If so, maybe you should talk to Susan Honey and her husband Allen. They got to experience all of that, and a whole lot more, after Susan was named the winner of the Quicken Loans You’re The Boss Sweepstakes. Susan’s prize package included a complete clothing makeover, comprised of SHR caps, clothes and team jackets. They also got a behind-the-scenes look at what happens on race day, along with a cool $10,000 in cash!
Susan admittedly wasn’t a huge NASCAR fan. However, that all changed during the summer after she found out what she’d won.
“I did a lot of research and tried to learn about the sport,” Susan said. “I did a lot of keeping up with Tony and Ryan to see how they were doing throughout the season. You could say I’ve become pretty interested in the sport.”
If Susan wasn’t a fan beforehand, she certainly became one after her three days in Charlotte. The couple flew into town Thursday night. After a nice dinner, they settled in, knowing the fun was about to begin Friday afternoon. By fun, I mean getting to have lunch with Ryan and Tony at Outback Steakhouse.
“What really struck me is how they are just like normal people,” Susan said. “Tony has a great sense of humor and Ryan does, too.”
After lunch, it was off to the SHR shop for a personal tour. Allen is an engineer, which made the tour one of his favorite activities of the weekend. He spent a lot of time on the tour offering tips to help the cars run faster, although most of his ideas were turned down.
“I had no idea there were so many regulations in the sport,” Allen said. “I was trying to throw in my two cents but there are rules against everything I was suggesting.”
At the shop, Susan was presented with a $10,000 check and a ceremonial key to SHR. The shop was nothing like she imagined it would be.
“It was so clean,” she said. “I mean it was basically spotless. When I think of a garage, I think of a lot of dirt and messy stuff. There was none of that in the shop.”
When the tour concluded, the couple had the rest of the night to do as they pleased. They planned on checking out the NASCAR Hall of Fame, but it was closed. Instead, they went to Target to pick up some luggage for Allen. On the walk back, Susan heard music playing from a local restaurant, so they decided to stop by.
“We were walking back to the hotel and I heard music playing nearby,” Susan said. “It was a perfect night to sit outside so we went and had dinner. We ended up staying there the rest of the night, listening to music and dancing.
“It was the perfect night.”
After a relaxing Friday night, the couple was up bright and early Saturday morning. By 11 a.m., they were at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the first time either had been to a NASCAR track.
“It’s absolutely huge,” Allen said. “I’m impressed with how many people this place can hold and how many people were here as early as we were. We were fighting through people just to get dropped off. It was crazy.”
Next up was a ride in the pace car, something Susan was a little nervous about.
“I told her to make sure she didn’t dig her fingernails into the driver,” Allen joked.
After taking one lap around the track, Susan was ready to get out of the car. Instead, she went around the track two more times.
“I said ‘OK, I think I’ve had enough’ but the driver took me around two more times,” Susan said. “We got really close to the walls on some of the turns. We got up to 120 mph, which is easily the fastest I’ve ever gone in a car.”
Following the laps in the pace car, Susan and Allen spent the next couple hours checking out the track and getting a backstage look at race day operations. They watched the different crews make last second changes to their cars, while also spending some time with Ryan’s team.
Since the race didn’t begin until 7:30 p.m., the couple had a lot of time to pass. Part of that time was spent at the driver’s meeting.
“It was nothing like I thought it would be,” Susan said. “I thought there would be a long table and all the drivers would sit down and talk about the race. I had no idea there would be so many people.”
A short time later, it was race time! Susan and Allen got to watch the beginning of the race right above pit road. What they witnessed shocked them.
“During the first pit stop, they changed two of Ryan’s tires in like eight seconds,” Susan said. “I’ve never seen anything like that before. I couldn’t believe how fast it happened.”
For Allen, getting to watch the race up close and personal was a dream come true.
“I’m a car guy so everything about it was just incredible,” he said. “Just the speeds they go, it’s crazy.”
The couple watched most of the remainder of the race from a condo overlooking the track. Finally, after almost two full days in Charlotte, Susan began to realize she wasn’t dreaming.
“I think it may be starting to hit me that this is all real,” she said. “You never in million years think something like this could happen to you. I kept thinking I was going to wake up from a dream. I think I finally realize it’s not a dream.”
While Tony and Ryan finished 13th and 20th, respectively, nothing could take away from the weekend the Honeys had.
“It was just phenomenal,” Allen said. “Everything about it was great. I never thought we’d get to do half of what we’ve done. What a great weekend.”
Also part of Susan’s prize was the opportunity to boss around workers of SHR. Earlier in the day, she spotted someone on Ryan’s team not doing his job. She did what any boss would do in that situation: She fired him.
“Well I didn’t think he was pulling his weight on the team, so I decided I had to let him go,” Susan joked. “It was all in good fun.”
As the race began to wind down, Susan had a few last final thoughts on her weekend.
“I can’t imagine this weekend going any better than it did,” she said. “We’re very thankful to have had all the opportunities that we did. It’s something that I know we will never forget.”
How sad is that it is a person who won had no interest in NASCAR. She had to educate herself on Tony and Ryan as well as NASCAR after entering or winning. Doesn't seem quite fair. I would like to have seen it be one of us.
In Honor of my nephew serving our country in the 787th MP Unit out of FT Leonard Wood