There's just something about fast cars and the people who drive them that get a person's engines revved. Whether you're a fan of NASCAR, IndyCar or Formula 1, frequenting these five places will increase your odds of spotting your favorite drivers.
Scheduled Autograph Sessions
IndyCar drivers Sebastien Bordais and Tony Kanaan sign autographs in St. Petersburg. — Photo courtesy of CityofStPete
The best way to make first contact with a celebrity driver – without coming across as a stalker – is at a scheduled appearance or autograph session. Check driver and event websites in the weeks leading up to a race, and you'll almost certainly find a schedule of meet-and-greet events around town. Previous autograph sessions have taken place as car parts stores, speedways and museums like the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in Talladega.
Private jets are common among successful drivers — Photo courtesy of Matt Mordfin
Drives have to get to the big race in order to compete, and chances are they'll be arriving at the nearest regional airport via a private jet. While you won't be able to get past security, you can stage your own discreet stake-out in the arrivals lobby. Daytona Beach International and Indianapolis International are two good examples of where you might spot drivers as they arrive. Since races take place on weekends, Thursday is prime arrival time for competitors, but Friday is also an option.
Fans caught a glimpse of Nico Rosberg at Berlin Fashion Week — Photo courtesy of Nico Rosberg
Drivers have lives outside of racing, and if you know their interests, you can usually guess a few places they might be. F1 hottie Nico Rosberg was spotted getting his fashion fix at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in Berlin in 2011, while IndyCar driver Dario Franchitti is a known fan of the Glasgow-based Celtic soccer team. Drivers - who are superb athletes themselves - have been known to play spectator at a wide range of sporting events, from March Madness games to tennis opens.
Sonoma vineyards are near the racetrack — Photo courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism
Sonoma Raceway hosts one of the most comprehensive schedules of events in the country, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series and IZOD IndyCar Series. On race weekends, many of the drivers head to the surrounding wineries, giving fans a golden opportunity to bump into them over a drink. Keller Estate and Ram's Gate Winery are the two closest to the track, so they're good places to start your search.
You won't have much luck bumping into drivers in hotels, as they usually stay in motorhomes near the track, but they'll likely go out to eat at some point. In Indianapolis, St. Elmo Steakhouse is frequented by NASCAR and IndyCar drivers. In Daytona Beach, Chart House and Hyde Park are your best bets. Rosa's in Ontario, California, and Sambo's in Dover, Delaware are also known as driver hangouts. Caution flag: be prepared for an icy reception should you choose to approach a driver mid-meal. Better to just make eyes from your table, or look extra hot as you glide to the restroom.