So this weekend is a race weekend at Texas motor Speedway. NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series ran last night and Indy Racing League runs tonight. We used to have season tickets, but didn't get them thuis year for financial reasons.
The financial issues are a thing of the past, so I picked up tickets for my lady & I for both races this weekend, as the race fuel content in our systems was getting dangerously low.
With my job, it wasn't a big deal to drive out to the speedway to buy the tickets on Wednesday. It's a nice drive and I enjoy just being at the speedway, even if there's nothing going on at the time. On Wednesday the campers were starting to get setup and a few already had their RVs setup and were grilling or hanging out already.
If you've never been to a race for a national touring series like NASCAR or IRL , it's a big party. Football fans tailgate for 2-3 hours before the game. Race fans tailgate for 2-3 days before a race.
So Friday rolls around. I pick up some beer, some bottled water, ice and pick up my girlfriend from work. We head out to the track and make some jokes and enjoy the drive, despite the heavy mix of race traffic & Friday afternoon rush hour. We get to the track and pay to park in the express lot. There's more than enough free parking, but the express lot pays for itself with the ability to get out quickly.
We gather up seat cushions, radios, ear protection, cooler, tickets, sunblock, camera and everything else and make our way from the parking lot to the souvenir midway, since we've got some time to kill.
I bought a polo shirt with the TMS logo for $15, a stellar deal. We get a couple chances at a custom chopper signed by about 20 NASCAR drivers including Rusty Wallace, Dale Jr, Ken Schrader and Carl Edwards. It's a gorgeous bike.
Well, it's close to 100 degrees out. TMS has an exhibit up celebrating notable moments for their ten-year anniversary. As a bonus, it's air-conditioned and doesn't cost anything. We go inside and at the first exhibit, I realize that the pastic pouch with my tickets in it is not dangling from the lanyard around my neck, where I expect it to be. It has my tickets for last night's race and tonight's IRL race, as well.
Panic sets in.
We both start walking back to the truck, stopping where we stopped and asking if anyone found or saw the tickets. Nobody saw anything. At this point, we're both feeling very bummed about the whole deal. Never mind that there's $60 of tickets in there.
Well,w e got to the end of the souvenir midway and there are two track personnel in a golf cart parked there. With my hopes fading quickly, I ask them if there's someplace I should go, or someone to talk to or if there's any hope for my plight whatsoever.
One of them gets on his radio. The other one has to deal with some other unrelated issue from some other track personnel that roleld up in another golf cart while I was there. I stayed there with them for a few minutes, about to cry. I'm a big guy, but this was really devastating, as it was supposed to be a fun weekend for my and my girlfriend and now it's falling to **** before it ever gets started.
The guy ont he radio says to get on the back of the golf cart. I explain that I need to get my girlfriend or at least let her know. (I purposely left my cellphone in my truck, but she had hers on her.) She was just around the corner about 150 yards away, so I called her over. When she got there, they gave us a ride to the ticket office, almost a mile away on the other side of the facility. (This place is friggin' huge!)
The same guy who helped me on Wednesday when I bought the tickets was there. He made sure we were taken care of. All I had to do was present my ID, and they pulled up my records and reprinted tickets for me. It took about twenty minutes, but we also got to hang out in the air-conditioned ticket office and speedway shop while we waited. Nobody laughed at me. Nobody gave me an attitude. Nobody made me feel like a dumb-*** other than myself.
After I got my replacement tickets, I thanked the people in the ticket office profusely for their help.
Not only did they replace my tickets with no hassles whatsoever, but another guy gave us both a ride in another golf cart back...
Not back to where I met the first two, but to the gate closest to our seats.. Right up to the gate. We literally stepped off the golf cart and into the speedway.
I screwed up and lost my tickets. I certainly wasn't deserving of this sort of treatment.
My hat is off and a beer is raised to Shawn & Stacy (the first two I met ont eh souvenir midway), everyone in the TMS ticket office, John who gave us the ride back and joked with us the entire way, Eddie Gossage (General Manager of Texas Motor Speedway) and Bruton Smith (CEO of ISC, who owns TMS and other tracks). They turned what could have beena big ball of suck and a lost money into a fun weekend.
The level of customer service they provided in the wake of someone's misfortune was beyond belief. They could very well have given me a big fat 'tough **** - the tickets are your responsibility', but they did not.
Here's some pics from last night: