The sun was beating down on the stands of New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Tuesday, but NASCAR fans weren't complaining as they watched their favorite Hendrick Motorsports and Ganassi Racing drivers test and tune their cars in preparation for the Camping World RV Sales 301 Sprint Cup Series race on July 13.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and Jimmie Johnson from Hendrick Motorsports, and Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson from Ganassi Racing revved their engines at New England's largest sports and entertainment facility.
Fans were able to get out of the office for a day of great weather and fast cars, including Kristi Lemieux's 10th-grade math class at Great Bay Charter School in Exeter, N.H. Lemieux and her 30 students attended the test race as a field trip to wrap up their project revolving around Fantasy NASCAR.
Fantasy NASCAR for the students is designed to "demonstrate what they've learned through something that interests them," said Lemieux. The students learn about all aspects of NASCAR racing such as tire pressure and wear and tear through how fast they drive.
Lemieux has been a NASCAR fan since 2003 and a longtime fan of six-time Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson. Even with a baby due this summer, she still plans on attending the Sprint Cup Series race in July.
Season ticket holder Amanda Taylor, 38, from Manchester, N.H., didn't skip work today despite tweeting out to her followers "I strongly encourage all to play 'hookie' from the day job and come out to enjoy @TeamHendrick and @NHMS."
Taylor, a longtime Hendrick Motorsports fan went to her first race in 1999 and has followed Hendrick drivers religiously. In fact, her first encounter with Hendrick Motorsports was at a bone marrow drive with the Hendrick Marrow Program, which inspired Taylor to become a bone marrow donor herself.
"I didn't know anything about being a bone marrow donor," said Taylor, "but I signed up at a registry because of an event with Hendrick."
The Hendrick Marrow Program based in Charlotte, N.C., raises money to support patients in need of a marrow transplant and encourages more potential donors to sign up on the "Be The Match" registry to increase the chances of matching with a patient in need.
Taylor is a huge fan not only of Hendrick drivers, but of the charity work that the team and the speedway is involved with.
"Anything that I can get involved with; I love everything that Speedway Children's Charities does," said Taylor. "This facility keeps getting better and better. I love the track walks and the Richard Petty (Driving Experience)."
Taylor says that watching the races on television is nothing compared to seeing the races in person.
"To actually be here in person and to see everything that TV doesn't show you, and all of the sounds and smells, is great to experience," she said.
One of Taylor's favorite memories was watching Kasey Kahne win the July Cup race two summers ago at NHMS, "holding a lobster that was almost as big as he was," said Taylor. "It was so exciting to be at a race where my driver won.
"I support all of the Hendrick drivers equally, but if I had to pick a garage I'm hanging onto No. 5 and No. 24 Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon. But I also love Dale Jr. and Jimmie (Johnson)."
Taylor brought her mother to the SYLVANIA 300 race last September and plans on bringing her father to the Camping World RV Sales 301 race on July 13.