05 June 2010

The Red Bull Event (Finally)

Sorry the blog has been quiet. There was a change in travel plans; instead of me flying home on Wednesday as originally planned, Mom and Dale decided to just drive me back to Philly and then go home via the PA Turnpike then good ol' I-70. Although I got home a day earlier than planned, I think the sitting in a van for two days straight (and navigating from the backseat - since Mom's Garmin is STOOPID and Dale is blind in one eye and left his hearing aids in his suitcase because he "didn't want to have them in when we were at the track" although we were actually driving AWAY from the track) left me exhausted.

I still need to blog about the FABULOUS trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame, so that will be the next blog post. But I keep referring to the truly awful Red Bull Racing Team Fan Appreciation Event (in conversations, in IMs, in Twitters, etc.), so I thought I should actually spill the beans on it.

The event was billed to start at 2:00 p.m. with driver appearances from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. (drivers being Brian Vickers, Casey Mears, Scott Speed, and Cole Whitt). There would be a raffle for Red Bull prizes and memorabilia, a driver Q&A, an autograph session, and we would "learn the art of four tires and fuel."

We got there a little before 2:00 p.m. so we could figure out what was going on. We found out that most of the event was on this courtyard-like level, while the autograph session would be taking place down a double flight of stairs leading to the merchandise hauler (that had been brought in from Souvenir Alley at the track and staffed by the same LOVELY people - sense the sarcasm?). We were told that to get a ticket to the autograph session, you had to buy something from the hauler OR wait until 2:50 p.m. and hope there were tickets leftover and get one then. Now, let me back up to earlier that morning in the motel room: I had told Mom that I was putting my receipt from the Red Bull Team Shop in my track bag for when we went to the Speedway since Scott generally has autograph sessions there on race day, but you have to buy something from the hauler, and I would ask if buying $52.80 worth of stuff at the shop wouldn't count. And I was putting my receipt in the bag that day since I had seen it and it was on my mind, and I was afraid I'd forget on actual race day.

So upon hearing that now I need to buy something from the hauler to get a ticket for THIS autograph session, I'm really glad I had put my receipt in my bag that morning. So Mom and I go downstairs to the hauler, and I start to say to the guy that I'd heard from the woman upstairs that the conditions for getting an autograph were XYZ. He interrupts me and says, "You don't HAVE to buy something. You can get in line at 2:50 and hope there are tickets left." I said, "Okay, but what I want to know is if --" and that's as far as I get because he interrupts me and says, "Do you UNDERSTAND? You don't HAVE to buy anything. You can get a ticket free. OKAY?" I said, "Will you just let me ask my question?" He finally did, and then said, "She didn't give a ticket then?" I said no, but what I really wanted to say was, "Well, gee, Mister, she did, but I wanted an extra one for my imaginary friend, and that's why I'm down here arguing with you about it."

Mom and I go upstairs to check things out for awhile, grab some free Red Bulls for later (I can't drink them, but Mom and Dale can). Then we found out that the Q&A would be on the courtyard level beginning at 3:00 p.m., but the autographs would be at the hauler beginning at 3:15 p.m.... where people with tickets were already lining up. And, you know, the people with tickets were the same people who really wanted to hear the Q&A sessions (there were two sessions - one with just Cole Whitt and then the second one with the other three). And, honestly, they aren't REALLY going to make fans choose between getting autographs or hearing their driver speak, right?

Mom and I in the autograph line and then we start wondering if the line we're in is maybe the line for people who DON'T have tickets yet. So we ask the people in front of us if they have a ticket; nope. But the people behind us DO. So I stay in line while Mom goes to the front to find out what's going on. She comes back to report that the woman in the trailer was astounded that there were TWO types of people in the line, but said that she would be out shortly to organise us into two separate lines.

So I go upstairs where guys are giving out wristbands for alcoholic drinks. I asked for one (admittedly mostly because they had been asking everyone else if they wanted one and I'd passed through SEVERAL times without being asked once). I got carded, which is fine, but I got a side dish of attitude with it, which is NOT fine. Then I got the "Look, I'm just doing my job" line. I flashed my ID, along with "Yeah, I AM 35," got my wristband and walked off.

Now, I find the raffle table. The raffle tickets are a buck each and the proceeds go to the Speedway Children's Charities. Since you HAD to be present to win, I asked what time the drawing was (since I knew we had to leave early-ish because of the World of Outlaws race), and I was told 2:30 and 3:30. I bought two tickets, and only AFTER I bought the tickets did it dawn on me to wonder how I would be present to win at 3:30 if I was in line getting an autograph at 3:15.

So now I'm still trying to figure all of this out, I'm upstairs by myself, Mom is sitting downstairs in line by herself, I'm getting ready to Twitter about what a disorganised mess this all is when a guy in a Red Bull outfit comes up to me and asks, "Do you have a ticket for today's autograph session?" I said, "I do, yes, thank you. And, by the way, can you tell me a little bit about how this event is working?" He explained that as long as you had a ticket, you were guaranteed an autograph and didn't need to be waiting downstairs in line so I COULD hear the Q&A and get an autograph. I told him that he might want to explain that to the people in the merchandise hauler because they didn't seem to understand. I also asked him how I was supposed to be present for a raffle drawing at 3:30 and get an autograph at 3:15, and he admitted that was a good question. And he pointed out the person to whom I should address that question. I told him that, thus far, he had been BY FAR the friendliest, most knowledgeable Red Bull rep at the event, and that I really appreciated his time. He said that, as one of the people who helped organise it, he was sorry to hear that it was really frustrating for the attendees, but that he would be passing along the feedback because it was important to Red Bull that they portray a good image.

I go back downstairs to Mom (Red Bull in hand) who tells me that the hauler guy hadn't separated them into two lines. Instead, he just came out (WAY before 2:50, mind) and handed out tickets to anyone who didn't have them. Then he came back about ten minutes later and collected ALL of them again. And about five minutes after that handed them all out again.
By this time, they draw the first raffle at 2:30 and when they're done, they announce that they'll draw the rest of the prizes at.... 4:30 p.m. WTF???? So I go directly to the raffle table and ask them if I heard correctly. Yes, I had. And this is when I pretty much go postal. And this is when Red Bull Lady says the exact wrong thing to me, which is "Well, if you only bought two tickets, you only lost two dollars." The other raffle table lady points to Milan (the guy from earlier), and I think his Spidey sense was tingling because he was already headed our way and he said, "Is there something I can help with?"

I explained that it wasn't the two dollars. It wasn't the donation to Speedway Children's Charities. It was the principle of the thing. It was yet ANOTHER example of just how disorganised and chaotic their entire event had been. He explained that he didn't know who had told me 3:30 but they were wrong, but he believed that's what I had been told based on me asking him that question earlier. He explained that things were running late now (Casey, Brian, and Scott hadn't started their Q&A) because they were at a television appearance that was running late, but they had been texted that they needed to be here NOW. I said that I understood that a tv thing was out of their control and I certainly didn't hold them accountable for that. But not being able to coordinate a simple autograph session with a Q&A? Or give people accurate information about a raffle drawing? For a three-hour event? Really?
I go downstairs to relay the newest development to Mom only to hear the hauler guy telling the people in line, "The drivers are upstairs RIGHT NOW doing their Q&A and will be signing in just a few minutes." I said, "Excuse me, but they aren't even here right now. They're at a television appearance. They've been texted and told they're running late. As soon as they get here, they'll do the Q&A, and THEN they'll be here."

Mom said that the whole time I'd been upstairs, the guy came down the line about every five minutes doing a headcount. The people in line were alternating theories on whether he was too dumb to remember the original count or whether he was trying to wait for a certain number of people.

FINALLY, the Casey and Brian got there and the Q&A started. Now, see, when they said Q&A, I had thought that the fans would get to ask some questions. Nope, instead some Red Bull guy asked some lame-o questions for about five minutes. And then we all went downstairs to get our autographs.

Oh, and the art of four tires and fuel? Never learned it.

After, Mom and I came upstairs (there was a candied apple place on the courtyard that Mom wanted to hit) and while Mom and I were talking, Milan wandered over with a prize from the raffle for me (a pair of driving gloves!). I have to say that Milan is excellent at his job - trying to de-escalate situations, telling us that he had spoken to his supervisor about our complaints, talking to my mom about how sorry he was, using a calming voice, etc. He explained that it was important to Red Bull that people leave with a good impression of the brand, and that he hoped the good-will gesture would go a long way.

I have to say that I feel good-will toward Milan but not so much toward Red Bull or toward the merchandise hauler staff or toward the Red Bull shop staff (the ones who told the other people in the store with us that Scott has a life and that's why he wasn't in the shop that day).

Anyway, that's the story of why Scott is lucky to still have me as a fan after all of that.

Oh, and we DID make it The Dirt Track. And that race got rained out. So it was a winner of a day.

But the highlight of my day? When Scott gave a thumbs-up when he saw the Scott Speed backpack and Scott Speed BlackBerry carrier my mom made me.

For the rest of the pics from that day (Speed Street, The Worst Event Ever, and The Dirt Track), click here!

1 comment:

  1. WOW! that was disorganized!! But seriously, your a scott speed fan right? and if he went to another team you'd go with him no? I mean you went from Hendricks to Gibbs with Kyle? He only gets a small amount of opinion about red bull events I'm sure.