We achieved our first goal of reaching the infield, finding our favorite drivers race cars and purchasing a $5.00 bottle of water. We went to the middle of the Field and watched a rescue vehicle parade ( when all the emergency vehicles do a precession around the track to get into position for the race) We watched all the trucks line up at the stage ready for the driver introductions.(for non race fans, the driver, after being introduced, loads up in the back of a truck and is driven around the track(waving)). At Daytona the infield fans are allowed to sign the finish line. B-man had to do this so we proceeded to accomplish this task.
We were ready to find food, and the Jeff Gordon souvenir semi-truck. We had to leave the in-field. Leaving the field was much easier then getting onto the field. At this point for some reason we were going to separate. I think I wanted to go to the discount store in the main raceway building and the boys had to go potty. We agreed to meet ON THE FINISH LINE!!!!(this is a key point in the story we will revisit this).
I went on to the discount store where I found a great children's Jeff Gordon Hat for a small fee. I grabbed a few hot dogs and fries for our nutritious dinner and headed back to the entrance I had exited from to get back to the infield to meet at the LARGE BLACK AND WHITE CHECKERED, ONLY ONE ON THE TRACK, FINISH LINE.
As I passed a volunteer( second mistake) I asked directions to the gate( I knew where it was, but some gates had been closed to people going back onto the field, some were still opened). So I was just asking what gate number was the entrance to get back on the field. We were about 45 min. from driver introductions, and about two hours from race time. The crowd was getting pretty heavy and the fans were moving to the infield to get a great viewing spot for driver into's. When I asked the volunteer he said the infield was closed and no one was allowed back on, then he said I had to go back to the tunnel catch a tram to the infield entrance. With this I began to be very angry at this infield thing, after all I payed several hundred dollars to be on the infield, why could I not get on the INFIELD!
As the volunteer realized I was not happy he ask a track employee, and with great happiness reported back to me gate...whatever was opened for people to reenter the infield. Ahhh, o.k. I could take my cool hat, and my cold hot dogs and meet back up with my little family, ON THE FINISH LINE!!!!
I joyfully made my decent down the stairs, onto the track and proceeded to the finish line. I saw lots of people, lots and lots of people but none of my people. Now for some people this situation would not have been a big issue, but I am one of the few people on the planet who does not have a cell phone. Most people will just call the other party and ask, "Where are you"? No, not me, not possible.
At this point I was beginning to panic. What if when the boys tried to get back on the field the gates were closed? What if they ask a voleenter and were sent back to the maze of find-a-tram to take them back in. I was not sure my husband would be up for that journey again.
In a very controlling manner I had planned this day. For weeks I had planned what we would do and what we had to accomplish to make this day a huge success for B. We would see the cars, buy stuff, eat and be very close to the stage when Jeff Gordon was introduced so we could get good pictures. As the time tick by the infield, stage became very crowded. The image of us being close was fading quickly and I still could not find the boys. I waited on the finish line for what seemed like an eternity. At this point I was about to cry, I was thinking so fast on what to do, what could have happened? Why did we not make a plan B? we didn't make a plan B because Plan A was full proof! We had found a place to sit earlier in the day, about 20 yards from the FINISH LINE. This is where we sat to watch the fire truck parade, maybe Shawn was confused and thought we said to meet there. This would not be the first time we had a plan and one of us interpreted it completely different from the other. Although I was not sure, and am still not sure how "WE WILL MEET ON THE FINISH LINE can be misinterpreted.
I went to the spot we had been before, nothing. Not sure if they were even on the field I became more upset. I tried to think what else my husband could have been thinking. Maybe he knew it was getting late and the driver intro's were going to start so he went ahead to the front of the stage area or along the area where the drivers board the trucks for the drive around. I quickly paced the mass amount of people along the staging areas. This area spanned the approximate size of a football field.
My mind was racing, could I borrow someones phone in the crowd just for a minute, no I didn't know my husbands cell # by heart. O.K. maybe I could call someones phone I did know and they could call Shawn's cell phone and tell him where I was. Since the only phone number I have memorized is my own(home) and Sonja's I was not sure that was going to help, and besides was someone I didn't know going to let me make a few phone calls to God knows where for God knows how long, probably not. After pacing frantically up and down the lines of people I still wasn't any closer to finding them then I was 30 minutes before.
I thought if they were not allowed back to the infield they would go back to our assigned seats, we did think this plan though enough to at least make sure each person had their own ticket with them. I was crushed, the day was ruined, my plans for B to be up front were dashed. The only thing I could do is go back to the original meeting place....where....THE FINISH LINE! I went and sat on the finish line where the asphalt met the grass. I watched all families playing, children laughing, Why WHHHHY wasn't that us. How could this simple plan go so very wrong.
Driver intr's were starting a few announcements were being made, I was still waiting on the FINISH LINE as the plan instructed. As I sat waiting I heard a little voice say MOM. I recognized the little voice as my only child. As I looked up I saw the boys happly approaching, approaching as if nothing had happened. Well, most people would have been happy to be reunited,great go on with the day. Not me, As hard as I try I still have a few tendencies that reflect my mothers not so nice personality. This event, being we had a full proof plan on where to meet and I had a plan of how the rest of the day was going to play out made for a bad combination.