Matt Smith is kicking butt in Phoenix, checking out everything from NASCAR to football to the general scene:
Sunday in Arizona brings us more sports. Today is the big day at the racetrack. We go over early, just after daylight. This is too much morning time for me, especially after last night. A six-pack of Red Bull helps start my engine for the day. This place is a mad house. They say a quarter of a million people show up for this event. There are over 100,000 in the main stands. The track in Phoenix is great, but it doesn’t have the history of Indy or Daytona. The Checker Auto Parts 500 runs today. The race series from earlier in the week have just been a warm up to the main event.
Without the parking passes and the assistance from Jeff and Pettit Racing I wouldn’t have hassled through all the chaos race day brings. I am not a journalist, but I did ask a few questions. www.pettitracing.com is the official web site. They do have it down for maintenance right now (really the main web guy is here and not working!) so check that site for info a little later. The tailgaters are here, the drinking, the flags, all the cheers and excitement one would expect. The atmosphere is much different than Talladega. Could one NASCAR track be more “refined” than another? The grease factor isn’t as alive here as it is in the Deep South race sites. We take off just after lunch. Hit up the official site @ www.phoenixintlraceway.com
Are you ready for some football? In my roll as the Road Warrior version of “The Observer” I leave the race early and travel to the NFL stadium. This is the newest stadium in the league. It is a beauty. The home of the Cardinals is truly magnificent. It boasts a retractable roof that rolls completely away in just ten minutes. It features a state of the art digital screen and scoreboard. They have incorporated surround sound technology for announcements and music. The place has air conditioning! It’s immaculate in every way. This is by far the best facility in the league.
Now, if they just had a good ball team. I had foolishly thought that the crowd would be smaller than usual for an NFL game. How many people could be left to watch sports today with 250,000 at the track? Well, today’s game is a sell out, 65,000 for Cardinals vs. Cowboys. The Cowboys fans are out in force today. I have been to many NFL games, but this is the only time I’ve seen as many fans for the visiting team as the hometown heroes. The Cowboy fans may have even outnumbered those supporting Big Red!
Hootie & The Blowfish sang before the game. They will be playing in Little Rock on Thursday. The half time entertainment was all about my hero, Pat Tillman. Veterans Day weekend was the perfect time to see a game here. They retired Tillman’s number, and entered his name in the ring of honor. He is a true son of Arizona and all of America.
After a couple of songs from “Hootie” the Marines brought out an American flag that covered the entire field. Jets flew over the stadium, and a video montage of Pat played. The second half brought more pain for Cardinals fans. They are 1-8 now, and can’t seem to win. We enjoyed the game and atmosphere. Several of my friends called to say they had seen us on TV. We sat with a loud group of fans on the front row. Those guys dressed up and really clowned for the camera. Overall, this was one of my best NFL experiences. Get more info on Big Red @ www.azcardinals.com
I’ll have more from Phoenix tomorrow. — Matt Smith