A friend and I just returned from Charlotte, N.C., where we saw Jeff Gordon win the NASCAR Nextel Cup. The crowd was immense – one TV broadcaster said there were 250,000 attendees. My perspective was certainly different from where I would probably normally sit, namely with the hoi polloi down in the regular grandstands. Instead, we watched the race behind a plate-glass window in a private suite that had plenty of liquid refreshment and delicious gourmet food. Some guests walked downstairs and outside to hear the roar of the cars and smell the exhaust. They returned shaking their heads in wonder at the racecars' noise and splendor.
I stayed lazy, and just watched the proceedings with my feet propped up in air-conditioned comfort. Things were uneventful until there was a crash with about 10 laps to go. The racecars had to sit in line for about 15 minutes while the track team spread out kitty litter to dry and clean the track. Ryan Newman came out of nowhere on the restart to jump ahead of Gordon, seemingly headed for first place. Not long after, though, he too crashed. A lot of people speculated there was still oil on the track and he hit a spot. Others said one of his rear tires failed.