Wednesday, December 14, 2011

What is not to like about Crown Royal!

Back in April, NASCAR Race Mom was lucky enough to be selected to participate in the Crown Royal “Your Name Here 500,” a NASCAR race held at the Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. The winner of the scavenger hunt for charity was to be rewarded with a trip to Las Vegas to participate in the “Race Matt” competition.

Our team did not win that scavenger hunt, however, Crown Royal announced that all nine “influencers” would be invited to Las Vegas! What is not to like about Crown Royal!

Since I was already scheduled to cover the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Award Ceremony for Insider Racing News, I had to miss the first activity – The Wranglers National Finals Rodeo.

The National Finals Rodeo, organized by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, is the premier championship rodeo event in the United States. Wrangler Jeans is the title sponsor for the 10-day event, commonly called the National Finals or NFR

The National Finals Rodeo was held at the Thomas & Mack Center on the campus of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) in Paradise, Nevada. My fellow bloggers reported that they made their way to their seats just as the competition began.

The 6 events of the Rodeo were: Bareback Riding; Steer Wrestling; Team Roping; Saddle Back Riding; Tie-Down Roping; and Bull Riding.

I missed a truly exciting event and heard that the crowd cheered most for the entertainment value and strong performances, and not necessarily individual Cowboys. The riders can win more than $173,000 for winning their category and the competition was truly stiff!

Another . . . . What’s not to like about Crown Royal ---- Each time one of the Crown Royal Riders scored 90 points or more (rodeo scoring is based on a scale of 100), Crown Royal made a charitable donation of $2,000 to the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund. The Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund benefits cowboys and their families in the event of catastrophic injuries resulting from professional rodeo activities.

The Rodeo literally took over the MGM Grand as the 2011 NFR Headquarters. The Crown Royal Golden Buckle Zone featured live music, dancing, shows, shopping, guest appearances, drink specials, and drawings. I was truly surprised at how big the MGM was and wandered aimlessly lost on more than one occasion.

The next day was dedicated to a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to race against Matt Kenseth at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Matthew Roy Kenseth (born March 10, 1972) is a NASCAR driver. He finished fourth in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. I had enjoyed his speech just the night before at the Awards Ceremony.

All the bloggers boarded the bus to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday morning. The Las Vegas Motor Speedway, located approximately 15 miles from “The Strip” in Las Vegas, is a 1.5 mile tri-oval. It hosts a number of racing series including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series. Kenseth captured the Sprint Cup Pole here in March of 2011.

Next, we amateurs signed a mountain of paperwork and releases, before the Richard Petty Driving Experience (RPE) would put us in a NASCAR race car for an adrenaline pumping thrill of a lifetime that gets you as close to being in the race as you will ever get! These programs are offered year-round with twenty tracks nationwide.

Our classroom instructor, Tony, gave us bloggers a quick crash course regarding the ins and outs of driving a NASCAR at over 100 MPH. The training included both lecture and videos. Then attired in our RPE firesuits, we nervously walked out to the track.

To report that NASCAR Race Mom was anxious would be an understatement. I was downright scared. However, I was the oldest blogger of the group and wanted to represent my generation well! (You and me Mark Martin!)

The RPE rules were simple: Obey the lights. We were coached to follow the race car ahead of us and keep up with him the best we could. If he flashed a green light – you are going too slow; if he flashed the yellow light you were going to fast; if there were no flashing lights your speed was perfect.

The Richard Petty Staff informed us that our #17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal racecars were capable of driving about 170 miles per hour. However, we would be limited to the 130-135 range. The blogger with the fastest time would receive a $2,500 check to give to a charity: either Operation Patriot or Honoring Heroes . Really - what’s not to like about Crown Royal!

Blogger Mike Arone, who ran about 130 mph, won the challenge. However, the man to beat was Matt Kenseth. Matt put down the high speed of 168 mph, and of course out ran us all! I was not the fastest on the track, but I was not the slowest either. The experience really supplied me with an altered and more cognizant perspective as to what a real racer faces in each race. I would recommend the Richard Petty Driving experience to all NASCAR fans! It would be a great off-season activity that I would love to tackle again.

After my electrifying ten laps on the banked Las Vegas Speedway, Matt Kenseth was available for interviews. We chatted about his son, Ross. The eighteen-year-old had issues while attempting to qualify for the Snowball Derby. However, the younger Kenseth would race his way into the main event and managed a podium finish for the prestigious main event.

It did NASCAR Race Mom’s heart good to hear Matt detail how Ross had to keep his behavior in check and grades high in order to be allowed the privilege of racing. I added that we followed a similar dogma with my son Moses Smith who races in the K&N Pro Series West.

A last, what is not to like about Crown Royal; there were no losers in our group. We all had fun and additionally learned a lot about rodeos, NASCAR racing, and the good works of Crown Royal.

Other Bloggers participating in the Las Vegas event:
• Mike Arone (The Rugged and Mike Arone Fitness )
• Tracy Pendergast (The Smoking Jacket and The Man. The Legend)
• Kaitlyn Vincie (Hot for NASCAR)
• Justin Korkidis (Complex)
• Josiah Schlatter (Bleacher Report)
• Brett Singer (Daddy Tips)
• Jonathan Washburn (Midwest Sports Fans)
• Philip Van der Vossen (Gunaxin)

Full disclosure: expenses for this trip are provided by Diageo, the parent company of Crown Royal. NASCAR Race Mom gives a huge "Thank You" to all the Crown Royal gang for two wonderful experiences this year.

More photos can be found on my Facebook page .

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Firecracker! said...

Hey, Z!...Lookin' GOOD!! ...Love the pic of you by the #17 car!! So glad to hear about how much FUN you had!!! ;)

NASCAR Race Mom said...

Thanks Fire - it was an awesome fun time.