We all hear the stories about lengths NASCAR fans will go, to get their favorite drivers’ autographs. When you’re trying to catch a driver at the right moment it can seem nearly impossible. It’s a mad house during race weekend while thousands of other fans are at the race track. Among the chaos, there are specific techniques used to get a once in a lifetime opportunity with your favorite driver.
After my experiences in the infield over the past few years, here are five tips I have learned on how you can meet your favorite driver.
The best place to catch drivers for an autograph or picture, is the garage area. The only way to run into drivers in the garage is with a garage pass. A garage pass gives you access to walk around the garage area and watch teams work on the cars right in the middle of it all. People can also check out the haulers and see the inspection process.
A Hot Pass allows people to stay in the garage throughout the entire race weekend. A Cold Pass will only allow you in the garage area during certain hours.
Hot Passes are hard to get and most often it takes knowing someone personally in the industry who can get Hot Passes. If you never ask, you’ll never get one, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Drivers, crew chiefs, team owners and top NASCAR members are all around the garage. If you are in the garage, you won’t miss the opportunity to meet people in the NASCAR world.
Stand Near Your Driver’s Garage Stall/Hauler
If there is a specific driver you want to meet then the best thing to do is to stake yourself out next to their garage stall or team hauler, or as I will call it, their “work area.” All members of the team, including the driver, have to walk to their hauler or garage stall.
When you stay in their “work area,” you’re going to see them come to work eventually.
It’s easy to want to move along and see other things but to catch your favorite driver will take patience for the right moment. Fans will only get a few seconds with their favorite driver. You do not want to miss your small window of opportunity because you got antsy.
Find a place to stake out and wait it out there. Take in everything else around you while you wait. There will plenty still to see, the garage area/infield is a busy place.
When you finally spot your favorite drivers walking in the garage area, make your way toward them. Your first move is, to start walking beside them, and walk with them.
If fans want an autograph the next step is to throw the object in front of them. Drivers just grab whatever is in front of their faces. If they don’t see it, they don’t know about it. When fans hold the object they want autographed in front of drivers long enough, drivers will sign for fans.
If fans want a picture, walk up beside drivers and walk next to the drivers. While walking with a driver, ask if you can have a picture. Most often drivers will take a picture unless they are in a rush.
It happens fast and fans only have a second. For the best picture opportunity, point drivers toward the camera. Drivers will smile a couple of seconds for the camera so take the picture fast.
You have to be quick when getting an opportunity with a driver. Drivers are at work and have things to do, so be ready to do what you need to do, before you meet them.
Go On Practice/Qualifying Day
This is the biggest piece of advice I could give any fan. Going in the garage on a practice/qualifying day will give fans the best opportunity to meet their favorite driver.
On the day of the race, the garage area is packed with team members, officials and tons of fans. It’s harder to spot fans’ favorite drivers, let alone, getting a chance to meet them on a spur of the moment.
During practice/qualifying days only, there are 90% less fans in the garage area and teams are more relaxed. With the more relaxed garage, drivers are more willingly to take time with fans. And with fewer fans in the garage area, fans have more opportunities to have that special moment with drivers.