PHOENIX - Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.
And get your cell phone cameras ready.
With a day off Sunday in Arizona, Blues players Alex Pietrangelo, Colton Parayko and Carter Hutton took in the NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 and got a once-in-a-lifetime behind-the-scenes experience at the race, which they documented through photos and videos on their phones.
Before the race even began, the players took a few laps around the track at Phoenix International Raceway in a pace car, reaching 100 miles per hour. Next, they were brought to the drivers' meeting, where they were introduced to all of the drivers alongside other VIPs like former St. Louis Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa.
"We showed up thinking we'd be able to see some stuff, we didn't know we'd be so involved," said Hutton, who admitted he didn't know much about the sport until he got to appreciate it up close on Sunday. "NASCAR did a great job of bringing us around all day, answering every question and showing us the unique things that go on - the stuff you'd never know."
"It was pretty special," added Parayko, whose dad was a NASCAR fan and watched the races every Sunday. "We got to take advantage of some great opportunities. We couldn't have had anything happen better. When you're watching, it just looks like cars going around the track, but when you see what goes on behind the scenes, you get a bigger appreciation for the sport."
All three players also got to tour some of the car-haulers: 53-foot semi-trucks that take the cars from raceway to raceway. The trucks also have a built-in garage for tune-ups and repairs.
As the race began, Pietrangelo, Parayko and Hutton found themselves watching from NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski's pit box.
"It was hot," Pietrangelo recalled. "It was pretty remarkable what these guys go through. Anytime you have an opportunity to watch a different sport live, you get a different appreciation for it. To see the temperatures those guys drive in, and what they go through to prepare for a race, it's pretty cool to see.
"The preparation, how many behind the scenes people it takes, it's not much different than us," Pietrangelo added. "It's pretty impressive."