Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL, Thursday, July 10, 2008What a day.

I woke up at 5am to get ready to fly out of San Francisco at 9-something in the morning. I was in the sky for close to 4 hours. I was so happy that I didn’t need to take a pee break during the flight, as I was wedged in between two people. Once in Chicago I was hit with the wacky local weather. It was hot, muggy and raining. On the shuttle bus to the rental car station I could see lightning in the distance.

So I got my car, or at least what I thought was my car, but I had to bring it back ’cause the license plate listed in my rental documents didn’t match those on the car. In the end they let me take the car that I was given, along with the navigation system that I hadn’t requested but because of their mistake I was getting for free! Wee! And how important that navigation system would prove to be, let me tell ya. I made my way to my hotel and caught my first glimpse of the hell that is Chicago traffic. If you think traffic in L.A. is bad you ain’t seen nothing till you get here. There seems to be a lot of road work going on, so maybe that’s adding to it. Either way it’s crap, but more about that in a minute.

My hotel is fabulous, I’m staying at the Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites Hotel and it has totally exceeded my expectations. The rooms are modern and super comfortable, plus there’s a flat screen TV with HD in the living room and a sick shower that I can’t wait to use in the morning. There hasn’t been that many times I’ve been this excited about a shower, so that’s saying something. To make things even better, this place even has its own Starbucks shop in the lobby! Starbucks = happy Valli.

Ok, so the credentials office was open today at Chicagoland Speedway until 8pm. I got checked in to my room by 6 and so I thought I’d have enough time to make it to the track to sign for my credentials. I ended up arriving fifteen minutes too late! Yes, it took me 2 hours to get to the track. There was a lot of traffic and in one particular stretch it was because of an accident involving a big wheeler. It sucked that I couldn’t get my credentials today and at least get into the track, but it’s no biggy since qualifying was called on account of the rain.

And speaking of the rain, we’re talking thunderstorms people. I haven’t seen lightning and thunder like this in such a long time. I really, really, really, really, hope it clears up and doesn’t come back. Driving in the rain in unfamiliar surroundings is not fun. I missed turns that I was supposed to make, so I was thankful for the navigation system, oh so thankful. On my way back to the hotel it was raining so hard that I could barely see the lines on the ground. I had no idea what lane I was in a lot of the time. Luckily at this point there weren’t a lot of cars on the road. Oh and they have all of these tolls on the roads every so often. It’s like 80 cents here and 80 cents there and then 30 cents there. I’ve never heard of such a thing. I come from California where we only have tolls on bridges. No biggie though, I plan on being better prepared for tomorrow.

One cool thing I have to say is that I got to drive a portion of Route 66 after I left the race track. That was pretty neat.

Okay, I’m super tired, off to bed I go. More tomorrow!

Chicagoland Speedway

This is how it is here in Chicago, flat and green.