Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Daytona 500 Rain Delay and My Personal Beef With Mother Nature

So, I’ve been sitting here, drinking my lonely little mimosa, trying to figure out what to do that won’t require working (because right now I feel really guilty that I’m not).  My plan was to take the kids to church, out for breakfast, and then home to watch the Daytona 500 before I had to take one of the kids to a birthday party.  Then get back to watch the Academy Awards.

I had a very jam-packed day planned.

But church let out late and that 15 minute delay meant a huge wait for breakfast (we usually beat the post-church-going bunch).  So I took the kids to the grocery store to buy a smorgasbord of food that I then had to cook, while they whined because I make a sub-par funny face pancake.  In the middle of all of that, I ran over to switch on my TV so that I could watch the beginning of the race.  And that’s when I saw it.

Rain delay.

Now, for those of us waiting at home for our significant others who work these races, this is not unusual.  I don’t know why, but NASCAR is still working on negotiations with Mother Nature about becoming a full sponsor.  Apparently there’s some sticking point where she’s willing to give up making it rain on race days if NASCAR will let her make it more humid in the summer.

What stinks about this race is that they’ve been gone for 10 days and the longer they’re gone…the longer their to-do list gets.  So for us, it’s a minor inconvenience.  Yes, we miss them, but they’ll have to come home at some point. 

I think.

Since I’m somewhat new to the world of professional motorsports (okay, okay…I’m new to any kind of world of motorsports), I didn’t realize that the Daytona 500 has never been postponed before.  It’s been cut short, but never completely postponed.  And until today, I’d never really thought about what a pain in the ass delaying or postponing an event like this would be.  For example:

1.  This year, the Daytona 500 takes place, unfortunately, on the same day as the Academy Awards.  Originally, this seemed like a great idea, and I had no plans to get off my ass for about 10 hours while I watched TV.  But a delay would mean that I might have to make a choice and that the divorce rate in this country might spike tomorrow as couples fight over the remote and then just decide the whole damn thing isn’t worth it.  

2.  On a small scale…postponing it would be pretty annoying.  I mean, thousands of people look forward to this event for months, buying their tickets way in advance.  So what happens if they postpone it? Well, flights would have to be changed, accommodations would have to be changed, and work would have to be missed.  In other words, this trip that someone could have spent a while saving for has probably doubled or tripled in cost.

3.  It's a domino effect.  Sure, Jimmie Johnson is saying that he’ll stay all week if he has to in order to get this race done (it’s expected to rain a lot more tomorrow, by the way).  But how does that affect next weekend?  That means all of the transportation for the cars and the team members would have to be reconfigured in order to get them all to Phoenix by the end of the week.  And I know at least one little pregnant woman who could be reading this and shaking her head, wondering how in the hell she’s going to get all of that done this week.  

4.  As a former event planner, I can tell you this would be a mess of epic proportions.  It’s hard enough to extend the stay of Joe the Plumber so that he can watch the race, but what about all of the big wigs?? 

I’ll never forget one huge meeting I did in Chicago with ALL top executives of a very large company.  The weather turned (as it always does in Chicago…and it always surprises them.  Haven’t they figured out yet that the weather sucks out there?) and suddenly ALL of the executives showed back up at the Hyatt, expecting to have their old rooms.  And guess what?  Those rooms were already taken for the week.  That evening of whiny adults ended at about 2 AM with all of their little executive behinds tucked into their little beds…and my coworkers and myself drinking buckets of beer in our hotel rooms.

So if this bad-boy gets postponed…I feel for every admin of every team, every hotel employee, and pretty much everyone in the service industry in Daytona.

I know I’ve just painted a pretty bleak picture:  The Apocalypse of Motorsports.  But if you’re sitting out in the rain on the stands, huddled under your little poncho…you haven’t read this yet so you’re not completely aware of how bad it’s going to get.  And if you’re sitting at home, this has just made you grateful that you decided to skip going to see the race in person this year.

And to Mother Nature:  Just cut it out okay?  I have a snowblower that’s jammed, a dead battery in my car, and I’m tired of hearing, “When’s Mr. Mike coming back?” like he’s been lost at sea for a year.

I’m OVER IT, bitch.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Race Day Recipes

Let's face it:  Any sporting's really all about the food.  Here are a few recommendations to get ready for the Daytona 500 on Sunday:

Dale Earnhardt's Daytona 500 Drink:

4ozGinger Ale Ginger Ale
4ozOrange juice Orange juice
2ozScotch Scotch
6ozVodka Vodka

Recipe Credit

Queso Blanco
Made this for the Superbowl and it was a BIG hit.  Yields about 2 cups.

1 T canola or vegetable oil
1/4 c onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
12 oz. white American cheese, shredded (found at the deli counter)
4 oz Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
1/4 - 2/3 c milk
1 tomato, seeded and finely diced
2 T cilantro, minced

 Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and jalapeƱo to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add both of the shredded cheeses and ¼ cup of the milk. Whisk or stir until completely melted. Mix in the tomato and cilantro, and add additional milk gradually as necessary to achieve desired consistency. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately.

Recipe Credit

Bacon Pinwheels:
(you really can't go wrong with these ingredients)

1 package (8 oz) creamcheese, softened
12 slices bacon, crisply cooked, crumbled
1/3 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c finely chopped onion
2 T chopped fresh parsley (or 2 t dried parsley)
1 T mild
2 cans (8 oz each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls 

Preheat oven to 375.  Mix cream chesse, bacon, Parmesan cheese, onions, parsley, and milk until well blended; set aside.  Take the two triangular pieces of dough and press the perforations together to seal and create a rectangle. Divide the cream cheese mixture into four equal parts and spread 1/4 of the mixture evenly onto the dough.  Cut the dough lengthwise into four equal pieces, approximately 1/2 to 3/4-inches wide. Roll the dough up into a pinwheel and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.

Recipe Credit

Tequila Shrimp:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 40 medium uncooked shrimp (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, deveined, and halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, plus extra limes for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pico de Gallo for serving (optional)
  • Guacamole for serving (optional)
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and garlic, season with salt, and cook until translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, add the tequila, and scrape the bottom of the pan to incorporate any browned bits. Return the pan to heat. (If you want, carefully tilt the pan to ignite the tequila.) Simmer until the alcohol smell has cooked off and the shrimp are fully cooked, about 3 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in the lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Taste, adjust the seasoning as necessary, and serve with extra lime wedges, pico de gallo, and guacamole as desired.

Recipe Credit

Baked Zucchini Chips:
(yields 4 servings)


  • 2 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/2 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 egg whites


Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C).  In one small bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Place the egg whites in a separate bowl. Dip zucchini slices into the egg whites, then coat the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven, then turn over and bake for another 5 to 10 minutes, until browned and crispy.

Almond Joy Cake:


 1 box of chocolate cake mix
1 (12-ounce) can of evaporated milk, divided
1 cup of sugar, divided
3-1/2 cups of mini marshmallows
3 cups of sweetened coconut
1/2 stick of unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups of chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 cup of sliced almonds, divided

 Prepare the cake in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan according to the package direction. Set aside to cool.

In a small saucepan, stir together 1/2 of the can of evaporated milk and 1/2 cup of the sugar; bring the mixture just up to a boil, but do not allow the mixture to continue boiling. Remove from the heat and immediately stir in the marshmallows until they melt and are well incorporated. Add the coconut, stir well and then spread this on top of the warm cake. Mixture may be thick; drop in dollops and use a spatula to push the coconut layer out as evenly as possible.

Note:  You can leave the burner on low and move the pot on and off of the burner as needed, to either loosen or thicken the mixture.  Taking it off the burner will allow it to set a bit, if you need it to thicken slightly, while putting it back on the burner temporarily will allow it to warm and thin out to be more spreadable. This applies to the chocolate mixture below as well.

In a separate small saucepan, combine the remaining evaporated milk, 1/2 cup of the sugar and the 4 tablespoons of butter and bring mixture just up to a boil - but do not let it continue to boil. Remove from the heat, stir in the chocolate chips and stir until melted and smooth. Add vanilla. Add about 3/4 cup of the almonds, stir and pour that over the coconut layer. The mixture should be fairly thick, but if it gets too thick, return it to a low burner briefly, stirring until it returns to a spreadable consistency.

Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of almonds over the top and let cool completely before cutting.

Recipe Credit

Thursday, February 23, 2012

#78’s Significant Others Petition NASCAR to Put Season on Hold Until Summer

DENVER, CO – The significant others of NASCAR’s Furniture Row #78 based in Denver, CO plan to petition race executives to put the Sprint Car series on hold until the area is expected to have better weather.

“I had no idea that it would be up to me to clear the driveway once race season started,” said Catherine Tidd, girlfriend of one of the FRR Team Members.  “Since November, I have woken up to perfectly dry pavement.  I thought it just didn’t snow on my driveway.  I had no idea that he got up at 5 AM to do it every morning.”

Proud of herself for figuring out how to start the snowblower on her own, since her boyfriend was otherwise occupied getting ready for the Gatorade Duel in Daytona, Catherine thought she had everything under control until disaster struck.

“It was bad enough when I ran over my local community paper,” she said, shuddering.  “But when I sucked up The Denver Post, it was all over.”

“Not only that,” she continued, her eyes filling with tears, “but I was snowblowing in such an erratic pattern that I think I plowed the driveway at least 3 times.  My neighbors were pointing and laughing.  I’ve already made an appointment with my therapist.”

Because of such trials, the entire team of wives and significant others plan to appeal to NASCAR and ask that race season be contained to the months of June – September so that the team members will be home to dig them out before they wake up in the morning. 

“I know it’s too late to save this season,” Catherine said.  “But I’m holding out hope for next year.  Until then, I’ll just have to gun my minivan to reverse out of the driveway and hope for the best.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gentlemen...Start Your Engines. Ladies...Start Your Corkscrews

Well.  It’s here.  As the gentlemen start their engines…their significant others prepare themselves for a long season of praying for a decent National Anthem before each race and gritting their teeth while watching that stupid gopher run across the screen (which, incidentally, reminds me a lot of the Quiznos rodent, another Marketing move I have yet to understand). 

I’ll never forget Mike watching a race with me when he was off the road, recovering from surgery last year.  After the first 30 minutes of “pre-race festivities” he looked at me in disbelief and said, “Is this what you watch every weekend?”

Yes.  But not always by choice.  Mainly because if I don’t and he asks me, “Can you believe what happened on lap 5,098???”…I feel bad if I don’t have an answer for him because I was watching a particularly riveting House Hunters International.

So on February 16th, we will bid them all farewell until November like we’re sending them off on a freighter to China.  And when the season is done, we will look at them, after 38 weekends on the road and say, “And you are…?”

(Side note:  I actually did that to my late husband once when he came home unexpectedly from a long business trip to surprise me.  He rang the doorbell and I answered the front door and said, “Can I help you?”  He looked at me like I was nuts and said, “Cath.  It’s me.”  Not my proudest moment as a wife.)

Anyway, just like every couple who has someone on the road with a NASCAR team, this is a true test of if you have what it takes to make it for the long haul…because you’re basically in a long-distance relationship.  You live on phone calls (with bad signal if you are unfortunate enough to have a cell phone carrier other than Sprint because they’re just plain mean about blocking everyone else), texts, and hugs that smell like burnt gear oil when they come home late Sunday night (a smell that will stick around until they leave again…nothing gets that shit out).

The other test as a couple comes when they come home in November and mess up your schedule (and can’t figure out why), add to your grocery list, and are just generally around all of the time when for the other 9 months of the year, they were constantly absent.  At this point, you’re either grateful for their return, or start texting their magical travel manager (who will remain nameless), asking her when in the hell the season is starting up again. 

Either way, leaving or going, takes some adjustment.  As with anything in life, you tend to get into a routine no matter what is thrown your way.  And I’m hoping that this year, my routine will include some sort of Women In Support of NASCAR Operators or WISNOs (sorry girls…I tried to make it WINOs, but I needed that S in the middle.  Which kind of makes us sound like drunks with bladder problems, now that I look at it).

Believe me.  We'll be a lot more supportive after a few glasses of wine.

Photo Credit:
I actually "stole" this photo from another woman's blog who has a few short stories under "Wine Trip Chick."  Click here to get her NASCAR Sangria recipe.

Friday, February 10, 2012

NASCAR (off) BEAT: Due to Budget Cuts, NASCAR Teams Will Use Spare Tire in Trunk

CHARLOTTE, NC – In a shocking announcement today, on what is almost the eve of the Daytona 500, NASCAR officials have decided to limit the number of tire sets they allow each team to have during a race, due to budget constraints.  Once those tires have been used, they will have to pull out the spare tire in the trunk.

“This really makes the most sense,” says Mike Helton, President of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.  “We talked about cutting back in other areas like duct tape and catering, but tires are what really eat up our budget.”

Needless to say, this has come as a surprise to teams across the country that have been testing their cars for the 2012 season on the four Goodyear tires they’ve used year after year.  With one more test to go before the start of the season, officials will see how the cars are affected by using one spare on the track and teams will do their best to figure out, if all of the tires are worn, which tire will benefit most from new rubber.

“It will be hard to configure a car that will race well on four racing tires for ¾ of the race…and then a donut towards the finish,” says Chad Krauch, Tire Specialist for Furniture Row Racing.  “But we always do our best to comply with NASCAR’s requirements.  When they say jump, we ask how high.  So if they say donut…we say eat it.”

Monday, February 6, 2012

We Got Your Back. ALL of Us.

I noticed something interesting this last week, as Mike and I continue to try and dip our toes into the world of step-parenting, and that is the way we handle things when something we feel is unfair is happening to one of our kids at school.  But it's in the way that you might think. 

Because what really gets us hot under the collar is when it’s happening to one of the three kids we’re not actually related to by blood.

This happened last year when my oldest daughter was having an issue in her 4th grade classroom during the last few weeks of school.  I went in for a meeting with her teachers to discuss how I felt my child was getting bullied (and have them assure me that she wasn’t…something I thought teachers weren’t really supposed to do).  Obviously, I left that meeting feeling annoyed and like nothing had been taken care of.  But knowing that she only had 3 weeks left, I was more willing to let it go.

Mike, on the other hand, was a little angrier about it and I had to restrain him before he went down to the classroom and told those incompetent teachers what he really thought of them in a very descriptive, 4-letter adjective-y kind of way.

We found ourselves in a similar situation recently…but the tables were turned.  His oldest son came home and told Mike about a problem he was having with one of his teachers at school and while Mike was annoyed…he didn’t seem half as angry about it as I was.  In fact, as he was typing an email to the teacher asking to meet with her to discuss the problem, I actually grabbed his phone out of his hand and said, “No.  This is what you’re going to say.” And started typing away.

That unfortunate teacher found herself on the business end of my hormonal upswing.  But in a polite way.

It’s funny how when we look at each other’s kids we think, “There is no way he/she could be in the wrong.”  But when we look at our own, we sit back and say, “Huh.  I wonder what he/she might have done to bring that on.” 

It may have something to do with the fact that we haven’t been around each other’s kids from birth to now.  So while each of us has seen how uncooperative our own kids can be…we’re still figuring out that side of the kids who aren’t our own.  For example, Mike’s son has never argued with me the way Mike assures me he’s capable of and Mike has never found himself dealing with the hissy fit that I know my daughter can produce.  So it’s easy for us to get angry about what’s going on with the other person’s kids and think, “He/she would never do that.”

I guess we’re both (and the kids) are pretty lucky that at this point in our lives, we find ourselves so invested in each other and have steeped the kids in so much support that they have extra people around who will think the best of them no matter what.  That’s really not such a bad thing.

But for those people out there who think they can get away with dealing one of our kids an unfair hand…you better watch it.

‘Cause we’re 8 strong and we’re not afraid to use it.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The NASCAR (off) Beat: Vespa Announces Its Intention to Sponsor a Sprint Cup NASCAR Team

CHARLOTTE, NC – In a surprising move, scooter manufacturer, Vespa, announced today that they will be participating in the 2012 NASCAR season.

“It’s about time we took our feat of engineering out for a spin to show the public what we can really do,” a spokesman for the company said.  “Our theory is ‘slow and steady loses the race’ and we intend to prove that by racing at a rational speed of 30 miles per hour, we have the best chance of any team to leave the track unscathed.”

This announcement has had NASCAR fans wondering who their driver might be.  And it looks like they will have to wait no more:  Joe Nemechek has agreed to get behind the wheel of the new Vespa car and do what he can to make sure they finish dead last.

“I was worried for a minute that I wouldn’t get the shot,” Nemechek said when we interviewed him.  “I’ve spent years working on my last place finish at every race.  I hated the thought of Vespa swooping in and taking it from me.  Now, we can work together and ensure that when fans think ‘P43’…they think of the Vespa team.”

“It’s about time a team provided the cleaning crew something to look at while they’re picking up the stands,” says Vespa.  “By completing each race in an unprecedented 10 hours, we plan to fill that need.”

Potential contingency sponsors include the Coalition for Medical Marijuana, Birkenstock, and Comfort Dental.