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'Backstage' NASCAR passes are fans' delight in Loudon
Brooke Lane, 10, from Wallingsford Connecticut with her Danica autograph at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, on Saturday in Loudon. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)
"I was really, really, really excited," she said, proudly displaying autographs she got earlier in the day from drivers Danica Patrick and Joey Logano. "I think it's really cool."
King, an accountant for the New Hampshire National Guard in Concord, has been to many races at NHMS but Saturday was just her second time with NASCAR's version of a backstage pass. Enjoying the shade under driver Casey Mears' car hauler, she recalled seeing NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. swarmed by autograph seekers earlier in the day. When a crew member tried wrapping up the session to get Earnhardt inside the garage, King said "Junior" refused.
Autograph requests are common and drivers oblige, signing whatever memorabilia is thrust in front of them and smiling for pictures.Veteran driver Brendan Gaughan was signing hats just a few minutes before climbing in his No. 62 Chevy Camaro for Saturday's race. He didn't hesitate at the requests, one to sign a hat a second time because his earlier signature had faded over time. He even thanked the fans for stopping by. Gaughan, who played basketball and football at Georgetown University, said racing is a different kind of sport when it comes to interaction with NASCAR's legion of fans, who lead to the sponsorships that fund the teams.
"This is our first time ever at a race. It's amazing. It's so cool to see what goes on," he said. "I thought we would just see a couple of cars and take a picture. But it's really cool. You can walk right up to them. It's neat."