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Sunday, March 14, 2010

2010 Gatornationals: 7 Tips

Still haven’t made it out to the Gainesville Raceway for this year’s NHRA Tire Kingdom Gatornationals? You’re the only one. After last week’s rain delayed festivities, yesterday’s full day of racing brought traffic backed up for miles and racing fans at every turn. Here’s our guide to making the best of today’s racing at one of the fastest tracks on the NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) circuit.

1. Come early, be happy. Gatornationals beats Gator football games when it comes to amount of fans, and since the aforementioned rain turned much of the huge parking lot into a muddy mess, you might have to park a couple miles down the road (the Gainesville Raceway is located at 11211 N. County Rd. 225, near the airport), and having to catch a bus to the actual track. Final eliminations begin at 11am, but don’t wait until then.

2. Be a Shoe-In. If you’ve missed the hint, you might be walking through mud patches near the racetrack. So, leave the flip-flops at home. You’d also be smart to bring a hat that beats the wind, and a windbreaker. But your most important accessory is…

3. Earplugs. “WHAT?!” The cars (and motorcycles)—especially the top-fuel dragsters—are ear-shatteringly, soul-shakingly loud. Which is part of the appeal. But don’t be the one elbowing your seatmate as you try to cover your ears. Plus, how will you hold your food?

4. You gunna eat that? It just wouldn’t be right to miss out on all the lemonade, ice cream, funnel cakes and hot dogs that the kid inside of you craves. You’ll find the food (and more) near the pits, behind the stands.

5. It Would Be a Pity…If you stayed in the stands the whole time. You can get really close to the race teams, the cars and more if you walk around and explore (pit passes are included with your ticket). You’ll probably also learn how to make your wheels really shiny. Tickets for adults today (March 14) are $58.

6. Speak Up. (Not just because it’s loud). On our way over, we met race fans everywhere from the Mid-west to Massachusetts. We even met a mechanic from one of the teams.
7. Smile! You’re on Camera. This event is covered by ESPN2, so if you do miss part of the race or can’t make it out all day, you can enjoy the race from your living room.

—MM, Photos by Sean Kelly

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