Bob Harshbarger and his wife, Nancy, have been to many NASCAR races, but last Sunday's Sprint Cup series race at Dover International Speedway was special for the Lewisberry couple.

That's because it was the first time they had ever had a look behind the scenes at a NASCAR race, despite going to about 100 races together over the years.

"In 1985, we went to 11, the most we ever went to in one year," Harshbarger said. "We've been to Pocono, Dover, Charlotte, Martinsville, Michigan, Rockingham, Darlington, North Wilkesboro, Talladega, Daytona, Las Vegas, Richmond, Bristol, Indianapolis, so we've been to a lot of them. Charlotte is my favorite."

Harshbarger said it's not unusual that he and his wife enjoy the races together because they met at Williams Grove Speedway in 1969. He entered a contest and won a package from the York County Racing Club which included two grandstand tickets to Dover, a pair of hot pit passes, and a meet-and-greet with driver Tony Stewart.

The hot passes allowed the Harshbargers access to the garage and pit areas during the race. Troy Welty, a native of Manchester who works on Stewart's No. 14 Chevy, coordinated the tours.

"Troy gave us a tour of the garage area, the inspection process, what they did inspecting the cars, how they did it, and why they did it," Harshbarger said. "We also had a tour of the team hauler, and we were introduced to their chef and told that we were welcome to eat with the crew members all weekend long."

"We spent most of the race watching from behind Tony Stewart's pit," Harshbarger said.


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"That was a new experience for us. We've traveled all over the U.S. to NASCAR races over the last 25 years, but this was the first time ever having a hot pit pass."

"You get to see the back sides of the pits and what the guys do, how they prepare for a pit stop, and what they do after a pit stop," Harshbarger said. "I didn't know that they had a little ice chest type of thing there and an insulatated bag that they use to cool the air wrench down after each pit stop."
Harshbarger said he and his wife were longtime Dale Earnhardt Sr. fans, but they appreciate all of the drivers.

"Over the years, we've met most of the drivers and a lot of the team owners, and there hasn't been anybody that's been rude to us or hasn't taken time to talk with us or pose for a picture, or whatever," he said.

"Meeting Tony Stewart was great," Harshbarger added. "He was a very nice, very congenial guy, and he didn't push us away. He talked to us as long as we wanted to talk. I wore an Eldora shirt because I went there a couple years ago, and he was impressed with that."

Ellen Siska writes about NASCAR for The York Dispatch. She can be reached at esiska@yorkdispatch.com.