Watkins Glen International: Why NASCAR fans have the most fun

Impossibly fast.

With a revolving mixture of amusement and awe, those two words became a chorus in my head, going off like clockwork as each lap unraveled and 43 of the world’s best NASCAR drivers roared past the finish line and screamed into turn 1.

I was leaning against the railing of Zippo’s viewer-friendly suite in Watkins Glen, New York, for the annual NASCAR event that consistently draws tens of thousands of gung-ho fans. Aside from checking out Zippo’s current endeavors (which are stellar) and cataloguing the races themselves, an additional chunk of my focus at the Glen was to find out exactly what it is about NASCAR that has propelled it to remain an absolute juggernaut in the world of spectator sports.

Is the hype justified? Do the legions of diehard fans, movies and media coverage actually represent a sport deserving of such a pedestal? Many would scoff and issue a flippant dismissal, rebutting that NASCAR is simply a redneck obsession that has nonsensically acquired its popularity.

Having avoided any groundless perspectives, I was an unbiased sponge before my arrival; ready to soak in the scene and hammer out some concrete conclusions. To make a long story short: the naysayers have it wrong – very wrong.

“The Glen”

Watkins Glen International is by all means in the country, which for us meant a rolling and scenic cruise from the Buffalo Airport.

Fate had bestowed our driver with two notable characteristics: an encyclopedia-deep knowledge of upstate New York, including the Glen, and a superhuman ability to maintain unbelievably casual conversation despite vigorously tailgating any car that deviated below the assigned speed.

Given our empty stomachs and the familiar anticipation that any traveler feels before arrival, I wholeheartedly appreciated his quirks.

You begin to sense the immensity of the Glen even before you enter the gates. Signs that designate parking and directions slowly start to pepper the side of the road, tirelessly providing a first wave of guidance and defense to the most assured calamity that was already coalescing.

Gate 2, our drop-off point, was bustling with the quintessential festival entrance proceedings, complete with walkie-talkie clad workers, stop-and-go traffic and lots of chatter. Above us, in the distance, mammoth grandstands loomed.

After bidding farewell to our driver, our Zippo rep, Hunter, arrived moments later and we transitioned ourselves into his Jeep for the final voyage to camp, or as I like to call it, Ground Zero.

It didn’t take long to realize Hunter was friendly, down to earth and adept – a great ambassador for what was to be a hearty weekend.

Upon entering camp, which was at non-event dates a sprawling grassy area, crisscrossed by dirt roads and encompassed completely by the road course, I realized several things almost immediately. For one, my North Face and loafers, indiscernible at SFO, were now about as out of place and impractical as Hannah Anderson’s pajamas bottoms amidst the Montana forest. Too soon?

Also, I had widely underestimated the degree of revelry and madness, which reared its head wildly as we slowly rolled towards our spot. I found myself rubbernecking, hastily trying to take it all in.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Atmosphere and Queens of the Stone Age at Stir Concert Cove

Josh-Homme-Paul-Eide-Stir

“Is this going to be like seeing The Four Tops or The Drifters at the county fair, with only one remaining member, but technically still the Four Tops or The Drifters?”

It was Sunday night and I was less than an hour from seeing Queens of the Stone Age. And I was nervous inside. Prior to the concert, I engaged my friend and musical mentor on a phone call, the man who got me into Queens in the first place. Thanks to several lineup changes since their creation, I told him I wasn’t as excited as I should’ve been to see them for the first time.

He laughed and said, “It’s still Queens, dude.”

And by god, was he right. It is still Queens, dude.

If I discovered a magical lamp with a hot genie (built like Barbara Eden) who asked what two acts I’d like to see on successive days that I’d never seen before yet loved for years, in perfect 70 degree weather, less than 10 miles from my home round trip, I would pick Atmosphere and Queens of the Stone Age on reflex alone, without even thinking, like a musical version of Pavlov’s Dog.

I spent Saturday night at the Kicking Up Dust Tour with Slightly Stoopid, Atmosphere and The Grouch and Eligh.

I wrapped up my weekend on Sunday night with Queens of the Stone Age and British newcomers Leo Gun. And I didn’t even need a magical lamp. Or a feeder bar.

The venue, Stir Concert Cove, is a great place to see a show; it is the ultimate intimate experience. Security is chill without being lax, allowing fans to unwind without anarchy ruling.

It may sound ridiculous to talk about acoustics for an outside venue, but the bowl shape of the enclosure wraps neatly around the stage and offers different experiences in sound, whether right in front of the stage or around the outer rim. The way it’s laid out lends itself to artist/fan interaction.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Three Days in LA: A 2013 ESPY Awards adventure

LA 106

I knew it was going to be an interesting trip to Los Angeles when I met actor Colin Farrell at LAX baggage claim upon arrival. Minutes later, I bumped my shoulder into Olympic legend Michael Phelps’ tightly toned torso while wildly retrieving my luggage from the baggage carousel.

Here is the actual transcript of our meeting:

“Whoa. Hi Michael, excuse me. That bag kinda got away from me there for a second.”

“No problem, how are you?”

“I am good, nice to see you.”

Turning my attention, and body, towards the exit, I again saw Farrell, this time attempting to lay low in the shadows as people began to recognize him as “that one guy from ‘SWAT.’”

Suddenly, five punky paparazzo exploded off the elevator and surged towards the helpless Farrell, who was now pacing back and forth, alone, waiting for his luggage, while having a conversation on his cell phone that was going nowhere. He was adamant about needing a ride immediately, but his urgency was neither acknowledged nor reciprocated.

A pair of 50-something (but don’t tell them that) Latinas spotted him, exclaiming with glee to everyone within earshot that Farrell was, in fact, “right by them.”

The ladies bum rushed him and made their jerky husband take several pictures while they posed, Farrell maintaining a state of disinterest throughout the experience. 30 people stood around and watched, mouths agape.

Metaphorically, Farrell was naked in front of his high school assembly, with no publicist or agent in sight to deflect or protect, and the verbal potshots began to pile up.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Scootering Around Roma: The best way to see the Eternal City is on two wheels

Last month, my wife and I went on a mini European tour for our honeymoon that comprised of stopovers in London, Paris and Rome. But this story starts a little earlier than that, roughly two weeks before we were scheduled to leave, when I suddenly got the itch to research Vespa tours in Italy. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, but for some reason, failed to include in our original plans. Thankfully, after trading a few emails with the wonderful couple that runs Scooteroma Tours, they graciously agreed to take us around Rome to experience what makes seeing the Eternal City from a motorino (that’s “scooter,” in Italian) so extraordinary.

Annie, the self-titled Scooter Maven, was unfortunately unable to join us on the tour due to a bad case of bronchitis (though she stopped by the meeting point to introduce herself anyway), but her husband and business partner Giovanni arrived with one of their many other English-speaking tour guides, all of whom have years of professional experience in the tourism and hospitality industries. As a couple of Yanks with only a phrase book-sized knowledge of Italian, I can’t begin to explain how much of a relief it was to have tour guides who not only spoke English, but spoke it fluently. (Annie herself is American-born, but you can read all about how she came to live in Rome here.)

With the pleasantries and introductions out of the way, it was time to hop on the back of a Vespa and get to scootering. While Giovanni drove a newer Vespa model (red and shiny, and clearly the pride and joy of the Scooteroma family), his cohort Stefano arrived on a gorgeous vintage Vespa in order to give us a taste of what it would be like riding on both. That’s because Scooteroma offers a variety of different tours, as well as different ways to experience them. In addition to their half- and full-day tours, the company also does vintage Vespa and foodie tours, as well as a few other non-scooter variations. You can also either rent a scooter (up to two people per bike) or chose to ride on the back along with a guide, and although driving might sound like a lot of fun, it was actually much more enjoyable just to sit back and soak up the sights as Giovanni and Stefano zipped around the busy streets of Rome.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Living the M life: The ultimate Las Vegas experience

Previous Previous
img01298-20130405-1932
Previous   Previous

Our weekend in Las Vegas living the M life had to come to an end, but the memories will last forever – and so will the photos! When we reported that Bullz-Eye was invited with other digital media members to experience the M life, there were very high expectations as to that was in the works. Well, first and foremost, the folks at MGM delivered on every point with a weekend like no other.

After a smooth flight in from Cleveland, I arrived at the Aria Resort and Casino quickly and was blown away by the sleek design of this gem on the strip. After checking in, I learned first-hand why so many visitors pick Aria as their first choice when visiting Las Vegas. When entering your room, the lighting, the window shade, the music… everything is tailored to your preferences and intuitive to your needs. Set them exactly the way you like and prepare yourself for the night ahead.

I headed down to Javier’s at Aria where we started the weekend and met my fellow influencers with signature margaritas and appetizers at ARIA’s newest restaurant. Javier’s brings a Southern California favorite to the Las Vegas strip and delivers a rich heritage of authentic Mexican cuisine along with hand-shaken margaritas and a high-energy ambiance to Las Vegas. Javier’s was a great place to get this M life party started, and we did just that! It was then off to the Hit Bar at Monte Carlo to channel our inner James Bond (or Bond girl) and learn how to craft world-class cocktails with this M life Moment available to all members. Monte Carlo’s Director of Beverage showed us the fine art and history of mixology and was behind the bar for an hour shaking up some cocktail classics, and we enjoyed them too! Things were just getting started, and when you’re a new M life member like we were, you don’t fully understand the kind of access at MGM Resorts this program offers. But we learned quickly.

We loaded up our group for a stunning tour of MGM Grand’s STAY WELL Rooms & SKYLOFTS. MGM Grand’s new STAY WELL collection features 42 rooms and suites designed for guests looking to take their wellness lifestyle “on the road” when traveling. We were also lucky enough to tour the Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five Diamond SKYLOFTS, a private, two-story sanctuary located on the top two floors of MGM Grand. This was amazing, and I’m sure many good people out there are using their M life points just to stay in this sleek spot in Vegas. I’m now floored by these Skylofts as we headed to dinner at Fiamma Trattoria & Bar at MGM Grand. From Sicily to Milan, Fiamma presents traditional Italian cuisine in sleek and sexy surroundings. We indulged vino from an award-winning wine list showcasing more than 700 selections from all over the world, and fresh, hand-crafted pasta creations from Executive Chef Pierpaolo Pittia. The food was fabulous and my entrée of scallops and prawns risotto was extraordinary. We then started another M life moment by attending “KÀ by Cirque du Soleil.” Taking photos with the cast prior to the show is an Insider (M life) Experience at MGM Grand and adds a first-class touch to your Cirque du Soleil experience. Also with M life, you will get to watch the show from VIP seats at one of Vegas’ favorite theaters. The show rounded out a well planned first day and the crew was able to gamble at the casino in Aria or just rest up for the following day’s M life Moments.

(more…)

  

Related Posts