Phoenix personal report

From: Drew Hierwarter <Bnchrcr@AOL.COM> Got back from the WC race at P.I.R. late last night and I'm catching up on my E-mail this morning. The weather was a big part of the story this weekend. The mornings were colder than usual this...

From: Drew Hierwarter <Bnchrcr@AOL.COM>

Got back from the WC race at P.I.R. late last night and I'm catching up on my E-mail this morning. The weather was a big part of the story this weekend. The mornings were colder than usual this year but once the sun came out, things warmed up nicely. The local radio stations were forecasting very poor weather for Sat. and Sun, which fortunately, never materialized. However, as most of you know, WC qualys were "sand-stormed" out on Friday. What most of you don't know is how bad it really was. The original schedule called for qualys at 1:00 pm with theSouthwest Tour race going off at 3:00. Around 12:00, the wind started to kick up and there was a brief sprinkle of rain. Very unusual. They were running all the tow trucks and stuff around the track when the dust started flying. The wind was coming from the west and if you know P.I.R., you know that there's nothing out that way but dirt parking lots and desert. At one point we went up on top of the Goodyear bridge over turn 4 and from there we could not see the suites or billboards in turn 2! There were thick waves of sand blowing down the back stretch!! So of course, they scrubbed WC qualifying and wanted the Southwest Tour cars out on the track early! While the cars were parked on the grid, they became completely covered with dust. They sent them out on the track and the plan was to ride around under the yellow for 8 or 10 laps and see what the driver's thought. You can guess. No one wanted to go. One driver even said over the radio that if they threw the green, he was pulling in. Somehow, after about ten laps of this madness, the wind slowed and the dust cleared. The cars blew the dust out of the groove and they brought them all in to the pits for a windshield cleaning, refuel, and back out to take the green. We were all pretty nervous about what the first few laps would be like, but surprisingly, I think all the drivers were too, because they did a real good job and there were no major incidents. The biggest crash of the race was because of guys in the middle of the pack jumping a re-start flag. All of the other yellows (only a few) were for junk on the track. Like the time one car was dropping rear end grease and had to be black flagged twice before he came in. Of course in the mean time he ran two laps right in the racing groove so the clean-up for that took a long time! But, for the most part, everybody did a real good job and it was a safe race. Scott Hansen, of ASA fame won. He's won Tour races at P.I.R. before so this was not a surprise. From a photographers view point the truck race was pretty uneventful. Looked like a good one from what I could see, but I'll have to catch the re-broadcast to know what really happened. I was glad to see Jack Sprague win though, as the only truck races I have been too previously were all won by Skinner. On Sunday, I got a special treat. I was asked by Dick Berggren of Stock Car Racing magazine to do some photos of Eli Gold for an upcoming story. To do this I was allowed into the TNN production meeting on Sunday morning. We then went up to the top of the tower where they taped the intros for the race broadcast and did some voice overs, etc. All the while I'm shooting photos while Gold and Buddy Baker are getting make-up, etc. Baker was very loose and kept everything light and funny. Internet etiquette prevents me from repeating some of Baker's jokes, but trust me, he's one funny guy off camera. Anyway, I took advantage of the opportunity and stayed up there for the start of the race. What a view! I can't wait to see those photos! It was really great that Hamilton won and to see those STP colors back in victory lane. Hamilton almost missed the entrance and slammed on the brakes and backed up just like someone who saw an empty parking space in a crowded mall. The ceremonies in V/L were sort of chaotic and everybody was joking that it was because it had been so long, they all forgot what to do. At one point they had to send a runner back into the garage area to bring crew chief Robbie Loomis back. He thought we were done and left! A photographer joked that he went talk to Felix Sabates. :) The World of Outlaws ran at Manzanita on Friday and Saturday and I had hoped to go. But we didn't get out of P.I.R. until after 7:00 pm on Friday and we were just too tired on Saturday. And besides, I'm probably going up to Perris to see them this coming Friday.

All in all a great weekend. Sorry to ramble on for so long. :)

Drew

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jack Sprague , Robbie Loomis , Buddy Baker , Felix Sabates , Scott Hansen