite and enjoy the luxury of air conditioning – not to mention the spectacular panoramic views. The food was never-ending (including those great Pinty’s products) and Tony was making sure everyone was having a good time. We could also see the driver introductions on the huge Colossus and on TV from the suite. Dan O’Tool organized a suite pool, in which drivers are picked out of a hat – I got Kyle Bush who finished first in the second stage of the race and so I won $50!
It’s hard to imagine how tight this track is when the cars take off – at times there are 3-4 abreast coming out of the turns, bumping and lots of yellow flags. I couldn’t believe how fast 300 laps flew by! Sheer excitement from start to finish!
Beautiful fireworks capped off the night and our expert driver got us back to our hotel seamlessly.