This year’s Daytona weekend may have been one of my favorite weekends to date. I’ll admit I attached a lot of significance to the trip: I’ve been working without a true day off for about two weeks at a time, and I don’t see that changing any time in the near future, so this was my only real vacation for a long time. Add in the fact that Daytona is my actual happy place and weeks spent listening to Southern rock to prepare, and I think it’s obvious that I got emotional when I got there. I literally teared up when Dad and I ascended the stairs to see the track for the first time Friday night. The view was gorgeous, to boot:


Not only was this weekend restorative, it felt affirming. I met Claire B. Lang, the wonderful host of Dialed In on SiriusXM radio, and I told her she was such an inspiration to me (she is). She was genuinely the sweetest person I have ever met at the track, and she suggested that we take a picture before she headed to cover qualifying. She also told me that getting to where she is now has taken a lifetime and, even though she was one of the very first females covering motorsports, she never saw herself as breaking down doors or being a pioneer. She was just doing what she wanted to do. I think that’s super inspirational and everything about our interaction left me feeling like I needed to keep after my dreams of being a motorsports reporter. Adding to that feeling was riding in an elevator with Eli Gold from MRN, which was just a really cool, humblebrag-worthy thing. We had access to the Fan Zone and I spent literally all my time hanging out at the media center, hoping to see a media member.

Anyway, Dad and I had a great hospitality package that allowed us in the Fan Zone both days and at driver intros for the 500. I may never do driver introductions again. It was very much a zoo, and I could tell the drivers were kind of overwhelmed by the amount of people screaming their names and sticking their hands out (not gonna lie, I’m included in this). The guys with kids seemed especially annoyed, but the drivers who weren’t as popular were so happy to touch our hands. I touched both Kyle Busch’s hands, and after bragging about that for a while I realized how creepy it sounds. I’m not a fan of the zoolike environment.

The weather was perfect all three days — we froze at the truck race again, but we were prepared this time and brought layers upon layers. I even had gloves, which surprised Dad to no end. I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of Big Ones, even though we were both anticipating some carnage. I’m also so happy that my favorite driver finally won the 500! I’ve been with Denny since 2007 and I won’t lie, I’ve thought of dropping him at times, but I’m so proud of him and I can’t wait to see how this season turns out.

Here are some photos I took this weekend, and I have a few more posts about my experience forthcoming.



I’m going to start a photoseries consisting solely of NASCAR fans. They are a really great group to photograph because they’re so passionate about the sport, and that passion translates well in photos, I think.



I can’t get over how different the front stretch looks. For reference, the below image is the same viewpoint in 2013:




Marvin Panch’s 1961 race-winning car, driving for Smokey Yunick.


Can’t hang.

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3 thoughts on “Daytona

  1. alyshwedo says:

    I love everything about this. If it makes you feel any less weird, Kyle Busch is my driver and I would totally touch both (!!!) of his hands and brag about it too.

    I also love the photo series of NASCAR fans. Maybe even a step further, like Humans of NASCAR? I dig it.

    • rachaelflora says:

      Thanks Aly! I’m so glad you liked the post. I actually thought of you afterwards because I remembered Kyle was your driver and wished you were there! And I’m glad you like the idea too. I dig Humans of NASCAR. We can run the account together and ride it to fame.

      • alyshwedo says:

        Aww, that’s so sweet of you! I’m so down to run the account with you. I can see it now, Instagram, Facebook, coffee table books, instant stardom. I’ll let you know when I finally return to NASCAR and maybe you’ll get a break from work and we can meet up!

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