I have a secret, yet not-so-secret love of cars moving very quickly in a counter-clockwise direction. Its nothing that I hide, but in most circles NASCAR doesn’t really come up in discussion and I am beyond trying to explain what is so exciting about my beloved sport to folks who can’t see past “cars going in a circle”. Nonetheless, I’m proud to be a NASCAR fan.
PIR Spring 2006
I grew up just 30 minutes from NH International Speedway but I never attended a race there. Races were expensive and almost always sold out. I didn’t mind though because on Sundays (and a Saturday here and there) I watched races on the TV with my Dad.
PIR Fall 2006
My Dad moved to Phoenix while I was in college and started attending races every once in a while. After I moved to Seattle I started making the trip twice a year to join him at the track. This was Daddy/Daughter time at its best. A race weekend for us means getting to the track around 8am and staying late both days. There is qualifying to watch and general people watching to do in addition to the actual race. It really is a weekend event. I wish we could justify renting an RV and just parking at the track but I digress… On race weekend you might just bump into a driver or two.
We met Elliott Sadler at a Bass Pro Shop signing. There was nobody in line and we had a lot of fun goofing off with Elliott and going through the (empty) line multiple times.
We always get pit passes which is where I met Washington native Kasey Kahne. PIR has a great pit area and passes aren’t that expensive. In years past I’ve spent a lot of time in the pits on race day, getting autographs, and watching qualifying laps.
And sometimes its just hanging out knitting a purse. Yeah, I went there-combining knitting and NASCAR- *bliss*.
Mostly though, it’s about hanging out with my Dad. Sharing a scanner and trying to communicate with sign language when the engines roar… Getting goofy excited when we see one of “our” drivers before the race and pumping our fists in a silent scream* later when he pulls to the front… Feeling the vibration of the engines in your chest and the smell of fuel and rubber… Leaving at night covered in track dust with bits of track in our hair… This is what it is all about.
*Silent scream because it’s so loud. Who is going to hear you so why bother yelling?
When Matt and I got engaged I stopped going to races. Wedding planning took over and vacation time was slim. After we got married my race watching dropped dramatically too. When races are on network TV (the first part of the season) I might catch a race here or there but the second half of the season is like a blackout for me because we don’t have cable. From time to time my Dad catches me up on the going ons in NASCAR. He always sends me a text message to remind me that a race is on network TV (thanks dad!). It makes me a little sad to be so out of the racing loop and I miss my special time with Dad.
After a 2 year hiatus from races (that is 4 missed races if you are counting) I am joining my Dad at a race again this weekend. WOOT WOOT! The icing on the cake is that Matt will be attending with me! I am so excited for Matt to attend his first race. Matt however, is a little “meh” about the whole thing. When people say going to a race is a much different experience than watching on TV they aren’t lying. People who don’t like watching NASCAR on TV often have an amazing time at the track. I’m confident that Matt will enjoy it more than he expects… and if he doesn’t it isn’t the end of the world. Although, I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope that we could bring our (future) kids to the track for race weekend like Stephanie at This Casita.
I’m also excited because this trip will allow my Dad and Matt to spend time hanging out. We both have families who live far away and mine is more dispersed than his. Trips to see family are usually quick because we have to “spread” our visits across lots of family in different locations. Admittedly we have traveled to see his family much more than my family. This is our first visit to see my dad and it is long overdue. I am hoping Matt & Dad get some good bonding time in!
Another thing I am looking forward to is capturing the experience in photographs. This will be my first race with a big girl camera and I can’t wait. The people and visuals of NASCAR are sometimes as interesting as the drivers. I’m excited to capture Matt’s first race on “film”.
I had this photo signed for my brother who is a big Kurt Busch fan. I previously loathed the elder Busch as much as the younger Busch but Kurt is growing on me.
What other sport can you get this close to the atheletes? *waiting* Oh that’s right… None! I love this part of NASCAR, the drivers are really accessible to the fans.
Random tid-bit: Its widely know that a good percentage of drivers are of average or shorter height, but in person I am always amazed to find a handful of drivers that I am taller than- all 5’2″ of me.
The questions most NASCAR fans ask:
Who is your driver: I am a Tony Stewart fan first and foremost. There are a whole slew of other drivers that I support such as Ryan Newman (we went to Purdue at the same time) and David Regan to name a few. I’ve softened on Kurt Busch lately (either he is mellowing in his old age or I am) and actually find myself rooting for him a little.
Are you a Junior fan: I’ll always root for Junior because I loved Senior but I don’t consider myself part of Junior Nation.
Who do you love to hate: Anyone with the last name Gordon (this one or this one), Jimmy Johnson, and Kyle Busch to name a few. I always spend time chatting with the pit crew guys because even though they aren’t the stars they are some of the hardest working weekend warriors.
So while NASCAR doesn’t come up with me in conversation (unless you are my Dad) its part of who I am. This weekend I get to go “home” to the races and share this passion of mine with my husband. Color me excited. Go fast, turn left!
Any NASCAR fans out there reading? Tips for making Matt’s first race special? Anyone else have a secret/not-so-secret pastime that you enjoy but don’t really advertise to others? Did I lose you at “NASCAR?”
*note I seem to be missing photos from both races 2008 😦 Boo.