Sunday, February 20, 2011

Daytona International Speedway

Mark Baratelli of gave me a call and asked if I would like to go to the Daytona International Speedway to sketch a race. I of course said, "YES!" We met at IKEA and I drove the rest of the was to the speedway. Mark had been invited by Red Bull to experience the start of the race from the Pit Road Patios. This involved VIP access to the infield of the race track. We were both stoked but at 8:30 AM our excitement was restrained. At least Mark had a full cup of coffee for his morning jolt. We Knew we were getting close when we started seeing RV Parks. Then the bandstands loomed on the horizon and traffic settled to a crawl. The lot we had been instructed to park in was reserved for handicapped parking. After several calls to our contact, we were told to park across the street at a mall. Parking there was $50 but we were told we would be reimbursed. We walked to tunnel four which would lead to the infield. A Red Bull "Wing Girl" drove up in a jolt cart and drove us the rest of the way to the Red Bull Patio.

There were beautiful women everywhere. On the track, I swore I heard a 747 jet airplane firing up its engine. The patio grandstands were right behind the pit stops. I picked up a Red Bull and slopped some breakfast food on a plate and then started sketching as the pit crews set up. We had several hours before the race world start. We were offered a walking tour of the pits and the garage area where all the cars went through multiple inspections. Groups of five men would push the race cars from spot to spot. There were so many amazing sketch opportunities. I hope I get to return someday when I can fully commit myself to the event. As it was, I only had time for one sketch before I had to go back to Orlando to go to my night job at Full Sail.

Right before race time lunch was putout. It was an impressive spread. A D.J. was mixing music. This was a young crowd most of college aged kids. We were told this was part of a champagne to introduce NASCAR to a younger demographic. I was sad when we had to go, the party was just firing up.The sound of the race cars rushing by was deafening. As a "Red Wing Girl" drove us back out with the golf cart, we saw row after row of fans who were waiting for the race to start as they stood on the roofs of their RVs.The entire infield was an RV city.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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